Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Biden administration has selected a vacant lot in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the new headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, despite the lingering concerns of some senior bureau officials, according to four people familiar with the situation on Wednesday.

The plan, expected to be made public on Thursday, may still face internal obstacles, zoning or funding issues, but if approved, it would resolve one of the most hotly contested bureaucratic decisions of the past decade.

Under the proposal, the sprawling new campus will be located near the Greenbelt Metro station as part of a larger multiuse development, replacing the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington, which is currently shielded by netting to protect passers-by from falling concrete.

A senior law enforcement official stated that the bureau will maintain a smaller office in downtown Washington. Ultimately, Congress would need to fund the new campus, and lawmakers in Virginia and Maryland have been disputing the location of the F.B.I. headquarters for years.

The General Services Administration, which manages federal properties, reported earlier that the decision was made. F.B.I. officials have voiced concerns about the site development process but not its location outside of Washington, according to an official who requested anonymity.

Leaders in Prince George’s County have consistently promoted the site as an important economic project, highlighting its ample space, access to public transportation, and a larger variety of merchants in the area compared to the somewhat isolated Hoover building.

The choice of Greenbelt was based on various factors, including land availability and “racial equities” in building in Prince George’s County, according to a senior official briefed on the process.

In 2018, President Donald J. Trump abandoned long-standing plans to select a site in Virginia or Maryland, originally dating from the Obama administration. Advancement on the plan to move the bureau to the suburbs was reinstated after Mr. Trump left office by lawmakers in Maryland and Virginia.

The Trump administration proposed rebuilding the headquarters at its current location and permanently relocating over 2,000 F.B.I. employees to other states, but this decision was reversed after he left office, with language added into a federal funding bill to move the bureau to the suburbs.

Mr. Trump’s interest in the building and its proximity to his now defunct hotel raised concerns among some Democrats that he wanted to prevent the Hoover site from being developed into a competing project. However, a five-year investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that the decision was likely motivated by funding and logistical issues rather than a personal intervention by Mr. Trump.

F.B.I. witnesses, including the bureau’s director, Christopher A. Wray, informed the inspector general that they had been given the authority to determine the location of the new headquarters and chose to rebuild at the existing location for logistical and cost reasons.

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