Virginia Tech announces change to Innovation Campus location

To be in close proximity with Amazon’s new headquarters, Virginia Tech plans to build its Innovation Campus in Alexandria.

This rendering is from Virginia Tech’s initial plans to build the Innovation Campus in Oakville Triangle. Design may change as a result of the new location. (Rendering courtesy of Virginia Tech)

Virginia Tech’s $1 billion Innovation Campus for grad students will be built in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard, about two miles south of Amazon’s future headquarters in Crystal City, University President Tim Sands announced Monday, June 10.

The campus’s strategic location in the Potomac Yard section of National Landing will place Virginia Tech and its future partners near the nation’s capital, a variety of unique industries and leading tech companies who are making innovative changes on a global scale. While the University had initially made plans in November 2018 to build the academic milestone at Oakville Triangle, it became apparent that the property limited potential growth, according to Virginia Tech and city officials.

“The other site was interesting, but this offers the opportunity to be world class,” Sen. Mark Warner said Monday morning regarding the change in location.

Sands also noted that when choosing this location, the team recognized the larger footprint that would be possible here due to the expansive 65 acres of land, as opposed to the 20 acres available at Oakville Triangle. While the Innovation Campus will not take up the entirety of the land, it will enable valuable partners, retailers and other businesses the opportunity to be close to the facility.

In reference to the current businesses that exist in Potomac Yard, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said that the tenants most likely will change as a result of the new campus. According to Mayor Wilson, the city had always planned on redeveloping the area and it is now time for that change to occur.

Virginia Tech has partnered with Lionstone Investments, a data analytics-driven real estate investment firm, to put the idea to fruition.

“We envision this partnership in helping create a vibrant and diverse mixed-use community,” Lionstone President Jane Page said Monday. “One that has best in class living, working, playing and now, most importantly, education.”

Once completed, the new campus will be an education center for about 1,500 master’s degree students and 250 doctoral students. Starting in 2020, though, graduate students will use a nearby retail site in the existing shopping center to begin their studies, while the new campus is built over the next several years.

While the Innovation Campus will primarily be for graduate students, Sands also noted that due to a recent surge in undergraduate enrollment at the university, undergrads will have the opportunity to use the facilities as well. While the details are not concrete yet, Sands stated that undergraduates who have internships in the surrounding area will be able to use the new campus as a home base to continue their studies in the best way possible.

The planning phase for the project will continue for the next six months to a year, according to officials from Virginia Tech. The university’s goal is to have the first buildings complete in four to five years, and the entire campus finished in about 10 years. A more detailed timeline of the building process will be available in a few weeks, following several meetings with the city of Alexandria, the University and Lionstone.

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