ULI Washington recently released a Technical Assistance Panel report documenting existing challenges and recommendations for the future of The Westfields International Corporate Center (Westfields) at Dulles. Westfields is a 1,100 acre Class A corporate office park. Located at the intersection of Route 28 and Westfields Boulevard in Chantilly, Virginia, it is conveniently located in the heart of Fairfax County, approximately seven miles south of Washington Dulles International Airport.
Technical Assistance Panels, or TAPs, provide expert, multidisciplinary advice to public agencies and private sector clients facing complex land use and real estate issues in the Metropolitan Washington Region. Over the course of two days, a team of ten ULI members endeavored to understand Westfields’ existing challenges. The Panel then developed recommendations to assist the Westfields Business Owners Association in the following areas:
- Determining its competitive advantage in the Washington DC region to guide future land use mix and density on the site
- How Westfields can improve the value to existing owners and retrofit existing inventory to accommodate a fast changing work culture
- Development and marketing strategies to shape its future over the next 5, 10 and 20 years
- Planning for amenities, infrastructure and design features to position itself as best in class in the current and future office market
Panelists found that while the office park’s assets are numerous, several challenges exist, including obsolete office buildings; internal office space planning severely lagging behind current office market trends; lack of mix of uses in the vicinity; auto-centric design with heavy traffic congestion; lack of pedestrian connections and other modes of transportation; lack of community identity and branding; and newer competitors in the market offering modern amenities and easy multi-modal access in close proximity to the Westfields location.
Panelists also acknowledged Westfields’ niche position in the market for its unparalleled “secure hub” housing federal agencies and their business partners; proximity to major highways and the Dulles Airport; and access to the outstanding Fairfax County Public Schools System set amongst a healthy residential community. They contended that evolving into a mixed-use environment by attracting retail and residential uses that support employees; and stitching the campus together with architecture, land uses, and other design elements will be important for its future success.
Panelists analyzed existing conditions on the Westfields site in relation with ongoing market trends, and recommended changes with respect to land use patterns, transportation, formation of three distinct neighborhoods, branding and marketing strategies. They also suggested development strategies over the short term (5 years), medium term (10 years), long term (20 years). A major underlying theme of these recommendations was to engage in a paradigm shift: rather than thinking about Westfields as a singular large 1,100-acre study area, Panelists contended that the sponsor should instead view Westfields as a a small town, complete with different neighborhoods.
Finally, Panelists discussed implementation steps, which should be driven by more detailed information gathering and analysis of the site and employees, as well as policy and regulatory changes, rezoning, placemaking through the design process, and sustainability initiatives. Each “neighborhood” within Westfields would see a unique kind of development, based on each area’s existing uses and on market trends.
The TAP was chaired by Marta Goldsmith, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of LRG Inc. Members of the Panel included: Alyson Bode, Avalon Bay Communities; Ellen Mendelsohn, Urban Land Institute; Paul Moyer, VHB; Richard Perlmutter, Argo Development; Scott Rowe, Maryland – National Capital Park & Planning Commission; Kaushambi Shah, local Urban Designer; Alison Williams, Federal Realty Investment Trust; Michael Workosky, Wells & Associates LLC; Nkosi Yearwood, Maryland – National Capital Park & Planning Commission.
A final version of the report may be found here.
For more information about ULI Washington’s Technical Assistance Panel Program, click here.