The Public Broadcasting Service said yesterday that it signed a deal to move its headquarters from Alexandria to Crystal City, where Charles E. Smith Commercial Realty has renovated offices and retail space to make the area more pedestrian-friendly and attract non-government tenants.
The public television network has spent the past two years looking for a new home in the District or Northern Virginia because its lease on offices in Alexandria expires in two years, said its broker, David G. Houck, a senior vice president at real estate company Staubach.
PBS, which has 349 member television stations, is expected to move in February 2006 into 130,000 square feet at 2100 Crystal Dr. Houck said the developer and tenant plan extensive interior and exterior renovations. The nonprofit media company is taking space vacated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Since summer, the government agency has been moving out of several buildings, totaling nearly 1.9 million square feet, that it leased in Crystal City as it moves employees to its new headquarters in Alexandria.
The 10 million-square-foot office market in Crystal City has been a magnet for government agencies, contractors and related companies. But Arlington-based Charles E. Smith, Crystal City's original developer in the 1960s, has tried to broaden its image.
The developer also has tried to tackle complaints that Crystal City is hard to get around, with its one-way streets and underground shops. Charles E. Smith spent $40 million to add signs, make streets two-way, renovate offices and build street-level shops and restaurants that serve a variety of food, including Spanish tapas and burgers and beer.
"Crystal City has essentially been all government contractors," said Marty M. Almquist, a senior vice president who specializes in Northern Virginia at real estate company Grubb & Ellis. Getting PBS, he said, "is a huge coup for them."
Brokers at Charles E. Smith have found tenants for one-fourth of the space the patent office is leaving, according to Mitchell N. Schear, president of the company, which is a division of Vornado Realty Trust of New York.
Some of the larger tenants moving in are Lockheed Martin Corp., which took 32,000 square feet; and the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service, provider of pens, paper, furniture and other items to the government, which is taking 270,000 square feet.
Terms of the PBS lease were not disclosed because the discussions were private. Brokers who had other tenants looking at the space were told that asking rents ranged from the high $20s to the low $30s per square foot.