Hoffman Center, Carlyle in Play for National Science Foundation

Two Alexandria properties will submit bids to bring agency headquarters to the city.

Properties at the Hoffman Center and Carlyle Plaza will submit lease bids to potentially land the National Science Foundation, which sent out its request for proposals for a new headquarters last week.

Alexandria Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks and Alexandria Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Val Hawkins made a presentation to Alexandria City Council about the bids on Tuesday night.

“[The General Services Administration] has said who can provide the best bottom line… is considered the winner,” Jinks said. “I think you’ll see a lot of sharpened pencils all over the region in the next month.”

This month, the GSA pushed back the deadline for the agency to be in its new home by two years, to December 2016, potentially opening the door for interested developers to construct new buildings to accommodate it, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The NSF is currently headquartered in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington County. The institution is one of the federal government’s primary scientific research organizations and would be a huge economic boon for Alexandria. The NSF has a $7 billion annual budget, 2,400 employees and a contractor tail of another 2,200.

“A lot of them are PhDs with salaries to go along with that,” Jinks said. “The economic impact of NSF on a square foot basis is greater than any agency.”

Hawkins said it’s anticipated that the NSF would also generate 60,000 hotel room nights per year.

The NSF is seeking a 15-year lease on 668,000 square feet of office space within a half-mile of a Metro station. Proposals are due Jan. 9.

It is believed that about eight sites in the region are currently in competition. Hawkins said Reston is in play with the current construction of the Silver Line. Potomac Yard is a possibility, he said, depending on whether a Metro station can be delivered in time.

“It really is a question mark,” Hawkins said.

The Hoffman Center site, located at 2401 Eisenhower Ave. between the movie theater and the Eisenhower Avenue Metro station, and the Carlyle site, located on John Carlyle Street, updated their permits with the city this year. This could potentially give the sites an advantage over others.

“All the basics of the buildings, if not all down to the details, what got approved by council in 2012 will meet the proposal for the NSF without any material changes,” Jinks said.

Vice Mayor Kerry Donley said there is a predisposition with the NSF to stay in Arlington, but that the city might want to communicate that the two Alexandria sites have approved plans.

“The land-use approval would be much shorter,” he said. “It’s all about reducing time because in many respects time is money. … The more we cut down on time and uncertainty, the more they would look favorably on Alexandria.”

The Victory Center, located at 5001 Eisenhower Ave., and the former American Truckers Association site, located 2200 and 2250 Mill Rd., were also mentioned Tuesday. There was no word on whether the owners of those properties will submit bids.

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th) mentioned the Victory Center as a potential site for a new Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters this week at the annual meeting of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties in Tysons Corner.

Larry Altenburg December 13, 2012 at 01:44 PM
So if NSF and FBI were to come to the city, how would that help our tax base? Being federal entities, they would pay no real estate or business tax, so the city would get no direct income from their presence. Why aren't we pursuing companies that would help us address our fiscal needs in the city rather than government entities that only draw from our city's services paid by residents' taxes?
Lee Hernly December 13, 2012 at 03:09 PM
As what usually happens with agencies, the GSA brokers the deal for the space and ends up leasing it from a company. In the case of the PTO, the GSA leases the space from a local company on behalf of the PTO. The local company is the one that pays real estate taxes to the City. The expectation is that the employees will then go spend $ out in the community. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened with the PTO.
Michael Josef Basl December 23, 2012 at 10:31 PM


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