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ASHBURN, VA-Merritt Properties LLC has broken ground on a 50,000-sf office/flex building here, with plans to build four buildings with a total of 200,000 sf. The first building is scheduled to deliver in December 2001.

Baltimore-based Merritt’s site is a 24-acre parcel acquired from Intertech Corp., a New York-based real estate development and investment firm that is constructing the complex.

The sale price on the parcel was not disclosed and Merritt officials were not immediately available for comment.

The land is part of a 277-acre property–Ashbrook–located in eastern Loudon County. It is a zoned for mixed use, and plans call for 800 homes, a 225,000 sf retail center and up to two million sf of office space.

For its part, Merritt is currently doing $6 million of site work, including road improvements, new traffic signals, off-site sanitary lines, off-site water lines and wetlands migration.

This is Merritt’s third development in a Loudon market that shows signs of heating up. The developer has also built Merritt & Loudon Tech Center and plans three class A office buildings in University Center.

Real estate players say that vacancy rates are higher and square-footage prices are lower in Northern Virginia versus the District due to the number of failed tech companies in the area. But office/flex space can often be used in light industrial settings and may help offset some of the wane in demand among technology firms.

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