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National Science Foundation Headquarters Moving To Alexandria

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The National Science Foundation's current headquarters at 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va. The agency is moving to the Carlyle section of Alexandria after the city offered a $23 million tax break.
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation's current headquarters at 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va. The agency is moving to the Carlyle section of Alexandria after the city offered a $23 million tax break.

 

The National Science Foundation is moving from its Arlington, Va., headquarters to Alexandria, Va., in a multi-million dollar deal that includes a significant tax break. The government agency will relocate from Ballston to the Carlyle neighborhood of Alexandria, near the Eisenhower Metro station. 

Alexandria city leaders landed the prestigious foundation by offering to charge a lower tax rate. The deal is projected to provide a $23 million tax break to the property owner over the 15-year lease. City leaders said the NSF's move will bring $50 million in new tax revenue to the city, even after the incentive. 

But reactions to the agreement have been mixed.

"I'm torn about that whole tax credit thing because it's just pitting jurisdictions against each other, and they are losing money ostensibly to make it up later and that's not always the case," Jordan Engel said. 

Alexandria City Council member Tim Lovain said governments offer incentives all the time, and Alexandria simply offered a better deal than Arlington.

"We've heard from a neighboring jurisdiction a bit of sour grapes in the claim that what the city is doing is extraordinary and unprecedented," Lovain said. 

Alexandria Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks disputes that claim. He said municipalities have given tax incentives to private companies for many years, and the last five years have seen incentives also offered to government agencies.

"Increasingly we are seeing people realize that their office buildings and their development plans aren't going to automatically happen if they just sit and wait for growth of the federal government to arrive," Jinks said. 

The General Service Administration estimates the agency's move to Alexandria will save federal taxpayers $65 million over the initial lease period. The new building will also use considerably less energy and water than typical office buildings.

But that isn't enough of an incentive for Dale Bell, who has worked at the NSF for more than three years.

"I'm personally disappointed because I live in Maryland so it's going to add at least another 30 minutes on my trip, which is unfortunate," Bell said.

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