NIAID Adds to the Mix in Twinbrook

With one federal tenant in a holding pattern, another signs on.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will bring a projected 2,000 workers to a new 491,000-square-foot building on Fishers Lane in Twinbrook, under a lease signed by the U.S. General Services Administration. 

For some, the lease, announced last month, represents a boon to Twinbrook, which has been gaining federal tenants in fits and stops over the past few months.

“I think it’s very good for the neighborhood,” said Joe McClane, president of the Cambridge Walk II Homeowners Association in Twinbrook.

Chevy Chase-based JBG Companies will construct and lease the 10-story office at 5601 Fishers Lane, near where NIAID already has 150,000 square feet of laboratory space.

The NIAID building will back onto the  and will be adjacent the Parklawn Building, where the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

JBG pledged to invest $270 million to renovate 932,391 square feet of office space in the Parklawn Building so that HHS can consolidate four offices there.

But those plans are on hold after three developers seeking to attract HHS to separate sites in Prince George’s County and King Farm in Rockville appealed the award.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office ruled in June that the U.S. General Services Administration had improperly evaluated the offers, the Washington Business Journal reported. The GSA is now re-evaluating the offers.

McClane said that he is glad that JBG is so invested in the area. He’s also pleased that the project will bring jobs and development to an area southwest of Twinbrook Parkway that he called a “wasteland” of parking lots and small businesses.

“All of their Twinbrook Station stuff is dependent on this,” McClane said.

In a news release announcing the NIAID deal, Rod Lawrence, a partner with JBG, connected the lease to the company's development of offices, retail and housing known as Twinbrook Station.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to build a new home for NIAID, and to expand their presence in the Twinbrook community,” Lawrence said in a statement. “JBG has invested in the Twinbrook area for over 20 years and, in conjunction with our other holdings there, particularly Twinbrook Station, it has become a great neighborhood where you can live, shop, and work.”

The GSA signed a 15-year lease to move NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health, from Bethesda to Twinbrook upon the building’s completion, which is scheduled for 2014.

The rent will be about $29.25 per square foot, an amount the Washington Business Journal called “eye poppingly low.”

JBG also will construct a hiker-biker trail linking to  as part of the project.

JBG has built several office and biotech buildings totaling nearly 1 million square feet both inside and outside the city limits in Twinbrook.

The development began to grow up around the Metro station last year with the opening of The Alaire at Twinbrook Station. All 279 of The Alaire’s apartments are leased, according to JBG.

Other JBG properties include The Element 12420, an industrial structure on Parklawn Drive converted into a 93,000-square-foot LEED Gold certified office building and leased last year to the Food and Drug Administration.

“It’s classic Smart Growth,” McClane said of the development. JBG’s extensive property ownership is good for Twinbrook, he said.

“They’re not going to building something cheap because they want to bolster their properties,” he said.

Other Twinbrook residents aren’t so sure that all the development is a good thing. Robert Bruiner recently told The Gazette that developers should address traffic congestion before adding to the neighborhood’s density.

Michelle August 03, 2011 at 07:56 PM
If it helps the neighborhoods and businesses, and the investors are committed to greening up the area a little (hooray for the link to the hiker biker trail!), then it's good news! As an aside and slightly off topic, I just attempted to bike commute from Rockville (near Croydon Creek) to Bethesda yesterday for the first time via the Twinbrook bike route to the Bethesda Trolley Trail... It was quite a ride, filled with wrong turns and multiple road and driveway crossings. I'd like to volunteer to add painted 'trail stamps' to help people stay on the routes between signs. I can also now say the new Montrose intersection in 'North Bethesda' sucks by bike as much as it sucks by car and on foot... And I'll also never understand why sidewalk curb ramps don't line up straight and are actually fairly narrow in some spots (it was fun for me on a mtn bike doing the tiny little turns and the curb hopping--but imagine the person in a nonmotorized wheelchair having to negotiate their way through those while dodging cars). It's like some of the places did their best to follow the code without actually making things more accessible. However, it sounds like at least some real estate developers are fully buying into accessible green development... Location is everything, but not if it's a cement jungle!


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