Dulles trapezoid could be anchor for development


A rendering of the proposed development area around the CIT headquarters. ( Center for Innovative Technology )

There's a clear view of it from the car window shortly after leaving Dulles International Airport: a glass-covered trapezoid rising from the landscape near the intersection of the toll road and Route 28.

The shimmering building has become so emblematic of the organization headquartered there, the Center for Innovative Technology, that a silhouette logo of the building adorns employees’ business cards.

Now the organization, a nonprofit that supports technology companies in the area, is laying the groundwork to develop its 25-acre Herndon property into a campus of technology offices, research space, a hotel and housing.

CIT is one of one of many landowners preparing new development along the planned second leg of the Metro extension, which would add six stations from Wiehle Avenue west to Dulles Airport and into Annandale.

CIT is unique, however, in that it is a creation of the state. And, according to its chief executive, it hopes to develop its property in partnership with Fairfax and Loudoun counties — even though the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has not authorized more than $200 million needed to build the project and another $11 million annually to operate it.


A1997 photo of Bob Templin, then president of the Center for Innovative Technology, in front of the iconic building. (Dudley M. Brooks/The Washington Post)

“Our vision for the property will be something that’s not just a generalized real estate development, but something very much aligned with the mission of the organization, which is research, the commercialization of research and the developing of new companies,” said Peter Jobse, CIT president and chief executive.

CIT was successful in getting Metro to name the station planned nearby “Innovation Center,” after the project Jobse plans. But what happens if the funding does not come through for the public transit he is counting on? “I think it makes it less attractive but I don’t think it makes it completely unattractive and I think that because of the presence of Dulles airport,” he said.

CIT helps technology companies and entrepreneurs raise money, find customers and strategize for growth. Many of the companies CIT supports locate on the campus and 20 companies and organizations currently lease space, including the Northern Virginia Technology Council, George Mason University, Verizon, Honeywell and cybersecurity firms including Xceedium and Cypherpath.

Surrounding CIT’s existing campus, Jobse said he envisions an urban neighborhood similar to Reston Town Center, one featuring a conference center, a hotel with at least 250 rooms, a half dozen high-rise office buildings and possibly a similar number of residential buildings. The Silver Line is planned to have a station on the doorstep of the property, which straddles the line between Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Being so close to the station would allow CIT to build a taller, higher density project than elsewhere in the area.

CIT is not in any rush — the area around Dulles Airport still has one of the highest office vacancy rates in the region, with a number of completely empty buildings nearby. “There’s a ton of space out there … I don’t see a need to put a shovel in the ground,” Jobse said.

The trapezoid-shaped building isn’t going anywhere. Built in 1985, Jobse called it “iconic.”

“People in the region and even out of state have recognized the unique architecture and identified it with the technology mission that we have,” he said.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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