On June 29, the FBI held a quiet ground-breaking ceremony to symbolically mark the beginning of the construction on the organization’s new Innovation Center at Redstone Arsenal.
The building will serve as the FBI’s technical hub where multiple technology focused divisions will be able to work and train together.
The Innovation Center will include a Kinetic Cyber Range, a Virtual Reality Classroom, multi-purpose classrooms with enhanced audiovisual capabilities, along with labs and workspaces.
“This will significantly enhance the FBI’s technical capabilities as well as provide FBI partners with the opportunity to train and collaborate on new tools and techniques,” an FBI spokesperson said in a press release. “The FBI hopes this tech-focused, high energy aesthetic building will also help attract and retain talent to grow the cyber workforce.”
Long before the ceremonial turning of the dirt, workers from the Garrison played an important role in helping facilitate the FBI’s move to post.
The Garrison’s involvement began around 2009 to 2010, when the FBI was conducting a number of site visits to see where they wanted to locate.
“Long story short, it seemed like there was some potential here,” Jake Roth, division chief for the Directorate of Public Works master planning, said.
Specifically, he listed a number of factors that are hallmarks of what makes Redstone attractive for many tenants, such as high salaries, low cost of living, reasonable home prices and good infrastructure, to make it easy for people to travel in and out of town.
Since the FBI is a non-Army tenant, it meant that the DPW team had to go through a lengthy permitting process, which involved carving out a parcel of land for the FBI to use, having the proper environmental surveys done and figuring out the infrastructure needed to support it.
When a federal tenant locates on Redstone, they don’t lease the land like other tenants. Instead, they get a land permit, which allows the Army to keep possession of the land, but gives the federal tenant the ability to use it for free.
There’s a fair amount of cooperation that goes between a tenant and the Master Planning Division at DPW.
“It’s not something where DPW controls what the FBI does and it’s not something where the FBI controls everything they do,” Roth said. “There’s a lot of communication for the day that they decide they even want to talk about coming to Redstone. It’s a series of conversations and a huge group of people working together.”
Master planning is responsible for the overall vision, the master plan for Redstone. But each entity, like the FBI, will have their own master plan for what they want to do at their site.
The FBI will give its master plan to the DPW, which will review it to be sure it works with the overarching plan.
“And then once that happens, they are able to program and move out on their plan,” Roth said.
From that point, DPW Master Planning stays in the loop and assists when needed, but the process is mostly driven by the tenant.
In the near future, DPW will oversee road projects at Martin Road and Dodd Road to provide lanes, the installation of a traffic light and the widening of Dodd Road from Martin Road due south of the FBI main entrance, followed by work to widen Fowler Road to allow for turn lane improvements at the intersection.
“Redstone is a Federal Center of Excellence, and we all throw that term out there, but it does mean something,” Roth said. “It means something to us in master planning. It means something to the FBI. It’s not something that happens in a vacuum.”