DC's Top 9 Tech Hubs
From startups to large companies, DC is a full-fledged tech hub—fixing government headaches and disrupting how we shop, eat and bank.
JLL research director Scott Homa points out several trends: Younger startups are gravitating downtown, creating a larger tech community in DC; incubators like 1776 (where 200 tech startups are based) and shared office spaces are also creating micro hubs where startups can get short-term leases; and government contractors and larger commercial tech firms are still gravitating to ‘burbs like the Reston-Herndon corridor, where they get access to large-block space and access to a more experienced labor pool. This fancy heat map helps show clusters downtown in Farragut Square, Dupont Circle, throughout the CBD and East End to Chinatown. It shows pockets like Georgetown starting to bubble up. Here are the top clusters in our region.
1. Digital DC Tech Opportunity Corridor
Leading tech tenants: Tahzoo, Riide, Landmark, Aquicore, Azert, EventKloud, Vino Lovers, Flexspot and MyMuzik
Location: From Petworth to Mount Vernon Square
Neighborhood amenities: Companies located in the tech corridor or moving there within six months were eligible for Digital Tech Fund grants. The funds have since dried up, but the District may create a new pot for future grants.
What’s happening here: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she’s interested in promoting the corridor, but hasn’t given details yet. Stay tuned.
Photo: Aquicore cutting the ribbon on its new HQ in February.
Leading tech tenants: Everfi, Rally Health, Palantir Technologies and Eastbanc Technologies
Neighborhood amenities: On the water, loads of restaurants and retail, quick access to Northern Virginia, and surrounded by two universities—Georgetown and GW.
What’s happening here: Scott says Georgetown had been a forgotten market for most of the past decade, but tech companies are realizing its unique buildings and its water views create a vastly different experience than downtown. Tech companies are even forgoing Metro access for the vibe of Georgetown.
Photo: Inside Everfi’s HQ
Leading tech tenants: Lockheed Martin, Allied Technology, 3eTI, Infozen, Telvent, Triumfant, WeddingWire, Brivo and Creative Computing Solutions
Location: Montgomery County
Neighborhood amenities: Several Metro stops, several new mixed-use projects, a new focus on live/work/play, and proximity to government agencies like NIST and HHS
What’s happening here: Rockville is going through a huge transformation, with several new residential and mixed-use projects on the horizon and a focus on making Rockville Pike more public transit friendly. Several cybersecurity firms have made the area home.
Photo: Pike & Rose mixed-use development in downtown Rockville.
4. Crystal City
Leading tech tenants: 1776 (including Crystal Tech Fund), TechShop, The Iron Yard, DesignLab and Eastern Foundry
Neighborhood amenities: Crystal City Metro, resurgence of new restaurants and retail, and several (almost daily) planned activities like yoga classes, 5k road races and farmers markets.
What’s happening here: The clusters of tech companies can be found at 1776 (formerly Disruption) and Eastern Foundry (an incubator for government-focused startups). Vornado and WeWork announced last May that Crystal City would be one of the first places for WeWork’s residential brand, WeLive. The project will fill Vornado’s 2221 S Clark St, and Vornado recently proposed setting aside two floors of that space for a new WeWork center to bring both of its concepts under one roof.
Photo: Crystal Drive looking down from inside 1776
Leading tech tenants: Cvent, Intelsat, Booz Allen, MITRE, Northrop Grumman and SAIC
Location: Fairfax County
Neighborhood amenities: Four Silver Line Metro stops, access to 495 and Dulles Toll Road, and loads of restaurants and retail.
What’s happening here: Tysons was one of the region’s first tech hubs, housing big companies like SAIC and Booz Allen. But with the transformation of Tysons as a tangle of roads and office buildings to more walkable streets, restaurants and residential, more tech companies, even the hipster startups are taking notice.
Photo: Outdoor concert on Tysons’ Plaza
6. Dulles Toll Road/Route 28
Leading tech tenants: Transaction Network Services, Center for Innovative Technology, Sciencelogic, LightSquared, HP, and CA Technologies.
Location: Fairfax County – Herndon, Chantilly and Reston
Neighborhood amenities: Access to Dulles and soon Metro
What’s happening here: Life will drastically change along the Toll Road when Metro opens new Silver Line stops leading all the way to Dulles Airport. The big question will be what happens to those buildings that aren’t within walking distance or a short shuttle ride to those Metro stops.
Photo: Center for Innovative Technology building
Leading tech tenants: NII Holdings, SkyTerra, Leidos, Maximus, Vistronix, Clarabridge, Verisign, Amazon Web Services, Global Integrated Security and Appian.
Location: Fairfax County
Neighborhood amenities: Two Silver Line metro stops, Reston Town Center and quick access to Dulles Airport.
What’s happening here: JBG will bring a new Reston Town Center-type development to the future Reston Parkway Metro station. Also, Herndon rezoned 38 acres around the future Herndon Metro to make way for a walkable, urban community.
Photo: Clarabridge’s new Reston HQ, where employees can sit or stand.
Leading tech tenants: CustomInk, LastPass, CSC, General Dynamics, ICF International, Noblis, and Constellation West
Location: Fairfax County, between West Falls Church, Fairfax and Tysons
Neighborhood amenities: Dunn Loring Metro, five minutes from Tysons, access to 495 and Routes 50 and 29
What’s happening here: Merrifield used to be an industrial area that was used as a shortcut from the Beltway to Tysons. Ever since the mixed-use Mosaic District opened years ago, the area has seen a wave of interest. The area could see even more innovation with Inova Health System leasing Exxon Mobil’s Merrifield campus to develop a multimillion-dollar Center for Personalized Health.
Photo: A public piano on the sidewalk in Mosaic District
9. Up and coming…H Street
Location: Between Uline Arena and the proposed development at Union Market
Neighborhood amenities: REI is building one of its biggest stores at the historic Uline Arena (where the Beatles made their US debut). Union Market is a gourmet food hall in a historic 1930s Union Market Terminal. Several residential projects are also on the way.
What’s happening here: LivingSocial is rumored to be looking for space in the neighborhood.