Adding Retail, Office Mix

Adding Retail, Office Mix

The drive between Ashburn and Leesburg on Route 7 without a store in sight — just eight flags at one of the intersections and a half dozen stoplights — will change in 2004.

By then, Ashbrook Commons will be near the intersection of Route 7 and Ashburn Village Boulevard to offer 300,000 square feet of retail, professional office and hotel space. The center will sit on a 41-acre site across from the future home of Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“It’s very well located in the right kind of market, and it’s comparable to what we’re accustomed to in Reston,” said David Ross, president and partner of Atlantic Realty Companies, Inc. of Tysons Corner. Ross and one of his two partners started the company in 1992, developing their first project and several subsequent projects in Reston and later expanding to Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland.

“As someone who travels Route 7 every day, [I see] there is a great need in that particular area,” said Randy Collins, president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. “There is not a great deal of retail being built between Route 28 and the University Center project all the way up to Leesburg.”

ASHBROOK COMMONS will be the company’s first Loudoun County development, approved by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors in 1995. Based on Reston’s Plaza America, the development will be in a village setting with open space areas, three to four miles of pedestrian walkways and outdoor seating on benches and restaurant patios.

The center will include 200,000 square feet of retail space, enough for 15 to 20 community-oriented retailers, such as arts and crafts and office supply companies, a specialty grocery store, a coffee shop, restaurants and other food retailers.

“We’re working with a number of potential retailers to go into the project,” Ross said, adding that he expects the transactions to be finalized within three to four months. “It’s going to be a community center.”

Another 62,000 square feet in the center will be reserved for office space in Ashbrook Professional Condominiums, which will feature four separate two-story buildings. The office space will be sold in 1,000 to 5,000-square-foot units to about 25 to 30 businesses and agencies. So far, Atlantic Realty Companies has agreements for 75 percent of the office units.

“Those type of businesses need to find homes. They typically don’t fit in the larger offices,” Ross said. “They’re a much bigger fish, and have a larger presence” in the smaller units.

In addition, the center may include a 45,000-square-foot extended-stay hotel, which would be three stories with 100 rooms, to primarily serve business travelers, visitors to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Loudoun Hospital Center in Lansdowne and others coming to the area.

Ashbrook Commons itself will serve the commercial corridor along Route 7, along with 23,000 existing homes within a five-mile radius, new homes under construction in the same area and the 800 homes to be built in the 277-acre Ashbrook development by Fairfield and Richmond American.

“We believe we will continue to see interest in the Loudoun County community as we have seen in the past,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (R-At large). “We will continue to grow economic development wise.”

CONSTRUCTION of Ashbrook Commons, which is anticipated to cost $40 million, is scheduled to begin in fall 2003 and be completed by late summer 2004 with WDG of Washington, D.C. as the architect.

Atlantic Realty Companies oversaw the completion of $12 million worth of site improvements for the project, including several new roads, off-site water and sanitary lines, a 10-acre storm management lake and a five-acre wetlands mitigation area.

“It’s a long time coming. We’re anxious to get the project up and running,” Ross said.