Building Some

Holiday Business

Gail Spurr, the marketing manager at Landmark Mall in Alexandria, figures she has the perfect come-and-shop slogan to lure visitors this holiday season, so she has bought placards for the sides of some Metrobuses:

"So many gifts, so little road construction."

It's an obvious dig at one of Landmark's nearby competitors, Springfield Mall, which is within a snowball's toss of the massive rebuilding of the "Mixing Bowl" interchange at Interstate 95 and the Capital Beltway.


Radio One Adds

Number 27

Radio One Inc. of Lanham boosted its holdings with an $80 million purchase of a Philadelphia radio station from Greater Metro Radio Co.

WPLY-FM is Radio One's second station in Philadelphia, which is the fifth-largest market in the country. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

Radio One, which went public in May, was founded in 1980; WPLY will be its 27th station. Radio One stock closed near its 52-week high Friday at $68, up 25 cents.

Alfred C. Liggins III, Radio One president and chief executive, said WPLY is an alternative rock station with a "young and urban" audience. Like most of the stations Radio One has purchased in the past year, WPLY has a relatively small revenue base and a lot of upside potential. No programming changes are planned, Liggins said.

"We expect a big year out of this radio station," Liggins said.


Hosting Company

Gets New Host

VSI Technology Solutions, a Beltsville-based application hosting company, signed an agreement to sell itself to Irvine, Calif.-based FutureLink Corp. for $26.5 million.

The company said $7 million of the purchase price will be in cash, the remainder in FutureLink stock.

VSI "hosts" applications for its clients, a service designed to keep software costs to a minimum. It has 75 technical personnel and revenue of $9.3 million in the first nine months of the year. FutureLink, which is in the same business, had about $5 million in revenue in the first nine months of the year.

Letter from...Loudoun

Growing Firm Heads East

One of Loudoun County's fastest-growing companies will be moving its headquarters to neighboring Fairfax County in March 2000.

Network Access Solutions Corp., led by karate black belt Jon Aust, who started the company in 1995, announced last week that it is growing out of its Sterling headquarters and has found a bigger space in Herndon. However, the company will maintain a substantial presence in Loudoun.

NAS, which provides Internet access services to businesses, has grown from 35 employees to more than 400 in the past year. Lately, the company has struck several deals that have helped its reputation grow on Wall Street. In November, the company announced that it will work with Cisco Systems Inc. to offer expanded services to companies. That announcement caused NAS stock to double.

Last week, the company announced a partnership with Intermedia Communications Inc. that will allow it to offer nationwide "frame relay" network services.

Of course, deal-making has left little time for Aust, a longtime Sterling resident, and his family to have some kicks. Aust's daughters, Alexandra, 9, and Nicole, 6, both have black belts. Christopher, 4, has already started lessons. Aust's wife, Longma, stopped her training before receiving her black belt.

Aust hopes to get back into training soon with his teacher, former lightweight champion Jeff Smith. The focus Aust has gained through karate helped him survive, among other things, an exhausting "roadshow" last summer before the company's IPO, which raised $84 million.

"When you're fighting someone or sparring with someone, you really better focus or they're going to hit you," he said. On the roadshow, "you are absolutely just physically and mentally drained, and you have to keep going."

-- Sarah Schafer

Letter from...Prince william

Innovation Lands Another Firm

Avenir Inc., a software development and consulting firm based in New York City, announced this week that it will construct a 23,000-square-foot facility at Innovation@Prince William technology park, and expects to move up to 166 employees into the space in October 2001.

Avenir will also take an option on another 7.5 acres to accommodate expansion plans that could result in an additional 60,000-square-foot facility.

The company bought the 2.5-acre site in Innovation for $2 per square foot, and will build a $2.5 million building, according to county officials.

"We chose Prince William County because ... we needed [an area] that is not cluttered. And we needed proximity to a region that has a business concentration and infrastructure" already in place, said Matin Moosa, Avenir's chief operating officer.

Innovation is a high-tech office park that consists of 529 acres the county bought for $8.5 million about two years ago, hoping to attract companies such as Avenir and Covad -- an Internet access company that plans to move a data center to a 17-acre site at Innovation next year.

-- Amy Joyce


Net2000 Prepares IPO

Net2000 Communications Inc. said this week that it will sell stock in an initial public offering. The telecommunications company did not specify an offering price in its registration statement, but could raise up to $175 million. The proposed ticker is NTKK on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Last month President Clyde Heintzelman intimated the company would go public in the near future. Net2000 had revenue of $18 million in the first nine months of the year, and employs 164.


RBO Funding Sold

RBO Funding Inc. was sold to National Penn Mortgage Co., the mortgage banking subsidiary of the Boyerstown, Pa.-based bank holding company of the same name.

McLean-based RBO is a "sub-prime" lender, making loans to individuals with less-than-stellar credit histories.

RBO originates approximately $100 million in loan volume annually and has offices in McLean, Richmond and Virginia Beach.

RBO President Paul Bongiorno and Executive Vice President John Ryan joined National Penn Mortgage as senior vice presidents.

The Week That Was In Local Business

Mobil Corp. on Tuesday completed its $81 billion merger with Exxon Corp. On Thursday, Exxon Mobil said Mobil's former headquarters in Fairfax would end up with 2,500 employees, up from 2,100 now. Separately, the company announced the $860 million sale of 1,740 Exxon and Mobil stations in the East, including 130 Mobil stations in the Washington area, to Tosco Corp.

Human Genome Sciences Inc. of Rockville announced a major deal Wednesday with Abgenix Inc. of Fremont, Calif., to develop custom-designed antibodies that target diseases.

Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown decided Monday to open a major office in Tysons Corner for its $1 billion U.S. investment-banking business.

The bankrupt Hechinger Co. home improvement chain Tuesday auctioned off its Tenleytown store, the jewel in its real estate portfolio, for $17.5 million. The sale was part of an auction of about 40 Hechinger stores and leases.