More Office Space Slated for Spotsylvania, Va.

Feb. 9--Scheer Partners Inc. expects to complete two new office buildings along the State Route 3 corridor in midsummer, bringing to Spotsylvania County a resource in short supply.

Scheer will eventually build four buildings totaling 100,000 square feet, said Tom Sandlin, executive vice president and partner in the company.

Russell Seymour, Spotsylvania's new economic development director, said top-notch office space is in big demand.

"The county is very fortunate to have someone like Scheer Partners come down and work with us," Seymour said. "They are certainly a class act." Sandlin said Westpark Corporate Center, on Maple Grove Drive behind Gander Mountain and Bed Bath & Beyond, will have a parklike setting. He said while most offices will be leased, companies also have the option of buying their space.

Three of the buildings will be two-story, 20,480-square-foot structures. The fourth will be three stories and 39,000 square feet.

The first building already has tenants committed to 35 percent of the space.

The second one has 73 percent of the space accounted for, Sandlin said.

Two of the biggest tenants will be engineering firms--Chantilly-based Engineering Consulting Services and Rinker Design Associates, located in Manassas and Fredericksburg.

Westpark is Scheer Partners' first venture into the Fredericksburg region, but it's an area familiar to Sandlin. He lived here in the 1980s and has developed projects in Richmond, near Manassas and in the Dulles corridor.

"We just viewed the timing was right for the Fredericksburg area and hopefully we can do more projects," Sandlin said this week.

Scheer Partners is based in Rockville, Md., with offices in Greenbelt, Md., and McLean. It was founded in 1991 by Robert Scheer and calls itself the leading commercial real estate firm in the Washington area.

The company's ventures include commercial leasing, investment sales and acquisitions, biotech services and consulting services such as property development and both property and construction management, according to the company's Web site.

Seymour said the Fredericksburg region is increasingly moving toward offices over other business facilities.

Prior to 2004, he said 70 percent of the region's businesses used manufacturing and industrial warehouse space with the remainder needing offices.

But in 2004, those figures nearly reversed--switching to 60 percent office space. Last year, he said the numbers split evenly.

He said the increase in demand for local office space stems from having a well-educated work force here and recognition from companies that keeping people closer to home makes for a happy, more productive workforce.

Seymour said he gets calls from private companies and government contractors. The contractors see Spotsylvania as a good location because of its proximity to three military bases--the Navy base at Dahlgren, Fort A.P.

Hill in Caroline County and Quantico Marine Corps Base, which straddles Stafford and Prince William counties at Interstate 95.

Currently, Spotsylvania has roughly 570,000 square feet of office space available, according to data from the Fredericksburg Regional Alliance. The space is spread over 15 sites ranging in size from the 1,500-square-foot 5-Mile Centre to the 157,000-square-foot former Capital One building. Space at the former Capital One offices is quickly disappearing, however, Seymour said.

He expects the region to continue luring firms.

"Companies in and around D.C., I think, are starting to realize a high percentage of one's workforce is coming out of the Spotsylvania region," Seymour said. "Also, everything companies need to be successful is here. The only piece we've been missing in the past is office space."

[Free Lance-Star, The (Fredericksburg, VA) (KRT) -- 02/10/06]