- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Northern Virginia’s high-tech job growth is the moving force behind announcements in recent days of plans for expansion at two business parks, a new condominium complex and an office relocation, according to officials associated with the projects.

• Duke Realty said this week it would add 177,000 square feet of office and warehouse space at business parks in Sterling in Loudoun County and Chantilly in Fairfax County, where the Indianapolis company already owns property.

The real estate developer plans to build a 98,000 square foot, three-structure office complex in the Westfields Corporate Center in Chantilly. It also plans a 79,000-square-foot warehouse at the TransDulles Centre in Sterling.

Duke already owns about 817,000 square feet of industrial space at TransDulles, where the company says demand is strong enough it can build the new warehouse on speculation. Speculation means no tenants have signed up yet to occupy it.

The office complex at Westfields Corporate Center, called Northridge Westfields, is being designed for Duke’s existing tenants to expand and for new tenants, which include government technology contractors like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

“All the jobs we’re dealing with through these government contractors are tech-related positions,” said Peter Scholz, Duke senior vice president. “If we weren’t seeing this kind of steady year-over-year job growth, we would be very hesitant to proceed with two speculative projects.”

• Computer software giant Oracle Corp. received approval to build two high-rise condominiums on its campus in Reston at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunset Hills Road.

Oracle already has built two office towers, totaling about 412,000 square feet, on its 22-acre campus and has plans for a third. The two condominium buildings would house 457 units less than one block from a proposed Metro station along the Dulles Toll Road. The units would average around 950 square feet each.

• Secure information-sharing provider Bantu Inc. this week said it has relocated its headquarters to a 7,000-square-foot office in the Tysons Corner area at 8110 Gatehouse Road in Falls Church from midtown in the District.

“Tysons is the heart of the government IT and technology corridor,” said Larry Schlang, Bantu’s chief executive officer. “Moving our headquarters to the area brings us closer to our customers and partners.”

Bantu operates with 25 employees. The move also will help reduce its lease rate by about 25 percent per square foot, Mr. Schlang said.

The moves by Duke Realty, Oracle and Bantu are examples of why Virginia ranked first in the nation in the American Electronics Association’s (AEA) latest survey of states with the fastest-growing rate for adding high-tech jobs.

Virginia, where venture capital jumped 38 percent last year, led the nation by adding 9,100 high-tech jobs in 2004, the most recent year for which the association reported figures. Florida reported the second-fastest growth rate with a net increase of 6,700 high-tech jobs. Maryland ranked third with 2,800 new jobs.

“If these trends continue, next year Virginia will become the state with the highest concentration of tech workers in the nation,” said Gregory Poersch, AEA Potomac Council executive director.

California and Texas still have the most high-tech jobs, but their lead is shrinking.

Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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