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Conversion of Office Building to Micro-Unit Apartments Approved

by ARLnow.com | July 22, 2014 at 3:15 pm | 3,474 views | No Comments

"WeLive" bulding renderingA vacant office building in Crystal City will become a unique apartment building under a plan approved by the Arlington County Board on Saturday.

WeWork, a company that specializes in co-working office space, plans to gut the 1960s-era office building at 2221 S. Clark Street and convert it into a community-oriented residential building featuring “micro-unit” apartments and large common areas. Many of the 252 apartments in the 12-story building will be 360 square feet or less.

“The Crystal City project will be WeWork’s first residential building, bringing the same benefits of co-working — shared amenities, a sense of community and opportunities for collaboration — to a residential building,” the county notes in a press release. “The project will offer an entirely new type of apartment living within walking distance of the Crystal City Metro Station, several bus stops and Capital Bikeshare stations, and will serve as a model for adaptive reuse of an outdated building until redevelopment can occur.”

WeWork signed a 20-year lease with property owner Vornado. The building is expected to be torn down after WeWork vacates the space, making way for a realignment of S. Clark and Bell Streets, as called for in the long-range Crystal City Sector Plan.

“This temporary conversion of an aging, vacant office building into an innovative live-work space is an example of how we continue to reinvent Crystal City as a more attractive, vibrant place that will attract more entrepreneurs and tech workers,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said, in a statement.

In addition to extensive interior renovations, the building’s exterior “fins” will be painted with stripes of bright colors, an “experimental exterior color application” that will change in appearance as one moves around the building. Apartment dwellers will have access to 154 parking spaces and 94 bike parking spaces.

The project’s community benefits include “streetscaping, sidewalk improvements on 23rd Street, and outdoor areas including, play and lounge zones and a community garden.”

Dubbed “WeLive,” the apartment conversion is one of several tech-oriented projects happening in Crystal City, including the opening of the TechShop and the Crystal Tech Fund.

Photo (bottom) via Google Maps

New Clarendon Apartment Building Eyes August Opening

by Jason Hargraves | July 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 2,377 views | No Comments

The Beacon at Clarendon West, the new apartment building at the intersection of Washington, Wilson Boulevard and N. Irving Street, is set to open Aug. 15.

The two-tower Arlington apartment complex is already 23 percent leased, a leasing agent told ARLnow.com, adding that she expects a sharp rise in interest once the building is open and agents are working on site. Pre-leasing is happening down the street in the Courthouse neighborhood, at 1920 Clarendon Blvd.

The Beacon’s 187 apartments include 1-bedroom, 1-bedroom-with-den and 2-bedroom units ranging in price from $2,100-$3,000 per month. The Beacon touts itself as a “boutique” alternative to the larger apartment buildings in the area.

As for the retail frontage on Washington Blvd, a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is expected to open later this year. No other tenants have been confirmed yet, but leasing agents say there’s been interest from several retailers.

UPDATED: County Board Approves Major Rosslyn Development

by ARLnow.com | June 13, 2014 at 5:50 pm | 3,529 views | No Comments

(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) The Arlington County Board unanimously approved a major redevelopment in Rosslyn at its meeting Saturday morning.

The Board voted 5-0 in favor of a proposal by Monday Properties to tear down two aging 1960s-era office buildings, at 1401 Wilson Blvd and 1400 Key Blvd, and replace them with a new office tower, a new residential building, and public gardens.

Also set to be demolished is the buildings’ parking garage, in which Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward met a source dubbed “Deep Throat,” who passed on information that helped exposed the Watergate scandal. The scandal helped to topple the presidency of Richard Nixon in 1974. Monday plans to build a “commemorative monument regarding the Watergate scandal” as a community benefit of the project.

The 24-story office building planned for the site will include 513,004 square feet of office space and 11,131 square feet of ground floor retail. The 28-story residential building, located above what is now a Gold’s Gym, will contain 274 multi-family dwellings and a 44,409 square foot grocery store.

Together, the buildings will share 816 vehicle parking spots and 161 bicycle parking spots in a six-level, below-grade parking garage.

In addition to the buildings, Monday’s plans include a publicly accessible plaza with landscaped gardens, water features, outdoor dining and seating, a bocce court, “interactive play features” and a pedestrian connection from the corner of 18th Street and N. Oak Street to N. Nash Street.

Other community benefits offered by Monday Properties include:

  • $7.8 million cash contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund, to be used for affordable housing in Rosslyn (no dedicated affordable housing will be offered in the residential building)
  • $5.7 million for transportation improvements
  • $3.1 million for Rosslyn-area park improvements
  • $1.1 million for a transportation demand management program
  • $1.1 million for reconstruction of the N. Nash Street skywalk
  • $750,000 for public art
  • $50,000 for a new Capital Bikeshare station in Rosslyn
  • Streetscape improvements
  • Bicycle lane improvements
  • Removal of the N. Nash Street slip lane
  • Installation of multi-space parking meters
  • LEED Platinum sustainability certification for the office building
  • LEED Silver sustainability certification for the residential building

“This redevelopment is a key part of our efforts to transform Rosslyn into a world-class downtown,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement following the vote. “It will bring a much-needed full-service grocery store, a beautiful public space with interactive play features, and 274 residential units to the heart of Rosslyn.”

“This redevelopment epitomizes Monday Properties’ commitment to creating a sustainable and dynamic 24-hour business and residential community in Rosslyn,” Monday Properties co-president Tim Helmig said in the statement. “We believe that our plan for the block will be the catalyst for economic development and job growth. It could generate the critical mass that will attract businesses and the talented people who want to live within walking distance from their jobs.”

There’s no official word yet on a timeframe for the demolition and construction, but one source told ARLnow.com that it may be about three years before demolition could start due to lease provisions with existing office tenants.

Pentagon City Apartments Converted to ‘High-End Luxury’

by Ethan Rothstein | June 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm | 2,297 views | No Comments

The Instrata at Pentagon City (photo via Google Maps)The Metropolitan Pentagon City apartment building has undergone a renovation and rebranding and is now charging more than $6,000 a month for some apartments.

The 17-story building at 901 15th Street S. is now Instrata Pentagon City, a part of the Instrata Lifestyle Residences chain that casts itself as “a lifestyle concept of high-end luxury rental apartments,” according to a press release.

The pet-friendly building will be managed by D.C.-area property manager Bozzuto and, according to Bozzuto spokeswoman Lauren Neuvel, will lease one-bedroom apartments for between $1,969 and $2,519 a month; two-bedrooms for between $3,035 and $6,205; and three-bedrooms from $6,306 to $6,458.

Instrata Pentagon City apartment“Instrata Pentagon City apartments feature kitchens with ceramic flooring, custom-crafted cabinetry, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and gas cooking; premium bathrooms with soaking tubs and ceramic tiling… private balconies or sunrooms, and stunning views of Washington, D.C.” according to the press release.

The building’s amenities include jacuzzis and marble fireplaces in penthouse apartments, a yoga room, massage room, personal trainers and a complimentary membership to ClubCorp, which, according to the press release, provides “access to private golf and country clubs, business, sports and alumni clubs throughout North America.”

The apartments were recently renovated as tenants have moved out, Neuvel said. Instrata launched in New York City earlier this year, and Instrata Pentagon City is the company’s first venture outside Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Photo (top) via Google Maps, photo (bottom) via Instrata Pentagon City

New Clarendon Apartments Could Open This Fall

by Ethan Rothstein | May 20, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 3,020 views | No Comments

The apartment construction at the intersection of Washington Blvd, Wilson Blvd and N. Irving Street is expected to be complete this fall, bringing 187 new apartments to the market.

The Beacon at Clarendon West will have two towers — one with 10 stories, one with six stories — and retail frontage on Washington Blvd. Construction on the ground floor and leasing center, according to contractor Donohoe Construction Company, will be complete by the end of June. The six-story tower is expected to be completed by the end of summer and the 10-story tower — and the complete project — should come on line this fall.

The retail spaces at the bottom of the building, where the signs for the closed Madhu Ban and Taste of Morocco restaurants are still up, will be renovated and redeveloped, Donohoe spokeswoman Megan Vallach told ARLnow.com in an email today.

The units — “luxury apartments,” according to Donohoe’s website — will be one- and two-bedroom rentals, some with dens and some without. Donohoe could not provide estimates on how much the units will cost or when they will be available to lease.

As part of the construction, a segment of N. Irving Street between Wilson Blvd and 13th Street N. is closed while construction crews build a new through street. The road work is also expected to be completed by the end of June.

‘Micro-Unit’ Apartments Proposed for Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | May 13, 2014 at 11:00 am | 5,742 views | No Comments

One of the region’s first “micro-unit” apartment buildings is coming to Crystal City.

A new apartment concept is planned for a vacant Crystal City office building, one that would bring the office trend of co-working spaces to the residential real estate market. The project, called WeLive, is being developed by co-working space company WeWork in partnership with Vornado. The building planned to be redeveloped and repurposed is 2221 S. Clark Street, at the corner of 23rd Street S. and Jefferson Davis Highway.

The plan calls for the former office building to be turned into 252 apartment units and 5,848 square feet of ground floor retail. Many of those apartments will be “micro-units,” with fully-furnished studio apartments between 300 and 360 square feet. There are also three- and four-bedroom units, each under 800 square feet.

Although the apartments are tiny, the company plans to make up for that by placing common areas in the middle of the floors. WeLive aims to create two-floor “neighborhoods,” connected by a flight of stairs, with common space in the center of each floor. Each neighborhood would have a commercial-grade kitchen, a dining area, and a common area that may include a living room, a garden, or other amenities.

The idea is that residents — younger tech workers, mostly — would be more interested in hanging out together outside or in common areas than in their individual apartments.

“The idea behind this residential concept is really an extension of WeWork,” said Vornado Senior Vice President of Residential Development Toby Millman. “It’s taking this communal aspect of a work environment and applying it to a residential concept… There’s a lot of great things happening in Crystal City, like TechShop and Crystal Tech Fund, and this really works well in bringing that entrepreneurial spirit to Crystal City.”

Each unit is designed to have its own bathroom and a kitchenette with a small refrigerator, microwave and sink, but no oven or stove. County staff said they’ve studied the designs and said it complies with both code and zoning for a residential building.

The building is known as Plaza 6 — part of the six-building Crystal Plaza development that includes the Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive and has interconnected underground parking — and it’s now vacant after the last federal government tenant moved out a few months ago.

The building is in the path of the future alignment of S. Clark/Bell Street and is set to be demolished and redeveloped by 2050, according to the Crystal City Sector Plan. That gave pause to some members of Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee at the group’s meeting last might.

Millman assured the SPRC that the lease with WeWork — which would control the entire building, including the ground floor retail — would last 20 years and the apartments would serve as simply an interim use.

“It’s completely vacant right now,” he said. “And there’s little or no prospect of ever re-leasing this building. It’s an obsolete office building for today’s standards.”

The 12th and top floor of the building, slightly smaller than the others, will feature standard apartments. The ten floors beneath it, however, may serve as a model for future residential development, aimed squarely at the young entrepreneurs and millennials who work in the co-working spaces that are popping up all over the D.C. area.

“[WeWork] essentially said, ‘we like Crystal City, but we’re not ready to do WeWork there because we’re concerned the people who we want in WeWork don’t have a place to live,’” said Mitchell Bonanno, Vornado’s Director of Development. “You can price these at a point where the young entrepreneurs can afford it and become a part of the community. That’s one of the reason the units are small: to keep the units market-affordable.”

Photo via Google Maps

Groundbreaking for ‘Verde Pointe’ on Lee Highway

by ARLnow.com | March 21, 2014 at 11:15 am | 2,875 views | No Comments

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A groundbreaking was held Thursday for Verde Pointe, the new residential and retail development on the former Bergmann’s Dry Cleaning site.

The ceremony was held at the site, at Lee Highway and N. Veitch Street, and featured Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette and representatives from the developer and other companies involved in the $80 million project.

Verde Pointe, which was approved by the County Board in December 2012, will feature 177 apartments in a 10-story building, 23 townhomes, a 14,000 square foot Mom’s Organic Market and other retail spaces.

Construction is expected to wrap up in the spring or summer of 2015, according to a spokeswoman. The full press release about the groundbreaking, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 21, 2014 at 9:05 am | 3,045 views | No Comments

Inside Ben's Chili Bowl (Flickr pool photo by Christaki)

School Board Nixes Controversial Proposed Cuts — The Arlington School Board on Thursday took three key cuts proposed by superintendent Patrick Murphy off the table. The nixed proposals are: combining the Langston-Brown High School Continuation Program with Arlington Mill High School, reducing day classes offered to students over the age of 22, and eliminating elementary school library aides. The cuts would have saved at least $2.7 million. The Board is also “asking for more information about” a proposal that would outfit every second and sixth grader with an iPad or Chromebook at a reported annual cost of $200,000. [InsideNoVa]

WHS Video for Happiness Day — The Wakefield Asian Club at Wakefield High School created a musical video from Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” in honor of International Day of Happiness on Thursday. [YouTube]

Girl Scout Troop Orders Too Many Cookies — A new Girl Scout troop from Arlington’s Nottingham Elementary School misread an order form and accidentally ordered 12 times as many cases of Girl Scout cookies to sell as intended. Luckily, other local Girl Scout troops rallied and helped the troop sell the 1,440 excess boxes of Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, etc. [Washington Post]

Bennington Apartments Sell for $101.1 Million — The Bennington apartment building at 1201 S. Eads Street in Pentagon City has traded hands for $101.1 million. The 348-unit building was purchased by New York-based Pantzer Properties, which plans to rebrand the building as “The Point at Pentagon City.” [Washington Business Journal]

SPRC to Meet on Key Blvd Apartment Plan — The county’s Site Plan Review Committee will meet Monday to discuss a plan to demolish and redevelop the Key Boulevard Apartments near Rosslyn. The group Preservation Arlington has expressed concern about the proposal. “Built in 1943, Key Boulevard Apartments are a nearly perfect garden apartment complex with all the right details and scaling,” the group wrote on its blog. [Preservation Arlington]

Road Closures for Nottingham 5K – Several streets will be closed Saturday morning for the Nottingham Elementary 5K race. The closures will be in place on parts of Williamsburg Blvd, Little Falls Road and N. Ohio Street from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

UPDATED: Apartment Fire Near Rosslyn Started By Hot Embers

by ARLnow.com | January 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm | 3,850 views | No Comments

Arlington County firefighters responded to an apartment fire near Rosslyn Tuesday night.

Units on the scene reported flames coming from a third story apartment at the Rosslyn Heights apartment building on the 1800 block of N. Quinn Street.

A fire on the exterior balcony had extended to the interior of an apartment, according to the fire department Twitter account. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported.

The residents of three apartments were displaced due to fire, smoke and water damage.

Update at 4:15 p.m. on 1/22/14 — In a press release, the Arlington County Fire Dept. says this fire started due to improper disposal of hot embers.

Last night, Arlington firefighters responded to a fire that started on the balcony and quickly spread to the inside of the apartment. Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire was reported early, keeping damage to an estimated $20,000. The fire was caused when occupants extinguished a fire in their fireplace with water and placed the logs outside on the deck. The occupants knew that it was dangerous to leave a fireplace unattended, but did not know how to properly dispose of hot ashes and embers.

It is a common misconception that the ashes are safe once the fire is extinguished; however, ashes and embers can smolder for hours. Ashes must be disposed of properly to prevent these types of fires from occurring. Once the fire is extinguished, place the ashes in a metal container with a lid. Never place ashes directly into a trash can or paper bag. Move the metal container outside and away from all combustibles, including decks, garages, and leaves. Soak the ashes with water and re-cover.

The Arlington County Fire Department recommends you follow these safety tips when using a fireplace:

  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Always use a metal or heat-tempered glass screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
  • Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire, never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Only burn dry, seasoned wood.
  • Never leave the fireplace unattended.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing.
  • Place ashes in a metal container with a lid. Move the container at least 10 feet from the building and saturate the ashes with water.

More information at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/fireplace.shtm

Photo courtesy @hilary1121

Apartments Could Replace Vacant Pentagon City Office Building

by Ethan Rothstein | January 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm | 2,097 views | No Comments

A rendering of the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive apartment buildingsA vacant office building in Pentagon City could be in line for a transformation into a two-tower high-rise apartment building.

The former Department of Defense Inspector General office at 400 Army Navy Drive has submitted a site plan for a 20-story building with two towers — on one, three-story platform — that would have 491,588 square feet of ground floor space and 453 residential units.

The building, also called the “Paperclip Building,” was acquired by Bethesda-based developer LCOR in 2012, according to City Biz List, with the plan to convert it into housing. The site plan is now under consideration with the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) and is slated to go before the Planning Commission and the Arlington County Board no earlier than April for approval, we’re told.

The 1.6-acre plot of land is bounded by Army Navy Drive to the north, 11th Street S. to the south, S. Eads Street to the west and the Doubletree hotel to the east. The site is across S. Eads Street from the recently-approved PenPlace commercial development, which calls for four office buildings and a 300-room hotel on 10.2 acres; more than 4 million square feet of floor space.

A rendering of the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive apartment buildingsPenPlace was approved despite heavy opposition from the Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA) and other neighborhood groups, who objected to the height of the buildings (16-21 stories) and the additional traffic expected to be generated.

At the initial SPRC meeting, commissioners expressed concern that the traffic study the developer performed in June, when putting together its site plan, did not include the impact from PenPlace. In addition, a proposed operations and maintenance facility for the Crystal City streetcar line is directly adjacent to the planned apartment site.

“I don’t see how the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive project can be successfully developed if the County proceeds with its plan to build a streetcar operations and maintenance facility a few feet from its front door on the ‘tear drop’ in the middle of Eads Street,” Arthur Fox, who’s representing ARCA on the SPRC for the project, told ARLnow.com.

“Indeed, an O&M facility in that location will likely be the rotten apple that will spoil the barrel the County is seeking to develop across Eads on PenPlace,” Fox continued. “Unfortunately, the county failed to seriously consider a number of alternative sites that would be far better suited for an O&M facility. It needs to take a step backward and reopen that process.”

ACFD: Oxygen Tanks Helped Fuel Apartment Fire

by ARLnow.com | January 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 749 views | No Comments

Apartment fire on S. Greenbrier Street (photo courtesy @itsjustmejona)Home oxygen tanks helped fuel Sunday morning’s three-alarm apartment fire near Columbia Pike, the Arlington County Fire Department said today.

The fire broke out around 9:15 a.m. in an apartment at 850 S. Greenbrier Street. Firefighters from Arlington and Fairfax County arrived minutes after a 911 call was placed, and found heavy smoke coming from a second-floor apartment.

Firefighters rescued 20 trapped residents using ladders, and rescued an unconscious man from a smoke-filled hallway. He was transported to Medstar Washington Hospital Center in critical condition, ACFD said.

More than 80 fire personnel helped to extinguish the flames, which extended to the third and fourth floors and caused some $50,000 worth of damage. Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management set up a temporary shelter for 120 displaced residents in the nearby Greenbrier Baptist Church. The American Red Cross also helped to provide food, water and other essentials.

The cause is still under investigation, but the fire department says medical oxygen tanks “contribute[d] to the rapid fire spread.”

Photo courtesy @itsjustmejona

Several Rescued During Three-Alarm Apartment Fire

by ARLnow.com | January 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 3,327 views | No Comments

(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) One person is in serious condition after a three-alarm apartment fire on Columbia Pike this morning.

The fire broke out just before 9:30 a.m. at 850 S. Greenbrier Street, a seven-story brick apartment building near Columbia Pike. The fire broke out in a second story apartment , then extended to the third floor, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton.

Several people were rescued by firefighters using ladders, while several others jumped from their second and third-floor apartments. One person was rescued and transported to Washington Hospital Center with life-threatening smoke inhalation injuries. Three others were transported to the hospital for non-fire-related medical conditions.

Residents of the apartment building are being sheltered in a nearby church and another apartment building, according to Shelton. All residents but those on the second floor and in two fire-damaged apartments are expected to be allowed back later tonight. They were originally expected to be allowed back around 4:00 but “plumbing issues” forced a delay.

Jonathan, a Twitter user contacted by ARLnow.com, said he and his family were in a third floor apartment and were among those who had to jump.

“I woke up to the fire alarm, didn’t think it was nothing then I heard an explosion and my people where telling us to get out,” he said via Twitter. “I opened the door to check and it was filled with smoke we had to jump out of the window.”

Jonathan said he, his mother, father, and brother all jumped out the window, taking their pet bird with them. For now they’re staying at a friend’s house.

Shelton said oxygen tanks were found in the second floor apartment where the fire started. Raime, another Twitter user, said the fire started in his mother’s apartment.

“My mom tried to plug her phone in the wall to charge it and it sparked a fire and she had oxygen tanks in the room and they exploded,” he said. So far fire officials have not been able to confirm his account.

Photos courtesy @itsjustmejona

New 750-Unit Apartment Complex Proposed for Park Shirlington

by Ethan Rothstein | December 13, 2013 at 10:45 am | 1,520 views | No Comments

The owners of the Park Shirlington apartments (4510 31st Street S.) are looking for county approval to bulldoze the current, low-rise buildings and replace them with 750 low- to mid-rise apartments.

On Nov. 15, Home Properties filed a preliminary site plan application, which is currently under staff review at the Arlington County Zoning Office. The plan calls for five residential buildings between three and five stories each, encompassing about 712,000 square feet of gross floor area on 15 acres surrounding 31st Street S.

The current buildings have 293 units occupied by 271 households. They will be replaced by a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with more than 50 percent of the 750 units expected to be one-bedroom.

As opposed to the current street and surface parking, Home Properties proposes building an 827-space garage in the new complex and having only 76 surface spaces.

The proposal would need special exception approval since it’s above the county’s planned density for the area. The owner offered to have affordable housing included, as well as to contribute to an improved streetscape and other transportation improvements, but did not specify in the application how many units it would make affordable.

Photo via Google Maps

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