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, would 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 in Tysons. 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 on the site.
But no building arrived.
Lerner, 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. Vacancy in Northern Virginia is over 17 percent and other buildings built without any tenants lined up are still completely empty. And of course the Silver Line has been delayed.
More than two years later, the Lerners now say they are ready to go ahead, issuing a press release Friday saying the building will 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 the office project across the street, Tysons Tower, which the developer firm Macerich actually 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.
Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz