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Commercial, Residential Growth in 2003

County adds several county facilities, new residential and commercial projects.

County, commercial and residential projects initiated, continued or completed in 2003 contributed to Loudoun’s changing landscape and economic environment.

One of the changes Ashburn residents sought was the opening of Ashburn Library on Aug. 10, 2003. The Board of Supervisors originally planned to open the library in 2011, but, at the request of Ashburn residents, moved the project forward. The 23,400-square-foot building is designed to hold 90,000 books — it opened with 70,000 books — and to serve a 30,000 population in the Ashburn area.

"This has been a long time coming," said Douglas Henderson, director of Library Services. "We tried to design a building and supply [it with] what we felt would reach the demographics of that area."

Another change involved the reopening of Loudoun Hospital Center’s Cornwall Campus in Leesburg. At the request of western Loudoun residents and rescue squads, Loudoun Healthcare, Inc. reopened the emergency department in January 2003. Again in June, Loudoun Healthcare presented plans to the Board of Supervisors to expand the Western Loudoun Medical Center, which the board endorsed.

“While there may be bed access east of us, there is no hospital between Goose Creek and Winchester,” said Supervisor James Burton (I-Mercer). “The people in western Loudoun equally need that kind of access.”

SEVERAL COMPANIES and non-profit organizations broke ground or announced plans to locate in Loudoun in 2003.

"Certainly the national recession and corporate governance issues have had a negative impact on all segments of the business community," said Board of Supervisors chairman Scott York (R-At large) in his year-end remarks at the Dec. 15, 2003 board meeting. "Loudoun's business community certainly has not been immune, but I believe it is fair to say that it is resilient as well. ... This board has been committed to attracting to our county businesses that will help expand our economic base and create good paying jobs."

For instance, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) decided to locate in Loudoun, breaking ground in May 2003 for a research facility on Janelia Farm, a 281-acre site near Route 7 and Janelia Farm Boulevard. HHMI plans to build a 720,000-square-foot biomedical research facility and training center with offices, laboratories and housing by 2006.

"It will put us on the global map for biomedical sciences," said Larry Rosenstrauch, director of the Department of Economic Development.

Prison Fellowship Ministries broke ground in July 2003 to locate its headquarters on a 13-acre site in Lansdowne Corporate Park with opening planned for the end of 2004. The non-profit organization plans to work with prisoners and their families to provide them with skills and support for integrating back into the community.

In May 2003, MCI, a for-profit corporation, announced plans to locate its corporate headquarters to Loudoun as part of WorldCom, Inc.’s corporate reorganization plan that included the name change to MCI. WorldCom opened the Ashburn campus in 1999, which has nine office buildings and spans 2 million square feet.

“[It’s] another notch in our brand-name capital,” Rosenstrauch said.

In December 2003, the National Air and Space Museum opened a 700,000-square-foot annex on a 185-acre site near the Dulles Washington International Airport. Called the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the annex is named after the man who pledged $60 million to build a facility large enough to house historically significant aircraft that cannot fit in the main museum.

“I’m sure it will be a hub to bring people to this area,” said Donald Lopez, deputy director of the Air and Space Museum.

BUSINESS and new non-residential construction exceeded $1.1 billion from 2000 to 2002. Another $268 million worth of new construction was permitted in 2003 through October, compared to $133.5 million the year before. Of the county's 517 square miles, 20,900 acres are designated for commercial and industrial uses, 78,900 acres for residential uses and 200,200 acres for agricultural uses, according to the county's 2003 Annual Report.

“We’ve been able to continue to attract new businesses,” said Randy Collins, president of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. “We always have been and will continue to be open to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses.”

Loudoun leads Northern Virginia with 13.7 percent job growth and has about 9,000 businesses. In 2002, Loudoun added a net of 250 new businesses, according to the 2002 Annual Growth Summary. The Department of Economic Development, which produces the summary, does not yet have information for new business growth in 2003.

As business growth continued, the county's largest employers remained about the same from the mid-1990s to 2003. The majority of the employers are in the airline industry and in technology, according to the 1995 and the 2003 employer lists provided by the Department of Economic Development. The top three employers in 2003 included America Online, Inc., United Airlines and MCI.

"The interesting thing about Loudoun is we're small business. Our large business is stabilized," said Robyn Bailey, marketing manager for the Department of Economic Development. "While other areas see changes ... Loudoun has been fairly stabilized over the years, and I anticipate that to continue."

A SECOND GROWTH area for Loudoun is in the area of residential construction, which is needed to accommodate the 15,000 to 20,000 new residents moving to the county each year. The county's housing inventory in 2002 was 73,000 housing units, compared to 62,100 units in 2000, according to the 2002 Growth Summary. Fifty-four percent of the housing units in 2002 were single-family detached units.

"We seem to have survived the downturn in the economy very well," Collins said. "People are still coming to Loudoun, relocating to Loudoun in a big way. Ironically, the fast-growing nature of the county has helped us through a downturn in the economy. Its residential real estate sales continued to be strong, propping up an otherwise sagging economy."

The county issued 5,970 building permits for new residential units in 2002 and 5,670 units through October in 2003, a 19.1 percent increase from the year prior during the same time period.

By 2002, more than 145 major residential projects had been approved in the county, according to the 2002 Growth Summary. As of Jan. 1, 2003, the county issued building permits for 32,400 housing units, leaving 40,800 units to be built. The largest residential project is Moorefield Station, which is still in the development stages. Moorefield Station is a proposed mixed-use development that will be built around the last transit stop on the planned rail line through the Dulles Corridor in 2015. Located south of the Dulles Greenway, the development will combine 6,000 residential units and 16.7 million square feet of office, retail and hotel space on a 596-acre site near the future Route 772 rail station.

"It will be like a downtown area with the bundle of activities you have ... measured in blocks, not miles," said Randy Sutliff, Leesburg attorney representing the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation.

IN NOVEMBER, the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation began the process for selling the first section of the property. Moorefield Green, a 93-acre section located on the southwestern end of Moorefield Station, is proposed at the lowest density in the development and planned for 530 units.

“We’re offering just one beginning section,” said Guy Gravett, associate broker for Farms & Acreage, Inc., a real estate company in Oakton. “What we’re offering is a very good development opportunity because it’s a wonderful piece of property — the location, the design, everything about it.”

Prospective buyers have until Jan. 16, 2004 to submit their proposals for final selection in March. The closing of the property will be held off until the county approves the final development plans by January 2005.

A smaller rail-related residential project is Loudoun Station, which is proposed for up to 1,514 multi-family rental and condominium units on a 43-acre site northeast of the Dulles Greenway.

"It’s a constrained property," said Van Armstrong, program manager for the county Department of Planning. "The mixed use of it is of such a vibrancy, it will make the transit stop function well."

Another large residential project is Loudoun Valley Estates II, a mixed-use development that will border the eastern edge of Brambleton. Toll Brothers Inc. requested in July 2002 rezoning the 800-acre property to allow for 3,184 detached and attached units. The Planning Commission voted in favor of the request in December 2003, a request that still needs the Board of Supervisors' final approval.

AT THE COUNTY level, plans are in place to rebuild and improve several county facilities. The improvements aim to address the increasing demands for services brought about by growth.

One such facility is the adult detention center, an 80,000-square-foot facility near Sycolin Road and Courage Court that will become part of the future public safety center. The public safety center will include the Sheriff's Office, the fire and rescue administration buildings and an expanded Fire-Rescue Training Center.

At a cost of $20.9 million, the adult detention center will include 196 secure custody and 48 community custody units, a replacement for the jail facility in downtown Leesburg that is deteriorating and overcrowded, as described by Sheriff Stephen Simpson. "We have inmates scattered all over Virginia. We don't have room to house [them all] here," he said.

The adult detention center is scheduled for completion in December 2005 and for opening the next year after the Sheriff's Office trains staff for the transfer.

A new Public Schools Administration Building will replace the North Street Office in January 2005 at a cost of $21.4 million. The five-story, 166,000-square-foot building will sit on a 14.7-acre site in the Broadlands subdivision near the Dulles Greenway.

“This was something I’ve been waiting for a long time,” said former School Board chairman Joseph Vogric. “We’re going to allow professionals who run this school system to work in a professional space.”

The county has plans for several other projects that are included in the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for FY 2003-08, a six-year planning document outlining county government and school facility, land and equipment needs. The $696.6 million CIP includes $450.6 million in funds for school projects and the rest for county projects. Current and future CIP projects include:

* Building public safety centers to combine fire, rescue and law enforcement services in Broadlands, South Riding, western Loudoun, Brambleton, Lansdowne and Rte 28 near the Dulles Town Center.

* Developing community centers at the Claude Moore and Broadlands parks.

* Developing recreation centers at the Claude Moore, Broadlands, Dulles South and Philip A. Bolen Memorial parks, and adding fields to the Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park, which is near Leesburg.

* Providing preliminary work on the Dulles South library and expansion of the Eastern Loudoun Regional Library.