March 08, 2013
Potomac Shores developer touts land swap experience in pursuing FBI for Prince William County
By Jonathan O’Connell
The Washington Post
Among the 35 proposals submitted this week in the search for a new FBI headquarters was Potomac Shores, a nearly 2,000-acre town center development along the Potomac River in Prince William County that already features a Jack Nicklaus-branded golf course and is expected to have a stop on the VRE commuter rail line by 2017.
The project stalled during the recession, but a new developer, SunCal, bought into it and is now planning 3,800 homes and 3.7 million square feet of commercial space.
Prince William County backed the proposal. Jeffrey A. Kaczmarek, the county’s economic development director, said he thought it was the county’s best chance at luring the agency.
“We really kind of did a fair amount of due diligence and what we thought, looking at the [search for partners], is why not give them the best site?” he said.
Potomac Shores is 30 miles from the District, which is farther from downtown than the FBI is likely to prefer, but SunCal has a bit of experience on its résumé that could distinguish it from competitors: It has previously completed a major government land swap, the sort of which Dan M. Tangherlini, acting administrator at the General Services Administration, has proposed for the FBI.
In the Northern California city of Dublin, SunCal agreed to build $66 million worth of new administrative and operations facilities for the U.S. Army Reserve in exchange for 180 acres of unused land.
The deal has been called the “largest-ever exchange agreement” with the Army Reserve. Work began on the first buildings on Wednesday. It could serve as a blueprint for companies interested in both building a new FBI campus in the region and also acquiring the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Peter Chavkin, vice president for acquisitions at SunCal, said that in the FBI search the GSA appeared to be “looking for the private sector to answer a lot of questions as it relates to the exchange.”
Chavkin said he hoped the experience gave SunCal a leg up in pursuing the FBI. “It’s essentially the same thing – we are building them buildings in exchange for land,” he said.