MCLEAN, VA-Tysons Corner has been carving a niche out for itself in the Washington, DC technology and biotechnology community, establishing its own identity next to such well known Northern Virginia tech enclaves as Reston, Herndon and Dulles. Local tech firms such as Blink Communications and Bantu are either opening new offices or relocating entirely to Tysons, in order to follow their own customers that have located there. Meanwhile, developers such as Lerner Enterprises continue to build out in the area.

The North Bethesda, MD-based firm will develop an 18-story 472,000-sf office tower at 1775 Tysons Blvd. in the Corporate Office Centre at Tysons II. Construction will begin in the summer of 2007 and the building will be delivered two years later. It will be the fifth office building at the five-million-sf, mixed-use complex.

Mark D. Lerner, a principal of Lerner Enterprises, notes that market demand is so strong for space in the area that Tysons II, with more than 1.4 million sf, has less than a 1% vacancy rate. In part that is due to companies such as Bantu, a provider of enterprise instant messaging, that are moving to Tysons, specifically to be closer to its key customers and partners.

Calling Tysons the heart of the government IT and technology, Larry Schlang, CEO of Bantu tells that being in Tysons instead of Washington, DC, will also be a plus in its recruiting drive. “There is a definite convenience factor to being here among the people we want to hire.” The company’s new headquarters, at 8110 Gatehouse Rd., is a class A building subleased from the major tenant under a two-year lease with an option to expand.

Another example is Blink Communications, a Washington, DC area-based entertainment, convention and conference production company that it recently opened a new production office at 1934 Old Gallows Rd., in Tysons Corner. Lerner says demand for office space will only grow, especially for class A buildings. “While we will proceed with this building on a speculative basis as we did on the last four buildings at Tysons II, we have always had significant preleasing in these buildings prior to their completion.”

Floors in the building will be approximately 29,000 sf; building amenities will include an on-site concierge, 24-hour security, a fitness center, restaurant and café, banking and other retail services. The architect is Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Office leasing will be provided by locally based Diamond Property Co. Retail leasing and property management services will be provided by Lerner Corp., an affiliate of Lerner Enterprises.

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