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FBI proposals submitted as state pledges funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bids for the design and construction of a new, consolidated headquarters for the FBI were submitted in time for the June 22 deadline, marking another step towards potentially bringing 11,000 jobs to Prince George’s County.

The General Services Administration (GSA) sent out its Phase II Request for Proposals on January 22, seeking bidders for the 2.1 million square foot facility. Bidders could chose to submit plans for one to three of the sites shortlisted for the new headquarters, including two in the county: Greenbelt and Landover. The third site is in Springfield, Va.

“Today, June 22, 2016, consistent with the published schedule, GSA received proposals from these bidders. Consistent with the Procurement Integrity Act, details regarding these proposals are restricted from disclosure,” Ashley Nash-Hahn, press secretary for GSA, said in a statement.

Garth Beall, a manager at Renard Development Company, which is the developer for the Greenbelt site, said the process was fairly smooth.

“I think it went fairly well,” he said. “The bids that were submitted are probably a little bit more preliminary than we thought it would be,” owing to some GSA requirements for financing that made bidders uneasy.

As a federal agency, the FBI falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress, and local representatives are working to ensure the process runs smoothly and hope one of the bidders for a Prince George’s County site is selected.

“We’re very pleased by the fact that the June 22 deadline was met and that it continues to be on schedule,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5), said. “We also believe the Appropriations process is moving well.”

Bills are making their way through both houses of Congress now to fund the construction of the new headquarters. President Barack Obama in January requested $1.4 billion for the project in his fiscal year 2017 budget proposal. Hoyer said the House version of the spending bill- which has yet to pass- includes less money than requested, while the Senate’s version- $759 million, approved in May- is closer to that figure. He said he thinks that after final analysis, the Senate’s appropriation will prevail.

As the funding winds its way through the legislative process, GSA will work to narrow down the bids to one final selection.

“GSA and FBI anticipate making an award to the successful bidder in late calendar year 2016,” Nash-Hahn said.

Hoyer elaborated slightly, saying, “They will be interviewing bidders to make sure everyone is reading from the same hymnal, so to speak, to make sure there's no confusion.”

This October is the expected deadline for final proposals, allowing bidders to adjust their original proposal as needed. A final Environmental Impact Statement will be released in November.

In the meantime, state leaders in both Maryland and Virginia are working to make their respective states more competitive for the bid. The governors of both states sent letters to the GSA detailing the financial contributions each is willing to make.

“The state offers a robust funding package that will fully cover the state transportation infrastructure mitigation measures required by the GSA Draft Environmental Impact Statement for either the Greenbelt or the Landover site, at no cost to you,” Governor Larry Hogan wrote. “These state transportation improvements will greatly enhance the ability of both Maryland sites to access highway and transit travel while providing an efficient, interconnected regional transportation system for the new FBI headquarters.”

Hogan’s total offer is $220 million in infrastructure improvements for either Maryland site, with Prince George’s County pledging an additional $97 million for a new parking garage at Greenbelt and $35 million for roadway improvements at Landover that could include a tunnel under Route 202. $172 million of the state’s $220 million would come from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and $48 million from other sources subject to General Assembly approval. The state legislature has already approved $22 million from the TTF in its fiscal year 17 budget.

That brings the total pledge by Maryland and Prince George’s County to $317 million for the Greenbelt site and $255 million for Landover. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has pledged $120 million if Springfield is chosen.

Hoyer lauded Hogan and the General Assembly for making these commitments.

“I want to thank (House of Delegates) Speaker (Michael) Busch and the General Assembly, as well as Governor Hogan, for stepping up to the plate,” he said.

He says those pledges, as well as the features of the sites themselves, make Prince George’s County the better choice for the FBI. Hoyer said the proximity to transportation- including Metro, major roadways and airports at Baltimore Washington International, Dulles International and Joint Base Andrews, as well as the potential to tap into the talent and technology at the University of Maryland, are benefits to the sites.

“We think we’re going to be selected. We just have so many advantages,” Hoyer said.

He also said the move would lead to more equity between the county and other nearby jurisdictions.

“Prince George’s County does not have nearly the leased space or frankly owned space that other jurisdictions have,” Hoyer said.

Beall agreed and further said he thinks the Greenbelt site is the best of all the possibilities.

“Grennbelt is the only site that’s actually walkable to Metro,” he said. “It’s the only site with a commercial component That’s definitely a factor. In recent years, there’s been a bigger push to use siting of federal facilities to promote economic growth.”

He said that the retail component would add 3,500 more permanent jobs.