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Ballston Office Building to Be Vacated, Renovated

by ARLnow.com | August 23, 2012 at 11:15 am | 4,314 views | 58 Comments

(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) The Webb Building, a 10-story office building at 4040 N. Fairfax Drive in Ballston, is being renovated.

The building’s current tenant, the Department of Defense, will be moving out in December as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). In anticipation, the building’s owner is embarking on a major renovation project to “re-position” the 1960s-era building for occupancy by a new tenant.

“The building… will be fully renovated, with a new lobby, landscaping, façade improvements, fitness center, updated common areas, updated HVAC and fire and life safety systems, and a roof deck with extensive views,” according to a press release. “We see a unique opportunity to deliver a fully refreshed, high quality work environment at a price point substantially lower than the new buildings being delivered in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.”

To fund the $5 million renovation project and the leasing efforts, owner RESI Management has raised $21.2 million from Chevy Chase-based Federal Capital Partners, along with a $33.5 million loan from Wells Fargo. The renovations are expected to be complete by mid-2013.

The 184,216 square foot building first opened in 1966. Located two blocks from the Ballston Metro station, the building has been serving as the headquarters for Department of Defense Education Activity, which manages  schools for military children.

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  • Bluemont

    NSF’s lease is up in 2013. Sounds like that could be a nice spot for them!

    • fact check

      they need about 4 times that amount of space

      • Rick

        I’m not so sure about that, the biggest problem with NSF is the giant atrium. 10 floors of solid ground might actually work out for them.

        • Shef

          The square footage approved for NSF has been floating around for months as the discussions about their lease have been reported. It is somewhere in the 650,000 sf range. Nobody calculates atriums in those figures.

    • carlynglen

      NSF isn’t going to be moving from their current location.

  • Clarendon

    Over 50 million to rennovate a 10 story building ! That must be some rennovation.

    • Rick

      The inside of that building is a little…. aged.

    • Ben

      Knowing the government – they’ve probably done the bare minimum in maintenance since the 60′s.

  • TJ

    That building badly needs retail.

    There’s really nothing at all really on the north side of Fairfax once you get past Rio and whatever’s in the Willow space now.

    • TJ

      Oh nevermind, I was confusing it with the Fish and Wildlife building, which badly needs retail…I’m guessing that one’s not going to change any time soon.

      • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

        did Willow close or something? I think its still there.

        There is a bank and then Fedex store on that next block but there isnt much otherwise. Across Fairfax tho you have 3 huge new bars.

        • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

          Willow seems to be alive and well. At least I hope they still are.

        • Willowy

          Willow is still there. Fish and Wildlife will probably be vacating their space next year.

          • TJ

            Sorry, didn’t mean to cause worry.

            I couldn’t remember if it was currently Willow or Gaffney’s and picked the wrong one.

          • Shef

            I miss Gaffney’s being there. I also miss the blonde and her bf(?) who would play there.

  • JS

    Take it from someone who worked in this building for a couple years: it sucks. It BADLY needs a makeover.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I worked at that building in 1999-2000 and I agree, it was in sorry shape.

    • Clarendon

      Is this the building that had the buxom statues in the lobby ?

  • resident and teacher

    Let the county use it as a school for a few years.

    • Brian

      Black box theater

      • hahaha

        +1

        Obviously a great use of space and money. Oh, wait. No it isn’t.

      • Arlingtonian

        Artiscube

  • thelevyisdry

    Am I the only one confused at how a department that “manages schools for military children” could occupy a 184,216 square foot HQ? Seems like there should only be three dozen employees, tops.

    • yacey

      as a former worker in that building, there is MUCH more than just DODEA in that office space. many other DoD activities are therein, such as DoD Personnel and Readiness Information Management (P&R IM), among others

      • thelevyisdry

        Thanks, you’ve helped calm my $600 hammer fever.

    • O Newton

      Here’s a good rundown of their stats, I went to DoD schools as a child. Great Experience:

      http://www.dodea.edu/home/facts.cfm

  • John Fontain

    Isn’t that the building with the well-endowed wooden statue in the lobby?

    • Clarendon Skank

      Well-endowed wood? Where?

    • Clarendon

      I asked the same above, with the descriptor “buxom” as it was a female. Was there one or two statues (i.e. male, female)?

      • Ballstonia

        There are 2 statues, one on each side of the entrance. I believe they are marble, and the plaque says they are from 12-century China or something. How relics like those ended up in that ugly building is anyone’s guess.

  • TCE

    Did I miss something:

    “To fund the $5 million renovation project and the leasing efforts, owner RESI Management has raised $21.2 million from Chevy Chase-based Federal Capital Partners, along with a $33.5 million loan from Wells Fargo”

    why does someone need $54 million for a $5 million reno project?

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      It’s a recapitalization, but some of the money is being used to fund the renovations and the leasing effort.

      • Donald Trump

        I think it’s more like a typo. You couldn’t do 90% of what’s on that list for just $5MM.

        • Mario

          Yeah, what do you think it would cost?

        • B

          It’s $5 million plus the leasing costs (which include Tenant Improvements). The $5 million would go towards common areas / elevators / HVAC / facde etc.

      • TCE

        Thanks… figured there had to be more to it.

  • m

    If Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce wants to open a DC-area branch, that building looks like an ideal spot for it.

  • Chris B

    Nice article, Arlnow. This is the type of local news that is only found on your site, nice.

    • http://www.arlnow.com ARLnow.com

      Thanks!

  • dang!

    thank doG. that place **is** fugly !

    Next please someone do something about “Tower Villa’ condos – can anyone say ‘ soviet-era warsaw slums ‘ ?

    • karzai

      Tower Villas is one of the most run-down looking eyesores on the Orange Line at this point. Badly in need of a make-over.

      • Um

        I live in Tower Villas and the units are enormous. 1600 sq ft for a 2 bedroom! Find me that in a new condo in Arlington. The hallway corridors are recently updated and look nicer than most of the new condos in the area. The pool is 4 times the size of most pools at newer condos. 24 hour front desk service, garage parking, enormous balconies. The outer facade may be older, it was after all the very first luxury high rise in Arlington. To call it a “slum” is a moronic statement.

      • curious george

        I live in Tower Villas as well. Ugly yes but in no way is it run down.

        It would look a little nicer if the County would fix the sidewalk along Fairfax Drive but I guess people who pay property taxes shouldn’t expect services.

        • Ballstonia

          Just curious, is that sidewalk owned by the county, or is it the property of the condo with the county holding a right-of-way? If its the latter, Tower Villas would be responsible for the condition of the sidewalk.

          • Curious George

            I am pretty sure the county owns it.

            If I remember the board discussion we were willing to give an easement to the county to build a decent sidewalk. I think discussions are ongoing but I expect a hearty FU from the county.

            I guess the Artsphere is more important.

  • Mary-Austin

    Why not tear the building down instead of spending that much money to renovate.
    It’s an ugly building and 10 stories on that site doesn’t seem like a very good use of the space.
    This is the kind of spot we need more density instead of building the same 8-10 story building all over the place.

    • Mario

      Because they are spending about one-twentieth of what it would cost to tear down and build a new building.

      That building is already bigger than what is allowed on that site by zoning because it was grand-fathered in when they rewrote the zoning around there in the late 70′s. The county would have to give them a special exemption, and maybe they don’t feel like bowing down to the county.

      • Arlingtonian

        They would not need to “bow down” to the County to have a bigger building. The building is near the Ballston Metro Station and is between Fairfax Drive and Wilson Blvd. The tallest buildings in the R-B corridor outside of Rosslyn are located in this area.

        The County Board would therefore gladly rezone the property to greatly increase the allowable density and height, even though this would increase congestion on both I-66 and the Orange Line. The developer would need to file a site plan and negotiate details with the County government.

        However, the developer would not need to “bow down” to the County. The rezoning and new construction would increase the revenue from property taxes that the County would receive. The County Board would therefore have a great incentive to approve the rezoning and site plan.

        Of course, few County’s residents would welcome the increased congestion on I-66 and the Orange Line that the rezoning would create. However, the County Board routinely ignores such concerns when considering project approval in the R-B corridor.

        • Mario

          Changing zoning is not something done on a whim. You face potential litigation from adjacent property owners who followed the rules and you open yourself to damage claims for revenue they could not receive because they stuck to the zoning.

          And the (relatively) new zoning for that area is not something Arlington undertook lightly. It was rezoned with specific uses in mind with the Metro being there. They are not going to start an ad-hoc lot-by-lot reevaluation.

          And lastly, the instant the developer asks for new zoning, the negotiation process has begun, and yes, the county will immediately start looking at concessions they can get from the developer. It’s hardball.

          I’m not aware of any special site plan conditions on this site.

          And in reality, the fact that the owner has committed to this amount of refinancing probably indicates that all of the potential avenues and options for this site have already been discussed with the county, including upzoning, and this is the option that both sides arrived at.

  • Bedhead

    Ok…. Tower Villas isn’t great, but neither is Eastview across the street from this building. That place needs to be renovated too.

    • Yeah

      It’s easy to renovat apartment buildings and offices when they have millions and millions of dollars available to them (see Dittmar). When you’re a condo like Tower Villas that is in perfectly good shape it seems ridiculous to upgrade the facade to appease passers by. Tower Villas is probably structurally more solid than new construction, you can’t hear your neighbors below or above you. The interior is upgraded and most of the units have been upgraded to look as nice if not nicer than newer construction. Now if Arlington County wants to fork over some money so the homeowners association doesn’t have to have a special assessment for millions of dollars to make the outside look pretty I’m all for it.

      • curious george

        Maybe we can get someone to pay to bolt a tower-like structure to one corner. Then TV would look like a lot of newer buildings.

        • Yeah

          Maybe those circular metal pieces on ends the roof line, and then some faux red brick intertwined with concrete slabs to make it look like every other building in Arlington?

      • curious george

        I would pay to put up some gargoyles FTW!

  • MC

    This building is a basket case – $5 million won’t do much to improve it, the core design is wrong for the area.

  • ArlForest

    Can drunk people from Carpool still puke in their parking lot? I sure hope so. That is a long running Arlington tradition.

  • bobbytiger

    Renovate? Heck no. This is Arlington, Va., and we prefer to tear it completely down, and build it again. It’s “The Arlington Way”.

  • anonymouse

    This building was constructed less than 10 years ago. What a waste of money!

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