Are Associations Leaving DC?
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Do associations have to be close to Capitol Hill to matter? More and more are saying no. JM Zell CEO Jeff Zell, at Bisnow’s recent association exec lunch in DC, says he’s seeing more national associations moving from the District to suburbs like Alexandria and Arlington because they’re getting better rates for leasing, buying and taxes. He says the current mayoral administration has also turned its focus to building an entrepreneurial and tech startup community and may not be courting national associations and nonprofits as much. However, a DC spokeswoman says they're not seeing the trend, and many are using landlord concessions to lock in long-term deals. Over 600 national associations call Alexandria home, over 100 are in Arlington, and over 50 are in Fairfax, Jeff says.
National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors CEO Dr. Susan Waters, also at our lunch last month, says her organization moved several years ago to Falls Church after being at 1922 F St NW for 40 years. (It had been in Boston and NYC before.) Falls Church has been more affordable, freeing up funds for its mission, Susan says. It’s also been an easier commute for its 60 employees and gives them access to some of the new restaurants in Falls Church. But NAIFA also maintains a smaller office on Capitol Hill for its government relations team.
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores considered several sites in Tysons, DC, and Crystal City a few years ago. HR VP Dawn Worthington says the organization moved to 1776 Wilson Blvd in Arlington in December 2012 from Old Town, Alexandria. The 21K SF space was chosen for its proximity to DC and being a better deal financially. Setting up up a smaller office near the Hill was discussed, but they decided to stick with one location.