Local, state and congressional leaders met Thursday in Arlington to discuss six potential sites for a new FBI headquarters and to present a unified front in their commitment to landing the new federal complex somewhere in Northern Virginia.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, who called the meeting, said leaders from Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties had a "singular focus" in bringing the FBI headquarters to the Old Dominion.
"We're all committed to finding a home for the FBI in the commonwealth of Virginia," Moran said during a news conference following the meeting. "We are all going to promote Virginia as the best place for this relocation."
Arlington's role was simply as host. It has not put forth any potential sites for the new 55-acre facility.
Elected officials were briefed on six potential sites — in Herndon, at Dulles Airport, at Fort Belvoir, in Dumfries, at Quantico and at Fairfax County's preferred location, a federal warehouse near the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station.
The new facility would need to be 2.1 million square feet and hold about 11,000 employees.
Though the various officials Thursday represented different districts, they all realized the collective benefit of making sure their first priority was to land the headquarters in Northern Virginia, Moran said.
"This is one example that you don't see much of these days where everyone checks their Democratic and Republican hats at the door, and we're all working together," said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat. "As long as the decision is made on its merits, Virginia will be successful."
The Government Accountability Office in late 2011 determined the current FBI headquarters was in need of so many repairs that the government's best option was move the bureau into a new building, according to the Washington Business Journal.
The House of Representatives, nor the General Services Administration, the arm of the federal government that manages most real estate deals, have issued the final specs for the new facility.
The GSA has issued a request for information to help in the FBI's relocation from the J. Edgar Hoover Building, on Pennsylvania Avenue in the district.
Virginia isn't the only one putting its hat in the ring for the headquarters: Washington has at least one competitive site, Moran said. Maryland has several, and the ascension of U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., to the role of Senate Appropriations Chairwoman will give that state extra pull, officials said.
Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf and others noted the CIA headquarters and the National Counterterroism Center in McLean, the FBI's Records Management Division that will be in Winchester and the FBI Academy at Quantico as assets the bureau already has here, favoring a move to Virginia.
U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said state, local and federal leaders were working in tandem "to present the full slate of facts" to the GSA.
the Springfield warehouse, for consideration.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova told Patch the county has other sites that could be considered. That county's economic development chief, Jerry Gordon, has been having conversations with the owners of potential sites and with private developers who could build a new facility. That will continue, she said.
"Fairfax County is well known for its prowess in securing economic development opportunities," Bulova said.
But, she added, "Our No. 1 hat is the commonwealth of Virginia."
Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford county officials echoed the sentiment: "When one site is selected, we stand united," Prince William Supervisor Marueen Caddigan said.
Individual proposals will be put forth by developers, Moran said.
"Right now, this is all about putting our best foot forward," he said, adding it was important to make sure no one was working at cross purposes.
Elected officials jokingly referred to Arlington County as "Switzerland," a nod to its neutral role.
Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer sat in on Thursday's meeting, but Arlington has not put forth any potential sites. Moran said the government's need for 55 acres and the tendency of Arlington neighborhoods to be protective against development that encroaches upon them played into that.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly called Northern Virginia the "nexus" of the intelligence, counterterrorism and law enforcement communities.
"This isn't just about plunking down a facility to help somebody's economic development," Connolly said. "It's about that nexus."