On Thursday morning, the ceremonial shovels sunk into the dirt at the corner of Loudoun County Parkway and Gloucester Parkway, kicking off the latest speculative flex development by St. John Properties in Loudoun County, Va.
Ashburn Crossing Phase II is a project that has been 20 years in the making, dating back to St. John Properties’ first investment in the county. In 2001, the 240-acre site was a sod farm with no parkways framing the site or a bridge to Route 28. In those days, it was hard to see the vision for what Loudoun could be, but Regional Partner Matt Holbrook and his team dreamed the #LoudounPossible dream.
“In 2001, we delivered our first building in Loudoun County at Ashburn Technology Park, a hop, skip and a data center away, over that way,” he said, smiling and gesturing to the west of the construction site. “We’ve enjoyed our 20 years here, and now built 20 more buildings here in Loudoun County, totaling almost 1 million square feet and serving 130 businesses.
“We look at this property and we’re going to be building 140,000 square feet of office, flex, R&D space. This is going to be a home for small businesses, and it’s going to be a home for large businesses that are growing within the county. This is going to be a home for the businesses that support critical industries in our county, like data centers, like life sciences, and whatever is to come.”
“Flex” is aptly named for its flexibility in use, accommodating industries across the economy, from dance studios to federal contractors, breweries to green energy providers. It typically features office space in the front for staff and warehouse in the back, creating opportunities for highly specialized manufacturing, shipping and logistics.
“If you look at what’s in these, you see almost every type of business in these properties,” Board of Supervisors Chair at Large Phyllis J. Randall said. “What we’ve learned over the past two years, is that diversity in business is critically important. If we rely on just one source of revenue, we are in trouble.”
In Phase I of Ashburn Crossing, CIS Secure Computing, Raytheon, Dynasty Brewing and Arthur Murray Dance Studio all rented space, which ranges from 2,500 square feet up to a full building.
“You can actually go dance, get some technology and go get a beer, all in one strip,” Randall quipped. “Our flex inventory offers us the ability to diversify our tax base and diversify our businesses, and we’re really, really grateful for that.”
On the national level, a return to the office after COVID-19 saw a dramatic spike in interest for flex inventory. Industrious CEO Jamie Hodari told BisNow in August: “This big rush in demand for flex office is a combination of a short-term tailwind and a very long-term tailwind. When you put those two things together, it results in some pretty dramatic increases.”
In Loudoun, flex has long been a popular development type and inventory remains low, even with speculative development from partners like St. John Properties. As of July, Loudoun’s available flex inventory was 3.4%, making this investment music to the ears of Loudoun Economic Development.
“Matt [Holbrook] and his team can’t move fast enough to meet the needs of business, and that’s what they do: they create places of business. That is so important to Loudoun County and I am so excited for this opportunity,” Loudoun Economic Development Executive Buddy Rizer said. “Without the ability to have a variety of product in Loudoun County, we start losing deals. I think between what you do and what we do, we’ll have this thing leased, certainly before or right after it’s built.”
“This is great news,” Holbrook said. “This is going to produce jobs…and a little bit of economic diversity, as well. If you look at our parking lots, they’re full of cars again. This project represents the start of something new and exciting.”
Thinking of starting or relocating your business in Loudoun County? We are a full-service economic development organization, dedicated to your #LoudounPossible business success. Working with us is like adding a team of no-cost specialists to your team, with expertise in the following areas:
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