COPT Prepares to Begin Office Project Near Expanding Military Base in Northern Virginia

The Columbia, Md.-based REIT plans to begin the project, which can be developed up to 980,000 square feet, with the construction of a 240,000-square-foot office building that will accommodate impending demand from consequences of the U.S. Department of Defense's 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.

May 20, 2010
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user armyengineersnorfolk

Corporate Office Properties Trust has just taken a big step toward commencing development of Patriot Ridge, a commercial real estate project in Springfield, Va., now that it has officially taken control of 15 acres near the Fort Belvoir military installation. The Columbia, Md.-based REIT plans to begin the project, which can be developed up to 980,000 square feet, with the construction of a 240,000-square-foot office building that will accommodate impending demand from consequences of the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.

Patriot Ridge will sprout up within a stone’s throw of the new 2.4 million-square-foot National Geospatial Intelligence Agency headquarters that is presently in the construction stage at Fort Belvoir. The base is located in Northern Virginia, which, as a suburb of Washington, D.C., traditionally benefits from government demand for office space. However, the market has not escaped the ravages of the economic downturn. In the first quarter of this year, Northern Virginia’s overall office vacancy rate climbed to 14.3 percent, a notable jump form the 12.9 percent rate in the first quarter of 2009, according to a report by Transwestern Commercial Services affiliate Delta Associates.

But that is all about to change, particularly for Springfield, which will experience a significant jump in office demand due to the impending increase in personnel–approximately 14,000 to 19,000 civilian and military employees will relocate to Fort Belvoir as a result of BRAC by September 15, 2011. No other military installation in the country will undergo a growth spurt as big as the one that is in store for Fort Belvoir, and developers such as COPT are preparing for the onslaught.

For COPT, gaining control of the land for Patriot Ridge marks a move into new geographical territory, as well as a continuation of its corporate mission. “Our expansion into Springfield fits within our Super Core strategy of locating adjacent to government demand drivers,” Randall M. Griffin, President and CEO of COPT, noted in a prepared statement. “Our site will provide superior speed to market, visibility, access and proximity to serve critical missions relocating to Fort Belvoir as a result of BRAC.”