Fairfax County officials want Uncle Sam to know they have the perfect site in Springfield to replace the FBI’s 39-year-old Washington headquarters.
It’s a short run from the FBI Academy and laboratory in Quantico and other FBI operations that are in Northern Virginia or planned for there. It’s near the Capital Beltway and Interstate 395 and within walking distance of the Franconia-Springfield Metro station. Best of all, the federal government owns the property, potentially saving taxpayers as much as $300 million.
But some Northern Virginia officials have been told that the biggest obstacle to redevelopment may be a federal client that’s already at the site: the CIA. Now, as Maryland, Virginia and the District jockey for a prize worth perhaps as much as $3 billion, the presence of the classified site has left several Northern Virginia officials feeling as if one of their best prospects has been mysteriously hobbled.
Fairfax’s bid is one of about three dozen, setting up a political face-off among officials in the region and members of Congress for what they see as a potential blessing to their local economies. Officials from the District, Maryland and Virginia have offered possible sites — vying not only for the prestige that comes with having a new FBI headquarters within their boundaries but also for as many as 11,000 jobs.
In what has been an open secret in Northern Virginia for years, elected officials say the CIA maintains a classified facility in what appears to be a warehouse on property owned by the General Services Administration, the federal government’s landlord. The high-stakes competition for the FBI has put a new spotlight on the site, including new details that suggest the spy agency’s facility is more elaborate than a warehouse.
In interviews, local and federal officials — all speaking only on the condition of anonymity because they were concerned about discussing national security secrets or because they knew only a few details about the spot — said the agency has built a facility that may extend underground and whose infrastructure may be so costly to relocate that its presence could scuttle any redevelopment of the 70-acre site.