Northrop picks headquarters building in Fairfax County

By Marjorie Censer and Jonathan O'Connell
Capital Business Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 13, 2010; A12

Northrop Grumman announced Monday that it has selected a 333,000-square-foot building near Falls Church for its new headquarters and will move there from Los Angeles by next summer.

The announcement ends a six-month real estate search and jurisdictional bidding war that initially spanned Virginia, the District and Maryland but quickly narrowed to Fairfax and Arlington counties. In late April, the defense contractor announced that it had selected Virginia, but in an unusually secretive process, it managed to keep the precise location under wraps.

The company has settled on 2980 Fairview Park Dr., a 14-story building that was owned by Verizon until it was sold to a subsidiary of ING Clarion Partners in September 2007 for $105 million. Verizon occupies a small portion of the building but is expected to move out by September.

The building is near the Beltway and its location provides convenient access to Dulles International Airport and the Pentagon.

"First and foremost, the building's available," said Northrop spokesman Randy Belote. "Secondly, it offers the accessibility to our customer set, the proximity that we required, and it obviously falls into the economics we were looking for."

Belote would not say what the company paid to acquire the office building.

Northrop initially planned to move 300 corporate jobs from California to the new office, but Belote said the figure will probably grow by "a few hundred" because the company also plans to relocate most of the workers in its Rosslyn office.

Belote said Northrop has not made a final decision on whether it will close the Rosslyn location, space the company rents at 1000 Wilson Blvd. in a building that bears its name.

The move will be conducted in phases, but the new office will be fully staffed by next summer, Belote said. Because the building needs little work, he expressed confidence that the company will stay on schedule.

Northrop's move further concentrates the defense industry's presence in the region. Within the same Fairview complex, Northrop will have as neighbors longtime local company General Dynamics as well as CSC, which relocated from California in 2008.

Other major defense contractors in the area include Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Science Applications International Corp. in McLean and ManTech in Fairfax -- as well as the U.S. offices for BAE Systems in Arlington.

"The national capital region is rapidly becoming the center of the entire global defense industry," said Loren Thompson, a defense industry consultant at the Lexington Institute. "The advantages of proximity are multiple. It's not just the ease of going to meetings, but you bump into your customer at the supermarket or at the country club."

For Fairfax, the selection marks one of several recent corporate relocation wins. SAIC and CSC settled in the county, as did Volkswagen Group of America and Hilton Worldwide.

"It gives us momentum," said Gerald L. Gordon, president and chief executive of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. "It makes us believable and interesting to other companies that would look."

Gordon said the county will match an investment of as much as $3 million from the Governor's Development Opportunity Fund by providing in-kind transportation infrastructure improvements. The state will provide as much as $10 million through the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant.

"We've offered Northrop Grumman a couple of options, and they haven't decided which one they have selected yet," Gordon said, adding that he expects the company to provide those details in several months.

Northrop has about 40,000 employees already in the region.

Washington Post staff writer Derek Kravitz contributed to this report.

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