State congressional leaders support FBI move to Prince George’s -- Gazette.Net



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Prince George’s County officials and business leaders said they are hopeful that a new show of support from Congressional leaders across the state will sway the federal government to support its proposal to serve as the new home for the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters.

The entire Maryland Congressional delegation sent letters to the U.S. General Services Administration and FBI on Wednesday expressing support for the new FBI headquarters to be constructed near the Greenbelt Metro station.

“We understand that competition for this facility will be fierce among the region’s jurisdictions, but we firmly believe that an honest analysis of the cost of operations, security, convenience of location for staff, transportation options and the promotion of regional equity in federal facility distribution should make Maryland the choice location for the FBI,” the delegation wrote in its letters.

The GSA has been soliciting proposals from developers in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia for the construction of a replacement for the FBI’s current headquarters in the District. Montgomery County officials backed out of the competition and pledged support for Prince George’s plan in March.

Sue Walitsky, a spokeswoman for Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), said the delegation sent the letter now because the proposal solicitation process ended last month and the GSA has begun evaluating the various submissions.

In their letters to the federal agencies, lawmakers noted a state report finding that 43 percent of FBI employees live in Maryland, more than any neighboring jurisdiction.

Aubrey Thagard, Prince George’s County’s assistant deputy chief administrative officer for economic development and public infrastructure, said the county is “appreciative” of the support their proposal has received.

“We hope [the support] demonstrates to the GSA that there is the political wherewithal to support bringing the FBI to Prince George’s County,” Thagard said. “We will deliver a quality project that is a hallmark achievement not only for Prince George’s County, but the state of Maryland and the federal government.”

M.H. Jim Estepp, president of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, said the show of support for a federal tenant is “unprecedented.”

“It’s the first time I’ve seen that kind of unity behind a major GSA project coming out of Prince George’s,” Estepp said. “You often have jurisdictions within Maryland competing with each other... It’s outstanding that the entire delegation was able to get behind the county’s plan.”

Estepp said the relocation of the FBI headquarters to Prince George’s would do a lot to improve the equity of federal government leasing when compared with the county’s concentration of federal workers.

“A large amount of the federal workforce is made up of Prince Georgians commuting every day, but we probably have less than five percent of the leasing,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to continue to go to northern Virginia when you have that kind of lopsided figure.”

ewagner@gazette.net