Could the FBI move its headquarters to Alexandria?
On Tuesday during a City Council meeting, Mayor Bill Euille asked city staff what could be done to put Alexandria in contention to land the agency.
The General Services Administration announced last week that it is reviewing sites for a new FBI headquarters. U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th) and several other local lawmakers then sent a letter to the GSA administrator urging him to consider Northern Virginia.
Euille said Tuesday that Moran mentioned the vacant Victory Center on Eisenhower Avenue as a possible location for the FBI at a meeting of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties in Tysons Corner.
“Where are we and what can we do to be in line to be considered to be one of the viable site locations?” Euille asked Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks and Alexandria Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Val Hawkins.
The FBI is seeking 50 acres and 2 million square feet of office space. The Victory Center sits on a 16-acre plot near Van Dorn Metro station and has the potential for 1.6 million square feet of space, though more space could be pursued through a development special use permit that would have to go through Alexandria’s approval process.
Many of the FBI’s requirements are based on anti-terrorism setback regulations. Jinks said those requirements might be changing, with more of an emphasis on reduced square footage per employee and transit orientation.
“To have the Victory Center basically enter the competition, those specifications are going to have to change," he said. "And as we have seen both the FBI and the National Science Foundation and other proposals when they issue a prospectus, it’s kind of like a rolling set of changes up to the point it’s due.”
Jinks called the Victory Center “an emerging possibility,” adding that it is not known if the owner, Jones Lang LaSallle, would submit a bid to attract the FBI.
Euille said Moran also mentioned the GSA warehouse in Springfield and the former Exxon-Mobil campus in Merrifield as potential locations. Several other Northern Virginia jurisdictions and Prince George’s County, Md., have also expressed interest.
Councilman David Speck said competition would be fierce.
Nevertheless, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley said the FBI is an opportunity worth pursuing.
“We really need to be specific about what we want, where we want it and how we want to present it,” Donley said. “As we are watching this thing unfold, that’s when a coordinated response and a coordinated effort by the city [is needed]. … Let’s not just have a discussion. Let’s assign tasks, let’s be specific and let’s try to pursue this with vigor.”