Chelsea chosen as New England headquarters
The FBI has chosen Chelsea to be the site of its New England headquarters, winning out over Boston for the agency’s plans to expand its operations.
The announcement was made last week by City Manager Jay Ash and Congressman Mike Capuano.
Neither the FBI nor the General Services Administration commented on the record regarding the announcement. Sources confirmed both agencies will be doing so in the near future.
ACS Development, who will own the structure and will build to house the new headquarters, declined to comment until an official government statement is issued. ACS is the city’s largest property owner and most successful developer. “The FBI has chosen Chelsea,” said Congressman Capuano. “All the details are being worked out. This is a great thing for the city,” he added.
Ash was ebullient about the turn of events – which featured Chelsea winning out over Boston after Mayor Thomas Menino lobbied heavily for a South Boston location for the FBI. “This is great news for ACS, for our urban renewal district, for the city and frankly, for the nation. Chelsea is an ideal location for the facility the FBI is seeking,” Ash said.
Ash reports that the FBI headquarters building will be developed on the Emerald Block, on Everett Avenue and across from Maple Street and the Wyndham Hotel. ACS will build a 250,000 square foot building to the specifications of the FBI.
Ash estimated the cost of the structure and its grounds at $100 million. ACI will then lease back the building to the Government Services Administration for a period of time believed to be at least 10 years with numerous options for extensions. Then the FBI will occupy the building. The city acquired the so-called Emerald Block made up of former auto salvage yards, dilapidated industrial buildings and other properties in 2000. ACS purchased the assemblage in 2003.
Ash and Congressman Capuano have been working with ACS Development to win the highly prized FBI contract for more than four years. An estimated 500 person work force will be housed in the FBI headquarters.
In addition, ACS will pay its full share of property taxes on the structure which will range from an estimated low of $500,000 to a high of $1 million annually.
ACS will also pay for the cost of the building permit when the time comes to apply for one, which will be another huge shot in the arm for the city’s budget.
A building permit could cost as much as $1 million for the project.
“We identified early on that this would bring multiple benefits to the city. The economic development impact is huge, having the FBI headquarters so visible to Route 1 will help us further change the image of the city and help us attract even higher and better development in the urban renewal district and elsewhere,” Ash said.
“It’s a fully taxable development, which will certainly help us to balance budgets and maintain services. Of course, the public safety impact of the FBI coming to town can’t be understated. Having the nation’s premier law enforcement agency bringing hundreds of agents to our community daily will certainly make a big difference on our law enforcement strategy,” he said.
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes
“We can’t wait to talk further with the FBI about how we can work together to address those pressing public safety areas,” commented Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes. “We already work great with them, and appreciate their interest in many of the issues we have here in Chelsea. Having them in our backyard, though, could lead to an even more productive working relationship.”
Among those expected to be working at the site are special agents, intelligence and financial analysts, investigative specialists, support services technicians, language specialists, public affairs specialists, paralegals, electronics technicians and security experts.
ACS Development is expected to begin the permitting process in January and unveil its development plans at that time.
In addition to a building that Ash described as handsome and presenting the elements one would expect in a major federal headquarters, he said there will be a parking garage near to the 5 story building that is bordered by Beech and Spruce Streets.
Substantial infrastructure improvements have already taken place on Spruce Street over the past year, and more are anticipated early next spring for both Spruce Street and Everett Avenue.
Groundbreaking is expected in late spring. It will take 16-18 months to build the FBI headquarters from start to finish.