Construction will begin early in 1988 on Two Columbus Center, a $25 million office building in Virginia Beach's business district. The 14-floor, 168,000-square-foot project will be Virginia Beach's largest and tallest building.

Two Columbus Center will be next to One Columbus Center, which was completed in 1983. The two are the first of several office buildings planned for the 38-acre Columbus Center Urban Office Complex. The project is the focal point of the central business district of Virginia Beach. It is at the intersection of Virginia Beach and Independence boulevards, the city's two major thoroughfares.

The building will have a two-story atrium retail area and will house Virginia Beach's first private city club. Free open parking for 680 cars will be available, and parking garages are planned.

Annual lease rates for Two Columbus Center will begin at $19.50 per square foot.

The project is being developed by Columbus Center Associates. The firm of Williams, Tazewell and Cooke is the architect.

Signet Bank will be an anchor tenant. It plans to lease approximately 25,000 square feet on two floors. "Much of our business -- commercial and real estate construction loans and private banking -- is drawn from Virginia Beach," said a Signet spokesman. "We need a larger presence here to better serve our existing commercial and real estate customers. Two Columbus Center was the logical choice because of its geographic location."

In other developments in commercial realty:

Standard Federal Savings & Loan's mortgage servicing department leased 26,539 square feet at 270 Corporate Center, Germantown, from Bellemead Development Corp. Coldwell Banker was the leasing agent.

Genetic Therapy Inc., a biomedical firm, leased 25,175 square feet at 19 Firstfield St., Gaithersburg, from Equitable Life Assurance Co. Shannon & Luchs was the leasing agent.

Bechtel Civil Inc., an engineering firm, leased 22,489 square feet at the Westwood Park Building, 8618 Westwood Center Dr., Tysons Corner, from Realty Diversified Services.