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BREAKING: Arlington landing Boeing corporate headquarters

Boeing office complex and the Crystal City and Pentagon City skyline (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Aerospace and defense giant Boeing is moving its corporate headquarters from Chicago to Arlington.

The move, first reported by the Wall Street Journal and since confirmed by the company, “would place the aerospace company’s senior executives closer to key government decision makers in the nation’s capital,” the paper reported.

“Boeing announced today that its Arlington, Virginia campus just outside Washington, D.C. will serve as the company’s global headquarters,” Boeing said in a press release. “The aerospace and defense firm’s employees in the region support various corporate functions and specialize in advanced airplane development and autonomous systems. In addition to designating Northern Virginia as its new headquarters, Boeing plans to develop a research & technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities.”

“We are excited to build on our foundation here in Northern Virginia,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun, in a statement. “The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent.”

Boeing had nearly 500 employees at its downtown Chicago headquarters in 2020, Reuters reported last year, noting that amid the pandemic the building has not been well utilized.

Per the October article:

Other top executives, like newly minted CFO Brian West, are also based primarily on the U.S. East Coast and a hush has descended on the exclusive but functional top floor, although the pandemic has also been a major factor, the people said.

“It’s a ghost town,” one of the people added.

The headquarters — a 36-floor, $200 million riverfront skyscraper — sits at the crossroads of a cost-cutting campaign that has seen Boeing shed real estate, including its commercial airplane headquarters in Seattle.

Several people close to the company say cost cuts and a more hands-on corporate culture have raised questions about Boeing’s long-term future in the city, and in turn the broad direction Boeing intends to take as it tries to regain its stride.

Boeing opened its East Coast headquarters in the Crystal City area about eight years ago. The approximately 450,000 square foot office complex is two blocks from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 and adjacent to Long Bridge Park.

Boeing has its name on the county park’s fields and aquatics center after making a $10 million donation.

Boeing headquarters in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

An Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman declined to comment on today’s news before the formal announcement, citing “competitive reasons and to protect confidential company information.”

Local broadcast outlets also reported on the move following WSJ’s scoop, citing “a Virginia state official.” The official noted that Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), a personal friend of Boeing’s CEO, both helped to woo the company, according to NBC 4.

Following the announcement, Warner praised Boeing’s move.

“For well over a year, I’ve been making my case to Boeing senior leadership that Virginia would be a great place for its headquarters, and late last year, I was happy to learn that my efforts were successful,” he said in a statement. “As the former Governor of Virginia, I was proud to secure Virginia’s standing as the best state for business and the best-managed state, among other honors, and I’ve been proud to work in my role as Senator to help continue to cultivate the kind of pro-business environment that world-class companies like Boeing need to grow and thrive.”

In a statement, Youngkin also praised the company and its CEO, while touting Virginia’s talented workforce.

Boeing is one of America’s great pioneering businesses and we are thrilled the company has decided to headquarter in Virginia. The decision to call Virginia home shows that the Commonwealth is the premier location for aerospace companies. I look forward to working with Boeing to attract even more talent to Virginia especially given its reputation for engineering excellence. From day one, our goal has been to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I want to thank Boeing, its CEO Dave Calhoun, and its leadership for choosing Virginia.

Boeing did not reveal where in Northern Virginia it intends to open the new research and development hub.

From the press release:

As part of its effort to tap into engineering and technology talent across the U.S and around the world, Boeing plans to establish a research and technology hub in Northern Virginia. The hub will focus on developing innovations in the areas of cyber security, autonomous operations, quantum sciences and software and systems engineering.

“The future of Boeing is digital,” said Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s chief engineer and executive vice president of Engineering, Test and Technology. “Focusing our R&D and talent development in areas that support digital innovation will fuel the introduction of cutting-edge capabilities. This new hub in Northern Virginia will follow the successful implementation of this technology strategy in other regions.”

Should it decide to expand its footprint in Arlington, the company will have several potential options near its existing six-story headquarters at 929 Long Bridge Drive. That could include acquiring the self-storage facility and fitness center buildings across S. Ball Street, or taking space in the new, nine-story “trophy” office building developer JBG Smith is planning at 101 12th Street S.

Boeing headquarters in Crystal City, with potential expansion options circled (map via Google Maps)

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