A new option emerges in FBI headquarters search

A new option emerged as a possible future FBI headquarters Tuesday as Lerner Enterprises said it submitted the former Landover Mall site for consideration in the highly competitive search process.

Lerner Enterprises Chief Operating Officer Alan Gottlieb issued an email saying Lerner is on the hunt for a new use for the mall site after Sears announced plans to close its store, the last remaining on the property, there. A new FBI headquarters is among the potential uses for the 88-acre site near FedExField, Gottlieb said.

Lerner, founded by Washington Nationals owner Ted Lerner, is one of several bidders that submitted offers to the General Services Administration as part of a request for expressions of interest. The deadline for that was Dec. 17. The GSA, the federal government’s real estate arm, has not released details of those submissions.

“With Sears closed the confusion that existed as to the availability of the entire site should be eliminated,” Gottlieb wrote in his email. “We would hope to attract a major user or users to the site possibly the FBI. In that regard we have submitted the site to the GSA.”

The Washington Post first reported the email and Lerner’s interest in the FBI. Gottlieb was vague when asked about other prospects for the mall site but told me in a follow-up email the first step will be to tear down the existing Sears store.

“We will proceed with clearing the site to make the market place aware that the entire parcel is available for immediate development,” he wrote. “We plan to aggressively pursue the FBI as well as any other credible opportunities that may present themselves.”

The property appears to meet several preferences the General Services Administration has laid out as part of the search process. It is close to a Metro station and the Capital Beltway. It’s also large enough to meet the GSA’s size requirements for a 2.1 million-square-foot headquarters building.

The mall site is one of three potential locations that have emerged in Prince George’s County, with others including a spot adjacent to the Greenbelt Metro and in Westphalia.Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker supports the Greenbelt site, where the FBI would anchor a larger transit-oriented development. Aubrey Thagard, economic adviser to Baker, said he has not seen Lerner’s submission and could not comment directly on it. But he said his preference is still with Greenbelt because it would do more than just bring jobs to the county.

“From our perspective, we still maintain Greenbelt Metro is the best location for the place of the FBI for a number of reasons,” Thagard said. “I think the county executive has always been consistent and clear that we want the FBI in Prince George’s County.”

Several sites in Virginia are also likely in the running.


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