David F. Melcher, ITT Exelis president who had vowed to look for new corporate headquarters, looks out over Tysons Corner. (Evy Mages/For Capital Business)

ITT’s defense business, in the process of being spun off from the larger ITT Corp., will stay in its Tysons Corner office, after negotiations with both Virginia and Maryland officials.

As it moves toward becoming its own corporate entity, the company now plans to use the new name of ITT Exelis and has hired a well-known retired Army general to head its government relations shop.

White Plains, N.Y.-based ITT Corp. announced in January it would separate into three pieces: a manufacturing business that produces a range of products, from industrial pumps to highly engineered aerospace valves and brake pads; a water technology firm; and a defense and information solutions firm.

The 20,000-employee defense business was already based in McLean, but David F. Melcher, the unit’s president, vowed at the time to undertake a search for a new D.C.-area corporate headquarters.

Virginia and Fairfax officials approached ITT, Melcher said, and company officials even traveled to Richmond to meet with the governor and the secretary of commerce and trade. But the company also met with Maryland officials and screened some potential sites, he added.

“We were seriously entertaining the thought of moving to Maryland, but in the end, once some space opened up here . . . it seemed like the better decision was to stay in Virginia,” Melcher said.

The company, which has about 2,000 local employees, plans to expand from one floor and one-third of another floor to two full floors. The Tysons Corner office is just blocks from what will be a Silver Line Metro stop.

The state is providing a $100,000 grant through the Governor’s Opportunity Fund and plans to offer recruitment and training funding and services through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“From a pure trophy standpoint, we couldn’t afford to lose ITT,” said Keith Boswell, managing director for federal strategy at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. “There was no doubt in our minds that this was a competitive project.”

ITT is expected to double its corporate staff, from under 60 employees to about 120, by adding personnel in areas like tax, audit, human resources and communications, according to Melcher.

The company is rebranding as ITT Exelis and, for now, licensing the ITT name.

“We felt that it was important to maintain that identity going forward for some period of time,” Melcher said.

The company will eventually simply be Exelis — a name that Melcher said connotes excellence — and its ticker symbol will be XLS.

ITT also announced earlier this month it has hired retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert E. Durbin to work with the Pentagon, government agencies and Congress as head of ITT’s government relations unit.

Durbin, who spent more than 36 years in the Army, had multiple high-ranking positions, most recently heading the service’s business transformation office.