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WRIT plans major overhaul of Tysons Corner office tower

Tuesday - 6/4/2013, 6:45pm  ET

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust is planning a major overhaul of 7900 Westpark Drive in Tysons Corner as it braces for the potential loss of Sunrise Senior Living Inc. as the building's anchor tenant.

The Rockville-based company said Tuesday it will spend between $30 million and $35 million on exterior and interior renovations to the 13-story Tower building. The work, expected to begin in the fourth quarter, will include a new glass curtain-wall facade and an illuminated, two-story entryway.

In a news release, WRIT Senior vice President Thomas Regnell noted the strength of the Tysons Corner office market and factors that will continue to support it in the future, such as the planned Metrorail stations.

He said, “7900 Westpark Drive’s prime location offers high visibility from the Capital Beltway and Route 123, making it an excellent candidate for a renovation of this magnitude.”

Regnell added, “We believe the Tysons Corner real estate market is a strong, long-term investment, supported by the recent completion of the 459 Express Lanes and anticipated completion of the Silver Line of the Metro, along with the strong amenity base already existent in the submarket.”

WRIT reprsentatives were not immediately available for comment.

WRIT (NYSE: WRE) is vulnerable at 7900 Westpark because of Sunrise, which was acquired earlier this year by Ohio-based Health Care REIT Inc. for $845 million.

In WRIT’s fourth-quarter earnings call Feb. 14, CEO Skip McKenzie said Sunrise’s long-term plans at 7900 Westpark are unclear. Sunrise signed a short-term lease extension sometime after WRIT closed the books on 2012, he said.

“As you know, they were recently acquired and I think they are going through a lot of decision making internally, and we don’t know what their long-term strategic plan is,” McKenzie said on the call.

The 258,521-square-foot Tower building is about 86 percent leased, but about 148,000 square feet will be marketed for lease starting in November 2014, according to CoStar Group Inc. Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. is marketing that space, but representatives from the brokerage were not immediately available for comment.

Sunrise has been based at 7900 Westpark since it moved to Northern Virginia from Bethesda in 2003. The company initially signed on for 100,000 square feet but exercised an option for an additional 60,000 square feet after acquiring Marriott Senior Living Services.

© 2013 American City Business Journals, Inc.