The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced today that the National Science Foundation (NSF) will move its headquarters to Alexandria in 2017. The agency's new offices will be located in the Hoffman Town Center complex, across the street from the Eisenhower Avenue Metrorail Station and just west of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office complex.
"The NSF's decision to locate its headquarters in Alexandria is a tremendous gain for our entire community," said Mayor William D. Euille. "Having the NSF headquartered in Alexandria will strengthen our growing knowledge-based economy, and directly contribute to our professional workforce. Our high quality of life, access to public transportation, and cultural charm are key reasons why government and private businesses are drawn to Alexandria."
In 2011, Alexandria City Council passed a resolution to strongly support an NSF move to Alexandria, and to actively engage with property owners to recruit the agency. GSA selected Alexandria after an extremely competitive bidding process between interested localities and developers. Mayor Euille emphasized the combined efforts that led to NSF's decision. "The Alexandria City Council, City staff, the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and area developers all contributed to the team effort that made today's exciting news possible," he said.
The selected site will result in the construction of a 660,000 square-foot, LEED Gold-certified facility. The federal government will lease the space from the developer, Hoffman Development, Inc. A development site plan was approved by Alexandria City Council in 2012, after staff review and public hearing.
NSF has a direct workforce of approximately 2,400 employees, and attracts an average of 200,000 academics, scientists, students, and researchers as visitors each year to serve as members of review panels and to present research results. NSF activity generates approximately 60,000 room nights in hotels, and the new headquarters is expected to provide demand for new lodging, dining, office space, and retail options in the Carlyle area and throughout Alexandria.
City planners project that NSF will spur more than 1,800 additional permanent jobs beyond its own workforce of 2,400, and more than 800 temporary jobs to construct the new facility. This is a 4.5 percent increase in Alexandria’s overall workforce. Over the initial 15-year lease, the headquarters is expected to generate more than $83 million each year for Alexandria’s economy. The economic impact includes new salaries and wages for Alexandria residents, and spending by NSF employees and visitors at local businesses.
Given the extraordinary economic benefit of the NSF to Alexandria, and in order to make the Alexandria sites' bids as competitive as possible, the City proposed the creation of an Eisenhower Avenue Science Redevelopment District. The property used by NSF would be subject to a lower real estate tax rate, which is projected to be a $23 million value to the property owner over the initial 15-year lease. This would still result in approximately $50 million in new tax revenue to the City during that period, even after the tax incentive is factored in. The creation of the new tax district is subject to public hearing and approval by Alexandria City Council.
The GSA estimates that the new NSF location in Alexandria will also save federal taxpayers $65 million over the initial lease period, and will use considerably less energy and water than typical office buildings.
The National Science Foundation is one of the federal government's primary science research organizations, with an annual budget of $7.3 billion. NSF funds 20 percent of all federally-sponsored basic research at U.S. colleges and universities. The agency will remain at its present location in the Ballston area of Arlington until its move to Alexandria in 2017.