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PenPlace Development Moves Toward County Board Consideration

by ARLnow.com — January 10, 2013 at 7:00 am 2,116 79 Comments

Proposed PenPlace development in Pentagon CityThe large-scale PenPlace development proposed for Pentagon City is now going on its 10th Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meeting, but the project is expected to reach the Arlington County Board for a vote as soon as May.

Developer Vornado is proposing five buildings for the project: two secure office buildings, two standard office buildings, and one 300-room hotel, on a currently vacant parcel of land along Army Navy Drive, near the Pentagon. The 9.2 acre parcel is large enough that it was once considered as a possible site for the Nationals baseball stadium.

The buildings would be between 16 and 22 stories, and in all, the project would consist of 1.8 million square feet of office space and 25,000 square feet of retail space, mostly along the future extension of 12th Street S. between Eads and Fern Streets.

It appears likely that there will be more SPRC meetings on PenPlace even beyond the 10th meeting, scheduled for Feb. 4. The SPRC will eventually make non-binding recommendations to the Planning Commission, which will then consider and vote on whether to recommend the project for County Board approval. We’re told the Board is likely to take up the matter in May or June.

Rendering of PenPlace's 12th Street PlazaThe extra-long SPRC process can be attributed to the size of the project, additional considerations required for the secure office buildings, and stiff opposition from some nearby residents.

While actual Pentagon City residents have been relatively quiet about PenPlace, members of the nearby Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA) are among the project’s biggest critics. The project is not within the civic association’s boundaries, but residents there have circulated petitions, held meetings and posted flyers listing various objections to the project.

ARCA’s compaints include building height (nearly 300 feet); the proposed number of parking spaces (2,235) and the potential for increased traffic; a lack of public open space and insufficient community benefits; and the security measures necessary for the secure office buildings.

PenPlace "high density" plan“Build a community not a compound,” said an ARCA presentation given on Nov. 15, 2012. Project critics say the secure office buildings will prevent full “activation” of the area for public use. They call for reducing the number of secure office buildings in the project to one, and placing that building along Army Navy Drive instead of the middle of the parcel.

ARCA has also proposed shorter buildings (<200 feet), replacing an office building with a residential building, and limiting parking. The association is also calling on Vornado to include an acre of contiguous public open space on the site, including a play area for children, recreation ares for adults and a dog park.

Molly Watson, who has been leading ARCA’s opposition to PenPlace, said jokingly at a SPRC meeting in December that she would prefer a baseball stadium to PenPlace as proposed. ARCA fought a proposal in 2003 to build the new Nationals baseball stadium on the current PenPlace parcel, which was vacant at the time and has remained so since.

“I would take the baseball stadium with only 80 games per year” over the traffic PenPlace would generate on a daily basis, she said.

Arlington County planning staff say they’re still examining traffic impacts but have, to some degree, downplayed concerns about traffic and open space.

“The Pentagon City Metro stop and the Pentagon Metro stop will help alleviate a lot of trips from the site,” said county planner Jason Beske. PenPlace will also benefit from the future Crystal City streetcar, which will run up 12th Street, and from proximity to the highway network around the Pentagon, he said.

“Adjacency to 395 will help to keep traffic off of local streets,” Beske added. “It will be a very multimodal location.”

At the December meeting, planning staff addressed concerns about open space by pointing out that PenPlace is in proximity to existing open space areas, like Long Bridge Park, Virginia Highlands Park, Metropolitan Park, Hooper Memorial Park, Pentagon Row Plaza, and the Crystal City Water Park.

The current PenPlace proposal calls for a 12th Street Plaza that will “become a popular neighborhood gathering place, not unlike the plaza at Pentagon Row,” with ground floor retail and other amenities. The proposal also calls for the creation of new road through the site — Elm Street — which will be lined with trees.

Aurora Highlands Civic Association President Jim Oliver, who is generally supportive of the project, has suggested that PenPlace needs one additional component to become a true community asset. Oliver says PenPlace needs a “destination activity,” and has suggested a shooting range, bowling alley or jazz club might fill that local void.

Some ARCA members have suggested that their concerns aren’t being given as much weight as other neighborhoods because the county is intent on “dumping” development in the Pentagon City and Crystal City areas.

“If it is so bad, why would the County Board approve this plan?” an ARCA flyer asked. “In short: money.”

Vornado has offered to pay $20 million toward the new Long Bridge Park aquatics center and has offered the county land for streetcar facilities, according to the flyer. The completed project will generate $10 million in annual property tax revenue for the county, according to Vornado, equivalent to 1.5 cents of the current property tax rate paid by Arlington residents.

“Our community’s needs and rights are not being considered in the PenPlace plan, and have been ignored in the County processes to date,” the ARCA flyer said.

Vornado counters that they’ve been working with residents and the SPRC to help refine the project design. For one, they’ve presented an two additional alternatives for the project that include one or no secure office buildings — though they say they want to retain the option to build two secure buildings, should that be required by a tenant like the Department of Defense.

Vornado also says PenPlace will provide community benefits, like the 12th Street Plaza, road and transit enhancements, and the creation of a “sense of place.”

“PenPlace will help complete a new energetic and pedestrian-friendly environment that currently does not exist,” the company said. “The proposed office, hotel and retail uses will balance the residential and retail uses to the south in Metropolitan Park (planned for 3,212 residential units).”

“We are very excited about the PenPlace project,” Mitch Bonanno, Senior Vice President of Development at Vornado/Charles E. Smith, told ARLnow.com. “The proposed office and hotel uses will complement the surrounding existing and planned high-density residential and retail to create an active and vibrant future 12th Street corridor. This corridor will truly knit together the Pentagon City and Crystal City neighborhoods at this location, which is also the central meeting point of the two County planned streetcar lines.”

“Locating high-density mixed-use development here, near Metro, VRE, I-395 HOV access, and future streetcar is the epitome of smart growth,” Bonanno said.

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  • LexxiFoxx

    More fashion stores and upscale restaurants please!

  • Garden City

    Can you call the Arlington Ridge opponents NIMBYs if PenPlace isn[‘t even in their backyard?

    • NIMBY The Chicken

      They didn’t much care for the baseball stadium, either… I would know!

    • drax

      No.

      But you can call them other things.

    • charles

      C’mon, it’s Arlington County! County of Bend-overs for any developer who sticks it out.

      • Josh S

        charles, what does this even mean? What is your point?

      • drax

        Yeah! Like the ballpark that was built in that location! Oh, wait, never mind.

        • malaka

          and that Home Depot that they built in Clarendon…Oh wait.

      • enoughdevelopment

        I think it obvious. What is happening in Arlington is over-development. The developers have way too much sway and the residents almost none. It is too bad that piece of land could not preserved as a natural area since Arlington has almost none left.

        • drax

          Arlington has lots of natural areas.

        • Josh S

          This is three different arguments.
          1. Arlington is over-developed.
          2. Developers have too much “sway”, residents have none. (Really two arguments, but we’ll treat it as one.)
          3. Arlington doesn’t have enough “natural areas.”

          All three come with normative language. Which right away makes them more statements of opinon rather than actual arguments. Let’s just pretend we are the County Board, trying to decide whether to approve this development. We can’t base our discussion on statements of opinion.

        • Jim Oliver

          I hear the concern and I encourage the questioning of whether the balance between individual residents and developers is properly struck. I would like to point out that a fairly small percentage of our land area generates a fairly high percentage of our tax revenue. We get the benefit of a very high standard of living while still enjoying parks, open space, single-family residents that can walk to Matro and many other attributes not commonly associated with “over-development.”

          • Wanda Reyna

            As President of the Board of Directors for my condominium I agree that ARCA is not the most closely involved in both PenPlace & Met Place but the residents along S. Eads between Army Navy and 18th street are. Most of us like the urban environment we live in and are excited about the development coming with these two proposals. ARCA members are on the other side of Pentegon Row and River Place. I do believe their issues should consider the other points of view and stop trying to speak for all near this project. Having a vacant area for too long has not enhanced our immediate neighborhood and we look forward to approval and completion of this project.

          • Patty Joyce

            Wanda, I respect your activism and can certainly understand your wanting the empty lot developed. However, as you have a seat yourself on the PDSP, I don’t understand why you claim ARCA is trying to speak for you. We speak for ourselves. Some of our concerns are different from yours, and go way back to before your building was built… we sat on the original Pentagon City PDSP committee and received certain assurances that are not being met. However, mostly our concerns mesh with yours… we would also love to see the site developed as an active, vibrant urban neighborhood… such good planning would give you the best possible neighborhood and also alleviate many of our concerns right off the bat.

        • spookiness

          You are free to buy it and dedicate it as a park. Or, lobby your neighbors and citizens to use taxpayer money to buy it. Good luck.

  • http://ConfusedArlNative Sam

    Don’t get me wrong….having grown up in Pentagon City, I have been waiting years for this particular area to develop. I’m just confused as to how all of these office spaces will fill up if Crystal City is always struggling to fill tons of office spaces????

    • Deeman804

      Exaaaaactly!

    • charles

      WHOA WHOA, STOP RIGHT THERE, PAL. Developers are not to be concerned about the USEFULNESS or NEED of a development, however crappy and useless! They make money off the bend-over dullards on the County Board, and let the taxpayers take care of the rest.

      • FrenchyB

        Uh, OK. Please explain exactly how they do that.

    • Wayne Kubicki

      As you’re seeing with this site, it takes a very long time to get approvals. I can’t imagine any of these proposed buildings would break ground anytime soon. But it’s in Vornado’s interest to be ready and able to move forward if they see the market turning, or land a major lease.

    • ARL-VA

      Crystal City currently has a high office vacancy rate because of BRAC. They were able to recover from the departure of the Patent Office about a decade ago. It will take time to recover from BRAC but it should happen. The area is Metro and highway-accessible and it’s close to the airport. There are lunch spots for office workers and multiple small and large parks for recreation.

  • G Clifford Prout

    Have Vornado pay for the streetcars !

    • Jim Oliver

      Done. Next?

  • Swag

    I just don’t see how this place can succeed without a froyo establishment. ARCA clearly shares my concern.

    • drax

      I bet ARCA would oppose a FroYo joint because of “too much traffic” too.

      • WeiQiang

        don’t be a sillyhead, drax. we send out a household staff member to pick it up.

        • drax

          My mistake. The rich are different.

        • Countess of Grantham

          Doesn’t one have one’s staff make it fresh from yak’s milk?

  • AR

    Doesn’t even look like the area in question falls within the ARCA’s limits: http://www.arcaonline.org/neighborhood-map/ – classic hyper-active NIMBYism if there ever was…

    • drax

      It’s perfectly legitimate for them to have an opinion about something right next door that will affect them.

      • Josh S

        Well, it’s nearby. But a development this big will affect the whole county so I’m not sure their opinions should get much greater weight than anyone else’s.
        And, in general, I think they’re getting a reputation for being a bunch of stick in the muds and anti-everything. To me, that means their credibility is diluted, to say the least.

        • NPGMBR

          +1

        • drax

          I didn’t say their opinion should have greater weight. But probably a little greater than someone who lives further away.

          I don’t think being “anti-everything” should affect their credibility. If they oppose everything, that’s their right. They don’t have to agree with sometimes you to have “credibility.” That just means you’re frustrated with them, but that’s your problem.

          • Deadite

            Aww too bad, drax. By your own logic you can now no longer attack NovaSteve’s crediblity.

          • drax

            False. I have never questioned steve’s credibility simply because he opposes everything, or whatever. Not that he does oppose everything anyway.

          • quibbler

            if you oppose all of something that can undermine certain arguments you might make. If you say “12 stories is too tall” and you opposed something that was 4 stories, it makes you appear disingenous. Similarly if you say “thats awful design” and you oppose all other designs. If you just say “I oppose all development in this area” you may be right, or wrong. But that someone hides that behind specific but insincere critiques, certainly can lead to giving very little weight to said critiques.

        • Garden City

          ARCA motto: “I got mine!”

        • JohnB

          God help you if you try to remove a slip lane!

      • ARL-VA

        Arlington Ridge is about half a mile from the PenPlace site. What hurts their argument is the tentative support from the Aurora Highlands association. Aurora Highlands is closer to the site than Arlington Ridge is. Plus Pentagon City residents have not voiced opposition to the project either.

    • WeiQiang

      Interesting … because the article says, “The project is not within the civic association’s boundaries …”

      • DCBuff

        I seriously thought the issue was the vehicular traffic the new development would bring (I think the signs say something about 4,000 cars or whatever) through the ARCA neighborhood.

        • Jim Oliver

          The sign actually says 6800. That is based on some computer modeling done for the initial application. In reality, Arlington does a very good job of bringing that number down as the process evolves by getting community benefits like Metro subsidies for tenants, shuttle busses, Zip(Avis) Cars, support for ART Bus, Bike Shares, a trolly and anything else you can think of to reduce vehicle traffic. It is part of the negotiation because the developer can save a ton of money by not building parking spaces but you don’t want all of that money going into the developer’s pockets. Also, in reality, very few of those cars will actually go through ARCA. At the first or second meeting on PenPlace, ARCA presented a graphic that showed how traffic on Arlington Ridge Road had risen by some percentage (sorry I don’t remember the exact number, but like 40%) over the last 30 years while development had grown by something like 275%. I am not sure what their point was supposed to be, but my take away was that traffic had grown slower than the population while development had grown much faster. It sounded like there was not a good argument for coupling development with traffic (at least along Arlington Ridge Road.)

        • Wanda

          Transportation studies indicate the traffic in Arlington Ridge is primarily created by residents leaving and returning to Arlington Ridge. S. Eads neighborhood got the Metro bus repair and the treatment plant. Those Metro buses and commuter buses coming in and out creat a lot of traffic.

          • Patty Joyce

            Jim, the number 6800 was provided to ARCA us by Arlington County transportation staff… we can only assume it is correct as we can’t afford to do our own study.

            Wanda, please cite the study you refer to… I realize this is a claim repeatedly made by staff and developer, but as far as I know there is no study to back it up. As my personal observation does not in any way support this claim, I’d be very interested to read the study, if you are able to cite it. Thanks.

    • Jim Oliver

      You are correct. The PenPlace site is on the far edge of my civic association away from ARCA. We have had very good and constructive engagement with the Crystal City residents who live across he street from the PenPlace site. In the spirit of many ArlNow comments can I say with some biting humor that not a single Crystal City resident has raised a concern about having their view of ARCA clocked by PenPlace? Maybe it should be as important how you are viewed as how you view others?

      • Patty Joyce

        Yes, Jim, that is certainly a very good question for you to ask yourself (with biting humor).

  • JohnRambo

    This really has to do with the views that will be blocked for the ARCA folks….They can see the Washington monument and Capitol and with the development they will not be able to and there home values will drop with the lost of the view.

    • WeiQiang

      /\ this /\

      … although i don’t think house values will drop. when ARCA printed and distributed the current green and white opposition yard signs, the greatest density of those signs was in front of the houses on the east side of Arl Ridge Rd.

      • JohnRambo

        East side of Arlington Ridge gives you view of Crystal City….Fort Scott and upper level of 23rd St gives you the D.C. Views. River House already blocks the Arlington Ridge views of DC.

        • Jim Oliver

          JohnRambo – actually there are about 20 homes up there with spectacular views. I spent Thanksgiving at one with friends (who I hope are still friends after they read this.) I don’t think they will lose all of their views because PenPlace is fairly far away (angles and all), but there will be an impact. At times, it has appeared like ARCAs position has ignored the 20 story office building already planned for the corner of 12th and Hayes. It may block some Arlington Ridge Road resident’s view of PenPlace.

    • Wanda

      Pls look at the information more carefully. Most ARCA residents will have any view blocked by PenPlace buildings. Those on the northern most end of ARCA have 395 blocking their view. Conversly we love the view of Long Bridge Park.

  • Deadite

    I feel for the neighbors in having to deal with this colossal project, but you can’t seriously buy a house in/adjacent to Pentagon City then be shocked to find a few high rises are going up around you. That’s all Pentagon City is…

    • Patty Joyce

      Sounds common sense… but actually a large percentage of our home owners have been here years, even decades…. some even generations… well before Pentagon City was conceived or built (PC is only 35 years old). Even for someone like me, who arrived 10 years ago, I purchased with the belief that zoning rules would be respected. I knew that close to DC and close to the mall meant some traffic… and we have traffic… But Pentagon City density and height zoning was written so it could act as a buffer between Crystal City and our single-family-home neighborhood… it is not zoned for this type of development. PenPlace as proposed smashes current zoning for this site, in use-type and in density and in building heights! This is not a by-right development, or there would not be this long long process. The County Board will have to more than double the density rights, through transfer of density rights from other sights in the County, and also approve a change in how the density can be used (from residential and hotel to office use). So, its not correct to say we should have know better. We couldn’t have known.

      I do appreciate your saying you feel for us, though, as not many seem to…

  • jp

    Jim Oliver is the President of Aurora Highlands Civic Association (AHCA)

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

      You’re right, that was a mistake. Correcting it now.

  • TJLinBallston

    Disappointed in ARCA’s inability to face a vibrant future head-on. Not one of their “arguments” makes any sense or shows any insight. I urge County officials to ignore them entirely. ARCA is bad for Arlington.

  • Allison

    yes – my view will be blocked and that is very disappointing to me, i would also be more inclined to support this project if, like ACRA suggested one of the buildings became residential. There is not a single condo building in PCity, it’s all rentals!

    • Jim Oliver

      Allison – I have heard this idea articulated by ARCA as well, but I remain confused. You are saying shorter and one residential tower? The Pentagon City area is very heavy in residential which is one of the reasons I believe the county is entertaining the all office concept. MetPark, to the south of PenPlace, is all residential. I think the rental/condo issue is really market driven. If the developer could make money selling the buildings off as condos, I think they would. I have also been confused by the ARCA position that, because PenPlace doesn’t have a residential component, it isn’t a “mixed use” or “smart growth” as the signs say. ARCA has, however, not advocated that any of the MetPark development be made commercial/office to make that area meet ARCA’s definition of “mixed use” or “smart growth.” Mixed use could be viewed by looking solely at one building and requiring it to have retail on the first floor with a mix of offices and residents above or you could look at it in the context of an area. Why would a development be mixed if there were an office building on 12th and a residential building across the street on 11th, but not mixed when there is a residential building across 12th between 12th and 13th? I just don’t see the logic in the argument.

    • Wanda

      The Bella Vista Condominiums are located at 1211 S. Eads St and consists of 202 individually owned units ranging from $280,000 to $1.5 million. Please check your facts.

      • Sayin

        Wanda I actually believe your side of the street is considered crystal city. So you might want to check that fact

  • Wayne Kubicki

    Anyone know what the allowable density under current zoning is for this site, versus how much density Vornado is requesting?

    • Jim Oliver

      Yes, I do. MetPark, across the street is about 80% more dense and Founders Square in Clarendon is about 50% more dense. So the “bad precedent” argument is weak. Do you want the actual FARs? PenPlace is about a 4, Founders Square is about a 6, and the latest MetPark proposal is in the high 7′s. On PenPlace, Vornado has to buy/earn a little less than half of their density. Of course, if the density is lowered, Vornado will have to buy/earn less.

    • Patty Joyce

      Wayne Kubicki… Its complicated… and I am not a zoning expert, and there are multiple transactions and options being proposed simultaneously… but I’ll try my best to answer…

      Currently, the parcel is zoned C-O-2.5, which allows limited 12-story commercial, hotel, and residential use. The parcel is part of the larger Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan which allowed certain total densities and uses within its boundaries.

      As far as use, what is left in the PDSP to place on this site is:
      582 hotel rooms
      930 residential units

      The 930 residential units will not be used on this parcel: they will not be converted to office density for this project, because those units are being moved over to the Met Park parcel across the street and will be used there (incidentally increasing density on that parcel as well).

      Therefore, to build PenPlace as proposed, the County will need to (1) change the zoning to allow all commercial 22 story buildings on the site, and, also (2) create or find (through TDRs) and then grant and/or sell the entirety of the requested 1.8 million square feet of office density/use to Vornado.

      PenPlace as proposed would more than double the amount of office space currently found in the entirety of Pentagon City (which is currently at about 1.2 million s.f.).

  • ArlingTony

    I’m with Jim Oliver on the need for destination activities. That is what P City and C City lack. If Vornado doesn’t want to give up that location they should agree to turn one of their other empty and deteriorating buildings in Crystal City into a bowling ally or something similar.

    And I don’t get the need for 2 secure buildings when all tenants in need of secure space are moving out or have already left.

    I’d have preferred the baseball stadium too, but it’s a little late for that now ARCA. Maybe if you’re lucky this will get shut down and in a few years they’ll put forward the plans for a maximum security prison, homeless shelter, methadone clinic, and adult emporium compound on the site and you can cry over how you wish they’d have built the hotel and offices.

  • Wayne Kubicki

    Key questions if this site plan is approved – when is Vornado obligated to pay the $20M (being paid to the County for transfer of density from the Long Bridge site, I believe) that goes to pay for some of the aquatics center, and are there any conditions that might when (or whether) the payment gets made.

  • cj

    The current proposal is a PDSP (phased development site plan) which will set out the framework for development, including conditions as to what density may be used when (i.e. at what phase the transfer from Long Bridge Park is the source). The precise terms of payment (how much, when paid, whether paid in installments, etc.) would be in the subsequent site plan for the building using that density. If Founders Square is any guide, the payment would come when the density is actually used — i.e. when the building is built. One related factor is that Vornado is asking to be allowed to convert unused hotel rooms into office density, which would presumably be used first. The Board has to decide on that along with the rest of the PDSP.

  • southarlington

    Hello can’t we wait and see if all the empty buildings that being vacated by the miltary and if they don’t then like a lot of new builidnings in Arlington will sit empty is that really good development ???? Just some kind of thought…I also agree with the surrounding neighbhors should have a huge say in this project this effects them more than anything …the roads in that area can not handle that much traffic so that would be a huge issue…Also if my house was woth 1 to 3 million dollars I sure as hell would be worried about what they are going to build there …..

  • southarlington

    I meant to say when all the empty buildings fill up then we move forward….

  • Two Birds

    Perhaps the NIMBY’s would be up for something useful added to the mix like a school!

    Seriously, ARCA’s concerns shouldn’t really be given much weight at all in this process. Not too many of us have sympathy for their loss of views or congestion concerns. Welcome to what everyone else has been dealing with for the last decade plus!

    • Wayne Kubicki

      Did ARCA support the aquatics center?

      If they did, I’d find their opposition to PenPlace rather disingenuous.

      The sale/transfer of the density rights from Long Bridge to PenPlace will pay for a good chunk of the aquatics center.

    • Patty Joyce

      We have repeatedly requested plans be made for another school in our community… we have the most crowded primary school in the County due to lack of planning and foresight when these residential towers are built in our community.

      And I wonder why you think we should have a race to the bottom when it comes to congestion?

      The “view” issue… we have a long-standing neighborhood identity attached to being the neighborhood on the ridge… this existed before many Arlington neighborhoods were a glint in the developer’s eye. But while we do want to protect it, it is not the primary issue of concern here, and is nothing more than a misdirection campaign made by the developer to paint ARCA as rich people with their heads in the clouds….

  • Pentagonian

    As an Arlington Ridge resident within ARCA’s domain, I say build the heck out of that lot. Put the “city” back in Pentagon City. Add amenities if you can, but build up the city. It won’t look like a compound for long, with the adjacent development and Crystal City Sector Plan underway.

    • pHactored

      Note: I’m an Arlington Ridge resident and have attended some of the SPRC meetings.

      One of the larger concerns you hear from the Arlington Ridge community is how the County succeeded planning-wise in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor…and then promptly ignored those lessons for Pentagon City by dumping density here (and threatening to dump MORE density here by ignoring/breaking zoning restrictions, which is what PenPlace would do). Note also that Vornado is asking for (free) transfer of density credits from Long Bridge park tracts to this superblock to let them build bigger and taller. In exchange, they’re giving the County…money. But the neighborhood? What’s the neighborhood get? Where are the *neighborhood* benefits?

      The answer is that it’s taken 10 meetings so far the neighborhood is still not in support of this project. Why? Because the best and most money-making opportunities (hotel + secure office building x2 + marquee office building on the NW corner) deny community benefits beyond a through street that the trolley can follow. Pretty slim pickin’s.

      Pentagon City’s future may look much like Crystal City’s past, and that’s the nightmare scenario the neighborhood wants to avoid. This superblock is a *big* opportunity, and ARCA, from what I’ve seen, is arguing for a development vision that while wildly popular in Clarendon has not to been allowed to flourish in Pentagon City.

      • Jim Oliver

        Just to clarify: The Transfer of Density Rights are not and cannot be free. Calling the secure office buildings the “most money-making opportunities” is not really accurate. The tenants who might lease a secure office building would pay GSA lease rates which are actually very down market. The state of Virginia actually subsidized the secure DARPA building in Balston because the developer couldn’t afford to build a secure building at GSA rates while the state thought that it was important to the overall region to keep the jobs (and probably prestige) of DARPA. Though it has not been explicitly stated by the developer or the county, I am guessing that the county would like to keep a mix of commercial offerings and has encouraged the developer to put forward an application that reflects that. It is unfair to try to limit the “community benefits” discussion to the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Complex or the completion of 12th Street or the trolly. In reality, there will be a very long list of things characterized as “community benefits”, some sexy like the trolly or aquatics center, some practical like affordable housing contributions, and some just necessary like contributions to the water and sewer infrastructure fund. I have heard the “Clarendon” argument. I like irony – traffic anyone? Be realistic. Look at where Clarendon is located and look at where PenPlace is located and tell me how to make the comparison or linkage. What is the history and evolution of Clarendon versus PenPlace? I haven’t heard a single good argument that goes much beyond, “I want a closer Clarendon so build something like it.”

  • Jim Oliver

    I have posted on our Facebook Group Page some clarification since some folks don’t find my being misquoted as funny as I do. I have also put up some files that are from our printed newsletters for general information. My contact information is included and I welcome all comments. http://www.facebook.com/groups/122508064444341/

  • Todd

    As many have critiqued already, we need more destination activities in Pentagon/Crystal City. Bringing more office space is like expanding an already outdated community planning design like the older Crystal City along Crystal Dr. We need more development like that going on along the Orange Line in Arlington Co. I know I’m not alone when I spend my money in N. Arlington for destination activities…dinner, movies, bar/nightclub, etc…

    Additionally, look at the vehicle traffic currently in the area just from Costco. I do not support more of this type of business. This type of enterprise brings in a lot of transient vehicle traffic that don’t care about those of us that live here.

  • Mike

    Let them build it, or they’ll build it somewhere else.

  • Patty Joyce

    The above attacks on ARCA show ignorance of what ARCA has been proposing.

    ARCA does NOT oppose development on this site… quite the opposite! Our association position, voted on by our membership, is that we expect and support some additional height and density as requested by the County Board in November 2010. However, we do not support the amounts requested by the developer, and we would like to see it developed in a way that serves our community. Vigorous defense of neighborhood concerns is why neighborhood associations are in place, and soliciting neighborhood input on developer proposals is why the County has instituted these site plan review processes. All ARCA positions can be found on the ARCA website, http://www.arcaonline.org.

    As for NIMBYism… along with AHCA, ARCA has been invited by the County to sit on every Pentagon City Planned Development Committee since the 1970s. This is because we are an adjacent neighborhood living on a geographical island. Please take a minute to google a map of the 22202 area code, which is where AHCA and ARCA sit. We are a community surrounded on 4 sides by I-395, Arlington Cemetery, National Airport, the Potomac River, and Alexandria. EVERY development in 22202 affects the entire zip code… as will the proposed Alexandria development on Route 1… It is completely and totally untrue that ARCA has opposed every development plan in our neighborhood. 95% of the time our input is solicited, taken into consideration, and everyone leaves the table happy.

    Please understand… we are the only neighborhood in Arlington County that cannot reach activated areas within the County by foot or bike. To get to the other side of 395 to enjoy Clarendon or Shirlington amenities, or even to go to an urgent care clinic, we have to get in our car and drive over 395, or take 2 metro lines. We are fighting for similar amenities, easily accessed in our community.

    The criticism seems partly due to the fact that we have one street lined with big homes on the Ridge. Well, we do. Some of those homes are 100 years old. One was built by a suffragette who spent time in Lorton prison for working for the vote for women. Another served long ago as a roadhouse. We are proud of Ridge Road, which is a big part of the identity of our neighborhood. But we also have far more modest homes. Our neighborhood contains great diversity in income and age. ARCA is an historic ‘neighborhood.’ a real neighborhood with 3rd and 4th generation residents and neighbors who truly know each other and help each other. Its ridiculous in a County like Arlington to claim anyone wants special privilege due to high income. Please indicate the low income part of the County that is getting the shaft while we ask for less density and height and community-serving amenities on the PenPlace site.

    This activated area with community-serving benefits was promised to us almost 40 years ago when Pentagon City as conceived. ARCA has asked that the PenPlace site, and also the Met Park site (which we HAVE requested be mixed-use) be developed in some approximation of these promises we have patiently awaited since the original Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan was agreed to in 1976. This is the final lot to be developed, and represents our last chance to receive the community amenities we deserve in our area.

    Its too bad that commenters feel the need to attack ARCA, the people who spend a lot of time and effort representing it, and its residents.

  • CAT

    SOMEONE ALWAYS GOTTA CRY ABOUT A DOG PARK..JUST BUILD IT AND LEAVE THE DOGS OUT OF IT…

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