Loudoun County’s Department of Economic Development is so cramped, three of its top business development managers are working out of a closet.
The agency’s 22 full-time equivalent employees are based out of 3,600 square feet at the county’s government center in Leesburg, which amounts to roughly 163 square feet per employee — a tight fit even by new government efficiency space standards. The DED figures it needs about 10,000 square feet, and it’s readying a search for new space.
“We’re just looking for options,” DED Director Buddy Rizer told me. “The board may say ‘You’re staying where you are, that’s what you have.’ And that’s fine. It won’t affect the work that we do. It’s just a matter of finding a solution of being more supportive of the mission.”
The existing agency footprint is “not conducive to operational requirements or professional business practices,” the county states in a report issued ahead of the June 16 Economic Development Committee meeting, in which the administration asks the board for permission to research “suitable office space” options.
It has no space to house a new position currently being recruited. The private offices “are not suitable for one-on-one meetings with corporate executives.” And the conference room is not large enough to accommodate many of the development and committee meetings the agency hosts.
And there’s this: “The lack of adequate space requires that three key members of the business development team work in a DED annex; essentially a former closet off a fifth floor corridor apart from managers, team members and support staff.”
The department lists three options for the future: Expand within the government center, move to leased space, or take proffered space available at Comstock Partners’ Loudoun Station development.
Remaining in the government center would keep the agency close to other departments while maintaining a location near the rural communities of western Loudoun. But it would also require restructuring the building space or relocating other offices. The existing office has undergone three renovations in seven years to add more space and modular work stations.
Cost estimate: Unknown.
Moving to Loudoun Station, into a shell space on the second floor of an office building now under construction, has its cons — significant distance from the heart of the government, farther away from Loudoun’s rural areas. But it also has pros, including its close proximity to Dulles International Airport, the Silver Line and most of Loudoun’s large and mid-size corporations.
Cost estimate: $1.2 million, including a $700,000 initial buildout and $500,000 for data infrastructure, security, modular office systems, furnishings and relocation.
Based on the staff report, a competitive process to locate 10,000 square feet of privately-owned leased space appears to be the best option, as it would result in multiple alternatives in multiple locations and could be done relatively quickly.
Cost estimate: $250,000 a year for rent, plus the $500,000 in one-time costs.
Anyway, if you happen to have 10,000 square feet of readily available space in Loudoun County (and we know many do, given the current 16.5 percent office vacancy rate), there may be an opportunity coming soon.