Virginia Tech Announces $1B ‘Innovation Campus’


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University—more commonly known as Virginia Tech—has recently announced its partnership with data-driven real estate investment firm Lionstone Investments for the building of a new $1 billion innovative campus in Alexandria, Virginia.

According to Virginia Tech, the firm specializes its investments in U.S. locations with concentrations of highly productive jobs.

The Plan

Originally announced last year in November, the Innovation Campus is part of the tech-talent pipeline package created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and approved by the General Assembly to attract Amazon to build its HQ2 in Northern Virginia at the time.

Expected to take about 10 years to complete, the new 1 million-square-foot graduate campus will be a part of an even larger 65-acre mixed-use district located within the National Landing, just south of Four Mile Run stream, and not far from the future Potomac Yard Metrorail Station—which is slated to open in 2022.

The project was planned and developed by Lionstone and real estate investment trust JBG SMITH, strategically putting the college campus and its future partners close to Washington, D.C., various industries and technology companies—including Amazon’s HQ2 project.

The state of Virginia plans to invest millions of dollars in the campus project as a part of the $750 million incentives package it received for Amazon. Up to $375 million has been included in the package for master’s degrees in technology education for both Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and George Mason University’s Arlington center. The performance-based investments require both universities to raise matching funds.

“We’re extremely pleased to have this opportunity, in partnership with Lionstone, to establish the Innovation Campus in the heart of the National Landing technology district,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands.

“It is the ideal location to support Virginia Tech’s bold plan to develop new tech talent, disciplines, programs and human-centered research that will shape the economic future of the commonwealth and beyond.”

The university expects to build new academic classrooms, offices for industry collaboration and incubator space for new startups, in addition to space for research and development projects and alumni event spaces. The plan also calls for public open spaces and ground-floor retail, “knitting the campus into the fabric of Alexandria.”

New Virginia Tech facilities are expected to host graduate-level courses in various forward-thinking technologies including cybersecurity, quantum computing, artificial intelligence and more, with hopes that the programs could potentially bring more product-focused tech companies to the area.

Additionally, the university has assembled an experienced senior leadership team to aid in the further development of campus courses, building of partnerships and community relationships.

As for the rest of the campus, according to The Roanoke Times, a term sheet signed between property owners CPYR Theater LLC and the Virginia Tech Foundation, specifies that the district will encompass 7.5 million square feet of mixed-use space including multifamily housing, hospitality, commercial office space, retail and parks.

Plans for the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station are to include mass transit roughly a quarter miles from the Innovation Campus and will connect Reagan National Airport, Crystal City and the new Amazon HQ2 through development on the Yellow/Blue lines on the south end of the property.

“We intend to be a great partner and that means soliciting input to make the right choices for Virginia Tech and the community,” Brandy Salmon, founding managing director of the Innovation Campus said in a press release. “We aren’t just thinking 10 years down the road. We are building toward a 100-year vision.”

What Now

Although the term sheet’s timeline calls for the new buildings to be fully operational by 2023, it extends Virginia Tech the opportunity to purchase buildings in the future. However, final plans for development won’t be negotiated without community input, according to Salmon.

Slated to be a “months-long process,” project officials will still need to work with city stakeholders, developers and Alexandria residents through a series of public meetings.

“This beautiful site provides a unique opportunity to expand our presence in the region and build a campus from the ground up,” said Dwayne Pinkney, Virginia Tech’s senior vice president of operations and administration.

“We’ve made a commitment to the commonwealth and the community of Alexandria to work with civic groups and corporate and nonprofit partners to fully integrate the new Innovation Campus into the community.”

The Innovation Campus expects to accept its first wave of graduate students in the fall of 2020, although they will be inhabiting existing spaces while new facilities are being constructed. Once the development project has reached competition, the university anticipates the enrollment of 750 master’s students and hundreds of doctoral candidates.

“Alexandria’s future has never been brighter,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.

“We are excited to deepen our partnership with Virginia Tech to bring to life a vibrant mixed-use district envisioned by our community through our local planning processes. The Innovation Campus will fuel Alexandria’s economic growth goals by attracting industry partners and driving business start-ups, and will complement the many tech-focused agencies and companies that already call our city and Northern Virginia home.”


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