The Hecht Co. plans to move its corporate headquarters from downtown Washington to the Parkington Shopping Center in Arlington next spring.

The department store chain "would have preferred to stay in the District," but there will not be enough space in the new flagship store it is building at Metro Center, Hecht's Chairman J. Warren Harris said Friday.

About 400 corporate employes will be moved to the Parkington offices, but an equal number of jobs will be created after Hecht's moves into the Metro Center store, Harris said.

The tax advantages of moving to the suburbs are unclear and "were not a consideration" in the decision, Harris said.

The $40 million Metro Center store, scheduled to open next fall, will have five floors and 275,000 square feet of space. It will fill the north side of G Street between 12th and 13th streets NW.

"We would not be spending $40 million if we didn't have full confidence in the downtown area," Harris said, adding that the company believes the Metro Center building would be better used for retail purposes than for offices.

The new downtown store is the first phase of the long-awaited redevelopment of the Metro Center subway station site, a $250-million project that will include a 400-room hotel and three office buildings.

The Metro Center store will replace the old Hecht's store and office complex at Seventh and F streets NW, which is to be sold or redeveloped.

Hecht's, a division of the May Department Stores Inc. of St. Louis, is renovating its Parkington store into a $5 million complex with three floors totaling 140,000 square feet of retail space, and two floors totaling 180,000 square feet of office space.

The rest of the shopping center, which is also owned by May, has been demolished and is scheduled to be rebuilt by the spring of 1986. Parkington will have about 150 stores "of a more upscale nature" than the old center, including a J. C. Penney Co. store.

Parkington, a 9.8-acre site at the southwest intersection of Glebe Road and Washington Boulevard, is within a quarter of a mile of the Ballston Metro station.