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GSA Proposes Demolishing Hoover Building, Constructing New FBI HQ On Site

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The General Services Administration is recommending a plan to keep the FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Hoover Building FBI HQ
The FBI's current HQ, the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue

The GSA submitted a report to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Monday — two weeks after its deadline — that represents a major reversal from its previous search for a new FBI HQ site. 

The report recommends demolishing the J. Edgar Hoover Building and constructing a new FBI HQ building on the 935 Pennsylvania Ave. NW site. It would temporarily relocate the thousands of FBI employees who work in the building during construction. 

The proposal, first reported by the Washington Business Journal, calls for a 2.6M SF building on the site that would cost an estimated $3.3B. The GSA expects the new building to be completed in 2025 if the project is awarded by next year. The HQ would only house 8,300 FBI staff, compared to its current 11,000, and another 2,300 staff would be spread out to offices in Alabama, West Virginia and Idaho. 

The report, obtained by Bisnow, also looks at potential alternatives to demolishing and rebuilding the Hoover Building. One alternative, a four-phase renovation of the Hoover Building, would cost an estimated $3.8B and would not be completed until 2035. Another scenario would have the government sell the site to a developer to construct a new facility and lease it back indefinitely. The fourth scenario would involve ground-leasing the site to a developer for 35 years, leasing the facility during that period and then retaining full ownership after the ground-lease expires. The two leasing scenarios could also have the FBI move in by 2025, though it says they would have a higher cost than the federal construction option. 

"The FBI’s current headquarters facility, the Hoover building, has significantly deteriorated over the past 45 years," a GSA spokesperson said in a statement Monday. "Crumbling facades, aging infrastructure, physical, structural and security limitations in the degraded facility all are severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions. The work of the FBI requires a modern and secure headquarters with technology and equipment to support the men and women of the FBI who are dedicated to keeping our country safe."

Before scrapping its search in July, the GSA had previously narrowed it down to three sites in Greenbelt and Landover, Maryland, and Springfield, Virginia. The decision to instead keep it at the same site is likely to frustrate local officials throughout the region. Maryland and Virginia leaders saw the FBI campus as a significant economic development opportunity, and D.C. officials sought to redevelop the prime Pennsylvania Avenue site to a mix of uses that would bring in more tax revenue. 

The Trump Organization's Trump International Hotel, which has been the source of heavy scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest in the White House, sits across Pennsylvania Avenue from the Hoover Building. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who represents part of Prince George's County, released a statement Monday calling on Congress to reject the proposal and investigate why the administration came to this decision. 

"This sudden and unexpected decision by the Trump administration raises serious questions about what or who could have motivated such a decision," Hoyer said. "Why the Trump administration would so suddenly forgo years of study that led to careful recommendations — not to mention the millions of dollars spent in the effort to move the Bureau’s headquarters — is beyond astounding, and quite frankly, extremely alarming."

Prince George's County spent over $1M pursuing the FBI headquarters, county economic development head David Iannucci said. County Executive Rushern Baker, who is running for Maryland governor, also questioned the administration's motivations. 

"This decision is beyond logic but it is clearly political," Baker said in a statement. "The Trump Administration is now proposing to spread FBI offices across the country to states like Alabama, Idaho, and West Virginia — all states that voted for President Trump."