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Fairfax Approves Conversion Of 3 Skyline Office Buildings To Live-Work Units

The Skyline office buildings at 5201, 5203 and 5205 Leesburg Pike.

The investor that acquired the eight-building Skyline office park less than a year ago now has approval to redevelop three of its buildings.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last week approved an application to convert the trio of 16-story office buildings at 5201, 5203 and 5205 Leesburg Pike into up to 720 live-work units.

The application was filed early this year by The Wolff Co. and Highland Square Holdings. The Wolff Co. acquired the three buildings in November from Somera Road, days after the New York investor acquired the full Skyline complex for $215M. Led by former Novus Residences CEO Robert Seldin, Highland Square in March completed a similar live-work conversion project in Falls Church.

The live-work concept allows tenants to choose whether to use the unit as a home, an office or a combination of the two. Each building is planned to have up to 240 live-work units, and one building has the option to be set aside as age-restricted live-work units. Each building would also include about 10K SF of ground-floor retail.

Seldin told Bisnow the development team plans to begin interior demolition next month. He said it is the largest live-work redevelopment to occur in the U.S., and he thinks it will be a key step in revitalizing the 2.6M SF Skyline complex. 

"It is one of the most important redevelopment projects in the Washington area in quite some time and a significant advancement in a growing product type that helps people live the way they want," Seldin said.

"This is one of the first projects that's attempting to see how people are doing things and provide a platform that supports those choices," he added. "Skyline for a long time represented what the Washington area was, and now Skyline will represent what the D.C. area can become."

The 1970s-era office complex is in Bailey's Crossroads near the intersection of Route 7 and South George Mason Drive. It features a mix of federal and private sector tenants, but it lost multiple defense-related tenants around 2012 following the Base Realignment and Closure process.

The property struggled with high vacancies that forced previous owner Vornado to default on its debt in late 2016. Skyline then sold for $200M at a bankruptcy auction before Somera acquired it in November.

"Skyline was a great location when it was developed almost 50 years ago, and it's still a great location," Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Penelope Gross said ahead of Tuesday's vote. "It was a victim of the BRAC realignment ... along with the general office market that has created difficulty for all of us with commercial areas. But the buildings have been maintained very well, which provides an opportunity for investors and developers to come forward and try to return them to their former activity and glory."

CORRECTION, SEPT. 22, 9:20 A.M. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the addresses of the buildings and the composition of the ownership group. This story has been updated.