Alexandria vs. Springfield: Alternative sites examined

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For more than a year, Fairfax County officials and members of Congress have worked to move a portion of the incoming throngs of federal Defense Department workers to the aging General Services Administration warehouse complex in Springfield.

The site is virtually next door to a Metro station and will no doubt assist in the revitalization of Springfield.

But there is a proverbial  thorn in the side of the county. The City of Alexandria has come forward with an alternative space, the Victory Center, an already-built structure that most recently housed the Army Materiel Command. It is also near a Metro station.

When Congress capped the number of workers allowed on the Engineer Proving Ground to 8,500, it put the relocation of 6,200 employees of Washington Headquarters Services in limbo. The Department of the Army is conducting an environmental assessment and, so far, has three options on where those workers could be put. The third option is the Army taking no action and keeping the 6,200 workers where they are now.

A longtime advocate for the GSA site, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th), whose jurisdiction also falls into the City of Alexandria, has taken a position of equanimity.

Im optimistic that the opportunity exists to utilize both sites, which could work to the advantage of all parties, Moran said. Ultimately, its up to the Army where they want their employees located. But I will continue to advocate for solutions that make traffic mitigation the top priority, Moran said, pleased that at least the reality of spreading out the workers somewhere is coming to fruition.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille said that Springfield will have enough of a chance to revitalize with the billions of dollars of renovations that will be going into Springfield Mall over the next decade or so.

The [Victory Center] site itself meets Department of Defense setback requirements and is ready to go. Its close to residential living and, in the end, were losing 7,000 employees just in the City of Alexandria because of BRAC, Euille said. With the 6,200 figure, that will help us backfill the people we are losing.

He believes another deal for the GSA site would present itself for Springfield in the near future.

Naturally, Nancy-jo Manney, Executive Director of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, wants the workers in Springfield.

Manney said the GSA site is perfect because of its access to Metro, VRE, Interstate 95, residential availability in nearby Kingstowne, as well as the commercial aspects of what  6,200 people could bring to the area.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland said that in his history with the Army and the base realignment process, It doesnt matter. No matter what we suggest, were talking and theyre not listening until they realize what we are saying is the right thing to do.

Hyland was alluding to the fact that, in addition to other suggestions, the county originally proposed that the Army should use the Engineer Proving Ground instead of putting all of its eggs in one basket on Fort Belvoir, a suggestion that was eventually taken when the proving ground was turned over to the Army.

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