Three years ago, Silverstein Properties and Vornado Realty Trust were among four finalists to redevelop the FBI’s headquarters. The government scrapped that plan, but the project’s renewed momentum — in the form of funding tucked into a proposed Covid relief bill — presents another opportunity for developers.
As part of the second major federal coronavirus relief package, Senate Republicans proposed setting aside $1.75 billion for a new FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. According to the bill, the construction financing would help the FBI “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally.”
President Donald Trump has pushed for a new headquarters on the site of the FBI’s current home, the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building.
Previous plans called for the headquarters to be moved outside Washington, D.C. The General Services Administration, the agency that manages federal real estate, had launched a competition to find a developer to build the headquarters and also get the opportunity to redevelop the J. Edgar Hoover Building, which is down the street from the Trump International Hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion.
When plans to relocate the headquarters were halted, Democrats accused the president of intervening to shield his hotel against possible competition from whatever is built on the current site. According to the Washington Post, the Justice Department’s inspector general is still investigating what led to the plan’s cancellation.
It is unclear whether the nearly $1.8 billion will ultimately be approved, if it would hinge on the headquarters remaining in downtown D.C., and if outside developers would be involved. If the headquarters is moved, it is not known whether the GSA will restart the bidding.
Since the original plan’s cancellation, Vornado has largely pulled out of the D.C. market, having finalized its spinoff of JBG SMITH Properties. An industry source indicated that Silverstein is still interested in the headquarters.
Representatives for Silverstein declined to comment, and Vornado was not immediately available. A representative for the GSA referred questions to the FBI, which did not return requests for comment.
Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected]