01/10/2012 09:51 am ET

Prince George's County Leaders Want New FBI Headquarters

WASHINGTON -- If the Federal Bureau of Investigation ever leaves its hulking downtown headquarters building, Prince George's County leaders would like the agency to relocate to their suburban Maryland jurisdiction.

As has been previously reported, the General Services Administration, which controls federal office space, is exploring options for the future of the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, a long-derided Brutalist structure that no longer meets the FBI's needs. GSA could keep the FBI in its current headquarters, tear it down and rebuild or move the agency to a new structure elsewhere in the National Capital Region.

The Washington Post's editorial board has advocated for removing the FBI's "singular awfulness" from Pennsylvania Avenue.

While the need for upgraded and more secure office space is evident, tight federal purse strings complicates any major move in the near term.

But if the FBI would decamp for the suburbs, Prince George's County could stand to gain thousands of federal jobs. As the Gazette reports, Aubrey Thagard, the county's assistant deputy chief administrative officer for economic development and public infrastructure told Prince George's councilmembers on Monday that their chances to score any new FBI headquarters would be greatly increased if the county starts planning now and gets site approvals in the pipeline.

Competition among area jurisdictions for any possible new FBI headquarters is expected to be fierce. In Virginia, Loudoun County leaders have expressed interest, too.

But as transportation and planning blog Greater Greater Washington has pointed out, while locating a large federal agency adjacent to a Metrorail station is usually a smart move, the FBI's security requirements could waste transit-oriented development potential:

What Prince George's needs is to build some transit-oriented walkable spaces, not a federal complex that will take one station off the market for urbanism forever.

The site cites Suitland's federal complex as an example of bad planning.



Driving By The FBI HQ