It's not often that a land deal near Dulles International Airport resonates in Stafford County, but it happened last week.
Six months ago, Stafford-based Garrett Development bought 462 acres of land near Stafford Regional Airport for about $2 million. Last week, the company spent an additional $5 million for 300 acres near Dulles with the idea that the two parcels would be jointly marketed to companies, such as Federal Express Corp., whose business is closely linked with airports.
"We already picked up the property in Stafford," said Andrew Garrett, president of Garrett Development, "and then we went out and searched for property in the Dulles area. We want to talk to all groups zipping in and out of Dulles and Stafford."
Garrett said his company bought the land in Stafford because firms would be drawn to its proximity to Interstate 95. The airport is less than a mile from the highway, and a new interchange leading to the airport will be built soon. He said the Dulles site makes sense for companies because of the airport's heavy traffic flow.
"We can offer one company two sites in the Washington metropolitan region," Garrett said.
But actual development on both properties is some time away. As it stands, there are no takers on the Stafford site and a building will not be erected before a tenant is lined up, Garrett said. That could take a while because the airport isn't slated to open until spring 2001.
The Dulles site, meanwhile, is zoned for residential use and would need to be rezoned before anything could be built.
"It will take some time to rezone, but I think [Loudoun] County will be pleased with what we present," Garrett said.
The company plans to use most of the Stafford site for commercial and industrial use, while setting aside about 23 acres for houses. Similarly, the Dulles site would be primarily commercial, with about 30 acres for housing.
This type of major commercial development, which could bring high-paying jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue to Stafford, is precisely what officials had in mind when they decided to build the airport.
"It's exactly what I'm looking for," said Gene Bailey, director of economic development for Stafford. Bailey said he was particularly encouraged about the linkage of the properties because, "it's not just acquiring land, but purchasing it with long-range regional visions."