The National Science Foundation will be moving from Arlington, Va., to neighboring Alexandria, the General Services Administration announced on Friday. The deal gives the grant-making agency more space while saving taxpayers an estimated $65 million over 15 years.
NSF’s 2,100 employees will remain in its current location in a high-rise in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington until 2017, when construction on the new Alexandria site is set to be completed by Hoffman Development Inc. at the Hoffman town center.
The new rental rate for 660,848 square feet is more than 30 percent below market rate, GSA said in a release. The deal also gives the government $35 million that can be applied to further rent savings, reduce costs of relocation and reduce overall operational costs.
The new site “will offer a more efficient use of space than NSF’s current locations and use less energy and water than typical office buildings,” GSA said.
In 2011, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., issued a report critiquing NSF’s “pricey” rent. “NSF's headquarters in Arlington…currently costs taxpayers $39 per square foot, or $26 million annually," the report said. “NSF's lease is expiring in two years and the agency is currently making plans to lease or construct an entire new building -- requesting $45 million in 2012 just to customize and [make] technology enhancements to their future headquarters . . . According to documents, among the reasons NSF is looking to move from its Ballston . . . headquarters is the desire to become more environmentally friendly and create a larger lobby and space for a museum and an auditorium."
The announcement comes after two years of intense competition between officials and property developers in Arlington and Alexandria.