US real estate firm Lerner Enterprises is sizing up a former mall in Maryland as a potential data center campus if the FBI chooses not to relocate there.

First reported by BizJournal, Lerner affiliate Brightseat Associates LLC filed an early-stage application this week with Prince George's County's land use regulatory agency for a "qualified data center."

Landover Mall Lerner Maryland.jpg
– Google Maps

Details on the potential scope of the data center development are unclear at this time.

Set on 80 acres in the city of Landover to the east of Washington DC, the site was previously a shopping mall that has since been demolished.

The site is earmarked as one of several candidates for the FBI’s new headquarters. David Iannucci, who heads up the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp., told BJ that, to his understanding, Lerner is still “totally committed to pursuing the FBI” and application is “a backup plan.”

The Landover Mall was built by Lerner and opened in 1972 and closed in 2002, and was demolished in 2006. Sears remained on a portion of the land it owned until 2014. Lerner previously proposed building a hospital as well as an office/hotel/residential/commercial complex on the site at various times, and went as far as putting the land up for sale in 2018, touting the land as a potential data center development opportunity.

The FBI has been looking to relocate its HQ away from the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington DC for some 15 years or more. The relocation process was canceled in 2017 by then-President Donald Trump before being restarted again last year under the current Biden Administration.

The mall site is one of two potential sites in Prince George's County – along with an 82-acre parking lot site in the city of Greenbelt owned by Boston Properties – as well as a 58-acre General Services Administration (GSA)-owned tract in Springfield Virginia’s Fairfax County near the FBI's Quantico facility in Prince William County.

Reports from June suggest the Virginia site is the preferred choice due to its proximity to Quantico, to the chagrin of Maryland officials, but no final decision has been made yet.

The FBI has been in the J. Edgar Hoover Building, located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, since it was built in 1975. Prior to this, the agency had been housed at the Department of Justice Building nearby at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW since 1935.

Lerner Enterprises is a real estate firm owned by the family of Washington Nationals owner Theodore N. Lerner. Lerner passed away in February 2023.

The company is linked to a proposed data center campus project in Gainesville, Prince William County.