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Navy considering changes to building 197

Thursday - 9/26/2013, 10:08pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- Engineering and procurement officials are quickly working on returning life at the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters at the Washington Navy yard back to normal.

NAVSEA says on its website, "Building 197 remains an active crime scene and we are planning to perform an extensive rehabilitation project once federal law enforcement completes their investigation."

But it won't be anytime soon.

Building 197, where Aaron Alexis' shooting rampage took place Sept. 16, will be closed for an indefinite period of time.

The Navy is considering a range of changes to the building and requests for proposals for modifications to the building are in very early stages.

Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, Navy News Desk Action Officer says, "Building 197 remains a crime scene and custody has not yet been returned to the Navy. No decision has been made about the future of the building."

A source with knowledge of the shooting and the investigation tells WTOP, "The extensive damage to the building and concerns about lingering memories of that day has made it necessary to create a different environment."

NAVSEA officials are working on the requirements to return the building to a suitable workplace before starting the Request for Proposal process. No timeline has been determined for the renovation.

NAVSEA also says it plans to transition "the bulk of the workforce to the recently disestablished Coast Guard headquarters at Buzzards Point."

By mid-October, the facility will set be up to include approximately 2,300 work spaces, a cafeteria, gym, some parking and an "appropriate level of security."

The gruesome and complex scene of the crime has hampered the investigation into determining what happened. Sources tell WTOP emotional issues tied to the shooting have reportedly severely impacted some of those who survived the shooting, including witnesses who faced the gunman and lived to tell about it.

Many employees who hastily exited the facility during the shooting left behind personal effects. NAVSEA says, "With the FBI's help, NAVSEA has been able to retrieve more than 900 laptops from building 197 so employees can continue their critical work."

But recovery of personal items may take much longer say law enforcement sources.

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