Virginia Tech announced it has a new home for its Northern Virginia Innovation Campus on Monday.
Tech’s planned campus is being moved to a location in the same neighborhood, steps from a future Metrorail station in Alexandria in what’s now a shopping center.
The school had previously announced a smaller 15-acre location several blocks to the south in a partnership with developer Stonebridge Associates. Tech President Tim Sands said the new location offers more room to grow after Tech was made aware of the site several months ago.
“From a Virginia Tech perspective… this site just stood out,” he said during a news conference livestreamed on Tech's website.
“The other site was interesting,” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA, said at the news conference. “But this site offers an opportunity to be world class.”
The university announced it will now partner with Lionstone Investments to develop the one million-square-foot campus, which will be part of a 65-acre mixed-use district. It will be located immediately south of Four Mile Run stream, which separates Alexandria and Arlington.
The district will include 7.5 million square feet of development space including multifamily housing, commercial office space, retail, hospitality, open spaces and parks, according to a term sheet signed last week between property owner CPYR Theater LLC and the Virginia Tech Foundation. For a comparison, the Virginia Tech Research Center in Blacksburg has about 1.2 million square feet of space.
The $1 billion planned campus, which state officials lauded as instrumental in luring Amazon’s HQ2 to Northern Virginia, will include classrooms, business incubator space, offices for industry collaboration and space for alumni events. The development will have public open space and ground-floor retail.
A timeline in the term sheet calls for the buildings to be fully operational in 2023. The terms also extend Tech an opportunity to purchase the buildings in the future.
The university had officially ended its association with Stonebridge Associates in March. The new developer and location will allow for more room to grow in a more attractive location physically closer to Amazon's HQ2.
The first class of graduate students will enroll in the fall of 2020 in existing buildings near the campus. Tech’s Board of Visitors approved a resolution last week moving forward a new computer science degree designed for students at the campus.
The university will have about 750 graduate students at the campus in the next decade and undergraduates participating in various programs at the Innovation campus will rotate in and out from Blacksburg.
Tech leaders have also said growth in Blacksburg will be immense due to the Amazon connection — including 2,000 additional undergraduate students and 130 new faculty jobs — thanks to state support for a “tech talent pipeline.” That legislation includes up to $800 million in state money over two decades supporting growth in computer science and related fields by 25,000 undergraduate degrees across Virginia college campuses by 2039.
The location change will not have any impact on state incentives and the timeline for the campus isn't expected to be altered, officials said at the news conference.
The university’s memorandum of understanding signed with Alexandria last fall remains in effect. That document laid out a framework for the partnership between Tech and the city.
University officials and Alexandria leaders touted the continuing relationship between the city and Tech.
Sands said the two sides “plan to integrate the campus into the fabric of Alexandria.”