ANNAPOLIS — Wednesday’s decision by the federal government to relocate FBI headquarters to Greenbelt is an economic windfall for Prince George’s County greeted with delight from Maryland officials.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said she let out screams of excitement Wednesday night when she first heard the news from Maryland U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, who has battled for over a decade to bring the project to the state.
“This has been very exciting to me because I understand the economic impact,” Alsobrooks said. “These decisions where these federal job centers are located have the power to transform the economic profile of a jurisdiction for generations.”
Greenbelt was chosen over another Maryland site in Landover and Springfield in Virginia after years of debate and winnowing the choices from 35 to three. The existing FBI headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., is too small, obsolete and crumbling.
The new facility will sit on an undeveloped 61-acre plot next to the Greenbelt Metro Station and the protected wetlands of Indian Creek. It is expected to include a mixed-use housing development with opportunities for retail along with the headquarters.
Gov. Wes Moore joined a statement from “Team Maryland,” which included the state’s congressional delegation, Alsobrooks and others. All touted the economic benefits and the fitness of the site for the FBI’s use.
“Considering cost to the taxpayer, equity, construction timeline, transportation access, and the FBI’s mission requirements, we have long believed that Greenbelt is the best site for this crucial facility. We are pleased that the (federal government) arrived at the same conclusion,” the statement read.
The headquarters, expected to cost several billion dollars, will bring about 7,500 jobs to the county, Alsobrooks said, as related companies will want to locate near the state’s new hub of cybersecurity and technology between the new FBI headquarters and the nearby University of Maryland College Park.
Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan said his city’s location was superior to the other sites in Landover and Springfield, Virginia, citing its natural buffer, proximity to the Metro station that could reduce commuter traffic impact, and its cost-effectiveness as a “shovel-ready” site.
Jordan said the state-of-the-art facility is expected to generate several billion dollars in investment for the region.
“I think going forward, we’re going to work very hard to make sure that it’s a sustainable, first, top-of-the-line, kind of state-of-the-art development that meets the needs of the FBI, but at the same time, meets the aspirations and desires of the residents of Greenbelt and the surrounding areas,” Jordan said.
Greenbelt has a high quality of life, Jordan said, but commercial investment in the city and countywide has been slow. The balance of impacts from investment is an important criterion for the GSA to pay attention to, Jordan said.
Ric Gordon, a Greenbelt City Council member, said the decision is a “game changer” for the county and especially for Greenbelt’s some 24,000 residents. The Beltway Plaza Mall could see an increase in shoppers, which would also create more job opportunities and benefit small businesses that faced financial difficulties during the pandemic, he said. The headquarters will also be near the Franklin Park apartment complex, one of the largest complexes in the county.
“It’s really reached a point that Greenbelt is ready for a huge boom period,” Gordon said. “And I’m glad I’m gonna be here to see it.”
The Greenbelt City Council will have a say in the planning process even though it doesn’t have full zoning authority.
Alsobrooks said the county delegation will continue to work to ensure that there is funding available for the project.
“Well, we’ve been in the fight now for 14 years, we started, again, with 35 sites,” Alsobrooks said. “And no one should assume that this was just given to us, we earned it.”