Our New Headquarters: APTA Centennial Center
On Jan. 15, 2021, the 100th anniversary of our association’s founding, we opened our new national headquarters, APTA Centennial Center. (Watch our ribbon cutting event.)
Encouraging movement: Exposed stairways encourage and highlight movement within the building. The adjoining public plaza welcomes the community to our grounds. The building’s thoughtful movement-motivated design extends to the plaza’s landscaping, which is inspired by muscle fibers.
Amenities: The seven-story building includes a small fitness center and locker rooms, indoor bike parking, meeting space for up to 250 people, a roof terrace, and a public plaza.
Certifications and awards: APTA Centennial Center will receive LEED Silver certification, which recognizes buildings with better, brighter, healthier spaces that save energy and water, generate less waste, and support human health. It has already received Fitwel 3-star certification, which recognizes how a building encourages fitness, social equity, and other factors that lead to a healthier workplace. Additionally, APTA was a 2021 recipient of a Fitwel Best in Building Health Award.
Public transportation: A new Metro station will open immediately across from APTA Centennial Center, one stop from Reagan National Airport.
Thriving neighborhood: APTA Centennial Center is in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood, which connects with the new National Landing region—home to Amazon’s new Virginia headquarters. The new headquarters for the National Industries for the Blind sits beside APTA Centennial Center. Construction on Virginia Tech’s innovation campus has begun just down the street.
APTA Centennial Center in the news
APTA wins 2021 Fitwel Best in Building Health Award
“We are entering a new era, one where health is a defining factor in real estate investment decisions.”
Lessons from an Association that Opened a Headquarters During a Global Pandemic
“We wanted to create a more flexible work environment, to give our employees the ability to work in different spaces, including remotely, and to create a facility that promoted health and wellness.”
APTA Centennial Center: Investing in Our Future
On January 22, 2019, APTA ceremonially broke ground on its new headquarters: APTA Centennial Center. Two year later, the building officially opened with a formal ribbon cutting event on Jan. 15, 2021, the 100th anniversary of the founding of our association.
The state-of-the-art new building supports APTA’s workforce of today and tomorrow, ensuring the association can hire talented staff in a competitive market. It aligns with APTA’s mission-based pursuit to build community, with a location that is more accessible to the public and a layout that is more welcoming to APTA members and other guests. It supports APTA’s values, with a design that encourages fitness and social equality. It also will improve the efficiency of APTA’s daily operations in support of the association’s members and partners.
On top of that, APTA’s new headquarters improves the association’s financial stability and creates a launchpad for future success. (Its value on opening is already greater than the approximately $70 million it cost to build.) Through the sale of APTA’s former headquarters and five years of strong financial management during which revenues exceeded expenses by more than $8 million, APTA was able to pay more than 50% of the total construction costs by the building’s opening.
The road to 3030 Potomac Avenue
APTA has been based in Alexandria, VA, since 1983, when the association purchased the first of eventually three headquarters buildings on North Fairfax Street.
After more than three decades at that location, the facilities needed significant repairs and systems improvements. In 2015, APTA’s Board of Directors (Board) began exploring renovation options and learned that relocation might be a better investment.
The Board formed a work group of nine members and advisors to explore the feasibility of renovating the existing buildings or purchasing available office space in the greater Washington, DC, area, including Alexandria. During that process, the association was alerted to available land in the nearby Potomac Yard neighborhood, which was beginning to undergo a significant redevelopment.
Around this time, the City of Alexandria rezoned APTA’s existing waterfront property on North Fairfax Street to allow for more expensive residential development. This reclassification meant the property’s highest and best use was not as a business plaza, and that renovating APTA’s existing headquarters would lead to only a marginal increase in property value. The better investment was to sell the property to a developer looking to maximize its value through mixed-use construction.
Based on the recommendations of the work group, in April 2017 the Board voted to purchase the available land at 3030 Potomac Avenue in Potomac Yard. Initial payment for the $7.1 million land purchase came from the association’s reserves. The purchase was fully paid in 2018 due to APTA’s strong financial performance, including investments. By relocating, the Board sought to limit business disruptions that would have been inherent in a multiyear renovation, thus supporting the organization’s pursuit of its strategic plan and other priorities.
As of September 2019, an offer for APTA’s properties at North Fairfax Street is pending the approval of the TransPotomac Owners Association. These APTA properties are debt-free, which will allow all equity to be applied to construction costs and limit the portion of the $70 million cost of the new building that will be under loan.
Additionally, through strategic budgeting and investments, APTA’s total reserves had grown to the highest level in the association’s history as of April 2019: $33 million.
Building for the future
APTA hired the renowned architecture firm Gensler to capitalize on the opportunity to design a building that will support the organization’s immediate and future needs.
Now completed, APTA Centennial Center brings APTA staff closer together. Rather than being spread out across eight floors in two different buildings, as in the former headquarters buildings, most staff will occupy 2.5 floors of the seven-story building (when COVID-19 protocols allow full staffing within the building). The expansive floor plans provide a more contemporary office space, including a reduction of closed offices and an increase in collaborative areas.
Approximately 2.5 floors are reserved for tenant space, creating a new revenue source for the association, and the top floor more than doubles the association’s conference space, providing the opportunity to reduce local meeting expenses by hosting more events in-house, and also generate new revenue opportunities.
APTA Centennial Center provides operational efficiencies thanks to modern systems that reduce annual costs for utilities such as lighting, heating, and air-conditioning, and it enables the use of advanced technologies that can improve staff collaboration and customer service.
APTA’s collaboration with Gensler ensured that the association’s new headquarters are designed with health and wellness in mind. APTA Centennial Center has inviting stairways that encourage movement, improved accessibility for people with disabilities, abundant natural light, and more energy-efficient systems to reduce waste. The building will soon be certified LEED Silver and has received FitWel’s best ranking (3 stars), signaling it as a workspace that supports human health.
As with any real estate investment, the location of APTA Centennial Center is central to its value. Whereas APTA’s previous headquarters are one mile from the nearest Metrorail station, APTA Centennial Center is immediately across the street from a new Metrorail station that is projected to open in 2022. The metro station will be one stop from Washington Reagan National Airport, making APTA’s headquarters more accessible to members.
That coveted proximity to public transportation is a boon to long-term property value, and it makes APTA a much more accessible place to work—improving APTA’s potential to attract top talent in a region where many don’t drive. Consistent with APTA’s recent House of Delegates policy to promote active transportation, APTA Centennial Center is a physical demonstration of the association’s commitment to building community and impacting societal health.
Property value projections also got a boost from two significant announcements that followed APTA’s land purchase. In November 2018, Virginia Tech announced it will develop a $1 billion innovation campus a few blocks away (construction has begun), and Amazon announced it will construct its East Coast headquarters less than 2 miles away in a region newly dubbed National Landing that also includes APTA Centennial Center.
APTA is thus among multiple organizations bringing revolutionary change to northern Alexandria while building a foundation for a bright future.