Housing Complex

Gray: No FBI? No Big Deal.

Today, the office of Mayor Vince Gray will submit its proposal for a new FBI headquarters in the District to the General Services Administration. All indications are that the administration will suggest Poplar Point, the 110-acre site just east of the Anacostia River that's home to National Park Service facilities, as the FBI's future home.

But Gray appears to be less than fully committed to retaining the FBI in the District if and when it departs its current outdated headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Replacing the bunker-like J. Edgar Hoover Building with mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly development will be a boon to downtown, city officials believe. Gray seems to have similar feelings toward a full departure from the city, rather than a move to another area ripe for more community-minded development. Jurisdictions in suburban Maryland and Virginia have expressed interest in nabbing the FBI.

"A lot of us feel the mayor thinks they’ve got to say they’re interested, but it’s not the highest priority they’ve got," says a source familiar with the situation, who asked not to be named but has worked on GSA projects before.

Gray himself appeared to confirm as much in a conversation on Thursday. When I asked just how committed he was to retaining the FBI, he said, "We're going to do what we can to keep the FBI in the District of Columbia." But then he proceded to add caveat after caveat.

"If they do move, it presents tremendous opportunities to the city," he said. The crux of the matter is the opportunity cost of housing the untaxable FBI at Poplar Point at the expense of other development.

"We don't get anything on property taxes," he said. "We don't get much on income taxes. Sales taxes, I don't know where these people eat."

It's possible that keeping the FBI in D.C. would help prevent workers from moving to the suburbs, but Gray noted, "I don't know how many of the people live in the District now. Probably not very many."

I asked Gray how confident he was that development would soon occur at Poplar Point in the absence of the FBI. "I'm confident," he replied. "The investment will have to be made, but I'm confident." In fact, he said, he'd had a meeting that very day with a developer who was interested in building at Poplar Point. He declined to name the developer.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • TM

    And he's right. No matter the prestige, if we can get rid of the FBI from DC, we're better off.

  • Spectator

    Why should he care?

    The Mayor and the city are very happy that the FBI is moving out of downtown DC. Here is why:

    1 - The FBI office sits in a huge land (2.4 million square feet) and is one of the most expensive land in DC (right on Pennsylvania avenue). The city doesn't collect any kind of taxes from the federal government and FBI employes are more likely to bring lunch than go out and spend some money.

    2 - You can build multiple offices, hotels and residents on 2.4 or 2.8 million square feet space (it depends who you ask on the square footage). That means the city can collect around 100s of millions dollar on property, sales and other tax revenue.

    3- Any rental office or residential on Pennsylvania Avenue doesn't stay on the market that long. There will more likely be 5 star hotel facing Pennsylvania Avenue and if they build condo, they will just sell out in a month or so.

    At the end, it doesn't really make a difference if they stay here in DC or not.

  • D

    I understand why DC would be happy with getting the downtown location back on the tax rolls, but it also makes sense for the city to do what it can to keep the FBI and its jobs somewhere within city limits. Keeping the city attractive for residential, retail and private office development means keeping jobs in the city, and that's a lot of jobs. Even if prior generations of FBI employees had a reputation for living in the burbs it doesn't meant that future generations will.

  • Nicoli

    @D

    Having the FBI outside city limits might have little to no effect on keeping residents in the city depending on where the final location is. It's very easy to reverse commute from DC so having the FBI in VA or PG but near the beltway might be the best scenario for the District. I really hope that the FBI doesn't end up choosing Poplar Point.

  • goldfish

    "I'm confident," he replied. "The investment will have to be made, but I'm confident."

    Translation: it will probably happen within 200 years, but don't depend on me to genuinely get behind this.

  • William Ogle

    Gee, DC government is in favor of moving a law enforcement agency out of the city. Perhaps they think it will get the FBI off their backs.

  • Hillman

    If I thought DC could develop Poplar Point that'd be fine. But they've had decades, and nothing has been done.

  • D

    Fair point, Nicoli. If it's in Loudon, very few FBI employees will invest in DC and we'll see more sprawl. But if it's in Suitland, I would agree that it's not a huge loss for the city.

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    FBI Relocate to Walter Reed Hospital Campus

    Any word from U.S. House Representative Eleanor Holmes-Norton on this FBI building bid?

    The move by the FBI to the Walter Reed Hospital campus would bring a retail and commercial renaissance to the Georgia Avenue Corridor, similar to or an extension of the Silver Spring, Md. City Place venue. The Federal Government will have to financially invest in retail, cafe and eating spots along Georgia Avenue to accommodate their two thousand plus staff and workers. New hotels will have to be built to accomodate FBI travelers and FBI Field Officers and staff on detail duty.

    'Another benefit will be that the Takoma area will receive an additional police presence from the FBI's Uniform Police who will patrol the Takoma area and especially the pedestrian route from the hospital's campus to the Takoma Metro Subway Station. It is a win and a big, big economic boost for the Georgia Avenue, N.W. - Ward 4 community.

    Calvin H. Gurley
    President Takoma Civic Association

  • fruhmenschen

    February 22, 2013
    FBI agents caught sexting and dating drug dealers
    Dating drug dealers, harassing ex-boyfriends with naked pictures, and pointing guns at pet dogs: these were just a few of the offences committed recently by serving FBI agents, according to internal documents.
    The US provided officers from the Egyptian secret police with training at the FBI, despite allegations that they routinely tortured detainees and suppressed political opposition.

    By Raf Sanchez, Washington

    Disciplinary files from the Bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility record an extraordinary range of transgressions that reveal the chaotic personal lives of some of America's top law enforcers.

    One male agent was sacked after police were called to his mistress's house following reports of domestic incident. When officers arrived they found the agent "drunk and uncooperative" and eventually had to physically subdue him and wrestle away his loaded gun.

    A woman e-mailed a "nude photograph of herself to her ex-boyfriend's wife" and then continued to harass the couple despite two warnings from senior officials. The Bureau concluded she was suffering from depression related to the break-up and allowed her to return to work after 10 days.

  • fruhmenschen

    Buffalo FBI Agent Busted
    Dec 10, 2012

    BUFFALO, NY - A Special Agent working in the Buffalo office of the FBI is due in Eden Town Court later this month, after being arrested by New York State Police last Friday night, charged with exposing himself to a fellow motorist on the New York State Thruway.

    State Police Lt. David Denz confirmed for WGRZ-TV that John A. Yervelli Jr., 48, of Lakeview, was charged with Public Lewdness, a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

    According to Denz, a truck driver from central New York was traveling in the right lane while east bound on the Thruway near mile marker 442, between Exits 57 and 57A, when he noticed a grey minivan pull alongside him in the passing lane.

    The trucker told police that when he looked down, he noticed the driver of the other vehicle (who had turned his dome light on) was not wearing pants.

  • fruhmenschen

    May 25, 2007
    FBI Agent Accused Of Masturbating In Public

    Posted by, Marissa Pasquet KOLD News 13 News Editor

    FBI Special Agent Ryan Seese, 34, is facing sex offense charges after a cleaning woman said she found him masturbating in a women's lavatory on campus, according to a University of Arizona police spokesman.

  • fruhmenschen

    FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse

    Tuesday February 17, 2004 11:46 PM

    The former chief internal watchdog at the FBI has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl and has admitted he had a history of molesting other children before he joined the bureau for what became a two-decade career.

    John H. Conditt Jr., 53, who retired in 2001, was sentenced last week to 12 years in prison in Tarrant County court in Fort Worth, Texas, after he admitted he molested the daughter of two FBI agents after he retired. He acknowledged molesting at least two other girls before he began his law enforcement career, his lawyer said.

  • fruhmenschen

    FBI Workers Suspected of Secretly Taping Teens in Dressing Room

    April 20, 2009

    Two FBI workers are accused of using surveillance equipment to spy on teenage girls as they undressed and tried on prom gowns at a charity event at a West Virginia mall.

    The FBI employees have been charged with conspiracy and committing criminal invasion of privacy. They were working in an FBI satellite control room at the mall when they positioned a camera on temporary changing rooms and zoomed in for at least 90 minutes on girls dressing for the Cinderella Project fashion show, Marion County Prosecutor Pat Wilson said Monday.

  • fruhmenschen

    Former top FBI agent charged with child porn distribution

    May 15, 2012
    A former supervisory FBI agent has been arrested and jailed on child pornography charges.

    Donald Sachtleben was taken into custody and charged Monday after a nationwide undercover investigation of illegal child porn images traded over the Internet.

    A federal complaint alleges 30 graphic images and video were found on Sachtleben's laptop computer late last week when FBI agents searched his home, about 23 miles north of Indianapolis.

    Sachtleben is currently an Oklahoma State University visiting professor, according to his online resume. He is director of training at the school's Center for Improvised Explosives, but all references to his work have now been removed from the university's website. There was no indication from the school as to whether it had suspended him. Calls to the university and his Indianapolis attorneys were not immediately returned.

    He had been an FBI special agent from 1983 to 2008, serving as a bomb technician. He worked on the Oklahoma City bombing and Unabomber investigations, according to his university biography.

    A separate LinkedIn profile filled out by Sachtleben says he is an "accomplished investigator with more than 25 years of experience in FBI major case management, counter terrorism investigations, bombing prevention, post blast investigations and public speaking."

  • fruhmenschen

    CNN exclusive: FBI misconduct reveals sex, lies and videotape

    By Scott Zamost and Kyra Phillips, CNN Special Investigations Unit
    January 27, 2011

    Washington (CNN) -- An FBI employee shared confidential information with his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, then later threatened to release a sex tape the two had made.

    A supervisor watched pornographic videos in his office during work hours while "satisfying himself."

    And an employee in a "leadership position" misused a government database to check on two friends who were exotic dancers and allowed them into an FBI office after hours.

    These are among confidential summaries of FBI disciplinary reports obtained by CNN, which describe misconduct by agency supervisors, agents and other employees over the last three years

  • fruhmenschen

    Monday August 8, 2005 Longtime FBI agent sentenced to prison on child porn count

    A longtime FBI agent who helped arrest mountain-man Claude Dallas and was involved in a deadly 1984 siege involving white supremacists in Washington state is going to prison for 12 months after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.

    William Buie, 64, of Boise, most recently worked as an investigator for the Idaho attorney general's office.

  • fruhmenschen

    FBI agent arrested on child sexual assault charge

    January 15, 2008
    - An FBI agent is under arrest in Pueblo for investigation of sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust.

    Authorities say 53-year-old David Allan Johnson is being held in the Pueblo County jail today on a $100,000 bail.

    9th read

    Former Great Falls FBI agent sentenced on child sex charges

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