Agency picks site for FBI records complex

A federal agency has selected a location east of Winchester as the preferred site for a new FBI Central Records Complex.

The U.S. General Services Administration announced Friday that it intends to buy a 60-acre parcel on U.S. 50 in Frederick County for the construction of a $109 million records facility, according to information from the agency as well as from U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

The agency named the property at 2117 Millwood Pike, known as Arcadia, as the preferred location for the facility over two other sites near Winchester that were under consideration.

Specifically, the GSA prepared a supplemental environmental impact statement for the site acquisition, development and operation of the records complex. The alternatives evaluated in the statement included the Arcadia and Whitehall properties. The statement indicates it would cost less to build on the Arcadia site because the Whitehall property contains karst topography, made up of limestone and potentially sinkholes.

The new facility is expected to employ an estimated 1,200 people. The complex, in the planning stages for more than 10 years, would consolidate paper records currently kept in hundreds of locations across the country into one centralized facility.

A 30-day public review period begins with Friday’s publication of the notice of availability in the federal register. Electronic copies of the statement may be downloaded from www.fbicrc-seis.com by selecting Final FBI CRC SEIS 2016. Printed copies of the statement are available for public review at Handley Library in Winchester, Bowman Library in Stephens City and Smith Library at Shenandoah University in Winchester. After the review period, the GSA will announce a decision on the proposed action and publish the announcement in March.

The GSA announced last February that it intended to prepare the statement that would look at the potential environmental impacts of the construction of a new complex. The GSA studied the following sites:

• A 60-acre parcel, owned by Arcadia Communities, at 2117 Millwood Pike, east of Winchester.
• A 90-acre parcel, owned by the Blackburn Limited Partnership, off Apple Valley Road and near Va. 37, west of Winchester.
• A 50-acre parcel, in the Whitehall Commerce Center off Rest Church Road/Woodbine Road near U.S. 11 in Clear Brook, north of Winchester.

Plans were announced in late January 2004 to move the FBI’s records to a site outside Winchester. It was expected then that the facility would be operational in 2010. Congress failed to fund the project and plans stalled until 2014 when Virginia’s congressional delegation secured the $98 million for the construction.

U.S. Sens. Warner and Kaine on Friday lauded the GSA’s decision as a benefit for Frederick County and Winchester. The senators indicated that the decision to build a records complex in the county also bolsters the arguments for their efforts to have the FBI build its new headquarters in Springfield.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com