Future NSF site changes hands

Future NSF site changes hands

By Erich Wagner (Photo/Erich Wagner)

The Hoffman family, who — along with city leaders — lured the National Science Foundation to Alexandria from Arlington last year, is handing the baton to a San Antonio-based company experienced in federal leasing.

USAA Real Estate Co., the property management arm of the popular insurance company for armed services members and their families, announced the deal to buy the NSF piece of Hoffman Town Center last week.

Although the two parties kept mum about the details of the transaction — the Hoffmans declined to comment, and USAA did not return calls — city officials said the move leaves the project in the hands of an experienced steward and helps the Hoffman family in its effort to develop other property in the Eisenhower Valley.

Deputy City Manager Mark Jenks said the Hoffman family always planned on offloading one of the properties in the up-and-coming neighborhood.

“[Hubert] Hoffman was working on financing options, and he was actually looking to sell the residential site near the Eisenhower Metro station,” Jenks said. “But as soon as he came onto USAA’s radar screen, [the real estate firm] moved toward buying the NSF building, so Hoffman will probably proceed now to develop the residential site. … He thought he’d sell the residential to focus on NSF, but it turns out that it was the other way around.”

Jenks said that the deal is a win for the city. It all but ensures funding for the development will be in place. USAA has more than $13 billion in holdings.

And, regardless of the developer, the project will conform to what already has been approved by city council.

“Before [they] actually signed and acquired the property and went into closing, they did a lot of due diligence over the last month to six weeks and that included discussions with the city,” he said. “They got a full understanding of the development and review process. … They understood how [plans] would be processed and what their entitlement rights were and weren’t.”

In a statement released by the Hoffman’s broker, family member Jay Hoffman said he was glad to see a completed NSF building move ever closer to fruition after all the hard work of luring the federal agency to Alexandria.

“We are thrilled that National Science Foundation is coming to Hoffman Town Center,” he said. “It has always been the mission to create an urban, mixed-use development that could serve as a key employment and entertainment hub in Alexandria and it is fulfilling to see that we’re accomplishing that.”