$491,000 and Counting

Housing craziness update: Median price of a piece of Loudoun County residential real estate is inching closer and closer to the half-million-dollar mark.

In June, houses and condos in the county sold for a median price of $491,000, up from $475,900 in May, according to Multiple Listing Service data posted on the Dulles Area Association of Realtors' Web site.

Some 994 homes were sold in June, compared with 799 in May.

The latest numbers reaffirm an upward trend in Loudoun that began more than 10 years ago.

In 2004, for example, the median sales price was $390,000. That's 26 percent below the June 2005 price.

In 1999, the median price was $189,000, or 160 percent below last month's price.

As the county's population grows, so do the number of new listings -- and choices -- for home buyers. The Multiple Listing Service recorded 1,485 new listings in June, compared with 1,111 in June 2004 and a mere 490 in June 2000.

You've Got Jobs

America Online Inc. was the only private employer in Loudoun that had more than 5,000 workers last year, according to the annual growth report issued last month by the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development.

One public employer had more than 5,000 workers -- the Loudoun County school system, the report said.

The next-largest employers were the county itself, MCI Inc., Flyi Inc. (Independence Air), Loudoun Hospital Center, the U.S. Postal Service and United Airlines Inc. Each employed between 1,000 and 4,999 workers.

Employers with more than 500 but fewer than 999 workers included Orbital Sciences Inc., the Airline Pilots Association, Toll Brothers Inc., the Federal Aviation Administration and the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority, which runs Dulles International and Reagan National airports.

The outside cover of the 75-page report has an aerial view of AOL's sprawling campus. The inside cover shows the construction site of what Loudoun officials hope will become a major employer -- the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus, which is scheduled to open next year.

The report is available at www.loudoun.gov/business/growth_summary_2004.htm.

A printed and bound copy can be purchased from the Economic Development Department for $10 ($12 including shipping); call 800-568-3686.

New Landlord for AOL AOL does indeed have a new landlord.

District-based Columbia Equity Trust Inc. recently announced it had acquired Loudoun Gateway IV, a four-story, 103,000-square-foot office building in Dulles that houses an AOL facility.

The 8.9-acre property has been fully leased to AOL through 2012, according to Columbia Equity. The site is one mile north of the Dulles Toll Road and a short drive from AOL's main campus.

Columbia Equity said it bought the property for $21.8 million from an affiliate of Alter Group Ltd., a commercial real estate developer. Columbia Equity used proceeds from its recent initial public offering to buy the property.

Growing in Leesburg

Image Matters LLC, a systems engineering and software development firm, has moved from its 2,400-square-foot office on South King Street in downtown Leesburg to a 6,000-square-foot facility on Loudoun Street SW a few blocks away, according to the company's chief operating officer, Janine Hussey.

"We just needed more space," Hussey said, "and we wanted to be in a building that has more space if we need it in the future."

The new headquarters has 8,800 square feet, said Hussey, whose private firm serves commercial and government clients.

Leesburg officials applauded the notion of a company expanding operations in town, rather than moving to another part of the Washington region.

"Image Matters has done what we anticipate other downtown businesses will do, and that is grow in size and scope in a sustainable way," the town's economic development director, Betsy Fields, said in a statement.

-- BILL BRUBAKER

Have news about a business in Loudoun County? Send an e-mail to brubaker@washpost.com.