by Paula C. Squires
Activity is picking up in Virginia, after a slowdown during the recent recession. Richmond and Northern Virginia are the two hottest commercial construction markets in the state, with several major projects on the way, including high-rise office towers for downtown Richmond and Tysons.
The extension of the Metrorail from Tysons Corner to the Washington Dulles International Airport has sparked several large mixed-use projects. Plus, Capital One Financial Corp. and other players are in the midst of office expansions in and around Tysons as it transforms from a suburban shopping area to a more urban, pedestrian-friendly community.
Meanwhile, another sector seeing plenty of activity is data and distribution centers. Amazon recently invested a total of about $145 million for two massive distribution centers in Chesterfield County and Dinwiddie County.
In Hampton Roads, the Virginia Beach oceanfront continues to draw resort projects. Gold Key — PHR Hotels and Resorts, a hospitality company, has about $135 million in active construction. OceanAire, a $70 million hotel/timeshare property, opened in June. Coming in 2014 is a 167-unit, $50 million Hilton Garden Inn. Work also will begin soon on the next phase of development for Virginia Beach Town Center. Phase V will bring a 14-story office tower that will be the new headquarters location for Clark Nexsen, a Norfolk architectural company.
In the transportation sector, Virginia has about $14 billion worth of projects either under way or in the procurement process. Leading the way in this category are public/private projects, such as the recently completed $1.9 billion 495 Express Lanes. They added 14 new miles of toll road on the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia, giving motorists a pay-as-you-go alternative to the region’s congested roads.
Like many states, Virginia is seeing more green construction. Once a laggard in this area, it moved to the top in 2012 for eco-friendly buildings. The U.S. Green Building Council named Virginia the top state in terms of buildings certified during the year as meeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Virginia had 170 projects certified, encompassing 29.7 million square feet of space, or a ratio of 3.71 feet of certified space per capita.
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