Developers, Microsoft Plan $500M Smart City in Northern Virginia
- Mar 16, 2016
By Gail Kalinoski
Washington—Gramercy District, a $500 million tech-centric mixed-use development that has Microsoft as one of its investors, is being planned by 22 Capital Partners for Loudoun County, Va., at the terminus of the new Ashburn Metro station on the Silver Line.
Construction is expected to begin a year from now on the so-called “smart city”—a 2.5 million-square-foot project on 16 acres that runs along the Dulles Greenway (Route 267), the region’s main highway connecting central Loudoun County to Fairfax County, Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., Dulles International Airport is also nearby. The first phases “will focus on residential, retail and putting together a technology accelerator/co-working space,” Minh Le, managing partner of Chantilly, Va.-based 22 Capital Partners, told Commercial Property Executive. He said the co-working space would be a minimum of 20,000 square feet and could be as high as 40,000 square feet depending on interest and market demand.
Phase 1A is slated to have 268 luxury apartments in a seven-story building, over 25,000 square feet of retail, and a five-story parking garage. That phase should be completed by late 2018 and be followed by the second part of the Phase 1—the Ashburn Metro station plaza, 311 units in another seven-story apartment building, 5,000 square feet of retail and the high-tech business center or co-working space. Phase 1B is expected to be ready by late 2019.
Le said Phase 2 will likely be spaced out through 2027 and should include an 85,000-square-foot hotel, an office building of at least 350,000 square feet, another 330 units of housing and a seven-level parking garage.
He said the footprint would remain the same because the development is fully entitled by Loudoun County officials, but that once the rail line opens and more companies want to be part of Gramercy District the timing of when Phase 2 comes on line could change.
Le said the development team, which includes hedge fund Crescent Ridge Capital Partners LLC, is in discussions with hotel groups and several large companies that he declined to identify at this time.
“The market is going to dictate how fast that is going to go (second phase) but we’re having great discussions,” Le said.
Le also declined to say how much Microsoft is investing in the development. But he described the global software giant as a co-investor that would be contributing “knowledge capital and capital.” Calling Gramercy District a marriage of technology and real estate, he said Microsoft will be helping to build the blueprint for an intelligent living platform connecting all aspects of the development from the residences to parking, retail, the co-working spaces and offices.
The Washington Business Journal reported Microsoft’s CityNext program will “be aligned with, if not directly a part of” the development and will focus on “neighborhood management, smart buildings, operations management and sustainable land use.”
“This is applying technology that has already been tried and true in the market and bringing it all into one cohesive city,” Le said. “We want to create a framework so other companies can basically plug in and play, if you will, and benefit from it.”
Part of creating that framework will involve getting input into the design of some of the spaces from small businesses and entrepreneurs.
“We will incorporate some of these ideas into the rollout of a number of our initiatives,” Le said.
With a background in technology, Le was most recently a senior partner at Accenture, weaving technology into solutions for government and Fortune 100 companies. The Washington Business Journal reported others on the development team along with 22 Capital Partners and Crescent Ridge are Jack Reutemann as development manager; Polleo Group as project architect; McGuire Woods LLP as land use attorneys; Bowman Consulting as engineers and Malcolm Van de Riet, president of White Oak Properties, as a consultant.