If the DHS relocation to the west campus is derailed altogether, that wouldn't mean a total federal abandonment of the property, since the Coast Guard has already moved there. But it would significantly scale back the federal presence. Some city leaders have stressed the importance of a federal anchor for the area. "The only developer in the U.S. that consistently puts up money for historic properties is the federal government," Del. Eleanor Holmes Nortonsaid in 2007, when the DHS move was under consideration.
Still, it's hard to imagine that neighbors of St. Elizabeths will shed many tears over the loss of the headquarters. The promise of economic revitalization driven by the federal presence is almost certainly overblown; just look at the Coast Guard, few of whose employees actually venture into Anacostia or Congress Heights to spend their dollars on food or other goods. Nearby Bolling Air Force Base might as well be in Texas, given how little time (and money) its workers spend in the adjacent neighborhoods. Many people would argue that the city would be better off with a publicly accessible area, full of residences or offices or park space, at the Bolling site than a military base.