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If the FBI moves to Greenbelt, here's what it will look like

The FBI is considering moving its headquarters from downtown Washington to either Greenbelt, Landover, or Springfield. If it goes to Greenbelt, here's what the development will look like:

Greenbelt development rendering. Image from Renard Development/Gensler.

Under this plan, a new mixed-use transit-oriented development would replace the parking lot at the Greenbelt Metro station. The FBI would occupy the five buildings on the bottom of the rendering, with other offices, apartments, retail, and a hotel taking up the rest.

Greenbelt Metro station is located in the upper left side the rendering, immediately behind the building that looks like a "6" digit tipped on its side. To the right of that building, a central plaza would be the area's main public space, and one of Prince George's most urban spots.

Proposed view from the Greenbelt Metro station. Image from Renard Development/Gensler.

The Metro's existing entrance is immediately behind the "6" building. It would be nice if a new Metro entrance would line up directly with the plaza, though it looks more like a short walkway behind the building will connect the station to the plaza.

Since Greenbelt is an end-of-line station, the development replaces all the Metro commuter parking. But instead of surface parking lots, it would go in a new parking garage shown on the far left of the overview rendering, connected to the station with a wide, suburban-style street.

Clustering mixed-use development next to the Metro station and putting the FBI buildings and park-and-rides across the street makes a lot of sense. That layout provides a parking lot for commuters and gives the FBI the space it wants for a buffer without sacrificing the walkability of the entire neighborhood.

Meanwhile, FBI workers who don't commute via Metro would use the parking garage on the far right, next to the Beltway.

Overall, this looks like a decent plan. There are a lot of less than ideal trade-offs, but given the demands of an end-line station and the FBI, it's not terrible.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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Looks good.

Greenbelt does not have to be an end station. The Green Line should be extended towards Andrews and Waldorf.

by Jasper on Jul 31, 2014 12:33 pm • linkreport

No bus loop in the rendering.

Transit riders are always afterthoughts in these plans.

by Matt' Johnson on Jul 31, 2014 12:35 pm • linkreport

Green Line doesn't need an extension as we need another line in the core, southwest MD and Virginia.

by RailRider on Jul 31, 2014 12:37 pm • linkreport

I like it. I go through Greenbelt a lot. It is one of the most underutilized (with regard to potential), poorly laid out Metro stations I've come across. Can't see in the renderings but a better connection to Greenbelt Road looks possible and would probably help with the maybe doubling/tripling of car/bus traffic this development would lead to.

by BTA on Jul 31, 2014 12:39 pm • linkreport

I'm somewhat puzzled how that rendering is "secure".

by charlie on Jul 31, 2014 12:41 pm • linkreport

They need to have safe pedestrian access from Cherrywood Lane because right now a number of people walk to the metro from those apartments. From the aerial rendering it looks like pedestrians walking up Greenbelt Metro Dr. will hit the freeway off-ramp.

by Bob See on Jul 31, 2014 12:45 pm • linkreport

Matt, I think the bus loop is blocked by the "tipped 6" building and would be behind it, near its current location at the station entrance. Either that or it might be replaced by a line of bus slips on the Main Street between the development and the FBI complex.

by Rich Jr on Jul 31, 2014 12:45 pm • linkreport

What about the surrounding "moat"? Wouldn't that wipe out acres of forest?

by asffa on Jul 31, 2014 12:45 pm • linkreport

The way i'm interpreting it, the FBI complex is just the part farthest from Metro which has a small wall going around the perimeter. I'm sure it reality they will make it bigger and uglier though. You can see the checkpoint gates off the two roads.

by BTA on Jul 31, 2014 12:46 pm • linkreport

I'll be more impressed when I see the plans for bike and pedestrian trails to Cherrywood Lane and toward the South Core (housing) development on the old gravel yards, including access to the Anacostia Tributary trails.

My main concern are:
1. This looks great, but it'll never happen, and
2. SHA will use the possibility of this happening to continue to block complete street features, cycletracks, sidepaths, landscaping on the nearby roads they control, including 201 and 193.

by Greenbelt on Jul 31, 2014 12:49 pm • linkreport

@Jasper, you're on the wrong end of the line. A logical Green Line extension from Greenbelt would be northbound to Laurel.

by Greenbelt on Jul 31, 2014 12:51 pm • linkreport

I would be nice if they added some commuter rail parking at Greenbelt yard, so a VRE train to make a one seat ride between Quantico and Greenbelt (Camden Line). When the Virginia Avenue Tunnel is completed it will allow freight operations to run more smoothly through the area.

by jcp on Jul 31, 2014 12:53 pm • linkreport

Nice. This should help spur redevelopment around Beltway Plaza.

by adelphi_sky on Jul 31, 2014 12:54 pm • linkreport


There would be plenty of opportunity to address those pedestrian concerns as I'm sure a good number of FBI employees may hold your same concerns. WE have two years before a developer is selected. I'm sure there will be a lot of community meetings until that time comes. And then the DSPs will be debated after that at the local planning hearings.

The current rendering is just an idea. Two years is a long time for it to change. So, I agree that what we see now may never be the end result. But I think it's a good start.

by adelphi_sky on Jul 31, 2014 12:58 pm • linkreport

Naturally, because this option makes more sense, they'll pick Landover...

by Randall M. on Jul 31, 2014 12:59 pm • linkreport

@ Railrider and Greenbelt: It's not 'or/or'. It's 'and/and'.

Yes, we need a separated track in Rosslyn. Yes, we need a separated Blue Line in DC. But we also need an extension of the Yellow Line along US-1 south. And of the Blue Line along the Fairfax County Parkway/123. And of the Orange Line to Warrenton. And of the Green Line in both directions; to Baltimore and Waldorf. And a Purple Line that's a full circle.

One of WMATA's problems is that they only start address issues once they have become a giant clusterfuck. That's how you end up with the different jurisdictions in the region fighting each other. WMATA needs to develop an ambitious agenda and push it as a whole so that VA, DC and MD can agree on it.

by Jasper on Jul 31, 2014 1:01 pm • linkreport

Looks good.
Greenbelt does not have to be an end station. The Green Line should be extended towards Andrews and Waldorf.

As already saying the green line would go past greenbelt to laurel eventually.

That said, greenbelt will always be the part of the northern green line that hits the beltway and is closest to I95 and 295. If ANY metro station should have parking, greenbelt should.

College park has a garage and does not need it
PG plaza has a garage and does not need it
Greenbelt has a lot and probably will need it until cars go out of style(which might be happening, but not fast enough to cut parking at greenbelt now)

by Richard on Jul 31, 2014 1:09 pm • linkreport

They'd probably get more bang for their buck just fixing the Camden line so it can run 20 hours a day like Penn instead of only during rush hour. If they can find ROW for Metro, they can find it for a third rail track which should solve the issue of by passing freight trains.

by BTA on Jul 31, 2014 1:10 pm • linkreport

"And of the Orange Line to Warrenton."

Huh? There is no reason heavy rail or hybrid urban/commuter rail should go 50 miles. This is what VRE is for.

by 202_Cyclist on Jul 31, 2014 1:14 pm • linkreport

Naturally, because this option makes more sense, they'll pick Landover...

Apparently the Landover site would allow for much easier and faster construction. However, it's entirely worthless from a transit and development prospective. It'll just create a monolithic island campus in the middle of nowhere, while the Greenbelt proposal would really do a lot more for the wider community. I think the GSA and FBI are sensitive to that, but I'm worried that the ease and reduced cost of building at Landover will get too tempting. Short term savings, but idiotic in terms of long term planning. Sadly, I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the Government to make the right long term choice when they're looking at immediately higher budget costs.

by Zeus on Jul 31, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport

I'm all for development in PG, but the beltway traffic in this area is already atrocious without this. Any thoughts of improving that somehow?

by JessMan on Jul 31, 2014 1:16 pm • linkreport


I'm not sure I follow. There are just asphalt parking lots at the Greenbelt station. There are still structures erected at the Landover site (Sears and it's auto shop). In addition, there are no on/off ramps to the Beltway that exist at the Landover site. They connect to Rt. 202. Greenbelt already has an off ramp directly to the station. I think Greenbelt would be easier.

by adelphi_sky on Jul 31, 2014 1:26 pm • linkreport


I've commuted from Adelphi to Ashburn and from Adelphi to Laurel via I95. the only traffic you see on 495 in the mornings are those coming from points north going west or south. In the afternoons, the traffic goes from west to east on 495, then north on I95.

Of all the times I've been on 495/95, I've never seen traffic like I do at the mixing bowl in Springfield or the I-270 spur. I think we can safely say that traffic in the Greenbelt area would rank below those two as most congested.

by adelphi_sky on Jul 31, 2014 1:29 pm • linkreport

Warrenton is horse country, I doubt they want Metro there.

by BTA on Jul 31, 2014 1:31 pm • linkreport

I am no good at pictures. I don't see any building that looks like a 6.

by PCAT on Jul 31, 2014 1:33 pm • linkreport

This sort of development would make the FBI an attractive place to work, with all of those amenities a short walk away. And you could live nearby. I never imagined so much development so close to the FBI building, though. You'll be able to look out your window and into the windows of the FBI building, though I am sure they will be one-way.

by JDC on Jul 31, 2014 1:35 pm • linkreport

"But instead of surface parking lots, it would go in a new parking garage shown on the far left of the overview rendering, connected to the station with a wide, suburban-style street."

How big a parking garage? Who will own and maintain it? [Hint: Paul S. Sarbanes No-Transit Center...] How far a walk will it be from the faregates? What provision for expanding the parking will there be? Will there still be multiday parking as there is now? [A valuable enticement for BWI passengers...] How much wetlands/forest loss?

by George B on Jul 31, 2014 1:44 pm • linkreport

I agree that it would be good to line up the station with the plaza, but overall, very nice. Where's the buffer indicated on the old Hoover diagram of a few posts ago?

by Thayer-D on Jul 31, 2014 1:48 pm • linkreport

PCAT, it's at left center in the picture. Tilt your head to the right and I think you'll see it.

by TimK65 on Jul 31, 2014 1:49 pm • linkreport

Does this site plan allow for full access for all motor vehicles to I-495 (in both directions)? I don't see a ramp to the Inner Beltway.

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 1:54 pm • linkreport

Warrenton might have been an exaggeration but its worth extending at least till Centrevielle or manassas

by Ervin on Jul 31, 2014 1:57 pm • linkreport

I presume that ramp will be added, but before any other transportation improvements or even construction of these buildings

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 1:58 pm • linkreport

(roll of eyes)

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 2:00 pm • linkreport

Better than I would have expected--security and some life for the station. The best thing they could do with the bus loop would be to plant trees there. Waiting for buses there in summer is a miserable experience and one reason I prefer MARC to BWI over the bus from Greenbelt.

by Rich on Jul 31, 2014 2:02 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure I follow. There are just asphalt parking lots at the Greenbelt station. There are still structures erected at the Landover site (Sears and it's auto shop). In addition, there are no on/off ramps to the Beltway that exist at the Landover site. They connect to Rt. 202. Greenbelt already has an off ramp directly to the station. I think Greenbelt would be easier.

But the greenbelt metro lot is currently in use. Which means you would have to construct the parking garage for commuters before ground could break on the FBI building.

Why wont the cloverleaf at 202 serve the FBI site? It might need to be modified but it wouldnt take much.

by Richard on Jul 31, 2014 2:07 pm • linkreport

Richard, Landover is over 2 miles by foot from the nearest Metro station.

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 2:13 pm • linkreport

One bad trade-off I didn't mention: It appears there's a fence lining the entire FBI complex, including the main street. So any sidewalk activity will be confined to the non-FBI side, and probably the street will feel pretty highway-like.

At there's a reasonable pedestrian connection from the plaza to FBI, but the fact that it's a tunnel is another indication the road will probably be designed for cars.

At the end of the day I expect this will feel a lot like Crystal City.

by BeyondDC on Jul 31, 2014 2:18 pm • linkreport

*At least there's...

by BeyondDC on Jul 31, 2014 2:18 pm • linkreport

I'm all for development in PG, but the beltway traffic in this area is already atrocious without this. Any thoughts of improving that somehow?

Put more jobs in PG so folks living there don't have to clog up the beltway for many miles getting to work? Traffic where I live is far worse than in PG but the flip side is that I'm only 2.5 miles from Tysons.

by Falls Church on Jul 31, 2014 2:20 pm • linkreport

At the end of the day I expect this will feel a lot like Crystal City.

That's a good stretch goal. I like your thinking. Let's aim high!

The other two potential sites for the FBI have little/no chance of catalyzing another Crystal City success story -- transformation of an industrial area into a bustling, urban jungle.

by Falls Church on Jul 31, 2014 2:25 pm • linkreport

@DC - Well I do hope the road is designed for cars/motor vehicles, plus bicycles, pedestrians, wheelchairs, skateboards, roller skates and any other form of transportation you can think of. That's something that's known as a complete street :-)

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 2:30 pm • linkreport

Of course you'd have to include sidewalks, bike lanes, etc. along with general purpose lanes but you get the idea.

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 2:32 pm • linkreport

Ervin (and the rest talking about Metro extensions), what is the reason to use Metro for these extensions over MARC and VRE? Would people use Metro as a metro, rather than a commuter rail system, in those places?

Metro needs total grade separation, its own ROW separate from the freight and intercity rail network, and third-rail electrification. These all make it horrendously expensive to build, compared to MARC/VRE which can run on existing lines with limited at-grade crossings and use catenary electrification (if any at all). Not to mention the fact that they can run faster between stations, meaning a *better* service for *less*. Unless these extensions are likely to be well-used off-peak, we can get far more for a given investment by improving and extending the commuter rail system, without burdening Metro with the logistic and economic burdens of even longer lines.

by TheOtherGlenmont on Jul 31, 2014 2:33 pm • linkreport

I am personally in favor of expanding commute rail first but it's worth noting that all regional commuter rail systems share track with freight or Amtrak meaning that there is limited expansion potential in most cases without costly infrastructure upgrades. On the MD side, there isn't much extension potential but they already go quite far so really its just about either upgrading capacity or doing TOD around existing Penn line stations. VRE has a plan I think in the next 10 years or so to extend out to Haymarket and down past Fredericksburg. It does seem like extending the Fredericksburg line to Richmond would be a good long term plan as well.

by BTA on Jul 31, 2014 3:01 pm • linkreport

I am stunned by how nice this looks. It's much easier to push for the government and the developers to keep their promises than it is to push for a change in plans, so even though this is just the starting point, it's still wonderful that this is where we're starting.

by Tom Veil on Jul 31, 2014 3:04 pm • linkreport

Richard, Landover is over 2 miles by foot from the nearest Metro station.

Dave G

The landover mall site will be 2 miles by foot from the nearest metro, regardless of whether the FBI goes there or not. The greenbelt site will be a hundred feet from the metro whether or not the FBI goes there.

The question is, does the FBI need to be that close to the metro, many of it's employees are going to drive. The building is going to be a exclusive one use office building fortress surrounded by a moat and a fence.

Something else could be built at either site. Some place people might want to actually go and spend money.

Where ever it goes, PG wont get any tax dollars from it. If it goes to either, PG gets some of the tax dollars from some workers living in the county. But if it goes to Greenbelt PG loses half the real estate at one of it's metro stations for 50+ years.

by Richard on Jul 31, 2014 3:39 pm • linkreport

Not bad. Not bad at all. Visually reminds me a little bit of La Defense with the "windowframe" building element. The view from the Metro Station seems to suggest an underpass under the primary roadway. Is that correct?

If they must have the big perimeter fence, etc, then it would be good for a pedestrian underpass to come up to some place where the fence is indented/setback enough to allow for a welcoming/security checkpoint for people on foot, or to have such an access point co-located with one for cars.

by Patrick M on Jul 31, 2014 3:40 pm • linkreport

The landover mall site will be 2 miles by foot from the nearest metro, regardless of whether the FBI goes there or not. The greenbelt site will be a hundred feet from the metro whether or not the FBI goes there.

Due to federal government incentives for transit use (parking restrictions, transit benefit) more people will commute on transit to an FBI development at Greenbelt than a development there with the same number of workers at a private company.

by MLD on Jul 31, 2014 3:47 pm • linkreport

> Greenbelt site will be a hundred feet from the metro whether or not the FBI goes there. Something else could be built there. If FBI goes to Greenbelt, PG loses half the real estate at one of it's metro stations for 50+ years.

Greenbelt has sat as an empty parking lot for 21 years. How much longer should it sit empty while we wait for something perfect? End-line Metro stations are not prime real estate. None of them - literally not a single one - has a TOD of this size or quality (FBI trade-offs and all). If Vienna and Shady Grove haven't taken off, what hope is there Greenbelt will? PG has been trying for years already.

Meanwhile, the FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue opened 39 years ago. In another generation the FBI will probably want to move again. And when that happens, Greenbelt will probably be ready for something better. Just like Pennsylvania Avenue needed an infusion 39 years ago, but is ready for something better today.

by BeyondDC on Jul 31, 2014 3:50 pm • linkreport

In terms of tax revenue, there's a workaround. So as not to screw over the local jurisdictions, the GSA will lease the property from a private developer, so it won't be in federal ownership and therefore Greenbelt (or wherever) will still get tax revenue from the site. At least for a certain period.

by Matt' Johnson on Jul 31, 2014 3:50 pm • linkreport

Is that the plan? Private ownership with a government lease? Has than been revealed already? Otherwise it is not helpful.

by The Truth™ on Jul 31, 2014 3:55 pm • linkreport

There are closer in places along the Green Line (College Park, PG Plaza, West Hyattsville) that have redevelopment potential. Plus this could encourage something to actually happen around the empty lots in the Greenbelt area. I think it actually makes a nice bookend and will spur a lot of reverse commutes.

by BTA on Jul 31, 2014 3:58 pm • linkreport


If the FBI were any farther from the Greenbelt site, then that would put more car traffic on neighborhood streets. This would include countless shuttles from the metro station to the site, wherever you think it should be. The Springfield site will have to deal with that kind of distance issue as it isn't directly adjacent to the metro.

Being close to the metro eliminates the need for shuttles and the use of neighborhoods streets as their will be a direct interchange off the Beltway and direct access to metro and marc.

I get what you're saying in how there could be better use for the site than the FBI, but I think you're also forgetting how the immediate surrounding community is ripe for being transformed into a vibrant mixed-use community less than a mile from the metro. Springhill Lake is long overdue to be redeveloped as well as Beltway Plaza mall. Both of these are closer to the Greenbelt Metro than Landover is to a metro.

The Greenbelt property has sat undeveloped for years. I don't think sacrificing one station out of 15 to spur much needed redevelopment in an area that desperately needs it is too much to ask. There's still West Hyattsville, College Park, and many other stations that can use mixed-use development near a metro.

Does it have to be all or nothing? I see the project plan as a great compromise. After all, it could have been just the FBI buildings and a parking garage. In addition, there is a South Core that is not seen in the renderings that will have townhomes, condos, multifamily apartments, etc.

by adelphi_sky on Jul 31, 2014 4:03 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper

I personally think the states need to help fund metro as well as the cities (Arlington and Silver Springs namely)

Columbia Pike Streetcar should be metro
Purple Line should be metro and a full loop (it'd not only be a great benefit to MD but also VA to connect Tysons to south Alexandria to the green line.

by RailRider on Jul 31, 2014 4:07 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure it's fair to say Vienna hasn't taken off though. There is a lot of development going in though its not the most urban. But that took a long time and there is no indication that it would be coming to Greenbelt anytime in the next 20 years.

by BTA on Jul 31, 2014 4:08 pm • linkreport

I should note it'd be logical if Purple was two separate metro lines at first

Tysons along 7 through Baileys/Shirlington to Alexandria

And Bethesda to New Carrollton

by RailRider on Jul 31, 2014 4:10 pm • linkreport

Re: Metro expansion I'm not seeing much happening in the next couple decades except a separated Blue Line coupled with an extension down toward Woodbridge.

by BTA on Jul 31, 2014 4:17 pm • linkreport


I agree about Greenbelt and the lack of promising development in the near future. These metro stations need a catalyst to spur development. And given the fact that office space is not really in short supply in the area, I think 2.1 million sqft of office space is a sufficient catalyst, however muted some people think that catalyst is being a secure federal campus. Or you're just left with surface parking for another r20 years.

The current Greenbelt plan is lightyears better than what transpired in Suitland. The Suitland federal complex as constructed was a huge missed opportunity to revitalize the surrounding community.

by adelphi_sky on Jul 31, 2014 4:19 pm • linkreport

Does anyone know the status of the Long Bridge Study? Last public meeting was in December, the whole study was supposed to be done by now, IIUC. I see no final report.

by CrossingBrooklynFerry on Jul 31, 2014 4:21 pm • linkreport

>I'm not sure it's fair to say Vienna hasn't taken off though.

The Vienna town center development is on hold specifically because they find office tenants - the *exact* problem Greenbelt will have without the FBI, except that Greenbelt is a vastly less desirable office location than Vienna.

by BeyondDC on Jul 31, 2014 4:36 pm • linkreport

* because they CAN'T find office tenants.

I should proof read.

by BeyondDC on Jul 31, 2014 4:36 pm • linkreport

@Dave G -- I'm in favor of street legalizing electric golf carts on most local roads. Would be the perfect conveyance for Greenbelters. We should street legalize them on city/county (non-numbered) roads and allow them on certain sidewalks, Metro drive, and on the Spellman Overpass (over the BW Parkway). One less car, one more cart.

by Greenbelt on Jul 31, 2014 4:39 pm • linkreport

I'm with BeyondDC on this one. Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. Is the FBI a great tenant for TOD? No. Does the proposal maximize the Greenbelt site? No. Will a Greenbelt FBI HQ generate lots of car trips in addition to some share of transit trips. Yes. But this is very likely the best chance at TOD Greenbelt will see for many years, and the proposal does add in other uses that will help make the area a bit more walkable. Moving the FBI away from the entrance helps. A Greenbelt FBI site could also help the east/west divide a bit and help spur the office and residential market in PG County. Shifting 11k jobs and 4 million square feet *will* have a spin-off effect, it's just a matter of how much.

by Sherman on Jul 31, 2014 4:51 pm • linkreport

It makes sense for the FBI to be as close as possible to a Metro station. Unless an employee needs to drive as part of their job or has to drive just to get to the Greenbelt HQ, it's better that they arrive by transit as much as possible so as to reduce overall car traffic on the roads in the area. Then if their work takes them into DC, to meetings at the Capitol or wherever, if they can take Metro there that's all the better.

Yay, my first Silver Line spam captcha!!

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 5:06 pm • linkreport

I think that 6-shaped building should not be in front of the Metro entrance the way it is. I think the Metro entrance should lead into some sort of central park or plaza surrounded by the large buildings shown in the rendering, whether FBI or not. The Metro entrance should be some sort of focus for the area, in conjunction with that central park/plaza. A sidewalk could lead from there to the FBI pedestrian entrance, for example. Probably just a tweak is called for here such as moving or redesigning the 6 Bldg. After all, this is going to be TOD, so let's make it so :-)

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 5:12 pm • linkreport

How exciting. An office park!

by kob on Jul 31, 2014 5:37 pm • linkreport

It looks like the Metro entrance would be around the corner from and hidden from the plaza. I'd prefer it open directly onto the plaza.

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 5:38 pm • linkreport

If this "office park" has shops, restaurants, food court, etc. and isn't too spread out, it could work. Especially when properly oriented around the Metro station entrance :-)

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 5:40 pm • linkreport

Here's hoping Greenbelt gets some decent weekend bus service in tow with all these Metro proposals.

by asffa on Jul 31, 2014 5:56 pm • linkreport

Actually the rendering makes it look like a small downtown built on a grid of streets.

by Dave G on Jul 31, 2014 6:03 pm • linkreport

These renderings are really neat and exciting, but unfortunately I suspect FBI will end up going with Virginia, given their ties to the state (e.g. Quantico, and I believe most of their employees live in Virginia). Hopefully Greenbelt can be red̈eveloped regardless.

by Fran on Jul 31, 2014 6:03 pm • linkreport

At a Greenbelt City council meeting the developer said the FBI was going to require AT LEAST a 29 acre security perimeter. I guess they kind of left that out of the drawing.

Also the wetlands will drive the configuration more than the developer wants so again the drawing is just fluff.

by Bill Smith on Jul 31, 2014 6:41 pm • linkreport


One of the strong preferences in the GSA's site location criteria is for a 350 foot "security buffer zone" surrounding the new headquarters. A 29 acre buffer zone would render just about every location inside the Beltway unqualified.

by adelphi_sky on Jul 31, 2014 7:59 pm • linkreport

@BTA:Warrenton is horse country, I doubt they want Metro there.

Ashburn is horse country. And yet they are getting metro there.

by Jasper on Jul 31, 2014 8:58 pm • linkreport

Bill Smith - I'm against having complacency about 29 acres of mature forest (or the length of 29 soccer fields each direction) needing cutting down to the ground each direction around the buildings, going all the way to the wetlands.

And reasonably this also means the FBI isn't really playing along with being urbanist/walkable/green, etc. They'll have to build this somewhere, I'm happier if they aren't destroying forest and waterways to do it.

by asffa on Jul 31, 2014 9:49 pm • linkreport

350 feet is like 1 1/2 acres buffer.
So, what is the real plan?

by asffa on Jul 31, 2014 9:53 pm • linkreport

Great Greenbelt rendering and looking forward to the Landover rendering. I think it is a good idea to spread the Federal Agencies around the metro region and allow all regions to benefit from economic development. This is good business for the DMV.

by Tee on Jul 31, 2014 10:23 pm • linkreport

The plan has always been 350 feet. I'm not sure how 29 acres got in the discussion. That that type of buffer is virtually impossible to pull off 2 miles from a metro station and the Beltway. The purpose of the buffer is to deter vehicular bombs having any impact on the buildings. I know of no such bomb but a nuclear tactical bomb that would require a 29 acre buffer.

The Pentagon and the White House don't even enjoy that size buffer.

by adelphi_sky on Jul 31, 2014 11:03 pm • linkreport

I think you guys must be slipping a decimal or s

by JimT on Aug 1, 2014 2:14 am • linkreport

I think you must be slipping a decimal or something. Twenty-nine acres would give you a 350-foot buffer around a perimeter of about 2000 feet; with the buffer the perimeter would be about 4000 feet.

Put another way, a one acre buffer spread around a 2 million square foot parcel would be about 6 feet ride if the parcel was 1000X2000.

by JimT on Aug 1, 2014 2:25 am • linkreport

Actually looks really, really cool! I'm very impressed with the proposed plans. Wasn't expecting something so walkable and urban. I'm hopeful this can happen. This is a great alternative.

by Juan Carlos Contreras on Aug 1, 2014 4:22 am • linkreport

Be careful of Gensler, they are an interiors firm, with little experience in architecture design. Get real professionals with lots of experience to double and triple check everything.
The comment by author, its not terrible is not what you want someone to be saying about your architecture and planning.

by kaylee on Aug 1, 2014 6:09 am • linkreport

Upon closer examination of the plaza rendering, you see the pedestrian entrance into the FBI at one edge of the plaza, below the street. So it appears I have misspoke earlier :-) I would still prefer that pedestrians be able to directly see the FBI pedestrian entrance across the plaza as they exit the Metro station.

by Dave G on Aug 1, 2014 6:21 am • linkreport

5 separate buildings for the FBI? Federally mandated "security" setbacks and hyper-security clearances to come and go and huge parking garages? All at a time suburban office parks are falling out of favor? Has anyone heard any senior FBI officials say where "they" want to move?

by Tom sherwood on Aug 1, 2014 7:44 am • linkreport

Martha's Vineyard?

by JimT on Aug 1, 2014 8:28 am • linkreport

In the rendering, it appears the northern most building along Main St. and Greenbelt Metro Dr. (nearest the Beltway and tracks) has a roadway into the building. Could this be an entryway to another parking structure? Or, as I don't see a connection to the roads closest to the tracks on the other side of the building, I was wondering if maybe a connection under the building and tracks could be made with Edgewood Rd? Connecting the community of Hollywood with the new development and station on the eastern side of the tracks would cost a little more, but would allow the communities to feed into one another. Edgewood Rd. would seem more readily made for through traffic than any other street in Hollywood. It even has a little room for growth at the it's intersection with Rhode Island Ave. Edgewood Rd. would have to be widened east of 51st. Ave., and would cut into some of the tree padding between the road and the Beltway, but not too much.

by Dave B. on Aug 1, 2014 8:31 am • linkreport

@Dave B - Yes, Edgewood would be the only really good street for fully connecting to this area. But I don't know if the locals or anyone else would really want all that traffic going through (the Hollywood neighborhood of College Park - to and from Greenbelt Metro/FBI.

Having said that, I could see Edgewood Rd. continuing under the tracks as a non-motorized pathway only, similar to the one for Lackawanna St. (which probably should be redone and opened for 24 hour use). But either way you'd have to tunnel under all the rail lines.

I also wonder what plans there are for development to the south of this site, plus non-motorized connections to Rhode Island Ave. Trolley Trail, NE Branch Trail, downtown Greenbelt, etc.

by Dave G on Aug 1, 2014 9:01 am • linkreport

This is PG County. The existing residents don't want traffic, even foot traffic. In 20 years, they will be whining about the lack of connection like Reston residents who work in Rockville. The best to hope for is a design that permits the connection later with little retrofit penalty over the cost of doing it today.

Compare National Harbor.

by JimT on Aug 1, 2014 9:23 am • linkreport

This is a great looking plan. It would be nicer if there were more density in the mixed-use area though. The office to residential sq. ft. ratio is surprisingly large, and far larger than any other urban hub in Prince George's and Montgomery. I think five high-rises 150-250 ft tall would be more appropriate than five 3-7 story building given the space constraints on the site. The street level looks very welcoming and active though, which is critical.

My one and only previous concern for the Greenbelt site was that the current development partner with WMATA, Beall, is a full-time lawyer with very little development experience. In my experience projects proposed by sole proprietor "developers" are usually the most likely to be delayed, the hardest to finance, and the most likely to never get built period. With a project of this scale it would be impossible for Beall to pull off on his own. So, I'm glad that he was able to partner with Related Development, a very large, very experienced NYC-based firm.

by King Terrapin on Aug 1, 2014 10:45 am • linkreport

On the one hand - this will be good for the area. WIll provably invigorate alot of the more run down businesses on that strip of Greenbelt road.

On the other hand - adding 11,000 new workers is going to make an already bad traffic situation (the 95/495 merge going south during the morning) much worse. And it will additionally make the same bad going north (on the east side, which is now not so bad).

Probably gonna add another 15 minutes to my commute to Riverdale.

by TomA on Aug 1, 2014 11:37 am • linkreport

Re/Beltway traffic- I drive from north of Langley Park to Largo every day, and the traffic is always going the other way (outer loop in the morning, inner loop in the afternoon/evening).

Re/Greenbelt Station interchange- Right now, the exit for Greenbelt Metro off the Beltway is partial (southbound exit/northbound entrance only). SHA is already in the planning stages of making it a full interchange regardless of redevelopment.

by mociab on Aug 1, 2014 1:52 pm • linkreport

Tnx mociab and others for that touch point about the SHA interchange and to others mentioning the FBI safety "mote." I'll stay my excitement about great things a GSA project will bring to Greenbelt Sta to focus on a couple concerns.

The concept plan above, as approved by PGCo Council, includes egress to I-95 THROUGH the neighborhood being built on Hwy 193 instead of from the enormous Cherrywood Ln @ Rte 201 pavement. Will buyers who realize the future traffic through their un-built neighborhood want to live/buy there? Mr. Beall (ref 10:45am post) has stated that there is no incentive to drive from that "south core" neighborhood to FBI complex, but has not clarified safety and incentive to walk or ride a bike. This plan MAY comply with PGCo Green & Complete Streets intentions but compromises a neighborhood with rush hour traffic to I-95. (Concept approved by PGCo Council and supported by surrounding Municipalities)

Regarding the buffer or "mote:" Just east of the proposed FBI footprint is an endangered land use type. This bottomland hardwood forest (aka undeveloped land) will be required as buffer for the now proposed FBI footprint. Approved plan proposes a fence through the forest/braided stream. This fence and the road to maintain it will certainly mean the removal of the trees to the east (bottom of aerial image above) in the coming decade. I urge people who understand what I am describing to ref the Nat. Wetlands Inventory, and work to prevent the "Crystal City scenario" suggested above for Greenbelt. No one, who wants to continue living in Greenbelt, wants to live in Crystal City.

And more broadly, I hope that people who design infrastructure will be able to pay off their student loans while designing cities that work for healthy people. Greenbelt is bisected by three soot belching roads that make human powered travel dangerous. We want better as does everyone else and our local governments should demand it. Our county is moving in a great direction but ruining an un-built neighborhood by bisecting it with an entrance ramp connection and clearing an adjacent forest is a return to the planning paradigm of a former era. Let's not let that happen.

by GreaterGreenbelt on Aug 1, 2014 3:20 pm • linkreport

Why can't the security fence and inside narrow road be built along the west side of Cherrywood Lane? This would allow the forest and stream to be preserved as part of the FBI security perimeter.

by Dave G on Aug 1, 2014 4:24 pm • linkreport

I assume all of the other buildings will fill up with contractor companies that support the FBI. The hotel will be FBI employees and contractors in from out of town. I'm sure there will be ground floor restaurants and cafes for lunch, but that place will be a ghost town on evenings and weekends. How do you make living here desirable? What's the draw for residents?

by LJW on Aug 1, 2014 5:21 pm • linkreport

It makes far more sense to put Fort FBI at Landover than at Greenbelt. Save Greenbelt for true Transit Oriented Development where people are welcome to live, shop, recreate, and congregate. Landover is a better place for government employees who insist that they must have isolation and extreme protection from the people they claim to serve.

by D.C. Russell on Aug 1, 2014 5:22 pm • linkreport

HOW ABOUT METRO TO LAUREL, or worst case running regular trains? With KONTERRA coming online and the ICC nearing completion it makes perfect sense to start running Metro up through Konterra to Laurel.

by JGL on Aug 1, 2014 7:36 pm • linkreport

There already are regular trains running to Laurel -- on the MARC Camden Line. MARC's schedule is not that great, but commuter rail improvements would be a far better investment than metro rail.

by jms on Aug 1, 2014 11:08 pm • linkreport

Relocating or adding park and ride lots farther out might make sense some day, if enough cars are coming from that far away. That probably means monster parking buildings at Muirkirk. Adding another track on CSX for a shuttle from Muirkik to Greenbelt might be more cost effective.

But I'd place my bet on the Penn Line getting the fourth track before that. At least that has been on the plan. And better Penn Line Service is an obvious alternative to widening BW Parkway, which is being pushed by Congressman Rupersburger.

by JimT on Aug 2, 2014 10:41 am • linkreport

For those interested in the roadway design:

The South Core of Greenbelt Station, south of the potential FBI site and north of Greenbelt Road, is already under development (after being stalled for many years). It was originally meant to be mixed-use, but developer interest is putting in a residential mix of compact townhomes and an apartment site. Townhomes are being built now and are actually quite affordable for the area.

The main road through it, Greenbelt Station Parkway, was actually designed and constructed to be very pedestrian friendly. Single car lanes each way, landscaped median, bike lanes, several traffic calming circles. This road is planned to extend as the connector road north into the potential FBI site. I would imagine that it would keep a similar pedestrian oriented design. I don't think they intend for it to be used for much through traffic, just those accessing the site.

by Chris Allen, PE on Aug 2, 2014 2:03 pm • linkreport

Chris Allen - If the FBI goes in, that will get lots of through traffic. Indian Creek and its forest &( there's also an Indian Creek park, and a Indian Creek trail) looks like it will be negatively impacted.

by asffa on Aug 2, 2014 3:46 pm • linkreport

Whenever people think of planning "traffic calming circles" they should look at accident rates and whether they get statistically increased around them.

by asffa on Aug 2, 2014 3:48 pm • linkreport


In a study of traffic circles in Seattle, collisions decreased dramatically, although it took a few years for the full effect to happen. I'm guessing because it takes time for folks to get used to circles:

In a more comprehensive study:

Recently, the Insurance Corporation of British Colum-
bia published a report titled
Safety Benefits of Traffic Calm-
which summarized 43 international studies. Among
the 43, collision frequencies declined by anywhere from
8 to 100 percent (figure 5.27) after traffic calming mea-
sures were implemented. In none of the studies did collisions increase with traffic calming. The
conclusions reached in this survey are
generally consistent with (though per-
haps somewhat more positive than) many
additional international studies not cited
by the authors.
In this particular survey, traffic circles
and chicanes had the most favorable im-
pacts on safety, reducing collision fre-
quency by an average of 82 percent (fig-
ure 5.28).

by Falls Church on Aug 2, 2014 10:32 pm • linkreport

Falls Church - NJ who was one of the first to go put in tons, later got rid of many of their traffic circles because of accident rates, Maryland put a bunch in after they discovered a 4-fold accident _increase_ after the Towson installation - but say there was lower injuries in all of them. (What did they do to figure that - follow people home?)

by asffa on Aug 3, 2014 4:31 am • linkreport

The single-lane tight circles seem to have the benefit of traffic calming and elimination of left turns. E.g. In PG, Swan Creek and Ft Washington, and along the Lake Arbor area.

But PG also has alot of two-lane circles with no consistency on whether the outer lane is mandatory right turn. E.g. Glenardn by Wegmans. So instead of eliminating left turns they create a situation where people have to quickly change lanes and pay close attention to lane stripes. That type of circle seems singly designed to speed traffic by omitting the need for a stop sign or traffic light.

The NJ circles have large radii and are mainly intended to avoid the need for a traffic light in high volume roads where many would be taking left turns.

by JimT on Aug 3, 2014 9:41 am • linkreport

Keep in mind that roundabouts which have a median in each leg, for purposes of allowing pedestrians to cross only one direction of traffic at a time, are generally safer than those that do not. I was told that traffic circles lack such refuges, while roundabouts have them. Intuition says roundabouts are therefore safer than traffic circle. I'll look for citations later.

by Dave G on Aug 3, 2014 11:14 am • linkreport

Dave G I think the terms are often used interchangeably - roundabouts as designed in some areas aren't the same as others elsewhere, either.
I think it's probable pedestrians are disadvantaged by some roundabout or circle designs.

by asffa on Aug 3, 2014 12:32 pm • linkreport

It would seem that the more mixed-use, non-FBI development that could be brought into the area surrounded by I-95, Cherrywood Lane, Greenbelt Rd. and the railroad tracks the better. If I were the developer of Greenbelt Station, I would consider holding off some on housing-only plans, wait until this site is selected next year for the FBI (as I presume it will be) then add more multi-use development. Also sit down with the FBI site developer to coordinate and make the area as urbanist friendly as possible.

by Dave G on Aug 3, 2014 1:25 pm • linkreport

@asffa - That was based on what I was told by a traffic engineer. It's good enough for me and it's what I go with.

by Dave G on Aug 3, 2014 1:26 pm • linkreport

So to me, a roundabout is well designed for all road users, whereas a traffic circle is designed mainly for motor traffic without enough thought given to the other road users.

by Dave G on Aug 3, 2014 1:29 pm • linkreport

Seems like we need to get rid of DC height restrictions so we stop moving jobs to the middle of nowhere like this. Even with a metro station beside this 90% of employees will drive to work.

by Andrew on Aug 3, 2014 2:07 pm • linkreport


What makes you think Greenbelt is in the middle of nowhere? It's inside the Beltway near other government agencies and Maryland's flagship University.

by adelphi_sky on Aug 3, 2014 8:21 pm • linkreport

The FBI in a 20 story downtown skyscraper overlooking the whole city, surrounded by a security buffer. I like the FBI but I don't know if that symbolism is better than the current building.

by Thayer-D on Aug 3, 2014 9:21 pm • linkreport

I bet 90% of FBI employees drive to work or more than five miles to a metro station today. I have met FBI agents living next to Falls Church metro station who drive in on I66 which exempted law enforcement from HOV rules.

by JimT on Aug 4, 2014 6:55 am • linkreport

forget the ground buffer, what about airspace? that part of DC is no will FAA respond to Greenbelt?

by Jack Jackson on Aug 4, 2014 11:56 am • linkreport


There wouldn't be much change if at all. No commercial or private air travels over Greenbelt now with federal agencies like the FDA, the Army Research Lab, National Archives II, The Agricultural Research Center.

I live in the area and the only air vehicles I see are military helicopters.There may be room for additional restrictions, but not much flies over there now.

by adelphi_sky on Aug 4, 2014 12:11 pm • linkreport

Matt Johnson "No bus loop in the rendering.
Transit riders are always afterthoughts in these plans"
Yes, thinking about that - where's the buses and taxis going? Sure, the FBI won't need them should they walk, but they're needed for the city of Greenbelt.
(also - Greenbelt needs better weekend and night bus service. Why should its nice parks (including a National Park) and its festivals around the New Deal Cafe be kept to those who can get there by car and find parking?)

by asffa on Aug 4, 2014 1:37 pm • linkreport

DaveG & JimT, thanks especially for points about increased car trips to GB metro site by FBI employees. The NEPA process SHOULD require that the security buffer end at the current wetland forest boundary. We shall see.

Chris Allen, Thanks for confirmation of the plan that is, but approvals by City of Greenbelt, for the road they are committed to finance ($8.4M) are ambiguous about non-car enhancements. There is still good intention, but the documented commitment and spirit is to ensure cars to drive the ~4000 feet from Greenbelt Rd to the Metro/FBI or a little further to I-95/495.

C Allen-Regarding residential density. West of the south core egress connector(my term) is a park that will be converted to higher density dwellings if retail is not attracted in a couple years. Again I ask; "who, with choices will buy there."

C Allen-Regarding currently constructed homes. The plan is to include garages below with very short driveways. This is a commitment to the car culture (garage2garage), adjacent to a trans node. It could be much better if the commitment was FIRST to non-car trans. A redeeming quality of the plan is narrow roads with no space to park! Will that intention survive dashed expectations of a few thousand homeowners?!?!?

GB Metro platform is less than a 25 min walk from Greenbelt Rd (via planned I-95 egress). Zero car traffic across the wetland would better serve south core residents. The road could support bike/ped/trans that would quieten the neighborhood. A trans shuttle from Lake Artemesia/Berwyn Heights Police Station would be safe with a bike patrol of prescribed reciprocal agreements between Greenbelt, Berwyn Heights and College Park (all served by this plan). Egress to I-95 inner loop could be managed from the enormous pavement of Cherrywood Ln and Greenbelt Metro Dr.

This is an important conversation. As one who lives near, I value thoughtful comment. Most neighbors want to convert this " parking lot and anthropic Mediterranean wasteland" to its proper urban trans-node density. It is important to exercise NEPA protections fully. (GSA construction projects USUALLY do this.) I think all agree also that smart growth ethics impel us to attract trans-node residents who seek a low-car community. I do not yet see these commitments on paper from the influential stakeholders.

A high traffic inner loop egress is repulsive to people with choices. Bring on the FBI if it will reduce the oft-heard arrogant apology by workers; "I don't live here, I live in _____." but I don't see how such a fortress can. Mowing down the forest shown in the aerial view (above) and bisecting the south core community with an inner loop egress is not an improvement. These may lead to reduced owner occupied dwellings and more commutes by people who declare "I would not live in Prince Geroge's."

Protecting those forests and including a bike/ped/trans road across a wetland will attract people with choices. Those people will demand alternatives to cars, including safe, reliable bike trails to the District and north. Let's do Greenbelt Station right! We can, if we hold out and expect it. Peace GG

by GreaterGreenbelt on Aug 4, 2014 3:31 pm • linkreport

Map of Greenbelt Station Area with TMI instructions: Go to favorite map source. Find Greenbelt MD and a huge ~triangle shaped car park just inside I-495 inner loop. The now Metro lot. SSE of that is the "south core" or now "anthropic Mediterranean wasteland" with some new homes. Past Hwy 193 to the SSE again is intersection of (1)Lake Artemesia, (2)the Berwyn Heights Police Station and a (3)bike bridge to College Park. If you search in Google Maps you will see town boundaries and local police stations to support local safety.

by GreaterGreenbelt on Aug 4, 2014 3:48 pm • linkreport

wrt comments about the Camden Line... my understanding is that ridership is minimal. I know the various times I've taken that train instead of the Penn Line I've always been amazed at the minimal usership. Similarly, I've taken the train from Riverdale to Baltimore a couple times and again, the number of riders seems paltry.

I don't think that's a result of the three trips/day in each direction but the alignment and the dis-likelihood that people between Baltimore and Washington are regularly traveling to Baltimore or Washington or points in between in a manner that would be efficient by MARC.

That being said, were I making the decision, I'd pick VA for efficiency reasons (proximity to Quantico).

But if Greenbelt were picked, the idea about adding commuter rail storage to accommodate VRE service to Greenbelt was a pretty interesting suggestion.

by Richard Layman on Aug 5, 2014 2:08 pm • linkreport

I don't think the FBI needs to cut down that forest east of their proposed buildings, but just make it part of their security perimeter and have their guards hide out in there as they watch for trespassers.

by Dave G on Aug 5, 2014 8:40 pm • linkreport

"I don't think the FBI needs to cut down that forest east of their proposed buildings, but just make it part of their security perimeter and have their guards hide out in there as they watch for trespassers.
by Dave G"

Trees are not security's best friend.

by Steve D. on Aug 6, 2014 5:13 pm • linkreport

Trees are not security's best friend.

They're not an enemy, either. It all depends on how they secure the perimeter.

The CIA has lots of woodlands inside their perimeter, with trees right up to the edge of their buildings. No reason that same pattern can't be used for the FBI.

It would likely mean loss of public access to some of those wetlands, but that would be about as unobtrusive as a 350' security perimeter would get. It's not as if those wetlands would likely be developed for other uses (either buildings or more active parkland), anyway.

by Alex B. on Aug 6, 2014 5:21 pm • linkreport

FBI in Greenbelt is a fantasy spun from the aspirations of Prince George's and Maryland's political classes. They've been wanting some sort of "prize" for decades as they feel Virginia with its far more business-friendly atmosphere took the lions share of development (and tax dollars) in the region while they received next to nothing in comparison.

FBI however has far too much invested in Virginia to make a Maryland HQ worthwhile. The Academy is at Quantico. The Crime Lab is there too. They have lots of other buildings and such scattered across Northern Virginia, and next to nothing in Maryland.

The only way FBI goes to Maryland is through political arm-twisting, bribes or other shady means. They might just have to construct an additional building to conduct all the investigations on just how FBI landed there in the first place...

by S.K.G. on Aug 7, 2014 10:33 am • linkreport

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