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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 04/28/2010

Northrop Grumman: Arlington or Fairfax?

By editors

According to a new article in the Harvard Business Review (via Streetsblog), many companies are moving from suburban office parks to mixed-use communities, because that's what their employees want.

Still, even most of the benefits highlighted in the HBR article are more diffuse and long-term, like strengthening the overall city and region to attract a better workforce. In the immediate sense, employers don't directly benefit from reducing car trips or pay for increasing them. Employees benefit through better transit or pay through worse traffic on commutes, but the traffic impact also gets spread out to all other users of the roadways. The companies benefit in the long run, but often make choices based on short-term costs and benefits.

As a result, large employers like Northrop Grumman have strong economic incentives to choose sprawling areas with cheaper land, where they don't have to worry about sharing any space with pesky retail and only their employees, the region, and the company's long-term competitiveness lose out.

This dynamic often pits more walkable, inner jurisdictions like D.C. and Arlington against sprawlier ones like Fairfax, but not always. As Fairfax builds Tysons Corner into a real city, it will face similar issues within the county. Will Metro be enough of an incentive for corporations to headquarter in Tysons, or will they continue to lean toward the easy yet harmful route of picking the sprawliest office parks?

[Visit David Alpert's blog, Greater Greater Washington, to read more.]

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By editors  | April 28, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Arlington, Fairfax County, HotTopic, Local blog network  
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Just a couple of questions:

1) Please define "sprawliest."

2) Have you ever been to Fairfax? Are you even vaguely aware of the fact that there are other mass transit systems in the DC area besides Metro?

3) How many times have you been outside the Beltway in the past month? This year?

4) Why is locating a large corporate headquarters with thousands of employees slightly farther away from high-rent, heavily congested urban centers, accessible only via highways already choked with traffic, with *zero* free parking, "harmful"? How exactly do "employees, the region, and the company's long-term competitiveness lose out" by not locating in the densest, most expensive areas?

When "flagship" publications like the Post dump all their best columnists for clueless, incoherent bloggers who fill up space at minimal or no cost, it's an overt symptom of why newspapers are dying. Sad.

Posted by: entropy_happens | April 29, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

If it's mixed use communities they want, let's hope they choose the Alexandria location. That's the best one of the three remaining sites.

Posted by: LeeHinAlexandria | April 30, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

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