Hilton Hotels announced February 4 that it is going to move its corporate headquarters from Beverly Hills, Calif. to Fairfax County. Alexandria was one of the locations under consideration within the Washington, D.C. region.
The hospitality giant had said on January 21 that it was planning a move to the D.C. metropolitan area sometime during the third quarter, possibly as early as September. Hilton was looking into potential sites in Maryland and Virginia, and District officials had made a proposal to the company on January 26, according to a report in the Washington Business Journal.
The decision was based on an evaluation of factors that included costs, proximity to Hiltons U.S. and international offices, and talent attraction and retention, the company said in a statement.
Roughly 500 people are currently employed at the California headquarters, and the company said it expects to create more than 300 full-time jobs in Fairfax County over the next three years.
For Alexandria, Hiltons choice to relocate in Fairfax County means that those several hundred steady jobs are going elsewhere, but it is not a totally negative situation, said Stephanie Landrum, senior vice president of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership.
The move to Fairfax could pay dividends down the road for Alexandria when other companies consider moving to the region.
One of the really positive things that I think can come out of this is the amount of attention that has been paid to the D.C. region, Landrum said. Any time a big user like this decides to come here, there is a positive spin-off effect.
Were excited that they chose Virginia over Maryland, and the decision might provide increased visibility for Virginia as a great place to do business.
Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia offered Hilton incentives totaling $4.6 million dollars to relocate there. According to Landrum, Fairfax itself had offered Hilton $1 million dollars in incentives.
Alexandria officials had presented Hilton with a list of possible locations in the city, but did not get to the point of putting together an incentive package, Landrum said.
Of the locations that were under consideration, including Fairfax and Arlington Counties as well as locations in Maryland, Alexandria had less available commercial space than Hilton was seeking.
Alexandrias office market is far different and smaller than that of neighboring counties, according to Landrum. Hilton had said they were looking at property between 100,000 and 130,000 square feet, and the city currently has only three spaces of this size, two of which are still under construction.
In order to lure larger offices like Hiltons in the future, Landrum said that the city would have to decide how it wants to develop and market itself in the future and figure out whether or not it wants to develop more and larger pieces of commercial real estate.
To date, the city has gone about developing commercial property based on its availability to mass transit and Metro stations, whereas Hilton had a strong desire for on-site parking for its employees, something that may have factored into the final decision.
Hilton decided to make the move, which will require an investment of at least $17 million, in an effort to reduce operating expenses and provide a more central location from which to operate a global business, according to a news release.
Beverly Hills is obviously quite an expensive location in which to conduct business, Hilton spokesman Robert Allegrini said while explaining the ways that the corporate relocation will save Hilton money.
The move to Northern Virginia should be a boost for the entire region and speaks to what it has to offer, according to the areas congressmen.
Its a strong testament to Northern Virginias status in our global economy and recognition of the strategic advantages our region offers, said Rep. Jim Moran (D-8).
Not only will Hilton bring jobs into our region, they will add to our economic diversity and strengthen our economy, said Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-11). Northern Virginia is a great place to locate a business and Hilton Hotels Corp. agrees.