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GSA seeks developers for FBI headquarters

Hoover Building
Hoover Building

The federal government is formally seeking developers to build a new headquarters for the FBI, opening the next phase in a competition between Maryland and Virginia to land the lucrative project.

The General Services Administration said Friday evening that applicants will have until February 10 to submit their qualifications for building the project. The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants out of its current headquarters, the 39-year-old J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington, and the effort is proceeding despite uncertainty about funding.

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GSA officials are considering three sites for the project -- in Greenbelt, Landover and Springfield, Va. Developers are already associated with the Maryland sites but the GSA is opening up the competition to any firm that wants to make a proposal for building on one of those parcels.

The agency has proposed swapping development rights on the Hoover site in exchange for building the new FBI headquarters. It's not clear, however, whether additional funding would be needed and, if so, whether Congress would be willing to spend it.

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"The J. Edgar Hoover building does not meet the FBI's needs in the 21st century," Bill Dowd, project executive for GSA's Public Building Service said in a statement. "GSA is planning to exchange this building for the construction of a new headquarters that would give the FBI a facility worthy of its mission."

The FBI headquarters would rival the size of the largest federal agencies based in Maryland, including the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. Independent economists have said the development, wherever it lands, will have a significant economic impact on nearby neighborhoods.

FBI leaders have wrestled with the concrete giant on Pennsylvania Avenue that has served as the agency's headquarters since 1975. The brutalist building isn't big enough to house all of its employees, forcing many to work in annex buildings scattered around the Washington region. And a 2009 study found it needed $80.5 million in repairs and upgrades.

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