The Biden administration has chosen a location for a new FBI headquarters in Maryland, the General Services Administration confirmed Wednesday, as the suburban Washington location was selected over nearby Virginia following a sharp competition between the two states.
The site is planned for Greenbelt, about 13 miles (20 kilometers) northeast of Washington.
“GSA looks forward to building the FBI a state-of-the-art headquarters campus in Greenbelt to advance their critical mission for years to come,” Robin Carnahan, the GSA administrator, said. “Thank you to everyone at GSA, DOJ, FBI, Congress, and others who helped reach this important milestone after a comprehensive, multi-year effort.”
The GSA also noted that Greenbelt was determined to be the best site because it came at the lowest cost to taxpayers, provided the greatest transportation access to FBI employees and visitors, and gave the government the most certainty on a project delivery schedule.
Consideration for a new headquarters has been going on for more than a decade, and in recent months the FBI has expressed concern about the site selection process.
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said the location in his state was ideal because of access to mass transit and because the cost to taxpayers would be significantly less there.
“We’re very happy about this location. We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Cardin said. The choice was first reported by The Washington Post.
In a joint statement, Maryland’s elected leaders applauded the decision and said their push to bring the FBI headquarters there was “never about politics” and the new facility would meet a “dire, longstanding need for a new consolidated headquarters.”
Democratic Maryland Gov. Wes Moore argued in recent months that building it there would be fast, save taxpayers $1 billion and meet equity goals raised by President Joe Biden, with a location in the majority-Black Prince George’s County.
Most of Maryland’s congressional delegation and the governor personally raised concerns to the GSA in March about the process, including extra weight abruptly given in 2022 to proximity to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
News of the choice brought frustrated criticism from Virginia leaders.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia told reporters he had not been officially notified of the selection, but if true, “it would be evidence of gross political interference in an established GSA process that both states went through and it would be frankly more reminiscent of the tactics from the last administration.”
In a joint statement with Sen. Tim Kaine, he said he was disappointed that the “clear case” for Virginia, home to the FBI Academy, was set aside.
Virginia leaders, including Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, argued that along with the academy the state has also welcomed Amazon and other big companies in recent years.
In July, the GSA announced changes in criteria for choosing the new location, boosting two potential places in Maryland. The new criteria raised the weight given to cost and social equity concerns to 20% each and reduced proximity to the FBI Academy to 25%, down from 35%.
Plans to replace the FBI’s roughly five-decade-old J. Edgar Hoover Building, where nets surround the facility to protect pedestrians from falling debris, have been under discussion for 15 years. Momentum stalled at one point while Donald Trump was president, with discussion centering on rebuilding on the existing site in Washington.
Two other finalists were Springfield, Virginia, and Landover, Maryland. About 7,500 jobs are connected to the facility.