Gray to FBI: Good Riddance
If you thought Mayor Vince Gray might be sad to see the Federal Bureau of Investigation leave the District, he's got four words for you: "I couldn't care less."
Last month, the federal government announced a short list of three potential sites for a new headquarters for the FBI, which will leave its outdated headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the J. Edgar Hoover Building. Two were in Maryland, one in Virginia. The District was officially eliminated from contention.
But as Gray told an audience of hospitality officials at a meeting today of Destination DC, which promotes tourism to the District, he's not the least bit disappointed.
"I couldn't care less," he said. "In fact, I'm waiting for them to get the heck out of Pennsylvania Avenue."
The FBI's departure will likely open the Hoover Building to new development, which will almost certainly do more for street vitality than the hulking Brutalist structure that currently stands there.
"I actually think the greatest potential is for them to move and move as fast as they can," Gray said.
Last year, the city pitched Poplar Point, near Anacostia, as a potential FBI site. I suggested that the move might simply be a perfunctory effort to keep up the illusion of interest in retaining the FBI, when in fact the site had little chance of landing the agency. Sure enough, Gray said today that he was relieved when the General Services Administration, which manages federal government buildings, informed the city that it would need the entirety of Poplar Point for the FBI, not just the section the city had proposed.
"That gave us the exit point that we needed," Gray said.
The use of the Hoover Building site could provide the city with an economic development opportunity. But Gray also pitched a few other ideas for boosting the city's bottom line. This morning, he said, he officiated his seventh wedding, three or four of which have been between same-sex couples. He thinks D.C. could become a market for same-sex marriages. "We could become the Las Vegas of the east," he said, perhaps only slightly in jest. "We could have a chapel on every block."
And one not-at-all-serious idea: "I have tried to convince Prince George's County that they would become a lot more development-friendly if they just became Ward 9 of the District of Columbia."
Photo by Darrow Montgomery