It’s one of the first buildings you see when you cross the Potomac River and head north on 14th Street toward the National Mall. But soon, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will be moving out of downtown D.C. and relocating to farmland.
The bureau is relocating from its historic building overlooking the Tidal Basin on 14th Street Southwest to unused 104-acre site at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center that sits along Powder Mill Road — about halfway between the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Maryland Route 201.
“The facility in Washington is more than 100 years old, very inefficient for 21st century manufacturing,” said Len Olijar, the bureau’s director. A building that was state of the art when it opened in 1914 now “is a very challenging facility for us to produce in,” he said.
“It’s hard to maintain temperature and humidity, and both temperature and humidity affect paper significantly when you’re printing.”
That means all of that is coming to Beltsville.
“Primarily we will be manufacturing United States currency,” said Olijar. “We will have four production lines there, and we will also be doing a lot of the research and development related to security feature and design.”
It’s a result of Prince George’s County luring federal buildings and the jobs they bring in.
“It’s an enormously important project for the county,” said David Iannucci, the president and CEO of the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation.
“ … We’ll take great pride in the idea that one of the two places in the United States [where] currency is going to be printed is going to be in Prince George’s County,” said Iannucci.
He noted that it’s located not far from one of the county’s major employment corridors.
“The [nearby U.S.] Route 1 corridor right now around College Park is probably the most dynamic area in Prince George’s County in terms of job growth; the construction of new facilities, both apartments and offices; and building around the strengths of the University of Maryland,” he said.
The location will also appeal to many people who already make the trek to Southwest D.C. every day.
“Many of these employees already live in Prince George’s County,” said Iannucci. “So we’re going to offer many of them a lot simpler commute.”
The new building will cost about $1.5 billion, and some work on the site has already began. In addition, the state has already started preparing for traffic improvements that will be needed when 850 new employees start going there for work.
A traffic analysis was conducted on the new facility’s impact, said Lisa Swoboda, the senior director for the Maryland Commerce Department’s Office of Military and Federal Affairs. And the BW Parkway, Maryland Route 201 and U.S. Route 1 are among the roads that will likely see lots more traffic.
According to Swoboda, the first occupants probably won’t move in until 2026, with full occupancy — and the first line of production with currency — expected a year later.
“The new facility is going to have solar panels. It’s going to have a green roof,” said Olijar. They will also plant new trees and native grasses.
“We really want to have a state-of-the-art, modern, sustainable facility.”
One mystery that will still linger: How will you know if your money is made there? Right now, money printed in Fort Worth, Texas, has the letters “FTW” on it. It’s not clear what will be used to indicate cash made in Beltsville.
“There will have to be some indicator,” said Olijar. “There will be a way to tell that those notes are coming from the Beltsville, Maryland, manufacturing facility.”