Alexandria’s chances slim for attracting defense giant


Though the defense and technology juggernaut Northrop Grumman announced Monday that it would headquarter its Fortune 100 business in Northern Virginia, Alexandria’s chances at becoming the giant’s new home are dismal.

Alongside Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), Northrop’s President and CEO Wes Bush announced that his Los Angeles-based company would move to one of four locations by June 2011. 

The company “is currently conducting negotiations with several building owners in the Falls Church/Arlington area, with a specific building selection to be announced soon,” Northrop said in a statement, essentially ousting Alexandria as a finalist because the city site is an undeveloped parcel at Carlyle Plaza.

According to someone familiar with the talks who wished to remain anonymous for fear of jeopardizing the move, Alexandria is probably not in the running any longer because of the economics involved with constructing a new building from scratch.

The city seemed like a dark horse since the regional war between Maryland, the District and Virginia to attract the juggernaut ensued in January. 
But city entities grinded to land Northrop at an undeveloped parcel at Carlyle Plaza despite widespread media reports that Fairfax and Arlington were the finalists in Northern Virginia.

The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership and an area developer submitted a “best and final” bid to Northrop Grumman in early April.

“I think that the developer demonstrated to Northrop that it could deliver its building on time and the developer and the city were committed to making that delivery happen,” said Val Hawkins, who heads the AEDP. “We think that Northrop has been convinced that we could deliver on time.” 
While the undeveloped parcel may have been attractive to Northrop because of it’s potential, it would be cheaper to move into an existing building rather than build a new 300-employee headquarters from scratch in a year.

“I think they’ve probably chosen where they’re going, they’re just keeping it close to their chest,” said Mayor Bill Euille. “I’d be jumping for joy if I knew and if they were coming here.”

McDonnell lured Northrop with $12 to $14 million in incentives that he said would pay for themselves down the road.

Alexandria went after Hilton’s headquarters last year as the city tried to work toward its pledge of enhancing Alexandria’s business friendliness. It looks like the city will have to be patient for its next big-time tenant. 

“Alexandria was very pleased to be in the hunt, to make the final four in Virginia,” Hawkins said, adding that the choice has not been made and anything can happen. “We were very pleased with that.”