The FBI is shopping for a new home for its headquarters and Loudoun County could be in its sights.
The prospect has Loudoun County officials ready to market the area for a relocation prospect, but so far talks are preliminary as to when, and if, that could happen.
“It is something we would very much like to pursue,” said Steve Hargan, business development manager of the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development.
According to a report by the Washington Business Journal, the FBI has outgrown its 40-year-old space in the J. Edgar Hoover Building. The agency, the report said, will need to spend about $1 billion or more to renovate the space, demolish and rebuild on the same spot, or find a new location for its network of about 20 off-site locations in the Washington area.
The FBI needs at least 55 acres and 2 million square feet of office space near a Metro station, the Washington Business Journal report said. It currently spends about $170 million for all its leased space in the Washington area, the report said.
There are several sites up for consideration in D.C. and Prince William County as well, but Loudoun, with Metrorail set to expand into the area by 2017 and several mixed-use developments planned near the extension, would be prime real estate for the FBI, according to Hargan.
“The time frame they’re looking at lends itself to the time we’ll have the Metro out here and several developments that are ongoing would be excellent locations,” he said.
So far, many Loudoun leaders are tight-lipped about the prospect because talks of the relocation are in the early stages.
“Right now we haven’t been briefed in closed session on the economic development plan,” said Supervisor-elect Ralph Buona (R-Ashburn). “Until we’re in closed session and I’ve got a better feel on the particulars, I don’t know that I can comment on the specifics.”
Chairman Scott York (R-At-Large) also declined to comment on the prospect, saying he couldn’t discuss the particulars.
York did say the county would be happy to welcome the agency to Loudoun.
“We would be pleased to have any entity locate in Loudoun County to help provide good jobs here and hopefully work closer to home as well as all the business support it would bring,” he said.
With Loudoun looking to boost its commercial tax base, Hargan believes an FBI relocation could bring with it other businesses looking to cater to the agency’s workforce, which is now more than 17,000 strong.
Hargan said Loudoun economic development leaders are waiting for federal budget talks to be finalized before they make their move to pitch the county as a prime location for the FBI.
“It’s a matter of waiting until they’re ready to hear from us,” he said. “We would consider that a prime prospect and do what we can to bring them to Loudoun. It’s not just the agency itself, it’s the number of support contractors that would also look to move closer to them.”
Hargan said it’s likely to be two years before a decision is made as to whether the FBI will look for a new location.
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