The remaking of Virginia Tech’s campus near the West Falls Church Metro station as a futuristic mixed-use development can officially begin.
Approved by the Falls Church City Council in August 2022, the $25 million sale required the city to terminate Virginia Tech’s 40-year lease on the property at 7054 Haycock Road. Falls Church retains about $8.4 million of the proceeds from the sale, with the remaining $16.57 million going to the university, according to agreements authorized on July 25, 2022.
The sale paves the way for the academic center’s transformation into a new headquarters for HITT Contracting, a construction company currently based in Fairview Park near Merrifield. The development will also include a construction research lab for Virginia Tech and apartments with ground-floor retail.
“This closing marks an important milestone in a decade-long planning effort initiated by the City of Falls Church,” Falls Church Mayor David Tarter said in a statement. “We are excited about having the national headquarters of HITT Contracting and the Virginia Tech Coalition for Smart Construction as neighbors to our West Falls project.”
Part of a push to revitalize the West Falls Church Transit Station Area, the Northern Virginia Center redevelopment has been in the works since 2019 but stalled in early 2021 after Virginia Tech and HITT decided not to move forward. The lease termination and sale agreements with Falls Church helped revive the project last year.
Converge — a joint venture of HITT and the developer Rushmark Properties — submitted a development plan in September 2022 that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved on July 25.
In a formal unveiling this week, HITT shared that its new six-story, 270,000-square-foot headquarters will emphasize sustainability and serve as a “hub for education and innovation in construction,” while also providing better access to mass transit for its more than 900 local employees.
Features will include a 100,000-square-foot rooftop solar panel array and 40,000 square feet of ground-floor space for Virginia Tech’s new Coalition for Smart Construction, a research center that “will advance building practices and ultimately shape the industry’s future.”
HITT says its research and development team already has over 20 projects that it plans to work on at the new headquarters.
Notable ventures already in progress include a newly patented prefabricated building skin that reduces weight, increases speed to market, and creates more efficient buildings. HITT is pioneering the first use of the Caracol Heron AM robotic arm installed in the US for 3D printing, aimed to augment traditional construction methods, and implementing robotics on-site to support an enhanced experience for HITT’s field team through technology-enabled workflows.
“As an industry, we have to do better to tackle the challenges of rising costs, labor shortages, and our environmental footprint,” HITT Co-Chairman Brett Hitt said. “I believe that Virginia Tech will push the boundaries of construction by bringing its brilliant students to a space where they can work alongside our industry’s brightest minds. Bringing industry and academia together under one roof will help us effect real change.”
Outside the construction world, the project will also deliver a 13-story, 440-unit apartment building with up to 18,000 square feet of retail, 55,000 square feet of urban parks, and a portion of West Falls Station Blvd, a new road that will link the also-redeveloping West Falls and Metro station properties.
HITT CEO Kim Roy said the company is “ecstatic” that it will “continue growing in Fairfax County.
“We’re thankful to the City of Falls Church, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Fairfax County for supporting our plans to build this cutting-edge development,” Roy said. “We’re deeply committed to being good stewards of the local community and the environment.”
According to HITT, construction on its headquarters is expected to begin in early 2025 and finish in late 2026.
The final piece needed to fully redevelop the West Falls Church Transit Station Area has fallen into place.
After a public hearing on Tuesday (July 25), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved developer Rushmark Properties and HITT Contracting’s proposal to transform Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in Idylwood into a mixed-use hub designed to promote sustainability.
With the aid of architectural renderings, a representative for the development team known collectively as Converge West Falls bestowed a futuristic aura on the plan to replace the university’s existing four-story academic building at 7054 Haycock Road with an updated office building and apartments.
“This all looks otherworldly almost,” Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross observed before expressing “some qualms” with the location of a kids’ play area next to four-lane-wide Falls Church Drive.
The play area will be in a 7,908-square-foot Pocket Play Park — one of three publicly accessible open spaces proposed for the 7.5-acre Converge development, according to the rezoning application.
The developers also plan to build a 7,419-square-foot Sustainability Pocket Park with a boardwalk and other features on a stormwater management pond and a 42,668-square-foot Innovation Civic Plaza in the median of West Falls Station Blvd, a new private street that will be extended west from the recently approved Metro station redevelopment to the West Falls project now under construction in Falls Church City.
Those parks will be complemented by walkways, public art, pollinator gardens, landscaping and seating throughout the property, along with QR codes that will enable visitors to learn more about the site’s construction, said Walsh Colucci lawyer Andrew Painter, the development team’s representative.
The civic plaza is intended to serve as “the nucleus” of the development with an event lawn and an electronic, LED “Cloud Pavilion” whose canopy can be programmed to change color, shape, size and design based on the environmental factors, such as the angle of the sun.
“We believe this is going to be an immersive experience that will be a distinctive public art moment for the entire West Falls Church transportation area,” Painter said of the open-air pavilion.
According to Painter, the developers also wanted to create a “defining architectural statement” with the planned, 270,000-square-foot office building, which will house a new corporate headquarters for HITT and a Coalition for Smart Construction run by Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture.
Topping out at 120 feet tall, the building will have a 100,000-square-foot solar panel array on its roof that’s expected to generate between 1,100 and 1,400 megawatts of electricity — enough to power the whole facility. It will aim for net-zero carbon emissions.
“Furniture within this building will be generated with a 3D printer,” Painter said. “The façade of the building will be prefabricated to reduce the carbon footprint…Every step of the way, we’ll be incorporating those types of sustainability elements in the building.”
Apartment building height a sticking point for some residents
Community criticisms of the project, however, focused on the 13-story, 440-unit residential building — specifically its height, which will reach 145 feet along West Falls Station Blvd and taper down to 85 feet at the corner of Falls Church Drive and Haycock Road. Read More
Less than two years after overhauling its plan for the West Falls Church Metro station area in Idylwood to allow more development, Fairfax County needs to make a relatively limited but critical revision.
During its meeting last Tuesday (March 21), the Board of Supervisors authorized a study of an amendment to the comprehensive plan for the West Falls Church Transit Station Area (TSA) that would allow more office on Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center at 7054 Haycock Road.
The amendment would also reduce the amount of institutional space proposed for the 7.5-acre property, reflecting changes to developer Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting’s plan to expand the campus.
“The rezoning application by HITT Contracting and Rushmark Properties proposes a decrease in the planned institutional use by 120,000 square feet and an increase in general office use by approximately 62,000 square feet,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said in his motion asking the board to authorize the study.
Plans to redevelop Virginia Tech’s Idylwood campus have been percolating since 2018, when the university received an unsolicited bid from Rushmark. HITT got involved a year later, seeking to relocate its headquarters to the site.
That original pitch also called for a new academic building and a design and construction research center, along with an additional 250,000 square feet of office space, 500 residential units and 50,000 square feet of retail.
However, Virginia Tech announced on Feb. 28, 2021 that it and HITT had agreed not to move forward with the project. Despite that termination, the proposed development was still incorporated into the new West Falls Church TSA plan approved by the Board of Supervisors on July 12, 2021.
The plan allows 1,720 dwelling units, 301,000 square feet of office use, 48,000 square feet of retail, and 160,000 square feet of institutional use across the TSA, including on the adjacent Metro station property.
Rushmark and HITT put forward a new redevelopment plan last fall that would replace the existing Northern Virginia Center with a 283,000-square-foot office building, up to 440 residential units, and a 2,000-square-foot retail pavilion.
The newly requested plan amendment will be considered at the same time as that rezoning application, which is scheduled for a public hearing before the Fairfax County Planning Commission on June 7.
According to Foust, the use changes won’t affect the 2.5 floor area ratio now allowed on the Virginia Tech site or the overall development limits for the TSA.
A massive array of solar panels could provide cover for the office building that developer Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting are planning to build at Virginia Tech’s campus near the West Falls Church Metro station.
In a final development plan recently submitted to Fairfax County, the two companies — collectively known as Converge West Falls LLC — propose installing a photovoltaic array canopy on top of the building, which will house HITT’s corporate headquarters and laboratory space for Virginia Tech’s planned National Center for Smart Construction.
Standing approximately 117 feet tall, the canopy would encompass approximately 112,000 square feet, making it larger than the roof of the 270,000-square-foot building. It would have nine support columns ranging in height from 91 to 111 feet, per the application.
“The tree-like columns provide a structural solution while also creating the sense of lift and grandeur emulating a modern woodland canopy,” Walsh Colucci land use lawyer Andrew Painter said in a Nov. 22 statement for the applicant. “The multifunctional solar array canopy also shades the building from the sun, as one of the proposed building’s energy-reduction measures.”
The array is expected to generate between 1,100 and 1,400 megawatts of electricity — enough to supply most of the building’s energy, the application says.
The solar panels are one of several amenities detailed in a trio of plans filed last week to expand Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center at 7054 Haycock Road.
Most of the office building — 230,000 square feet — would be devoted to HITT’s headquarters, but Virginia Tech would have up to 40,000 square feet on the northern side for educational purposes. A maximum height of 97 feet and six stories has been proposed.
Under the submitted plan, the building would be served by a below-grade parking garage and a 23,500-square-foot entry plaza on the south side with built-in benches, movable tables and chairs, “playful” lighting, and garden areas with native tree, pollinator and flower plantings.
“A large depression pond that exists on the site will be repurposed into a bioretention garden to treat stormwater run-off and provide visual interest along Falls Church Drive,” Painter wrote.
Further south on the 7.5-acre site between Mustang Alley and Falls Church Drive will be a 532,000-square-foot multifamily building with 440 residential units and 18,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
Converge is planning to offer a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units that “will be larger than the current industry trend to better accommodate families,” according to the application. The building will be up to 139 feet tall, descending to 82 feet along Falls Church Drive. Read More
A developer has officially filed plans with Fairfax County to bring housing, retail, and new office and academic facilities to Virginia Tech’s campus in Idylwood.
As a joint entity named Converge West Falls LLC, real estate investment firm Rushmark Properties and the construction company HITT Contracting have proposed replacing the existing Northern Virginia Center at 7054 Haycock Road with a 283,000-square-foot office building, up to 440 residential units, and a 2,000-square-foot retail pavilion.
Submitted last Thursday (Sept. 22), the application fleshes out an agreement made earlier this year between Converge and the City of Falls Church, which intends to sell the approximately 7.5-acre site to the developer.
The project will “serve as a logical connection” between the West Falls development on Falls Church’s former George Mason High School property and a planned redevelopment at the West Falls Church Metro station, Walsh Colucci land use attorney Andrew Painter wrote in a statement of justification on Converge’s behalf.
Rushmark is also involved in the Metro project, which will turn the Metro station’s existing parking lots into housing and office buildings with some retail.
Reviving a stalled plan between Virginia Tech and HITT, Converge’s Northern Virginia Center proposal features roughly 820,000 square feet of development across three buildings on two blocks west side of Falls Church Drive and north of Haycock Road:
- Building A: A 283,000-square-foot office and education facility that will house HITT’s corporate headquarters and a 40,000-square-foot laboratory space for Virginia Tech, dubbed the National Center for Smart Construction (NCSC)
- Building B: A residential building with up to 440 units and approximately 16,000 square feet of ground-floor retail uses. It will have a maximum height of 15 stories and 145 feet, providing parking in a 2.5-story underground garage.
- Building C: An approximately 2,000-square foot one-story retail kiosk/pavilion
If approved, the project would link the West Falls and Metro developments by extending the former’s central West Falls Station Blvd through the property. Building C would be in the center of the street’s 12,300-square-foot, publicly accessible median.
Straddling the boundary between the city and Fairfax County, the “Median Green” will also serve as a green space with landscaping, trees, movable tables and chairs for “informal gatherings,” open lawn areas, an outdoor stage or performance space, and public art.
Other proposed amenities include entry plazas for both the office and residential buildings and public gardens on Haycock Road and Falls Church Drive. The latter’s garden would feature a bio-retention rain garden.
The developer says it will also provide approximately 0.29 acres of publicly accessible open space on the Metro redevelopment site as well as private, “vegetative” roof decks for the office and residential buildings.
“Building A’s office roof will, for example, feature outdoor working and social spaces with lush planters and stormwater areas,” the application says. “The Building B’s residential roof deck will include a pool, recreation lawn, and seating terraces.”
As part of its transportation commitments, the applicant says it will upgrade the existing sidewalks on Haycock Road and Falls Church Drive, provide bicycle racks, and extend bicycle lanes planned for West Falls Station Blvd through the development. A total of 1,138 parking spaces will be provided.
“When constructed, this new neighborhood will function as one larger transit-oriented neighborhood,” Painter wrote. “The proposed NCSC facility will serve as a hub for research and testing of emerging construction methods, materials and technology that will inform Northern Virginia’s construction and real estate industries. Further, the proposal will attract individuals who think creatively, share ideas, and drive daytime demand locally-serving office and retail uses, as well as Metrorail ridership.”
A redevelopment of Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center (7054 Haycock Road) in Idylwood is back on the table.
The Falls Church City Council authorized agreements on Monday night (July 25) that will terminate the university’s 40-year lease for the 2-acre parcel and allow the city to sell the land to Converge West Falls LLC, an entity of developer Rushmark Properties.
Advanced by Virginia Tech’s board in April, the exchange will revive a plan to build a new design school, a headquarters for the construction company HITT Contracting and more on the Northern Virginia Center campus that abruptly collapsed in early 2021.
“Virginia Tech has a long history in the City of Falls Church and we are excited about this new chapter,” Virginia Tech Media Relations Director Michael Stowe said. “This vote moves us a step closer to creating a world-class smart construction research center in collaboration with HITT Contracting, and it means the community will benefit from a vibrant, mixed-use district that will transform the neighborhood.”
According to a city staff report, the Northern Virginia Center is a 101,000-square-foot office building on a larger, 7.4-acre site located in Fairfax County but owned by Falls Church, which has leased a portion of the land to Virginia Tech since 1995.
Under Falls Church’s new agreements with Virginia Tech and Rushmark, the city could sell the full site to the developer for $25 million, including $16.57 million that it would then pay to the university. The resulting development must feature:
- A 240,000-square-foot office building for HITT’s corporate headquarters, including at least 40,000 square feet for a Virginia Tech National Center for Smart Construction
- 440 residential units with ground-floor retail
- Construction of a West Falls Station Blvd through the site, among other road improvements
The project still has to go through a number of steps to come to fruition. First, Virginia Tech has to get the governor’s approval for its planned land transfer to the city, and then, Rushmark must submit its plans to Fairfax County.
“Virginia Tech will continue to occupy the site, with no rent payments to the City, until the final closing date, which is no later than March 31, 2025,” the staff report said. The agreements are expected to be closed sooner than that, coming within 30 days of zoning and site plan approvals from the county. Read More