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Rosslyn’s Future, as Foretold by an Office Building

by ARLnow.com — October 18, 2010 at 8:34 am 1,855 13 Comments

If Thursday’s groundbreaking for the 1812 North Moore Street office tower was anything, it was a vote of confidence in the DC area, and Rosslyn specifically, as a commercial center.

“The fundementals of our market are probably the best in the entire country, if not the world,” said Tim Helmig, the executive who just placed a $30 million bet on Rosslyn. “Investors worldwide have focused on the [Rosslyn-Ballston] corridor.”

Helmig, who heads the DC office New York-based Monday Properties, said he is embarking on the project without a signed tenant and without full financing because he believes that demand for office space in Rosslyn will be there once the building is completed. His company is so sure of Rosslyn’s viability that a full 45 percent of the company’s portfolio, in square feet, is based here.

“You’re seeing that a market like Rosslyn can withstand what is arguably the worst recession in American history, and move forward on a speculative office building,” Helmig said as a group of developers and local leaders gathered for lunch on the empty 30th floor of an existing Monday Properties building on Wilson Boulevard.

Congressman Jim Moran, who joined Arlington officials and Monday Property executives on stage at the ceremonial groundbreaking, said the event will help inspire confidence in the country’s economic recovery.

“This sends a signal to the whole region that the future is going to be brighter than the past,” Moran said. “It has made it clear that [the Washington area] is going to lead the country out of this recession.”

Calling Rosslyn the area’s “second downtown,” Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer said that 1812 North Moore Street, and the still-stalled Central Place towers, are big steps in the continuing evolution of Rosslyn.

“This building and Central Place and some others are going to change the market dynamics of Rosslyn,” he said. “It’s going to be competing with some of the best of the District.”

With every new development, Rosslyn strays further from the 1960s-era planning that has made it a pedestrian-unfriendly, car-centric concrete jungle. Modern Rosslyn was built at a time when more people commuted from Virginia to DC than from New Jersey to New York City, Holzheimer said. The elevated walkways and parks that crisscross Rosslyn were built with a singular goal: get pedestrians off street level so they don’t impede traffic.

The new trophy towers will bring new workers and residents to Rosslyn, which developers hope will speed along Rosslyn’s transformation from a 9-to-5 community to a 18-to-24 hour community.

“We’ll start to see better restaurants, we’ll start to see more cultural types of things,” Holzheimer said. “But change like that takes a while.”

  • tdot

    The building is still ugly.

    • Robert Paulson

      I was about to say the same thing.

      May I insert “butt” as the penultimate word?

  • Bob

    Ugly buildings, with special nods to the RCA building and Key Bridge Marriot, are required by code in Rosslyn.

  • BoredHouseWife

    How original and creative. Yawn.

  • Jamie Diamond

    on the empty 30th floor of an existing Monday Properties building on Wilson Boulevard.

    So their existing properties are already sitting empty, but they want to build more. Okaaaayy.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    Saying “The fundementals of our market are probably the best in the entire country, if not the world,”
    is a completely mis-guided and errant viewpoint. Being dependent on a single source for nearly your whole economy is not a fundementally strong position. Ask those who were around here in the early 80′s when the size of the federal government was being reduced. Ask folks from silicon valley during and after the tech bubble. When the federal gov’t uses up all it’s credit with the expanding economies of the world and the bills for federal over-spending come due, the local economy will be faced with situations like those in Ireland, UK and Greece. We county citizens will pay the price in the long run for the current county government making long range plans and county government spending policies as if the current situation is permanent, when in actuality, we are in a federal spending bubble that will eventually end.

    • shirley

      and Zimmie and the board need to understand that in 2013 there will be five new stations and in 2016 another seven new ones — total of 12 new stations. In jursidictions that are eager to have federal tenants that must be near public transit. Our great metro accessible location is about to be matched by Fairfax and Loudoun and then made one better because they also have good roads leading to those locations.

      • Clarendude

        A couple weeks ago, I was walking around Clarendon and ran into a guy that had just bought a condo in 1021. Probably in his early 30′s and extremely happy about his new neighborhood, He was asking about all the restaurants (they’re all good I told him). Then, he asks “and where’s the metro station?” Anyway, the point is that is was the neighborhood ambiance that attracted him, not the metro. I sense that is happening a lot more. It will be a long while before the Fairfax/Loudon metros have desireable neighborhoods on top of the stations. But if one thinks it will happen soon, there may be investment opportunities.

        • shirley

          good points. i live near the metro. of the 20 houses on my street, only ONE person takes the metro; seven bike; five work from home; three retired; rest drive SOV.

          My concern is mostly GSA. GSA requires the all their leases be located in buildings near the METRO. Think PTO in Alexandria; NSF in Ballston; DARPA in Ballston; etc etc. Many more sites will now be able to compete. On location AND price since the Fairfax and Loudoun approval processes don’t have as huge of a “community benefit” financial package tied to them, which ALWAYs just gets passed on to the business owner or resident of the building.

          • Lou

            Well said. This is actually a large looming problem for Arlington. It does not matter how fast the walkable community paradigm comes to the Tysons-Reston transit corridor. As soon as the Metro goes live and the office space becomes available, Arlington begins facing competition for office tentants like you mentioned that we have not had to face before.

            I suspect the reworking of the zoning regs and the central-power district aspects of the new energy plan are strategic moves by Arlington to maintain a competitive advantage.

  • Andrew

    @Clarendude – Agree. As a resident, it’s the streetscape that matters most. If this bldg brings 1 or 2 good restaurants to the ground level, great. If it brings another dry cleaner and nail salon, not so much.

    @Suburban – Economic diversity has grown. AES Energy, FBR Capital Markets, Rosetta Stone, Art Inst of Washington, Channels 7 & 8 and of course CEB are in Rosslyn today.

  • Juanita de Talmas

    GSA requires the all their leases be located in buildings near the METRO.

    Too bad BRAC didn’t follow this guideline.

  • http://www.laverne.edu Toucan Sam

    Take off the point on the top, put some monkeys around it, have a speaker with choir music playing at all times, and then I think it might be pretty cool.

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