The federal government’s announcement of a new 15-year lease that will keep the in Rockville is good news for the county’s economy and for redeveloping the area around the Twinbrook Metro station, elected officials said Thursday.
“We are collectively delighted to keep our partner in the Health and Human Services agency strongly grounded in Rockville,” said County Councilwoman Nancy M. Floreen (D-At large) of Garrett Park.
The projected 3,000 employees who will work in the high-rise at 5600 Fishers Lane “are really important to Montgomery County, particularly in this time of financial stress,” Floreen said.
The building is just outside the City of Rockville's corporate limits.
The U.S. General Services Administration announced on March 10 that it had selected the building for the lease.
The county said on Thursday that Chevy Chase-based JBG Companies would invest $270 million to renovate 932,391 square feet of office space in the building so that HHS can consolidate four offices there, with employees being relocated there beginning in summer 2014.
Now, county officials are looking forward to the new property tax revenue for the county and the increased foot traffic for Twinbrook businesses that the renovated building's expanded space and new employees are expected to bring.
“The Parklawn Drive Building is adjacent to the Twinbrook Metro station and convenient to shopping and dining in the area, which is consistent with our county’s transit-oriented development initiative,” County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said in a statement.
A sector plan approved by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in January 2009 aimed at focusing development around the Twinbrook Metro station.
The Twinbrook plan “anticipates redevelopment around Metro and HHS,” Floreen said. The agency, in turn, will benefit from the businesses that it does business with and that it will draw to the neighborhood, she said.
The lease announcement makes HHS “a real player in the future in the Twinbrook plan and frankly within the whole county,” Floreen said.
Metro access was the most important consideration when evaluating the location of the competing sites, according to a GSA news release. The sites were also evaluated for their building characteristics.
“GSA used our best value methodology for the selection, which allows us to balance the qualities and features we seek in a location with the price,” Cathy Kronopolus, Public Buildings Service Regional Commissioner for GSA’s National Capital Region, said in the release. “Parklawn will provide first-class office space, in a sustainable building, proximate to a Metrorail station at a good value for the American taxpayer.”
Bridgett Frey, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Dist. 8) of Kensington said that the congressman is “confident that the General Services Administration evaluated all of the relevant criteria to make the decision that was best for taxpayers, the agency and its employees.
“Congressman Van Hollen is proud to have an expanded U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Maryland’s Eighth District,” Frye said.
The Parklawn Building beat-out a site at Largo Town Center in Prince George’s County, The Gazette reported.
A spokesman for Prince George’s County Executive "
In 2008, The Gazette reported that without renovations, the federal government looked poised to move out of the 40-year-old Parklawn Building.