Defense offices are pulling out of Arlington, but publisher BNA Inc. will be moving its Washington, D.C. headquarters to Crystal City by 2007.
"At the end of the day, we knew that Crystal City is undergoing a transformation," said CEO Paul Wojcik. "The fact that it's losing people may only speed up its change into more of an urban village."
BNA produces more than 200 printed and on-line publications reporting on subjects like health care, economics and business. The company will bring an estimated 1,000 employees and a $110 million investment to its new base at 1801 South Bell Street. Wojcik said negotiations with the county and Gov. Mark Warner, who facilitated the deal, began about six months ago after an exhaustive search for the company's new home.
"It began simply by trying to understand what our options were," said Wojcik. "I hadn't seen Crystal City in five years until we went to look at the building, and I was amazed at what it had become in such a short time."
BNA looked, Wojcik said, at about 130 different sites around the Washington Metro area before settling on Crystal City.
"Our employees live around where our offices are now," said Wojcik. "We didn't want to move them away from home."
Defense offices leaving the area in the wake of recent changes in federal security standards for office buildings added to the discussion of Crystal City as BNA's final choice, but as Wojcik pointed out, BNA was "already pretty far along in the process when that news came out."
ARLINGTON'S GOVERNMENT, Wojcik said, offered little in the way of financial incentives or deals to move into Virginia but much of the relocation hinged, he said, on Warner's grant of $1 million from the state's opportunity fund.
"This is a great time to bring good news to Crystal City, even as we work with our congressional partners to make the proposals that could impact this community especially hard," said Warner.
The state's Department of Business Assistance is also pitching in with workforce training for BNA's employees.
The added bonuses for BNA, County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said, are easy access to Crystal City's restaurants, shops and the fact that it's just across the street from the Metro Station.
BNA's move furthers the economic face-lift in Crystal City. Charles E. Smith Realty, which owns 70 percent of the high rises and apartment complexes in the area, is celebrating BNA's arrival. It marks the second high-profile media organization to choose Crystal City as its hub. PBS announced in 2004 that it will relocate its headquarters to Crystal Drive by 2006.
"Like the PBS relocation, BNA's intention to move to Crystal City validates the transformation of Crystal City and its appeal as a corporate headquarters location," said Mitchell Schear, president of Charles E. Smith.
AT ITS NEW Crystal City headquarters, BNA will bring together the employees it now has working in four offices spread across Northwest Washington, D.C.
"I hadn't seen Crystal City in five years and I was amazed at how it has changed," said Wojcik.
BNA's subsidiaries include STF Services Corporation, a maker of electronics, and the McArdle Printing Company, a commercial printing venture. Bringing media companies like BNA and PBS to Crystal City, according to Karen Vasquez, a spokeswoman for Arlington Economic Development, is part of the drive to create a more diverse economic base for the area after the BRAC pull-out.
"Media companies bring in diverse types of people and diverse types of jobs," said Vasquez. "Having media companies come into Crystal City adds to the flavor of the place."