Upper Marlboro town center joins contenders for FBI headquarters -- Gazette.Net



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This story was updated 1:14 p.m., March 8, 2013.

The owner of Westphalia Town Center — a 479-acre project being built in Upper Marlboro — has submitted a bid for the new FBI headquarters.

Walton Maryland II, owner of the town center and a member company of the Walton Group of Cos. in Alberta, Canada, submitted a proposal Monday to the General Services Administration, the federal agency tasked with finding a place to relocate the FBI from its aging Washington, D.C., building.

The town center is the focal piece of the upcoming 6,000-acre Westphalia Project, a mixed-use development scheduled to complete its first phase early next year. The entire project could take up to seven years, said Walton spokesman Rick Abbruzzese.

Prince George’s officials have long pushed for federal agencies in the county, which is home to 25 percent of the region’s federal workforce but contains less than 4 percent of the region’s leased federal space, according to county leaders. However, county officials have voiced support for the FBI headquarters to be located at a site near the Greenbelt Metro station.

“We believe our strongest potential is at Greenbelt, but our first priority remains having the FBI in Prince George’s,” said Aubrey Thagard, the county’s assistant deputy chief administrative officer for economic development and public infrastructure.

Walton proposed a 51-acre campus-style headquarters for the FBI, Abbruzzese said. The GSA requires 2.1 million square feet of space within 2.5 miles of the Capital Beltway for the FBI headquarters, according to the agency’s request for suggestions on moving the agency.

Walton also proposed contributing funding toward a bus rapid transit system to connect the proposed FBI site with the Branch Avenue Metro Station and Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs.

“Westphalia offers tremendous advantages to the FBI for a secure, transit-oriented campus within a vibrant, mixed-use, community,” Bill Doherty, president and CEO of the Walton Group of Cos., said in a statement.

Walton is also appealing to the GSA’s interest in a land-swap agreement.

“Walton is in a strong financial position and has the resources and partners to enter into a land-swap agreement,” Abbruzzese said, adding that Walton has met with county officials to discuss the company’s proposal.

Abbruzzese said the land-swap details would need to be worked out with the GSA.

Prince George’s officials have shown the most interest in having the headquarters at the Greenbelt Metro Station.

On Feb. 25, county officials requested to designate the Greenbelt station as a transit-oriented development site, Thagard said. Designated sites receive funding for pre-development analysis, as well as permission to use special taxing district bonds for project infrastructure, according to the state’s Department of Transportation website.

To date, the GSA has received proposals from 35 firms, according to a GSA statement. Details on the proposals and a timeline for the decision have not been released.

lrobbins@gazette.net