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Officials: Defense agency relocation will grow Arlington, retain jobs

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Local,David Sherfinski

The Defense Department's central research and development office will relocate to Ballston's "Science Corridor" in 2012, a move local officials say will help keep jobs in the county.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which directs and manages research for the Defense Department, will move to 675 North Randolph St., part of the Founders Square development by the Shooshan Co. It is currently located in Arlington's Virginia Square neighborhood along Fairfax Drive.

"It's kind of a double win for the county," said Arlington Board member Christopher Zimmerman, highlighting not only the retention of the agency, but also its new site -- a former Metro bus yard. The new Founders Square will help spur retailers to move in and will create a "very desirable mixed-use community," he added.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine also praised the move.

"With this highly advanced facility, Virginia will retain over 800 people working in the current location," he said. "DARPA also works with numerous defense contractors and other private businesses that employ over 1,700 workers in Arlington and Northern Virginia."

Other research agencies in the "Science Corridor" include the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.

Any new development hosting a Defense Department agency must comply with new anti-terrorism standards, said Karen Vasquez, a spokeswoman for Arlington Economic Development.

"It does narrow the field in terms of locations that can be offered," she said.

In 2005, local, state and federal Virginia representatives worked to keep DARPA in Arlington during the Base Realignment and Closure Commission hearings, after which many military agencies were ordered to relocate to cut long-term costs and improve efficiency.

"Retaining DARPA in Arlington was a top priority for all involved," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Eighth District. "This is a big victory for the county and its work force."

The agency has 219 employees, with about 600 on-site contractors, according to DARPA spokeswoman Johanna Jones. Its 2009 budget was $3.1 billion. Groundbreaking on the new building is expected next year.

dsherfinski@washingtonexaminer.com

Founders Square Development

DARPA building:

13-story, 352,750-square-foot building

675 North Randolph St.

Meets Department of Defense's minimum anti-terrorism standards for buildings

Controlled parking garage

 

Other buildings planned for Founders Square include:

312,000-square-foot office building

Two residential buildings containing a combined 362 units

One-story, 8,000-square-foot retail building with surface parking

Total of 26,900 square feet of ground floor retail

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