New York conference center developer sets sights on Tysons Corner

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the new conference center from Convene is to be located in Tysons Galleria. It will be located in the Corporate Office Centre at Tysons II. This version has been corrected.


Convene, a New York-based developer and operator of conference centers, plans to open its first meeting space in the Washington area, staking out 15,000 square feet in what used to be a seafood restaurant at Tysons Galleria. (Fox Architects)
July 28, 2013

Convene, a New York-based developer and operator of conference centers, plans to open its first meeting space in the Washington area, staking out 15,000 square feet in what used to be a seafood restaurant in Tysons Corner.

Convene will lease the space at 1800 Tysons Blvd. in the Corporate Office Centre at Tysons II from Rockville-based developer Lerner Enterprises. The company said the lease is for at least five years, but declined to specify beyond that.

Construction is to begin in the next 40 days, with a November opening in mind, Convene co-founder Chris Kelly said. The company will start accepting bookings after construction begins, he said.

The move comes as grocery chains and retailers are lining up for a spot near the upcoming Silver Line, and as Tysons tries to brand itself as the up-and-coming urban center of the Washington region.

Fairfax County already has about 20 hotels, including a Ritz-Carlton and a Hilton, with meeting space of up to 40,000 square feet, said Barry Biggar, president and chief executive of Visit Fairfax, the destination marketing arm of Fairfax County. The group has been pushing for a conference center closer to 55,000 or 60,000 square feet that could accommodate even larger events.

Still, Biggar said additional events space of any size is coming at a good time.

“With the Metro Silver Line coming directly into Tysons next year, any additional meeting space will serve the area very well,” he said.

Kelly said Convene hopes to accommodate groups such as associations, financial services firms, technology companies and consulting firms looking for space that might be bigger than the typical office conference room but smaller than a conference hotel.

“What makes us distinct from other conference spaces in Tysons is we have the capacity to host relatively large meetings,” Kelly said. “We can go up to 100 people, as opposed to the office suites that have capacity maxing out at 15 to 20 people.”

Kelly said Convene’s foray into Northern Virginia was driven by client demand, particularly from consulting firms seeking more conference space in Tysons. One of the company’s clients in New York is PricewaterhouseCoopers, whose Tysons Corner office connects to the conference space. Since its founding in 2009, Convene has developed four conference centers in New York.

“Our New York-based clients who have a D.C. or Tysons presence were asking us if we could bring that resource into this market because it didn’t exist,” he said. “They initiated our interest in the market ... the reasons they were asking us to be there is the local market meeting space is insufficient relative to the volume of demand.”

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for the Capital Business section of The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.
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