Loudoun Launches Work On Mixed-Use Complex
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), along with local government and business leaders, broke ground yesterday on One Loudoun, one of the county's largest mixed-use projects and the future home of the World Trade Center Dulles Airport.
Developers and community leaders have high hopes for the Ashburn project. One Loudoun, a venture of Meridian Group and Miller and Smith, is an attempt at creating an upscale shopping and dining destination, much like Reston Town Center or Tysons Corner, for the eastern half of the county. It is also an effort to solidify the county's role as a center for international business.
"We're very bullish about One Loudoun," said Bill May, vice president of developer Miller and Smith. "We're the right plan, at the right place, at the right time."
But the endeavor coincides with a rocky economic climate. The real estate market has taken a sharp downturn, and the credit crunch has made it more difficult for companies to finance large projects.
Located at the intersection of Route 7 and Loudoun County Parkway, the 358-acre project is to house 3 million square feet of office space and up to 700,000 square feet of retail space.
It plans to offer a movie theater, more than 900 homes, parks and an elementary school. A luxury hotel that can host business conferences is also planned.
While other developments have been championed as Loudoun's premier mixed-use destinations, One Loudoun is the biggest "vertically integrated" project, in which apartments and offices sit above shops and restaurants, said Robyn Bailey, the county's manager of business infrastructure.
Dulles Town Center, a 554-acre development, may be bigger, but it lacks the downtown ambiance of high-rise office buildings adjacent to bustling, pedestrian-friendly streets, shops and restaurants, which One Loudoun promises to create, Bailey said.
The environment has the potential to attract younger populace to live, work and play in the outer suburbs. Or at least that's what developers and the county hope.
"That's the demographic that's going out to do things," said Bill Bassett, executive vice president and director of development for Cousins Properties Inc., an Atlanta-based company managing the retail. "They're shopping, they're going out to eat, they're going to see movies."
The World Trade Center Dulles Airport, which will be on the eastern edge of the development, aims to be Loudoun's gateway to foreign business. It will be a collection of four office buildings containing 800,000 square feet and facing Route 7.
"In a world that's becoming closer and closer together, the connections to Virginia and Northern Virginia and the world are incredibly important for us to compete and be successful," Kaine said.