After false start, Lerner begins anew with work to build office building in Tysons Corner

Nearly three years ago, Theodore N. Lerner and his real estate team made the bold announcement that they would build a new Tysons Corner office building to be completed around the time Metro’s Silver Line began running, even though they had no commitments from companies to lease space there.

The 18-story, 476,000-square-foot project — 1775 Tysons Blvd. — was to be built to the highest levels of environmental sustainability and be the first to attract tenants looking for a high-end building near the Metro. Lerner’s leasing expert, at the services firm Cushman & Wakefield, said he was told specifically by the magnate: “I want to be the first out of the ground.”

Construction banners went up. Site work began. Bulldozers were seen pushing dirt around.

But no building arrived.

Lerner, the founder of Lerner Enterprises and owner of the Washington Nationals, and his family backed out of putting up the building then, and it’s hard to argue with the decision now. Office leasing has been flat, at best, in most parts of the region since then. The vacancy rate at office buildings in Northern Virginia is more than 17 percent, and other buildings built without tenants lined up are still largely empty. And the Silver Line has been delayed.

More than two years later, the Lerners now say they are ready to go ahead, issuing a news release Friday saying the building would be done near the end of 2015 or in early 2016. Vertical construction is indeed underway.

Why the change of heart? It appears that the Lerners received some interest in the project from tenants they have in some of their other Tysons office properties. Mark D. Lerner, a principal of Lerner, said in the statement that the company had “received an elevated level of interest in our newest project within The Corporate Office Centre at Tysons II.”

The first time around, Lerner was expected to go head-to-head with Tysons Tower, the office project across the street, which the development firm Macerich began work on and is now close to finishing. The move didn’t work out badly for Macerich, as it landed the tech firm Intelsat and other tenants.

Capital Business is The Post’s weekly publication focusing on the region’s business community.

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