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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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QinetiQ signs 70,000-square-foot lease in North Stafford

QinetiQ North America, a defense contractor that works closely with the Marine Corps, has signed a 70,252-square-foot lease at the Quantico Corporate Center, project developer the Silver Cos. announced today.

The lease, the largest yet at the growing office park in North Stafford, will trigger construction of a third 140,000-square-foot, four-story office building, said David Newman, a vice president for Silver. Newman and Phillip Baxter worked on the lease with QinetiQ.

QinetiQ already leases about 50,000 square feet of space at a few sites in Stafford, including an office on Barrett Heights Road. The company will consolidate its Stafford offices at the QCC and have space to grow. The firm will occupy the first two floors of the new building and part of the third. It will employ about 300 there.

Robb Johnson, Dee Miller and Michael Blyumin of Jones Lang LaSalle represented QinetiQ in the lease.

The first two 140,000-square-foot buildings at the QCC are fully leased by defense contractors seeking easy access to the Quantico Marine Corps Base, including the nearby Russell–Knox Building on Telegraph Road, which will welcome about 2,700 BRAC jobs this year.

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust bought the first two QCC office buildings this past summer for $68 million. Patricio Enterprises, another defense contractor in Stafford, recently bought two acres from Silver for $1.75 million and is planning a 30,000-square-foot building there.

Silver is trying to get 15 acres it owns on the south side of the QCC rezoned to allow for office, commercial and retail uses. Silver is working on building a road connecting directly to Telegraph Road. The Stafford Planning Commission will consider the rezoning request March 2.

The QCC has been a bright spot for the region during the recession, but it hasn’t been easy. Whereas in the past Silver could have gotten financing for the new building with few if any leases in hand, now banks require significant leasing activity before making a loan. The QinetiQ lease will allow Silver to obtain that financing, and the company is talking to smaller users for remaining space there.

DLR Contracting Inc. will be the general contractor on the new 140,000-square-foot building. Newman said site work will likely start in March, and construction will begin in May. Silver hopes to deliver the building by January 2012, and QinetiQ plans to move there in June 2012.

Silver plans to build several more large office buildings at QCC in the future, in addition to the retail uses.