[Google Earth shows garage roof, far left, with helipad space]
In a bid to attract more tenants at headquarters in McLean, Va., Corporate has asked a local planning board to allow renters to use space set aside for a helipad atop the Crystal Palace complex parking garage.
But residential neighbors are opposing the request because of concerns about noise, according to McLean Patch.
Alan Holmer, president of the McLean Hamlet Citizens Association, told the Citizens Association's Planning and Zoning committee last night that helicopter noise in the neighborhood has already reached a point that "keeps people from having normal conversations in their homes."
County authorities OK'd a helipad when the headquarters was built more than a decade ago in a suburban Washington office park. The helipad has never been used, however, and GCI doesn't own a helicopter, Patch says. Current zoning stipulates only the company is allowed to use the helipad.
The issue arose when GCI sought an exception to zoning conditions that currently restrict use of the property to a single company, according to Patch. GCI said it will consider removing the helipad transfer rights request from its application.
Tenants for extra space
It's unclear whether the helipad actually exists yet; in a Google Earth photo, the garage roof shows only what appear to be tennis and basketball courts. However, it looks there's helipad space available on the northern end of the roof.
It's also unclear why GCI is seeking the zoning exception now; Corporate already leases office space to other companies in the complex, which also houses USA Today in its 820,000 square feet of space.
With operations shrinking, GCI has been selling or renting underused real estate across the company, CEO Gracia Martore told Wall Street media analysts during the third-quarter earnings conference call in October.
"None of our facilities, including our Tysons Corner building, are off the table," she said. "We already have tenants in the headquarters facility, and we're actively marketing additional space. We are open to all options on any other building in the portfolio, if the economics make sense. As with all of our assets, we will be opportunistic."
Still, one use of the Crystal Palace remains off the table: You still can't stage your wedding there.