Follow the story and its coverage by the media here, with links to articles, embedded videos, and Greenbelters’ own accounts. This story here begins with the 11/8/23 announcement that Greenbelt is the selected site for the FBI headquarters, and will continue through the steps toward completion and impacts on Greenbelt and neighboring communities. The page is curated by Greenbelt Online editor Susan Harris.
Updates will be added here and also posted as blog posts labeled “FBI.“
GSA made this announcement on Thursday, November 8, 2023.
The Washington Post (gifted link) seems to have broken the story of the announcement at 5:33 on November 8. A quote:
The headquarters complex would be built on an empty 61-acre plot outside the Greenbelt Metro station — the marquee tenant in a proposed mixed-use development site that would include apartments, a hotel and retail and could bring billions of dollars of new tax revenue to the county.
WaPo Readers Respond
Commenters on that Washington post story (almost 1,000 as of Nov 11) include a few mentions of Greenbelt by name:
- Many support the selection of Greenbelt based on objective grounds.
- Several positive mentions of Greenbelt and the county. An example: “The new location in Greenbelt is very close to the Agricultural Research Center. I’ve driven through there. Beautiful land as attested by the weekend bicycle riders.”
- Several calling it crime-ridden.
- In jest, suggestions for the building’s name: “The agency should pick a tough-guy name for the location of the new HQ. ‘Greenbelt’ is too soft and fuzzy, and indeed the city was originally built as a some kind of socialist experiment. I like ‘Cop City,’ but Atlanta already took that.
- Confusion about the site: “Am I missing something? Seems like the Post’s poor writing and editing is beginning to impede comprehension. What does ‘outside’ mean in this sentence? it is near the Greenbelt Metro or not?” (The FBI building will be outside the Metro Station, on what is now a huge parking lot. See images of the site at the bottom of this post.)
- As to whether FBI employees will live in Greenbelt: “That’s assuming they are willing to live in PG. Most professionals don’t.” To which someone responds “I live in University Park, near College Park and Greenbelt. Many professionals live here. It’s a great area and is booming.” and another response: “You simply don’t understand what this is. These are not FBI Field Agents. They are mostly support staff. The FBI continues to have the requisite number of agents in the cities where they are needed’ ” and “NASA Goddard has done just fine in Greenbelt
I stopped reading after the first couple hundred comments.
Maryland Office-Holders Respond and Celebrate
The press release sent by the Governor’s office includes:
- Greenbelt is the most transit accessible site, due to its 0.1 mile walking distance to Metro and commuter rail;
- Greenbelt provides for a consistent and predictable construction schedule as the site is owned by a public entity and offers a clear public process and timeline to achieve site control; [Due to the existing buildings on the Springfield site, versus the shovel-ready empty site in Greenbelt, a difference that’s estimated to result in a 1.5 to 2-year faster route to completion]
- Greenbelt offers the best opportunity for the government’s investment to positively impact region through sustainable and equitable development;
- Greenbelt provides the lowest overall cost to taxpayers. [An estimated $1-1.5 billion savings over the Springfield site.]
That afternoon there was a celebratory press conference in the Greenbelt City Council Chambers. among the MANY office-holders in attendance were, from left: Md Attorney General Anthony Brown; Congressman Glenn Ivey; Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan, Md. Lt. Gov Aruna Miller, [unidentified], Md. Governor Wes Moore; Md. House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones; Congressman Steny Hoyer (who represented Greenbelt from 1981 until the 2022 redistricting); Md. Comptroller Brooke Lierman; U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen; and Prince George’s County Executive (and candidate to replace Cardin in the Senate) Angela Alsobrooks.
Watch the press conference held in the Greenbelt City Council Chambers, beginning at about the 32-minute mark.
It’s full of congratulations and thanks, with an overarching theme of unity – among the entire Maryland delegation, including leaders in Montgomery County and former Governor Hogan.
The Washington Post covered the press conference in “Maryland Democrats rebuke FBI head, dismiss Va. concerns over Greenbelt site” that bits I also took note of:
- “It is absolutely wrong of Director Chris Wray to impugn and question the character, the integrity and the independence of the site selection administrator,” Van Hollen said.
Here’s the announcement from Prince George’s County.
Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan’s statement can be found on page 7 of the following issue of the Greenbelt News Review.
More News Coverage
The Greenbelt News Review’s coverage was extensive, starting with “FBI HQ Comes to Greenbelt, Finally.” It’s the page 1 story of this edition. Kudos to reporter Erica Johns and photographer Anna Bedford-Dillow – her action shot (above) really captures the mood.
I found this information only in the News Review story:
- “The City of Greenbelt anticipates that the FBI’s presence will lead to improved public transit to support FBI personnel and benefit Greenbelt residents.”
- County executive Angela Alsobrooks “emphasized construction wll be completed with a..pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with labor organizations.”
- The article puts into context Virginia’s complaint that a sole GSA decider, a “political appointee,” had “overruled the unanimous recommendation of a three-person panel comprised of career experts.” That same decider had earlier overridden the three-person panel after they’d rejected the Springfield site from the list of finalists, putting it back into consideration.
- “Greenbelters can look forward to the planned full Beltway interchange from the Beltway to Metro (current access is only from and to the west) and determining road access from the Greenbelt Station community to Metro, long deferred while awaiting the FBI decision.” Great news!
The Greenbelt News Review also published a very helpful background article on page 7 of this issue: “FBI HQ Selection 2009-2023: Starts, Stops and Obstacles.” Most interesting to me was learning of the abrupt 2022 addition of a new criterion for selection – proximity to Quantico! After “Maryland officials cried foul on what they called an 11th hour change after 10 years of coordination,” the weighting was reduced to 25 percent.
The chart above, shown in the News Review article, makes me wonder how the Springfield site was graded”best” on site development flexibility, given that the site has builidngs on it now; it’s nowhere near shovel-ready, like the empty parking lot in Greenbelt. And the cost getting a “best,” too? It’s at least $1.5 billion more expensive, right?
Channel 4 filmed in Roosevelt Center.
A business site reports that ” FBI HQ Expected To Bring 7,500+ Jobs To Greenbelt, MD”
Government Executive answers the question: “How Greenbelt won the.FBI’s new headquarters.”
Fox5 asked Congressman Glenn Ivey about the chances of obstruction by Congress in this interview.
The University of Maryland’s student paper the Diamondback anticipates collaborations between the FBI and its cyber security and law enforcement programs, including possible internships..
The mayor of College Park writes, “We’re asking for clarification on Indian Creek impacts and how they’re handling our neighborhood high water table,” citing Figure 5-11 of this GSA link.
The Washington Post’s announcement of the selection was quickly posted to the Greenbelters Facebook group and within two days had prompted 83 comments, including:
- Celebratory posts like “Holy high-quality, local jobs, Batman!”
- A few expressions of fear about increased traffic, plus “Pollution. More crap like Royal Farms. People. Lots of people. Loss of trees. They paved paradise and put up an FBI building.”
- A few mistakenly assuming the FBI would be sited in Greenbelt’s beloved Forest Preserve. (Scroll down to see the site outside the Greenbelt Metro Station.)
Articles about Greenbelt Itself
In the Washington Post, Petula Dvorak’s article “Greenbelt, Future Home of the FBI, was Planned as a New Deal ‘Utopia,” Greenbelt is described as “the crunchy Maryland suburb admired in progressive circles as one of the nation’s longest-running co-op communities.” And “In a town with a co-op supermarket where directors meet each month to debate cashier wages, seasonal wine rotations and solar panels? Where locals catch bluegrass, open mic poetry and drag story hour at the New Deal Cafe?”
The Baltimore Banner’s “Searching for Greenbelt as the FBI Closes In” is an interesting look at our town from the outside. For example, “Walk down the streets of Old Town and you’ll see 90-year-olds wearing “Palestinian Lives Matter” T-shirts and front yards with “Stop Maglev” signs. There has been an LGBTQ day for two years, and a “bang bang” band that provides music for community events.” Nobody calls it ‘Old Town,” or refers to the Greenbelt Honk Situation street band as a “bang bang band.”
There was widespread coverage of the Virginia delegation’s call for an investigation into the selection of Greenbelt. Here’s NBC4’s report.
Here’s the story in the Virginia Mercury paper.
Axios reports on what they call a “Beltway cage fight.”
A Metro columnist in the Washington Post opined: “In Beltway battle over FBI headquarters, Virginia should admit defeat.” (Gifted link)
“Federal Inspector General to Review FBI Site Selection Process.” (gifted) 12/1/23 in Washington Post.
And read about Maryland’s response in this story from Baltimore’s ABC affiliate.
(Not opposition, exactly.) Greenbelt News Review president Cathie Meetre mused on the “Downsides of the Proposed FBI Building” in the 12/28/24 issue, page 6. Naturally included were traffic congestion and an increase in property values,which is good or bad depending on your situation.
There was also some insight into why DC was fine with the FBI moving to the suburbs. “The FBI pays no real estate tax and their leaving (DC) will allow a private entity to redevelop the DC site and pay taxes (estimated at $25M per year.)” Wow!
Meetre expects that “The development could breathe new life into previously mooted projects, proposed earlier but shelved. These include the razing of Franklin Park and its redevelopment at higher density and new apartments to the east of Greenbelt Road at its intersection with Cherrywood Lane. It will likely revive Beltway Plaza’s redevelopment plan. Each means hundreds of additional apartments and impacts on schools, social services, and public safety.”
Glad to see her conclusion that there’s little concern about environmental damage caused by the project.
From WaPo: The GSA estimated that the timeline for closing on the Greenbelt property would be nine months and projected a gap of nearly three years between the closing date and the start of construction, according to the site selection decision. With so many requirements to fulfill, [the GSA] projected that it could take slightly more than three years for construction to begin for the building he sees having ‘generational change’ attached to it.”
Trump Lobbies to Rebuild in DC
As president, Trump reportedly opposed the relocation of the FBI headquarters for fear that a new hotel on the FBI’s current site would compete with Trump Hotel a block away on Pennsylvania Avenue, and indeed there was no progress toward a relocation decision during his presidency.
Now the Trump Hotel has been sold and Trump’s position on the FBI headquarters has changed. On December 31, 2023 it was reported that “Trump opposes new building for FBI after Congress approves $300 million for relocation to Maryland.” Here’s Trump’s announcement on Truth Social:
Soon, Trump-supporting voices weighed in to agree with his position. One example is the National Review’s “The Shady FBI Headquarters Move.” And DeSantis and Ramaswamy agreed.
Some have mocked his change of heart and speculated as to what Trump’s vision of a “new and spectacular” headquarters might look like – including these examples. Social media postings offered many more.
And there are reports of Trump’s potential financial gain through his connection to an interested developer.
A transit and environmental journalist for Greater Greater Washington wrote “What the FBI move to Greenbelt means for Prince George’s County and the region,” and it’s filled with positive predictions about local transit. Published 2/5/24.
Proposals and Plans
This GSA report is very useful, with detailed maps. A commenter on Facebook notes that there are only plans to develop 11 of the site’s 61 acres.
2014 Washington Post article (gifted) covers the developer’s plans for the site.
The writer at Greater Greater Washington thinks elements of the plan “make sense” and overall, it’s “not terrible.”[Seeking link to the city’s proposal.]
The FBI would occupy the five shorter buildings, while hotel, apartments and offices would occupy the taller buildings in the foreground. The entrance to Metro is just behind the FBI building on the left (that’s shaped like the number 6 on its side).
This rendering shows the view from the FBI (on the left and right) to the private developments in the background. Pedestrians exiting the Metro will use an underground passageway to reach the FBI. See more renderings.by Renard Development/Gensler.
This WaPo article (gifted) asks “Could a new FBI headquarters in Greenbelt actually help the Anacostia River?”
Above, from an article about Garth Beall, the “Underdog Greenbelt attorney who became an unlikely frontrunner to win the FBI headquarters.”
Greenbelt Metro Station (via Google maps). shows the large parking area where the FBI headquarters will be built.
Entrance to the Metro station from the current parking lot.Typical view of the Greenbelt Metro parking lot mid-day on a November Saturday. On weekdays it’s reportedly to be about 1/4 full, as ridership has not returned to pre-covid levels.
Earlier, Pre-Selection Greenbelt News Review Articles
December 2015 article “Developer and City to challenge some FBI draft EIS findings” see page 1.
January 2016 article “GSA requests bids for new FBI HQ, DC Hoover building swap” see page 1.
January 2016 article “Council approves GSA letter regarding FBI headquarters” see page 1.
May 2016 article “GSA’s Increased parking need for FBI dismays City Council, see page 1.
March 2017 article “Council and Beltway Plaza Plan for FBI HQ – or Not” see page 1.
July 2017 article “It’s Over. Administration stops FBI headquarters project” see page 1.
October 2017 article “FBI, Amazon, Tech Transfers? Greenbelt Possibilities Heard” see page 1.
February 2021 article “Congress requests GSA plan for new larger FBI HQ” see page 1.
November 2022 article “Politicians Rally at Metro Station to Challenge Criteria Changes” on page 1.
Greenbelter Jeff Lemieux argued “Housing Yes. FBI No.”