Planning officials have approved proposals to turn a former mall site in Maryland earmarked as the FBI's new HQ to become a data center campus.

BisNow and BizJournal report Prince George’s County Planning Board last week unanimously approved Lerner’s application to develop data centers on the site in Landover, to the east of Washington DC.

Landover Mall Lerner Maryland.jpg
Lerner gains planning board approval for a data center campus – Google Maps

Spanning an 87-acre site, the Brightseat Tech Park project would span around 4.1 million sq ft (380,900 sqm) of potential data center space. Further details on the proposed campus haven’t been shared.

County staff recommended approval, saying: “The development helps in diversifying the county’s tax base, and will contribute to the economic mix in the sector plan area.”

The site was previously a shopping mall that has since been demolished. It had been earmarked as one of several candidates for the FBI’s new headquarters, but lost out to an 82-acre parking lot site in the city of Greenbelt owned by Boston Properties. The decision was made in November 2023, but was met with controversy and is under investigation.

Lerner, as a potential backup if it lost out, last year filed an early-stage application with Prince George's County's land use regulatory agency for a "qualified data center” on the site.

The company then pressed ahead with alternative plans after losing out on the FBI contract and filed preliminary plans for data center development earlier this year.

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 Landover Mall was built and opened by Lerner in 1972, closed in 2002, and 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 company is also linked to a proposed data center campus project in Gainesville, Prince William County.