WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Maryland and Virginia are vying to be the new home of the FBI headquarters, and we could find out who wins as soon as next month.
The J. Edgar Hoover Building is currently home to the FBI. Once declared the world's ugliest building, it opened in 1975. Now, the 2.8 million square foot structure is in desperate need of repairs.
After nearly two decades of discussion about moving the FBI to a new headquarters, President Biden now says this building can no longer support the long-term mission of the FBI.
He says there is a critical need for a new HQ – but where?
The Obama administration identified three locations for the move: Greenbelt, Maryland, Landover, Maryland and Springfield, Virginia.
Former President Trump canceled the process to move to other suburbs, fighting to rebuild on Pennsylvania Avenue. But the Biden administration has put the move back on track.
Maryland Senator Ben Cardin told FOX 5 that any objective review of the three sites would conclude that Prince George's County has the upper hand. His office provided the following quote:
"Both Maryland sites offer the opportunity to meet or exceed all of the FBI’s security and functionality requirements, and offer close proximity to Washington – as well as world-class research and educational institutions, cybersecurity and defense facilities, and other assets valuable to the FBI’s ongoing missions. It is a competition though, and I cannot tell what will happen. But with all of the two sites’ advantages, Maryland is providing two very compelling options for the FBI."
Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen says Maryland has the necessary skilled workforce, top-tier schools and easy accessibility.
Meanwhile, Virginia's Mark Warner tells FOX 5 he's working with the administration to deliver a headquarters that best supports the FBI's mission, and he strongly believes in the merits of the Northern Virginia site. His office provided the following quote:
"There is agreement across the board that the FBI’s current headquarters facility – the J. Edgar Hoover Building – has significantly deteriorated in recent decades, severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions. I’m glad that the Biden Administration recognizes that need and is working to select a site for a new FBI HQ. I’m going to continue to work with the Administration to deliver an FBI headquarters that best supports the mission of the men and women of the FBI, and strongly believe in the merits of the Northern Virginia site."
For D.C., losing the headquarters could still be a win.
"Maryland and Virginia can go at it, but DC wins either way," says D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton. "If the FBI headquarters remains here of course that would mean federal jobs for many DC residents. But if it leaves, it will leave room for new construction."
FBI Director Chris Wray has advocated to stay in D.C. Senator Cardin recently suggested Wray is an impediment to the move.
The FBI told FOX 5 on Wednesday that they are committed to moving forward with a new FBI HQ suburban campus at one of the three sites as well as a downtown facility to allow for continued accessibility to the public and close proximity to the DOJ. The FBI's National Press Office released this statement to FOX 5:
"GSA and the FBI are committed to continuing to move forward to accomplish the key milestones outlined in the FY 2022 Appropriations Omnibus and the FY 2023 President’s Budget on the FBI Headquarters project, which includes a large new suburban FBI HQ campus as well as a downtown facility to allow for continued FBI accessibility to the public and close proximity to the Department of Justice and other key downtown partners.
Following the enactment of the Omnibus, pursuant to direction from Congress, GSA reviewed all three of the previously identified suburban sites (Greenbelt, MD; Landover, MD; and Springfield, VA), and concluded that all are viable for a new suburban FBI Headquarters. Since that time, GSA and the FBI have been developing a process for selecting one of those three sites - with a goal of making that process as fair and transparent as possible. GSA and the FBI are working diligently on finalizing the criteria and evaluation process for site selection at this time."