National Science Foundation Moving to Alexandria

National Science Foundation building in BallstonThe National Science Foundation, Arlington’s 12th largest employer, will be moving to new offices in Alexandria by 2017, employees at its Ballston headquarters were told today.

NSF employs 2,237 people in Arlington, according to Arlington Economic Development data. It’s the county’s 12th largest overall employer and its 8th largest government employer. Located in the Stafford Place I and II buildings at 4121 and 4201 Wilson Blvd, the NSF is also central to Ballston’s science and technology economy.

In a memo (below), NSF Acting Director Cora B. Marrett told employees today that the General Services Administration has signed a lease for a “new state-of-the-art building” at Alexandria’s Hoffman Town Center development, adjacent to the Eisenhower Avenue Metro station.

“We are told that the construction will take approximately three to four years to complete, so we anticipate a move to this new facility by the end of 2016,” Marrett wrote. “GSA has extended our leases at Stafford I and II for the interim.”

NSF memoThe National Science Foundation’s future in Arlington has been up for discussion since 2008, as the agency and the GSA considered whether to renew its Stafford Place lease, which was set to expire in December 2013. Arlington’s congressional delegation — Rep. Jim Moran and Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb — wrote a letter to the GSA in February 2010, urging the agency to renew NSF’s lease in Arlington.

Moving out of Arlington could have a “detrimental effect” on the National Science Foundation and on other scientific organizations that enjoy research synergies the Ballston area, like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Virginia Tech Research Center, the lawmakers wrote.

“We believe continue to make Arlington the ideal location for NSF Headquarters,” the memo said.

So far, the lawmakers have not commented on the planned NSF move. Attempts to reach numerous Arlington County and Arlington Economic Development officials were not successful.

The National Science Foundation describes itself as an “independent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting science and engineering through research programs and education projects.”

According to the Washington Post, the NSF’s 15-year lease in Alexandria will save it a total of $100 million on rent and other costs.  The move, a coup for economic development in Alexandria, “would constitute one of the largest transfers of federal workers in Northern Virginia since the Patent and Trademark Office departed Crystal City for Alexandria in 2005,” the Post wrote.


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