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Developer Madison Highland has proposed some new amenities as part of a conversion of 2000 Corporate Ridge in Tysons into live/work units (via Fairfax County)

A developer that turns aging, underused office buildings into apartments designed for residential and work use has set its sights on a property in Tysons just east of the Capital Beltway.

Madison Highland hopes to repurpose the offices at 2000 Corporate Ridge into about 236 live/work units that would range in size from 500 to 2,000 square feet, according to a rezoning application recently submitted to Fairfax County.

Built in 1985, the 10-story office building is an ideal candidate for a live/work conversion, the developer says, citing its “sustained vacancy” and proximity to existing housing, offices and retail, including Tysons Corner Center just on the other side of the Beltway.

“These building and site improvements will transform an underperforming office building into a neighborhood amenity, providing this part of Tysons with a generational opportunity to secure forested natural park space and recreation areas that will also serve as a logical transition from the adjacent residential neighborhoods to nearby commercial amenities,” McGuireWoods land use planner Mike Van Atta wrote in a Sept. 12 statement of justification on the developer’s behalf.

First reported by the Washington Business Journal on Friday (Sept. 16), the proposal furthers Madison Highland’s plans to introduce more “live/work loft communities” to the D.C. area. The group formed this spring as a partnership between developers Madison Marquette and Highland Square Holdings.

The firms previously joined forces to build the Mission Lofts apartments in Bailey’s Crossroads and convert three buildings at the Skyline Center, a project that’s currently under construction. Fairfax County is also reviewing plans to turn two more Skyline buildings and a pair of Merrifield offices being vacated by Inova Health Systems into live/work residences.

In his statement, Van Atta says live/work conversions reflect shifting expectations for office space, as employers seek to accommodate an “unprecedented” rise in people working from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2000 Corporate Ridge site already features sidewalks to Magarity Road, some trails and interior noise mitigation measures that were required when the county originally approved the office building, according to the application.

“This application seeks to build off of those commitments and retrofit the site to accommodate both the modern workplace expectations and necessary amenities for residential uses,” Van Atta wrote.

Proposed amenities include a new neighborhood park and pedestrian path that would be accessible to the general public as well as resident-only facilities, including a park with outdoor sports courts, a rooftop vegetable garden, and a boardwalk shaded by trees through an existing natural preserve space on the site.

According to the application, the apartments will retain a conference center, fitness room, and community kitchen that can already be found on the office building’s ground floor.

Parking will also be largely unchanged, with surface and garage spaces being restriped to provide 702 spots total — a decrease from the 895 spaces on the 8-acre site right now, according to the development plan.

The county’s Department of Planning and Development received the application on Thursday (Sept. 15) but hasn’t formally accepted it yet.

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A person prepares for work with laptop and coffee (via Clay Banks/Unsplash)

There has been no shortage of thinkpieces about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed workplaces, from the waning demand for office space to widespread staffing deficits as workers reevaluated their goals and working conditions.

One trend that may be here to stay is the growing acceptance of remote work, with many people who can telework saying they would do it all or most of the time, if given the option.

While available, detailed data on remote work is limited, about a third of workdays are now being done from home, a decline from the height of office shutdowns in 2020 but well above pre-pandemic levels, The Washington Post reported in August.

According to the Post, remote work has been most prevalent in white-collar sectors, like finance and technology. Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, is among the places with the highest remote-work rates.

Though many offices have reopened, commuting remains down in the D.C. region. In Virginia, 35.9% of businesses increased telework during the pandemic, and 64.7% of them intend to stick with it after the pandemic, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission says based on federal labor statistics.

Has the pandemic changed where or how you work? If you have the option to work remotely, are you taking advantage of it, or do you prefer going to a physical workplace?

Photo via Clay Banks/Unsplash

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(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) A coworking company that advertises its flexible offices as “the future of workspace” is bringing that future to Merrifield.

Venture X has leased nearly 28,000 square feet of space on the third floor of Williams Crossing (3060 Williams Drive) and will open its first coworking location in Fairfax County on Jan. 2, 2023, the company announced last Wednesday (Aug. 10).

The site will offer private offices, shared desks, virtual office space, conference rooms, and a community and cafe area.

This will be Venture X’s fourth Virginia location, including one that opened in Arlington last year, and the second owned by Richie and Charissa Parsons, who also own a location at One Loudoun in Ashburn.

“After being open less than 10 months, our first location is almost at capacity,” Richie Parsons said in a press release. “So, we’ve been looking at options for expansion. When presented with the opportunity to open a Venture X in a highly desirable location next to Mosaic District, we knew this would be the perfect spot for our second location.”

Parsons highlighted the building’s relative proximity to the Mosaic District, I-495 and Route 50, and the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metro station as assets.

Founded in southwest Florida in 2012, Venture X is now a subsidiary of the United Franchise Group Coworks, which is the largest privately held coworking franchise in the world, according to the press release. It has almost 50 locations worldwide.

While initially a challenge for the industry, the pandemic has fueled a coworking revival, as employers push to reopen offices while acknowledging that many workers want the option to work remotely.

Venture X President Michael White said in a statement that the company is “thrilled” to see the Parsons bring a franchise to Merrifield, which he called “an ideal community” for the “contemporary, design-forward” concept.

“Our brand is geared towards business professionals looking for upscale surroundings,” White said. “The demand for more flexible workspace in Virginia continues to increase and this highly anticipated location is expected to enter the market around the end of this year.”

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Hilton is planning a major expansion of its headquarters in Tysons that will bring its workforce at the office to over 1,000 employees.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced this morning (Thursday) that the hospitality company will make “significant upgrades” to the office it has operated at 7930 Jones Branch Drive since 2009.

“Hilton will re-imagine its space to create an even more vibrant place to convene and collaborate, fully integrating technology into the office experience to meet the needs of today’s workforce,” the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) said in a news release and announcement video.

Extending its lease for another 15 years, Hilton says it will continue to approximately 220,000 square feet at Park Place II, one of two adjacent office complexes owned by BF Saul Company by the intersection of Jones Branch Drive and Scotts Crossing Road.

While the amount of space is “roughly the same” as its current footprint, the company plans to enhance its office space and common areas, according to a Hilton spokesperson.

“We will be working closely with our Team Members over the coming months to determine what modifications we will make to create an even more vibrant place to convene and collaborate and to fully integrate technology into our office experience that accommodates today’s workforce,” the spokesperson said by email.

Over the next five years, Hilton plans to add 350 net new jobs at its headquarters, where approximately 800 workers are currently employed.

The extension of Hilton’s stay in Tysons was booked through a partnership between the FCEDA and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, according to the press release. It was also assisted by Youngkin’s approval of a $5 million Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant and a $1 million grant from the state Development Opportunity Fund.

Hilton will be eligible to receive a $1,000 income tax credit for each new, full-time job it creates with the expansion, and the Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding and services to support employee training activities.

“Northern Virginia has been Hilton’s home for more than a decade, and the region has played an instrumental role in helping us create the best, most inclusive home for our Team Members while also managing the demands of a global business,” Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta said in a statement. “We appreciate the continued support of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Fairfax County and the Tysons Partnership in ensuring we continue to attract strong, diverse talent to our vibrant, growing region.”

The Park Place offices will see additional change in the coming years with an overhaul of the Tysons Park Place building at 7926 Jones Branch Drive that got the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ approval on June 28.

State and local officials expressed excitement at the Hilton news in prepared statements: Read More

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Best Buddies Virginia and D.C. had a grand opening reception for its Tysons Corner Center office on July 13 (courtesy Tysons Corner Center)

It took a team effort to get Best Buddies its new office at Tysons Corner Center.

The nonprofit’s Virginia and D.C. affiliate moved into a first-floor suite near the mall’s former Lord and Taylor in March, but the office didn’t get an official grand opening until July 13, according to Molly Whalen, the affiliate’s state director.

While the site is mostly for staff, the office is also intended to serve as a gathering space where Best Buddies can host events, trainings, and meet-ups for participants in its programs to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

In addition to its signature friendship program, which pairs people with and without disabilities to encourage socializing, Best Buddies provides job assistance, leadership development, and two live-in residences in D.C. and Florida.

“We try to raise awareness of inclusion and friendship and employment and leadership advocacy for people with IDD,” Whalen said. “So, just being in the mall and having that Best Buddies sign is a big deal, because people will want to learn more.”

Best Buddies Virginia and D.C. decided a change was needed from the more traditional office it had in Seven Corners after employees pivoted to working from home in March 2020 in response to COVID-19.

According to Whalen, the rent proved too much for a space the organization wasn’t using, and it was set to increase “considerably” each year.

“By end of last year, like October, we were kind of desperate to get out of the contract, because it was just so much money that, as a nonprofit, we were just kind of burning,” she said.

In stepped NBC4’s “The Scene” reporter Tommy McFly, who chairs Virginia and D.C. affiliate’s advisory board and helped secure a discounted lease for a vacant retail storefront for Best Buddies.

The nonprofit was also the recipient of furniture donations from National Association of Manufacturers, which happened to be relocating, and Heather Cooper — a Best Buddies volunteer who happens to be a former White House floral and interior designer — decorated the windows and wall with a mural.

Though the office isn’t open to the public, except for scheduled events, Best Buddies plans to take advantage of the location’s visibility by putting a video and QR codes in the front windows that will enable passersby to get more information about its mission and programs, according to Whalen.

“The new location will provide Best Buddies the opportunity to grow their work and increase its exposure to new audiences while being metro accessible to those they serve,” Tysons Corner Center said in a press release.

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Morning Notes

Why did the geese cross the park trail? (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Person Hospitalized After Vienna Shooting — “Officers are in the 8400 blk of Wesleyan St in Vienna for a shooting. Prelim info, a man shot a roommate inside the home. Victim taken to hospital w/non-life-threatening inj. Suspect is in custody.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Report: Police Declare Personnel Emergency — “Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis and senior staff declared a personnel emergency Thursday, according to a police source, which means mandatory overtime for police officers as FCPD grapples with an ongoing police officer shortage.” [ABC7]

Affordable Housing Projects Get State Funds — Virginia has awarded more than $27 million in state loans for affordable and special needs housing projects, including two in Fairfax County, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office announced last week. The county’s recipients were the Autumn Willow project near Centreville and the One University project by George Mason University’s Fairfax campus. [Patch]

Argument Leads to Stabbing in Centreville — A 32-year-old woman from Falls Church stabbed another woman in the 5700 block of Ottawa Road last Tuesday (July 26) after they got into a dispute, Fairfax County police say. The woman was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. The victim received treatment for injuries not considered life threatening. [FCPD]

Herndon Education Company Plans Reston Move — “Stride Inc. will start the school year in drastically smaller space in a new building. The Herndon educational-technology company is slashing its local office space by more than 80% — moving out of approximately 129,000 feet of office space in Herndon and into 22,000 square feet in a new office it will officially open this fall in Reston’s Plaza America.” [Washington Business Journal]

Instagram Account Shows Maintenance Issues at McLean HS — “The bio for the account @mclean.rot on Instagram reads, ‘The best single word to define this school is ‘gross.” With 71 posts, the anonymous student owner of @mclean.rot has been posting an unvarnished look at McLean High School since February, detailing for all a need for serious maintenance.” [Fairfax County Times]

Chantilly Park Gets Grant to Monitor Water — “Fairfax Water recently awarded Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Friends a Water Supply and Protection Grant in the amount of $1,437 in support of ECLP’s water quality monitoring program…This grant will provide funding for on-site water quality monitoring to address potential pollution threats from nearby construction projects.” [FCPA]

Kings Park Neighborhood Gets Spotlight — “Aside from the people and neighborhood celebrations, the amenities and surrounding businesses have also compelled residents to stay in the area. Charlotte Hannagan, a resident since 2014 and Kings Park Civic Association vice president of social outreach, noted that there’s so much within walking distance of the neighborhood.” [The Washington Post]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 84 and low of 71. Sunrise at 6:11 am and sunset at 8:22 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Blue Origins’ new Reston offices on Edmund Halley Drive (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Jeff Bezos’ commercial space flight company has found its landing spot in Reston.

Blue Origin, owned by the Amazon founder, is docking at 2001 Edmund Halley Drive, a company spokesperson confirmed to FFXnow.

“Blue Origin has grown to more than 6000 employees and continues to hire top talent,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement. “In addition to the growth we are experiencing at each of our current sites, Blue has opened new offices in Denver, Phoenix, and Reston, Virginia. These sites will allow us to recruit additional talent in these regions.”

FFXnow first reported back in March that Blue Origin was set to open an office and facility in Reston during the first half of this year. While it appears that goal was missed, the space flight company is on its way to a 33,000-square-foot space just off the Dulles Access Road and Reston Parkway.

Blue Origin’s new digs will be about two miles from the Wiehle-Reston Metro station and adjacent to the Reston Town Center Metro station, which will open (hopefully) this fall.

According to Blue Origin’s website, the Reston office will host a “Center of Excellence” to support the company’s “Advanced Development Program, New Glenn launch system, new space infrastructure product development, and the company’s Enterprise Technology team.”

While it’s unclear how many employees will be working out of the new location, there appear to be currently 23 jobs open. Those range from “Avionics Thermal Analyst” to “Propulsion Engineer.”

Each job listing includes the same phrasing about making history:

This position will directly impact the history of space exploration and will require your commitment and detailed attention towards safe and repeatable space flight. Join us in lowering the cost of access to space and enabling Blue Origin’s vision of millions of people living and working in space to benefit Earth.

Back in March, Blue Origin held a jobs open house at a Reston hotel.

Blue Origin has two other area offices in D.C. and in Arlington. The small Rosslyn location will remain open, serving a different aspect of the company from the Reston site, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The company made news recently by saying it’s looking to increase the number of people it flies to space in 2022. To do this, Blue Origin will need to build more rockets.

Just last month, Blue Origin sent six more people to space for its fifth space tourism flight.

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Morning Notes

The sky is reflected by the office building at 8150 Leesburg Pike in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Metro Warns of Hour-Long Waits for July 4 — “Due to the reduced number of railcars available for service, capacity on Metrorail will be less than previous Independence Days. That means customers should be prepared for longer wait times, up to 60 minutes, and for crowding to occur, especially at the conclusion of the fireworks.” [WMATA]

Unhealthy Air Possible Today — “Code Orange unhealthy air is forecast for tomorrow (Thursday) for the metropolitan Washington region. Area residents are encouraged to limit outdoor activities.” [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments/Twitter]

Police Make Arrest in Fairfax Shooting — Joshua Daniel Danehower, 33, of Arlington has been charged with second-degree murder after the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Fairfax City resident Gret Glyer. Founder of the online fundraising platform DonorSee, Glyer was reportedly killed while in bed with his wife on June 24. Police describe Danehower as an “acquaintance of the family” but didn’t comment on a potential motive. [Patch, NBC4]

Local Man Indicted for Fatal Alexandria Crash — “A 44-year-old Fairfax County man was arrested on June 22 and faces multiple charges for a February 22 crash on Duke Street that resulted in the death of a driver and injuries to other drivers.” A grand jury indicted Carlos Kami Adar McKethan for aggravated vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of phencyclidine, or PCP. [ALXnow]

Fairfax City Revises Official Seal — “Fairfax City Council voted unanimously during a Tuesday night public hearing to adopt a new city seal. The new seal replaces one containing depictions of a Confederate soldier and a British lord with no direct connection to the city.” [Patch]

Metro Police to Introduce Body Cameras — “Transit Police officers that monitor Metro stations and buses will wear body-worn cameras starting next year, the agency said Tuesday. The Department of Justice gave the Metro Transit Police Department a $905,000 grant for the cameras last year, but now is moving forward with the program.” [DCist]

Health Food Stall Now Open in Tysons — “#MakawSuperfoods’ grand opening is Friday at noon! The health food restaurant that offers fresh açaí bowls and smoothies, recently opened in @TysonsGalleria. For their grand opening, they will be offering a buy ONE get ONE 50% OFF deal and a FREE gift for the first 25 orders.” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]

New Garden Proposed at Lincolnia’s Green Spring — “Green Spring’s Moon Gate Garden project will include a mix of traditional and modern design concepts to draw visitors into this new Asian-inspired garden. This new garden will provide sanctuary and inspiration for 200,000 visitors who come to this Fairfax County Park Authority site annually.” [FCPA]

Oakton Office Complex Changes Hands — “Network Realty Partners has acquired Redwood Plaza, a three-building office complex in Fairfax. Va., for $23 million…Located at 10560, 10580 and 10600 Arrowhead Drive, the trio of Class A office buildings were recently renovated with the addition of a new tenant lounge, which features arcade games, shuffleboard, craft beer on tap, and a 24-hour café.” [Commercial Observer]

It’s Thursday — Clear throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:48 am and sunset at 8:40 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Plans to modernize an office building co-located with Hilton’s corporate headquarters in Tysons are a vote away from becoming a reality.

Tysons Park Place owner B.F. Saul Company garnered the Fairfax County Planning Commission’s support on Wednesday (June 8) for its proposal to allow a 175-foot-tall, “trophy-class” office building in place of the 135-foot-tall building that has stood at 7926 Jones Branch Drive since 1975.

Designed to more closely mirror its 147-foot-tall Park Place II counterpart, which was built in 2008 and houses the Hilton Worldwide headquarters, the new Park Place I will transform the corner of Jones Branch Drive approaching Scotts Crossing Road with more open space and landscaping, according to the special exception application.

“It will be just a tremendous addition to Jones Branch, so [I’m] a hundred percent excited about what you’re offering in this regard,” Providence District Commissioner Phil Niedzielski-Eichner said during last week’s public hearing.

Following up on a final development plan from 2018, the application requests a height increase “for an architectural feature to go a little higher to reflect our gateway location,” land-use lawyer Mark Viani told the planning commission as B.F. Saul’s representative.

In addition to producing a taller, more modern-looking building, the redevelopment will reorient Park Place I 90 degrees to face the Hilton headquarters building and make room for a publicly accessible urban park space and plaza along Jones Branch Drive.

The Park Place I redevelopment will include the addition of a plaza along Jones Branch Drive (via Fairfax County)

The 4,040-square-foot plaza will feature cafe-style tables, amphitheater seating, curved benches, and landscaping. It’s envisioned “as an outdoor room, which could be utilized for a variety of programming, including public gathering and community recreation,” a county staff report says.

The project will also widen Jones Branch Drive to accommodate on-street parking and a new, four-foot-wide bicycle lane. The developer will provide an eight-foot-wide sidewalk with rows of trees along both sides “to provide shade to the pedestrian space and the plaza area,” according to the staff report.

With no curb ramps, the sidewalk will be raised across all three entryways into the property to provide “a continuous experience,” Viani said, adding that B.F. Saul has agreed to include warning strips to alert people with visual impairments when they reach a driveway.

“That’s the focus: to make sure as much as you can within the bounds of safety and appropriateness, make that pedestrian experience continuous along the road front,” Viani said.

The developer has committed to introducing stormwater management features, since there currently isn’t a detention facility for the site. However, its proposal to retain at least 0.78 inches of rainfall on site falls short of the 1-inch minimum recommended by the Tysons Comprehensive Plan.

While the developer has agreed to look for possible ways to increase the amount of retention during the site plan process, Viani said it has “kind of reached the limit of what we can really do.” County planner Sharon Williams noted that there are “several” utility lines under Jones Branch that need to be taken into account.

“We are interested in looking at it, and I think there are ways we can probably reduce imperviousness, but even if we reduce imperviousness, it’s unlikely we’re going to get to 0.79, let alone 0.8 or 1 inch,” Viani said. “That’s just not going to happen in terms of where we are.”

The application is scheduled to go before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors for a public hearing and final approval on June 28.

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Skyline buildings four and five in Bailey’s Crossroads by Target (via Google Maps)

More empty offices at the Skyline complex in Bailey’s Crossroads could be converted for housing.

A development application submitted to Fairfax County on May 3 proposes turning two office buildings into up to 510 “live/work” units ranging from 600 to 1,300 square feet.

The changes would be at Skyline buildings four and five (5113 and 5111 Leesburg Pike), located south of Target and across from Skyline House condos on South George Mason Drive.

Built in the 1980s, the buildings have largely been vacant following a post-2011 exodus of governmental tenants — notably, the Department of Defense — to other offices to save money, according to the application.

“The buildings have been largely vacant and in decline ever since,” McGuireWoods attorney Mike Van Atta wrote in an April 20 statement of justification for the project.

The buildings, which essentially act as a single structure, currently contain nine office floors and a penthouse level above a three-story parking garage.

The connected building six at 5109 Leesburg Pike would remain a commercial space, according to the proposal.

Plaza levels would be made available to restaurants, food markets, residential units, fitness areas and more.

The shift comes after Skyline buildings one through three received county approval in July and September 2020 for a similar repurposing of office space to up to 720 “live/work” units.

Arlington-based Highland Square Holdings acted as the agent for that project, forming a partnership with real estate firm Madison Marquette in April to pursue the Skyline buildings four and five project.

Photo via Google Maps

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