- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Developers of the Columbia Center office building project last week signed their first big tenant when the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP agreed to a 15-year lease.

The building at 1152 15th Street NW is noteworthy because it is being built in a part of Washington where there has been little room for new commercial construction.

“There hasn’t been a lot of new development in that neighborhood for a number of years, because it’s a mature neighborhood,” said Jeffrey T. Neal, principal of Monument Realty, developer of Columbia Center. “There aren’t a lot of vacancies. It’s a prime business location.”

Monument Realty purchased the property from The Washington Post, which had been using it for a parking lot.

The 400,000-square-foot Columbia Center is being built as an office tower with a geometric form, all glass facade and four-story atrium lobby.

The $200 million project near the McPherson Square Metro station is scheduled for completion in the third quarter.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which will occupy 138,000 square feet at Columbia Center, is relocating from 3050 K Street NW.

In other news …

Vardell Realty Investments LLC has announced that it plans to build a $55 million office building in Reston this September in a gamble to cash in on Northern Virginia’s growing business community.

The nearly 200,000-square-foot structure is being built on speculation, meaning McLean-based Vardell Realty Investments has no tenants signed for leases but hopes to find them before the project is completed.

The building will stand eight stories high and include a multilevel garage between Sunset Hills Road and the Dulles Toll Road.

Northern Virginia’s job growth is fueling expectations among real estate companies that their speculative developments will pay off.

Research from the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University says Northern Virginia will attract 44,000 new jobs this year. They make up more than half of the 75,000 new jobs predicted for the Washington region in 2006.

The real estate industry along the Dulles Toll Road Corridor, which is home to many technology companies, was pounded by the dot-com meltdown as recently as 2001.

Nevertheless, several developers have plans for speculative buildings in Northern Virginia.

cTrizec Properties Inc. plans to begin construction this spring on Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston on Two Reston Crescent, a six-story building the developer hopes will attract government contractors, federal agencies or major associations.

“The market will absorb a speculative project of this quality and proven success,” said Paul Schulman, vice president of Trizec’s Washington portfolio.

The 185,000 square foot structure is being built on a 36-acre corporate office campus. It is scheduled for completion in about a year-and-a-half.

• Dulles Station, a mixed-use development on 63 acres along the Dulles Toll Road, is being designed to include 1.5 million square feet of office space.

Developer Crimson Partners plans to begin construction in July, but still is searching for tenants.

• Washington Real Estate Investment Trust has purchased five industrial buildings in Capitol Heights for $23.1 million. Four of the buildings already are leased. The fourth, a newly built warehouse, is not yet leased.

• Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail [email protected]

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