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Things are getting better for Tysons’ economy, but slowly.

For offices around Tysons, the boom anticipated with the opening of the Metro in 2014 has been more of a trickle as growth continues at a more sluggish pace than initially anticipated.

The Office Submarket Report on Tysons Corner (their wording, not ours) by Ryan Rauner, an associate broker with Realty Markets, shows a market experiencing steady, if unremarkable, growth.

“Despite slow demand growth at the metro level, some has trickled down to Tysons, helping vacancies improve slightly over the past few years,” the report said. “An explosion in the residential population has not yet been matched by strong office-demand growth, despite four Metro stations opening in the submarket.”

While the expansion of the Capital One facility was a welcome boon, the report notes that most tenants are not actively expanding their footprint and there has been a spate of large move-outs, specifically pointing to public affairs consulting group Interel’s decision to leave Tysons for Washington D.C.’s East End Submarket.

Which isn’t to say there haven’t been plenty of new clients coming into Tysons. Apian announced in April it would be moving to Tysons while Cvent announced it would be expanding its local offices. Facebook is also reportedly looking for space at Tysons II to occupy between 75,000-85,000 square feet.

In 2015, office vacancies in Tysons were near 18 percent. Since then, vacancies have steadily fallen to 15.6 percent. Forecasts for the market show vacancies taking a dip in middle-2019 then continuing a steady decline.

The high supply of office and relatively low demand led office rents in Tysons to face a steep decline from 2012-2014. There’s been some growth there, averaging about 2 percent from 2015-2018, but the report also warned not to view that growth as a trend.

“High vacancies could continue weighing on growth,” the report said. “Rents have continued their increase this year but at a relatively slow pace — as of early December, rents had increased by roughly 2 percent for the year. At the metro level, rents surpassed their pre-recession peak in 2015, but those in [Tysons] are just now reaching that point.”

The report did note that Tysons isn’t alone in its lackluster rent growth, that several other locations across Fairfax have also faced similar low rents.

None of this has slowed construction, however. There was 1.2 million square feet of new office space created between 2014-2017. Last year also saw a record high of office space opening with Capital One’s 975,000 square foot expansion.

The report notes that there are two notable projects underway: The Boro and View at Tysons.

The Boro is anticipated to include 582,000 square feet of new office space. Boro Tower, the main office component of the project, is currently 70 percent pre-leased and is expected to be ready sometime this year.

The View at Tysons is further out in development but is expected to include 570,000 square feet of office space and the region’s tallest building as part of a 2.8 million-square-foot mixed-use development.

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County’s Big Job Adds — “Fairfax County’s Economic Development Authority worked with 164 companies in calendar year 2017 to add, eventually, nearly 8,200 jobs. Three announcements, including a doozy from Amazon Web Services, accounted for 70 percent of that total… The Transportation Security Administration’s 2020 relocation from Pentagon City to Springfield: 3,000 jobs. AWS’ East Coast hub in Herndon: 1,500 jobs. And Favor TechConsulting, a Tysons-based minority-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned government contractor: 1,200 jobs.” [Washington Business Journal]

What’s Closed for New Year — “Fairfax County offices will be closed Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, while schools, parks and other services will be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Some services like transit will be during New Year’s Eve events. Services will resume Tuesday, Jan. 2 unless noted.” [Patch]

Flood Watch in Effect — Expect periods of rain today. The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for much of the region through late tonight. “Excessive runoff from already saturated soils will cause the potential for streams and creeks to rise out of their banks as well as flooding in low lying urban areas,” forecasters say. [Weather.govTwitter]

Rainy Weather Driving Tips — “The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has some good guidance for safe driving in the rain, like keeping extra distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Also, turn on your lights anytime it’s raining.” [Fairfax County Fire, YouTube]

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Across all of Fairfax County, Tysons has the highest concentration of cybersecurity companies with headquarters or major operations.

According to a list put together by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA), Tysons has 119 cybersecurity companies, the most of any jurisdiction in the county. Tysons is followed by Reston with 79 companies and Herndon with 68 companies.

Economic groups have been working to turn Tysons into a Silicon Valley for cybersecurity. Bringing in more tech companies, and how that could impact education and infrastructure challenges around the region, was a major theme of the Tysons 2050 event

Some of the cybersecurity companies — or companies with cybersecurity components — in Tysons include:

  • BAE Systems — a defense, security and aerospace company
  • Centurum — a network engineering and infrastructure company
  • Cyren — a cloud-based internet security services company
  • Dell EMC — a data storage and management company acquired by Dell in 2016.
  • HumanTouch — a private and public sector cybersecurity company
  • Leidos — a defense and intelligence industry focused cybersecurity company
  • Merlin International — a cybersecurity company focusing on both government and commercial contracts
  • Microstrategy — a data analytics company
  • MITRE — a not-for-profit company that operates research and development centers
  • Nehemiah Security — a cyber-risk assessment business
  • Novetta Solutions — a data-analytics focused business
  • OBXtek — a technical and logistics solutions company which works primarily with the federal government
  • Preferred Systems Solutions — an IT management, development, and operation company
  • PFP Cybersecurity — a cybersecurity company utilizing analog signals to assess the integrity of digital information
  • Raytheon — a major defense contractor
  • RSA — a commercial-focused cybersecurity company
  • Strategic Operational Solutions — an IT strategy and management consulting firm
  • Tangible Security — a cybersecurity company
  • Tanium — an endpoint security and systems management company
  • Trustwave — a business-focused cybersecurity company
  • Veris Group — a Tysons cyber-risk assessor that acquired in 2016 by cybersecurity company Coalfire
  • Verodin — a cybersecurity management company

There are also several major cybersecurity companies located around the Merrifield area, including:

Photo via FCEDA

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Morning Notes

Building Near Spring Hill Metro Purchased — “Transwestern today announces it brokered the sale of Tysons Pond II, a 67,151-square-foot, free-standing office building located at 1604 Spring Hill Road in Tysons… A private investor purchased the 70 percent leased asset for $10 million.” [Citybizlist]

Nantucket Bay Scallops Season in Tysons — “Nantucket Bay scallops are in season and Eddie V’s of Tysons Corner has a special scallop dishes that are available for a limited time.” [WUSA 9]

Jerry Gordon Reflects on Retirement — “Jerry Gordon has two weeks left on his job as the president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Authority, and his office is so empty it echoes… After 31 years on the job, Gordon is transitioning out of a role that led Fairfax to become a superstar in economic development.” [Washington Business Journal]

More Silver Line Phase 2 Problems — “Hundreds of concrete rail ties installed at track crossovers along the second phase of the Silver Line are flawed, officials say, a problem that could further delay the multibillion-dollar rail project that is already 13 months behind schedule.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Vienna Mulling Economic Development Push — “Vienna is the only Northern Virginia locality without personnel expressly devoted to economic development, but that may change soon. Vienna Town Council members, in a joint work session Dec. 3 with their Planning Commission counterparts, supported town staff’s proposal to hire a consultant (for about $100,000) who would develop an economic-development strategy and conduct a market study.” [InsideNova]

NBC4 Covers Vienna Bike Corral — The Vienna Town Council’s concern about a bike corral potentially taking up a single parking space on Church Street was the subject of an Adam Tuss story on NBC4 yesterday. Via Twitter, the [email protected] store said in response: “Needless to say, we at [email protected] support the move. Will the Town get on board with providing much needed bike infrastructure, or will cars still rule?” [Twitter, Twitter]

Photos: Reindogs in McLean — “The 2018 Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce Reindog celebration, which took place Dec. 1… brought out the creativity of local residents and the understanding of canines who found themselves dressed up in holiday-themed costumes.” [InsideNova]

Fairfax Approves Funds for Tech Firm’s Tysons Move — “Cloud computing company Appian Corporation will receive $4 million from Fairfax County for the company’s expansion and new headquarters in Tysons… The Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved the Development Opportunity Fund grant from the Commonwealth at its meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 4).” [Reston Now]

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The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority helped to add 164 jobs in Tysons, McLean, Vienna and Merrifield between July and September.

In all, FCEDA says it helped to add more than 800 jobs in Fairfax County throughout the third quarter of 2018. In the Tysons area, the biggest additions were 50 jobs created by the new Arconic Inc. corporate headquarters and 60 jobs created by the expansion of MicroHealth, LLC.

More from an FCEDA press release:

In the third quarter of 2018, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) worked with 21 businesses that announced the addition of 841 jobs to the Fairfax County economy.

Major announcements came from a wide variety of businesses.

The St. James, an indoor sports, wellness and entertainment venue in Springfield, opened its doors with 300 employees.

“The Washington region and Fairfax County in particular were really a fantastic place for us to develop the very first St. James,” said Kendrick Ashton, the company’s co-founder and co-CEO. “As everyone knows, Fairfax County is one of the most dynamic, high-growth, high-impact counties in all of the United States. The scale, density, economic vitality of the county, along with the quality of engagement that citizens have with sports – being generally active – makes this an incredible place to start a business like the St. James.”

Bechtel, one of the world’s leading engineering and construction firms, announced consolidation of its company headquarters in Reston, adding 150 jobs in the process.

“Since relocating our global operational headquarters to Reston in 2011, we have enjoyed immense support from the business community of Fairfax County and the Commonwealth,” said Bechtel CEO Bill Dudley. “Reston has proven to be an ideal location for Bechtel. Conveniently situated between two airports, it facilitates international and domestic travel, which is key to our business, provides access to a highly skilled workforce, and offers an enjoyable work/life environment for our employees.”

MAG Aerospace also moved facilities to Fairfax County, bringing 120 new jobs in the aerospace and defense industry.

“Fairfax County provides an essential proximity to customers, along with the dedicated and talented workforce to serve those customers,” said Joe Fluet, MAG CEO. “Making Fairfax our new home allows MAG to focus further on its growth and vision of making the world smaller and safer. We’re proud to call Fairfax County our home for years to come.”

“The wide range of company expansions and new jobs announced during the quarter highlights the diversity of our economic base,” said Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “It’s also a testament to the diverse talents of the highly-skilled individuals we have available to fill positions at these companies.”

Time magazine called Fairfax County “one of the great economic success stories of our time.” Business growth and innovation helps Fairfax County fund the nation’s top-rated school system and other public services that contribute to the quality of life of residents. Fairfax County offers businesses a state-of-the- art telecommunications infrastructure, access to global markets through Washington Dulles International Airport, a vibrant investment capital community and a highly skilled, well-educated workforce.

The award-winning Fairfax County Economic Development Authority promotes Fairfax County as a business and technology center. The FCEDA offers site location and business development assistance, and connections with county and state government agencies, to help companies locate and expand in Fairfax County. In addition to its headquarters in Tysons Corner, Fairfax County’s largest business district, the FCEDA maintains marketing offices in six important global business centers: Bangalore, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tel Aviv.

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The Washington Business Journal has announced its list of 75 fastest growing companies in the Washington, D.C. area and it’s good news for the Tysons area.

Of the top four companies on the list, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority noted that three of them are based in Tysons.

The list ranks average percent change in revenue from 2015 to 2017. The companies must be headquartered in the Washington area and must be privately held.

DGC International, a company which provides logistical support to military and government clients, was ranked number one on the list. According to Bloomberg, DGC International Inc. is headquartered at 1604 Spring Hill Road near the Spring Hill Metro station but maintains operations in the Middle East, Central Asia, South America and Africa.

The Washington Business Journal said that DGC International has seen an 876 percent revenue increase over the years surveyed, far surpassing TechAnax in second place with a 187 percent increase and Dynamo Technologies LLC with 138 percent.

“There’s no slowing down here,” said Evan Hopkins, business analyst for DGC International Inc. “We’ve brought on a lot of new people, younger talent, and it’s ended up being a really dynamic work atmosphere.”

Hopkins said DGC International Inc. has been working to grow by filling specific needs in narrow markets.

“We’re currently pretty heavy in the vertical of global logistics, and we’re moving into mission support and global operations,” said Hopkins. “It’s a lot of construction work and operations. We’re also really growing in training with a lot of new and upcoming training contracts that we’re currently looking at.”

The companies ranked third and fourth, Dynamo Technologies LLC and Ridgeline International Inc., are also headquartered in Tysons.

Dynamo Technologies is located at 1775 Tysons Blvd just east of Tysons Galleria. The company provides IT services to federal agencies.

The 75 companies were also surveyed on their future plans, with 79.7 percent of those surveyed saying they do not plan on going public. Companies located in the region also seemed satisfied with their location, with 97 percent of those surveyed saying they do not plan to move their headquarters outside of the region.

The rankings also list the fastest-growing companies by their total revenue.

Tysons based KLDiscovery also topped the revenue list at $281.2 million. KLDiscovery is located west of Tysons Galleria across International Drive. The company primarily provides technology services and software to law firms and legal departments.

Number four on the top revenue companies, Dovel Technologies, is also located near Dynamo Technologies and had $190.8 million in revenue in 2017. Following it at number five on the top revenue list is another appearance by DGC International, which reported $149.7 million in revenue.

Photo via Facebook

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) It’s fair to say that the Tysons of today might not look the same without Gerry Gordon.

To get some perspective on how much Fairfax has changed since Gordon took over the Fairfax County Economic Development Task Force (FCEDA), these black-and-white satellite pictures of Tysons were taken one year after he became President and CEO of the group in 1987. While there was development, the area was not the metropolis it has become today.

At the end of the year, Gordon will step down from that long-held position and accept a post as a fellow in the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

On Thursday, Nov. 1, the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce will host a celebration of Gordon’s legacy in Fairfax with support from other select Fairfax Chambers of Commerce. Tickets to the event are $40 for chamber members or $50 for non-members, which includes admission, appetizers and one drink ticket. Event sponsorship tickets are also available for $75. The event will run from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Tower Club (8000 Towers Crescent Drive) in Tysons.

The event is hosted at the center of a region Gordon was instrumental in helping to transform. Some of the largest names plastered across the top of Tysons skyscrapers — Booz Allen, SAIC, Hilton, Capital One, etc — were in part brought to the area by the work of the FCEDA. Recently, Tysons was chosen over the District of Columbia as the expansion choice for KPMG LLC, an auditing firm that will occupy seven floors of The Boro.

The FCEDA, under Gordon’s leadership, works internationally to market Fairfax as a business destination. Since the early 1980s, Fairfax County has grown from 32 million square feet of office space to 117 million, the second largest suburban office market in the nation behind Orange County.

FCEDA is funded by the Fairfax County government. The group is headquartered in Tysons but has locations in Bangalore, London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Seoul and Tel Aviv.

Outside of the business expansions, Gordon has also helped the group build bridges with other regional groups. The FCEDA facilitated the creation of the Multicultural Chamber Alliance, a collaboration of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber and Asian American Chamber of Commerce in Tysons along with the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce in the Mount Vernon area. Earlier this year, Gordon led the groups in signing an even closer agreement of collaboration.

Photo via Facebook

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Wanted: Nightlife in Tysons

When Tysons Reporter posted polls on Facebook and on our website last week asking whether Tysons was a fun place to go out at night, the answers were… not great for the area.

Only 6.5 percent of responders at the website said Tysons has an active nightlife, though 56.2 percent said it’s starting to get better. While the “getting better” number is encouraging, the overwhelming lack of satisfaction is a sign that Tysons still has some rough spots to work out as it tries to morph into “America’s Next Great City.”

A notable bright spot, according to several Facebook commenters said, was the Tysons Biergarten.

Commenters described the Biergarten as the kind of casual and affordable late-night activities the area needed more of, so we reached out to Biergarten owner Matt Rofougaran to get his thoughts on the current state of local nightlife and how to make it better.

Rofougaran was a managing partner with Washington, D.C. nightlife hotspots like Ultrabar for years and was eager to move that scene to where he grew up: Tysons. But when the Biergarten started two and a half years ago, Rofougaran said there local nightlife scene was scarce.

“There was none,” said Rofougaran. “You had no real place for nightlife unless you wanted to sit in a bar or restaurant, and that’s not everyone’s scene.”

Rofougaran said the late-night locales in the area catered to specific interests, like the now-closed international hookah bar Babalu and Iris Lounge, which catered to an older, wealthier crowd.

“The difference with Tysons Biergarten was we were aiming for all ages,” said Rofougaran. “You can be 21 or you can be 65. That was our main aim and focus.”

Fast forward to today and Rofougaran says the nightlife scene has hardly improved. Tysons Biergarten and the nearby Greenhouse Bistro are two of the only thriving late-night spots in Tysons, but Rofougaran said their popularity is mainly because they’re one of the few options available, not an indicator of market interest for late-night activities.

“A lot of people leave here,” said Rofougaran. “They’re done with their job at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and they go home. They don’t come back. If they want to go out, they go to Arlington. If we had ten places here open late night, all of them would sink. They would all be empty. There isn’t that crowd of people that want to go out at night in Tysons.”

Andrew Taherzadeh, digital communications manager for Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, reiterated that Greenhouse is a popular hub of activity on Friday or Saturday evenings, but that aside he admitted that local late-night entertainment is sparse.

“Currently nightlife in Tysons is minimal,” said Taherzadeh. “That should change in the upcoming years with new development.”

New late-night options are coming in with developments like The Boro, which will also bring with it more housing — crucial for making Tysons a more vibrant place at night and not just a daytime destination for workers. But Rofougaran says nightlife in Tysons faces an uphill battle against the more entrenched establishments in Arlington and the more lax alcohol laws in Washington, D.C.

“In D.C., you can be open until 3 a.m.,” Rofougaran said. “Here, we do last-call at 1:30 a.m. and our doors are locked and closed by 2 a.m.”

But like Taherzadeh and 56.2 percent of Tysons Reporter’s readership, Rofougaran said it’s going to get better.

“Tysons is heading that way, it’s just not there yet,” said Rofougaran. “In another five years, it’ll be a different story. It just takes time.”

Photo via Facebook

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(Updated at 9 p.m.) Some 425 people attended today’s Social Media Week Fairfax event in Tysons, absorbing insights and ideas for anyone working in social media, marketing or startups.

The event, hosted by Fairfax County Economic Development Authority at Capital One headquarters, was a one-day convention of panels and networking that primarily focused on how businesses, large and small, engage on social media.

The keynote speaker and celebrity for the PR world was Judy Smith, a crisis management expert and the inspiration for the show Scandal. The biggest points Smith highlighted were speed and tone of responses to calamity.

“There’s an appreciation of mistakes when you embrace it and you own it,” said Smith.

Smith said organizations often wait more — sometimes much more — than 45 minutes before responding to an incident, by which time public opinion has already started to form.

One cause, according to Smith, is that companies can get tangled up in communications between different departments. Companies can also be slow to admit the whole truth, while Smith says the best answer is usually just to let all of the bad news come out at once like tearing off a Band-aid.

“You also have to pick the best time and vehicle to respond,” said Smith. “There was a CEO who apologized in 15 posts on Twitter. Given the seriousness of the matter, I would not have responded to that on Twitter. If a food company has a massive recall where people are sick or dying, I wouldn’t tweet ‘sorry about the bad food.'”

Smith said part of working in crisis management is working on controlling the narrative. In her own life, when the producers on Scandal approached her about adding in an intimate relationship between her character and the President, Smith said she got on the phone with President George H.W. Bush, for whom she had worked as a press secretary, to let him know.

Smith said when President Bush called her back and left a voicemail, joking that “you called me” and “you left me,” she fired back that he couldn’t make jokes about that.

“If you don’t follow these talking points,” Smith recalled telling Bush, “I will call Barbara.”

These days, Smith said things are moving faster in social media, saying her largest concern is that the population seems to have increasing difficulty discerning fact from fiction.

“One year ago, there was something I was looking at on social media and it was trending too fast,” Smith said. “When my team checked, it was because the other side had hired two bot companies to tweet about it. That’s how it went from zero to five million tweets in two minutes.”

Despite the prevalence of untruth on social media, Amanda Waas and Tammy Abraham from National Geographic emphasized the importance of being genuine.

“People can see right through anything on social media,” said Tammy Abraham. “If you’re not authentic, if it doesn’t feel true, everyone knows it.”

To this end, Abraham said that the National Geographic’s Instagram account is handled almost exclusively by photographers in the field. There are general guidelines, but Abraham said letting photojournalists have unfiltered access to the social media has helped build a following for the brand.

This extends to working with sponsored content as well.

“We’re not just going to post an ad,” said Waas. “Even for branded content, it needs to follow certain guidelines.”

“We have to find a common place to tell an authentic story,” said Abraham. “We can’t tap into an authentic story without something meaningful to tell.”

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