- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

Arlington County would lose nearly 10 percent of its work force and the same percentage of its office leases under the Defense Department plan announced yesterday to reassign military bases and workers nationwide.

The Defense Department leases about 8 million square feet of office space in 140 Northern Virginia buildings, most of them in Arlington County.

The department plans to vacate the commercial buildings over the next six years and move workers to military bases for both security and cost-efficiency reasons.

The Virginia base that would be closed is Fort Monroe, near Hampton, Va.

Some of the workers would be moved to nearby Fort Belvoir and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, Md.

Fort Belvoir, for example, would gain 18,420 new military and civilian employees. Fort Meade would gain 5,361 new workers under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission plan described by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Mr. Rumsfeld said the Defense Department would save $48 billion over 20 years with the reassignment of personnel.

However, some Virginia politicians oppose the plan.

“It is estimated that the BRAC recommendations will cause Northern Virginia to lose over 20,000 jobs and billions in related spending and contracts,” said Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat. “I am opposed to Rumsfeld’s targeting of this lease space and will take whatever actions available to prevent these defense agencies from relocating out of the region.”

Jay Fisette, chairman of the Arlington County Board of Supervisors, said he believes Arlington County can “backfill” the lost Defense Department office leases with companies and government agencies.

“We have a lot of federal work force here beyond [Department of Defense],” Mr. Fisette said.

Planned projects for Arlington County in the next several years include a new Environmental Protection Agency headquarters and a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. building.

Major corporations planning to move to the county include corporate adviser Corporate Executive Board. Public broadcaster PBS also plans to move to the county.

The base-closing recommendations include new security standards for buildings used by military personnel.

Buildings not on military bases would be required to be set back from roadways to avoid risks of vehicle bombs.

They could include no ground-level retail stores, and underground parking design and access would be restricted.

The new standards already are required for new construction. They will be required for newly leased buildings in October and for lease renewals in 2009.

Arlington County and Washington-area real estate officials said no office buildings in the Washington area meet those standards.

“There’s only so much they can do in an urban area,” said Sandy Paul, vice president of Delta Associates, an Alexandria real estate research firm.

“They’re more interested in having people in a campus setting where you can control security better, as opposed to someplace like Crystal City, where you have a lot of offices on top of one another.”

Mr. Fisette called the standards “misguided.”

The board prefers options such as better security technology and limiting the new standards to “mission critical” defense facilities, instead of nearly all buildings and employees.

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