Federal Funds for Long-Awaited FBI Records Center in Frederick May Go Through

Posted: January 15, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — After a wait of nearly a decade, Congress appears to be on the brink of approving funding for the construction of a FBI records management complex in Frederick County.

The detailed fiscal year 2014 spending bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives late Wednesday afternoon includes $97,853,000 for the General Services Administration (GSA) that’s specifically identified to be spent on the project. The Senate is expected to approve the legislation later this week, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

The FBI’s plans to move its records outside Winchester were announced on Jan. 27, 2004.

The 1,582-page 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, also known as the omnibus spending bill, passed the House on a 359-67 vote. The legislation details how the federal government will spend $1.1 trillion.

“This is good for national security, it’s good for the FBI, it’s good for the country and I think it’s good for Frederick County, too,” Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, said shortly after the vote. “The FBI employs some of the finest people in the world, and you have a lot of people who work for the FBI already living out there.”

Wolf said he did not know when the project to build the complex might begin or what the bureau's staffing plans are for the facility.

The bureau’s records center has been on the area’s list of the Ten Most Wanted economic development projects for years. When originally announced in January 2004, the center was expected open by or in 2010 and Wolf estimated it would employ 500 to 700 people.

As expected, the news was greeted favorably by local officials. However, their enthusiasm was tempered slightly by unknowns that surround a project that’s been stagnant for years because Congress was unable to pass a budget.

Because a GSA option on land on Woodbine Road expired years ago, it’s not known where the center will be built. And because the FBI previously moved some of its records management operations here, it’s not clear if additional jobs will be created when the complex is built.

The bureau operates a records management center in leased space at 170 Marcel Drive — off Tasker Road just northwest of the Walmart Supercenter on Front Royal Pike. Patrick Barker, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission, said more than 500 people work at that site.

A GSA site and construction prospectus for the project dated April 4 estimated its cost at $108,726,000, to be paid by the GSA. The FBI would be responsible for Unspecified design costs.

According to the GSA prospectus, construction was expected to begin this fiscal year and be complete by Sept. 30, 2016.

That report recommended that a 256,425 square foot facility — more than double the 106,296-square-feet it’s leasing here — and 427-space parking lot “in Winchester, Virginia.” The complex would “support the FBI’s current and future critical record management space needs.”

Though land off Martinsburg Pike near the West Virginia line previously was under contract for the complex, Barker said he expects the GSA to issue another set of site specifications and consider other locations.

Frederick County was selected in a comprehensive site search based on its merits largely because of its location, Wolf said. It was far enough from Washington to be reasonably safe if the capital were attacked, but close enough to enable government officials to visit quickly whenever necessary.

For complete details, see Thursday's Winchester Star.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com