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FBI wants to tear down its headquarters, rebuild at same site

Joseph Tanfani, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- After years of trying to move, the FBI wants to tear down its vast headquarters building and construct a new command post on the same site in downtown Washington.

The bureau has worked for years to replace the 45-year-old concrete behemoth, which was named for FBI founder and longtime director J. Edgar Hoover.

The building is beset by crumbling concrete, outdated infrastructure to accommodate digital technology and numerous security vulnerabilities.

As part of the budget and infrastructure proposals it unveiled Monday, the White House said it will ask Congress for about $2.2 billion for a new FBI headquarters, adding to about $1.1 billion already budgeted for the project, according to Justice Department officials who outlined the Trump administration's budget proposal.

The FBI outgrew its downtown headquarters long ago and has employees scattered in office buildings around the Washington region.

The government spent years scouting for a new location, spurring a heated competition from local governments. In 2014 it settled on three possible candidates in the Washington suburbs -- one in northern Virginia and two in Maryland.

The idea was to do a property swap, and trade a major developer for the rights to build on the valuable downtown property, which is about halfway between the White House and Capitol Hill. It not only sits across from the Justice Department, but is near the Trump International Hotel, the president's favorite.

 

But that plan was scrapped last year when Congress didn't come up with the $3.5 billion required.

The General Services Administration now says tearing down the old headquarters, and building a new one, would cost less -- about $3.3 billion. It said it would relocate FBI agents and other employees during the construction.

Neither the FBI nor GSA said when the construction might start, or how long it would take.

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