The Engraving and Printing Office will soon leave downtown DC and relocate to unused farmland in Beltsville, Maryland.
It’s one of the first buildings you see when you cross the Potomac River and head north on 14th Street toward the National Mall. But soon, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing will leave downtown DC and move to farmland.
The office is moving from its historic building overlooking the Tidal Basin on Southwest 14th Street to unused land at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center which sits along Powder Mill Road – halfway between the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and Maryland Route 201.
“The Washington plant is over 100 years old, very inefficient for 21st century manufacturing,” said office manager Len Olijar. A building that was state-of-the-art when it opened in 1914 is now “a very difficult facility for us to produce”, he said.
“It is difficult to maintain temperature and humidity, and temperature and humidity greatly affect the paper when you print.”
That means it all happens in Beltsville.
“We will be making mostly US currency,” Olijar said. “We will have four production lines there, and we will also do a lot of the research and development related to safety features and design.”
It’s a result of Prince George’s County attracting federal buildings and the jobs they create.
“This is an extremely important project for the county,” said David Iannucci, president and CEO of Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation.
“…We will be very proud of the idea that one of two locations in the United States [where] the currency is going to be printed is going to be in Prince George’s County,” Iannucci said.
He noted that it is located not far from one of the county’s main employment corridors.
“The [nearby U.S.] Currently, the Highway 1 corridor around College Park is probably the fastest growing area in Prince George’s County in terms of employment growth. the construction of new facilities, both apartments and offices; and building on the strengths of the University of Maryland,” he said.
The location will also appeal to many people who already make the daily commute to southwest DC.
“Many of these employees already live in Prince George’s County,” Iannucci said. “So we’re going to offer a lot of them much simpler travel.”
The new building will cost around $1.5 billion and some work on the site has already begun. Additionally, the state has already begun preparing for the traffic improvements that will be needed when 850 new employees begin commuting there for work.
A traffic analysis was conducted on the impact of the new facility, said Lisa Swoboda, senior director of the Maryland Commerce Department’s office of military and federal affairs. And the BW Parkway, Maryland Route 201, and US Route 1 are among the roads that will likely see a lot more traffic.
According to Swoboda, the first occupants are unlikely to move in until 2026, with full occupancy – and the first coined production line – expected a year later.
“The new facility will be equipped with solar panels. It’s going to have a green roof,” Olijar said. They will also plant new trees and native grasses.
“We really want to have a state-of-the-art, modern and sustainable facility.”
A mystery will persist: how will you know if your money is earned there? Currently, money printed in Fort Worth, Texas bears the letters “FTW”. It is unclear what will be used to indicate the money earned in Beltsville.
“There will have to be an indicator,” Olijar said. “There will be a way to tell that these notes are from the manufacturing facility in Beltsville, Maryland.”