The Ballston development boom doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon: a developer has submitted plans to Arlington County for a six-story, 175-unit apartment building on N. Glebe Road.
The Penrose Group has purchased parcels of land on which the Prestige Certified Motors and Macy’s surface parking lot sit, between N. Carlin Springs Road and 7th Street. It also has a contract to purchase the Exxon station at 660 N. Glebe Road, according to Penrose Group Founder and President Mark Gregg. The Washington Business Journal first reported the development.
The building, called 672 Flats, will have 4,400 square feet of retail on the ground floor facing Glebe Road, next to a 725-square-foot bicycle storage area, a lobby, “club room” and fitness center. Andrew Gregg, Mark’s son, told ARLnow.com the number of parking spaces is yet to be determined — the county hopes for 175 while Penrose is angling for fewer — but there will be an underground garage.
Mark Gregg said he expects the site plan process to conclude with County Board approval by spring 2015, and for construction to begin later that fall. Gregg expects the building to be complete in 2017. Along with the building, Andrew Gregg said Penrose plans to put on-street parking along N. Glebe Road for “off-peak hours only,” and build a right turn lane on 7th Street.
“We want to make that intersection safer,” Gregg said. He added there would be no parking in a proposed alley between the building and the townhouses along N. Carlin Springs Road and Tazewell Street, but there could be street parking along 7th Street. According to the WBJ, “The Bluemont Civic Association in February offered its conditional support for the project,” with the conditions including traffic and pedestrian safety improvements.
The Penrose Group is also building the Latitude Apartments in Virginia Square and Pike 3400, coming at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road. Latitude should deliver in 2016, Andrew Gregg said, and Pike 3400 could begin leasing by the end of this year.
With the Rosenthal Mazda dealership on the other side of 7th Street N. from 672 Flats also in line for redevelopment, Gregg said the plot of land is one of the last remaining redevelopment opportunities in Ballston.
“I think that it’s conveniently located for the Ballston area. It’s a block and a half from Metro, and it’s across from the mall” which will be redeveloped, Mark Gregg told ARLnow.com today. “We think the whole Ballston area along Wilson and Fairfax and Glebe will be an area people want to live in.”
Image, left, courtesy The Penrose Group. Photo, right, via Google Maps.
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Construction has begun at the new Lacey Lane subdivision at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive, more than a year-and-a-half after crews first excavated the site in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood.
Work on the first model home first was expected to begin in March 2013, but didn’t actually happen until a few weeks ago. County employees told ARLnow.com last November that the stall had to do with developer The Barrett Companies fulfilling safety obligations in order to receive permits. County staff confirms the developer met all requirements and obtained a building permit this spring.
According to the Evergreene Homes website, the nine properties will be “exquisitely detailed luxury residences.” Renderings of what the finished homes are expected to look like are also available on the website.
The base models originally were said to feature four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million each. Although preliminary plans are available for the three-level houses, Evergreene Homes Director of Sales and Marketing Rich Rudnicki said the company currently is finalizing the home options and base pricing. He said the company should be ready to put the properties up for sale by September 1.
Rudnicki says details like detached garages, courtyards and sitting areas will make this a unique subdivision.
“It’s a cool location,” he said, “It’s going to be a different kind of community.”
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The large surface parking lot between the Arlington County Justice Center and Courthouse Plaza appears destined to become open, green space at some point in the future.
Last night, county planners presented three concepts to the community as part of the Envision Courthouse Square outreach process. All of the concepts included using the space the surface parking lot occupies as a sort of town green, with pedestrian and bicycle paths crisscrossing the area in different patterns.
The workshop last night was the last in-person chance the community will have for significant input before staff from Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development drafts a Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum, to be brought before the community in the fall and presented to the Arlington County Board this winter.
Moving forward, the county will plan on placing parking underground while “retaining minimal surface parking,” according to CPHD Principal Urban Designer and Planner Jason Beske. There are no plans for buildings on the north edge of the current parking lot to preserve the square, and 14th Street and 15th Street between Courthouse Road and N. Uhle Street will both remain open to vehicular traffic.
Three “big ideas” were brought before those in attendance, which included the Envision Courthouse Square Working Group and county staff. The first, Concept A, calls for 3.9 acres of open space, a pedestrian promenade connecting 15th and 14th Streets N. in front of the AMC Courthouse movie theater and converts 15th Street between N. Courthouse Road and Clarendon Blvd into a shared pedestrian, bike and vehicle corridor.
Concept B, pictured above in the center, calls for the pedestrian promenade to be diagonal from the current Strayer Building — viewed as a target for high-rise redevelopment — to the Verizon Plaza building adjacent to the building that contains the Gold’s Gym. This plan calls for 4.2 acres of open space and includes a pocket park between Courthouse Plaza and N. Veitch Street.
Concept C, pictured above on the right, calls for 3.15 acres of open space and a more east-west alignment of paths and streets in the design area.
The plans for building redevelopment vary significantly among the three plans. Concept A calls for the two buildings with 15th Street frontages to be redeveloped at heights of 153-180 feet for the Strayer building — at the intersection with Clarendon Blvd — and 300 feet for the Landmark Block, at the intersection of with Courthouse Road. It also calls for retail in front of the AMC theater and a new building up to 180 feet tall next to it.
Concept B flips the proposed heights for the Strayer and Landmark blocks from Concept A, calls for the redevelopment of the AMC theater into a county or private building up to 180 feet tall and a three-to-five story “cultural building” at the Verizon Plaza site.
Concept C includes the most significant redevelopment: a “market shed” next to the AMC theater, the same proposed heights for the Strayer and Landmark block and two, 10-12 story buildings along 14th Street N., with the option to preserve the current theater or include a separate cultural use. The Verizon Plaza would be the site for a new, 300-foot high-rise building.
“Think of these plans as a kit-of-parts,” CPHD staff wrote in its presentation last night. “All of the big ideas are open for your feedback. Feedback results will inform us of the community’s preferences as we take the next steps to combine ideas and test their feasibility. The goal is to create a single, preferred plan that carries our shared vision forward.”
CPHD officials said an online survey will be posted shortly for community members unable to attend last night to weigh in on the three concepts.
Images via Arlington CPHD
The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) announced today it will occupy 350,000 square feet on 15 floors of the planned Central Place office building in Rosslyn — allowing construction on the building to move forward.
The building will be renamed CEB Tower and is expected to be completed by 2018, when CEB will move from its current headquarters in the Waterview building, a block away at 1919 N. Lynn Street. CEB estimates the move will bring 800 new jobs to the area by the time the move is complete.
The move was announced two days after the Arlington County Board approved an amended sign ordinance that allows developers to apply for signage above 50 feet high. The signs were previously prohibited in the two-block radius in which CEB Tower will be located.
Sweetening the pot: $4.5 million in grant money from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, a matching pledge of infrastructure improvements from Arlington County, and $5 million from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant.
“This Agreement would not have been possible without the exceptional partnership of the Commonwealth and Arlington County,” CEB Chairman and CEO Tom Monahan said in a press release. “The Governor’s office and our local government representatives clearly demonstrated why Virginia is a great state for business. Under their leadership, we are confident in Arlington’s future as a business hub and thrilled to be a landmark business in — and significant economic contributor to — the Rosslyn community.”
“While it’s too early to size precisely the economic impact for 2018 and beyond, their partnership and leadership notably support our strategy for continued growth and margin expansion,” Monahan added.
Before the office tower is complete, Central Place’s developer, the JBG Companies, is expected to wrap up construction on its 31-story residential tower next door in 2017. The twin, 390-foot skyscrapers are expected to have ground floor retail and observation decks.
“CEB is exactly the type of business Arlington needs as we move forward as a leader in the innovation economy,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in the county’s release. “Today’s announcement is a shining example of how the new initiatives we’ve implemented this year are increasing Arlington’s economic competitiveness and ensuring our place as a leading community for technology businesses of the future.”
CEB moved to Rosslyn from D.C. six years ago.
“Virginia has proudly served as home to CEB since its move from the District in 2008,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “A new global headquarters and investment of this magnitude are tremendous testaments to the confidence the company has in Arlington County and the Commonwealth as it grows its presence internationally, and creates the workspace and technology for jobs of the 21st century.”
Photo via The JBG Companies
The long-planned development that would knock down Clarendon dive bar Jay’s Saloon and Grille (3114 10th Street N.) and several other businesses could be formally approved by the Arlington County Board this Saturday.
If approved, Jay’s co-owner Kathi Moore, who owns the restaurant with her ex-husband, Jay Moore, told ARLnow.com today that she’s been given until Spring 2015 before she has to close down. Jay’s has been operating with the knowledge they could be closed down for the development since 2011.
The development on the table is a mixed-use building called 10th Street Flats with 135 residential units, nine live/work units, 3,660 square feet of retail and 4,704 square feet of office space and two levels of underground parking. In addition to Jay’s, the development would also include the demolition of a salon, car dealership and insurance agency on the 3100 block of 10th Street N.
Ballston-based Clark Realty Capital owns the property and is spearheading the development plans, but officials with Clark could not be reached for comment today. The building is proposed as five stories tall, and the live/work units — designed as apartments with a separate office space — could be converted into retail space as market conditions dictate.
The building would be L-shaped, according to the staff report, with “composite wood panels and composite wood and aluminum trellises to create differentiation on the façade given the project’s long frontage along 10th Street. The ground floor uses masonry, glass, and aluminum and provides for 79 percent transparency.” It would be LEED Gold certified and have dedicated affordable housing units to compensate for density above what is called for in the General Land Use Plan.
In the review process, community members outlined concerns about traffic in the smaller streets surrounding the area, particularly 9th Road N., a residential block. The plans also call for the roof to be accessible to residents as an amenity, which raised the eyebrows of the community and some local officials. County staff is recommending the building’s approval nonetheless, saying the traffic wouldn’t result in an “undue adverse impact” on local traffic and stipulating a buffer area on the roof to mitigate noise.
Moore said if she and her ex-husband could have, they would have bought the land along with the restaurant when they opened in 1993, but they “couldn’t afford it then, can’t afford it now.” The restaurant bills itself as “one of the last true ‘dive bars’ in Arlington,” and Moore said her clientele is upset about the closing.
“Both my lunchtime and my nighttime crowd are like ‘what are we going to do?’” Moore said. “My heart goes out to them because we’re not like the rest of Clarendon.”
Like Westover’s The Forest Inn, Jay’s is considered one of the last of a dying breed in Arlington. Local freelance writer Kevin Craft, who has written about Arlington’s dwindling dive bar scene for Arlington Magazine, said there are very few places with as diverse a crowd as Jay’s Saloon.
“I think it’s always important for a place to have a sense of its own history,” Craft told ARLnow.com in a phone interview this morning. “Places like Jay’s are where different generations and professional classes can mix and mingle, and I think Arlington is losing those establishments, unfortunately.”
Moore said she doesn’t believe Jay’s will be moving anywhere else — “20 years is enough here,” she said — but the regulars were glad to find out the saloon will stay open through football season. She purchased some new TVs for the fall, and, when the restaurant does close, plans to hold an auction, including selling all the knick-knacks that line the bar’s walls.
“Our regulars are already asking to take stuff,” she said. When asked what the most sought-after item is, she immediately pointed to the painting of a naked woman hanging over the bar. She then laughed, adding “but that’s not for sale.”
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.
Library to Host World Cup Viewing — For most of those going out in Arlington to watch this afternoon’s USA-Belgium World Cup match, a bar (or a movie theater) is the preferred venue. But if you don’t need a beer to watch the game, Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) has a free option for soccer viewing. The game, which starts at 4:00 p.m., will be projected on the big screen on the library’s first floor. Cheering and non-alcoholic drinks will be allowed in the library during the game. [Arlington Public Library]
List of 48th District Candidates Grows — More than a half dozen candidates have now tossed their hat in the ring to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48). Local Democrats are holding firehouse primaries in the race this weekend in Arlington and McLean. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington’s Traffic Paradox — Despite large gains in population and density, traffic on Arlington roads has actually decreased over the past couple of decades. How is that possible? “Virtually all the growth has happened in Arlington’s Metrorail corridors, where using transit, biking, and walking are the norm.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) The future plans for the Ballston Common Mall include demolishing the Macy’s Furniture Store and parts of the current mall to build a 29-story residential tower and an open-air town center along Wilson Blvd, officials announced Monday night.
The 393-unit apartment building, at the corner of Wilson and N. Randolph Street, is projected to be completed by 2017, Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone revealed at the BID’s annual meeting last night. Leone said the redevelopment — including a revamp of the retail mix at the mall — will be crucial for the branding of Ballston, which is often closely associated with the increasingly run-down mall.
“The mall hasn’t quite been able to serve our public,” Leone said, noting the mall’s future is the main question she gets asked about the future of Ballston development. “The mall is going to ‘de-mall’ itself. The roof is coming off.”
The mall is owned and operated by Forest City, which purchased the Macy’s Furniture Store last September. Forest City spokesman Gary McManus told ARLnow.com at the time that the mall had planned retail space with more street access in Macy’s place, and those plans now include the residential tower.
The building is expected to have four floors of underground parking and two floors of retail space below the studio, one- and two-bedroom rental apartments. The apartment building and attached parking will have a separate entrance from the restaurants and remaining mall.
Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the main Macy’s store — which will fold in the furniture store on its ground floor — the Sport&Health Club and the Regal Cinemas will all remain in the closed-air section of the mall, which is being rebranded as “Ballston Center.”
Along Wilson Blvd, parts of the mall — which originally opened as the Parkington Shopping Center in 1951 before it was rebuilt and reopened as Ballston Common Mall in 1986 — will be torn down and replaced with an open-air, town center-like plaza. Demolition is expected to begin by late 2015.
“[Forest City] thought about what was going to have the highest impact,” Leone told ARLnow.com, saying the Ballston BID has been “on a very high level” helping to form plans for the mall’s redevelopment. “To make it a town center, this is life-altering for the people who live and work here.”
McManus said that the pedestrian bridge from the mall to the current National Science Foundation headquarters across the street is tentatively slated to be torn down — private conversations between Forest City and Arlington County Board members led the mall owner to remove it from the plans — but an agreement needs to be reached with the NSF building’s property owner before that can happen.
McManus also said that the retail mix in the mall will change, to become more restaurant and entertainment-oriented. It will be aimed at serving the immediate area, not as a mall that brings in most of its shoppers from other areas, despite the fact that it will have “some destination retail, too.”
“We don’t want to compete with Tysons or Pentagon City,” McManus said. “We’ve started this project before, but this time it’s got all the momentum behind it.”
In addition to the four-level, 580,000 square foot mall’s redevelopment, Leone announced plans for changes to public spaces expected this fall, like public art projects, Ballston-branded signs lining the streets and the new Fairfax Drive landscaping ARLnow.com reported on earlier this month.
Among the proposed projects is a redesigned Metro plaza, which Leone said she hopes will include an “interactive light installation” under the Metro canopy. The light installation is being designed in Amsterdam — it will track pedestrians’ movements underneath and project light based on that movement. The Metro plaza is also planned to include an small amphitheater and redesigned bus parking to remove some buses from N. Stuart Street. (more…)
Board to Consider Sign for Rosslyn Skyscraper — The Arlington County Board next month will consider lifting a prohibition on rooftop signs on two new Rosslyn office towers. The action would potentially allow the JBG Cos. to begin work on its Central Place office tower, which is expected to be anchored by the Corporate Executive Board. [Washington Business Journal]
Fisette Asks for Alternative Streetcar Funding Plan — Federal funding is currently expected to pay for half of Arlington’s $287 million share of the Columbia Pike streetcar system’s costs. But federal funding is not guaranteed and, at last night’s Capital Improvement Plan work session, County Board Chair Jay Fisette asked Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach to work on an alternate streetcar funding plan that does not use federal dollars or county funds from residential taxpayers. [Mobility Lab]
Green Party Endorses Vihstadt Again — The Arlington Green Party, which endorsed independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt in this spring’s special election, has announced that it will endorse him again in November’s general election. [InsideNova]
UberX Lowers Fares — Two weeks after Virginia started cracking down on ridesharing services, UberX — the service where regular people drive you around in their personal cars — has lowered its fares in the D.C. area by 25 percent. The new fares are significantly lower than comparable cab fares, the company says. [InTheCapital]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
(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.
Dump Truck Driver Found Guilty in Woman’s Death — The driver of a dump truck that struck and killed a 39-year-old mother of three in February has been found guilty of “failing to pay full time and attention.” Marvin Valladares, 33, was sentenced to 10 days in jail with four suspended. [WTOP, WJLA]
Pentagon Centre Redevelopment Plans Change – A plan to redevelop the Pentagon Centre shopping center is being changed. Owner Kimco Realty Corp. now wants to build two residential buildings on the site before building two office buildings and a hotel. Pentagon Centre is currently home to Best Buy, Costco and other big box retailers. If the plan is approved, it and other Pentagon City development projects could result in “a deluge of roughly 4,000 new residential units in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]
Lane Closures Planned for Parade — A number of lanes will be closed in the area of Four Mile Run on Saturday for the Corso de Santa Cruz Parade. [Arlington County]
County Releases Development Report — Arlington County has issued its Development Tracking Report for the first quarter of 2014. In Q1, the County Board approved 170,834 square feet of office space, 4,280 square feet of retail, 387 apartment units, and 161 hotel rooms. [Arlington County]
Library Honors Outstanding Volunteers — Arlington Public Library has presented its annual Outstanding Volunteer of the Year awards. The awards went to Deborah Jones, who helps to manage nine book clubs, and to the Talking Books and Homebound Services team. [Arlington Public Library]
Pot Group Releases Video for Ebbin – NORML PAC, which is working to legalize marijuana in the U.S., has released a video in support of state Sen. Adam Ebbin’s run for Congress. Ebbin is one of seven candidates campaigning for the Democratic primary on June 10. In addition to marijuana advocates, Ebbin has received endorsements from County Board Chair Jay Fisette, three Arlington School Board members, and the local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Laborers’ International Union of North America. [YouTube]
Arlington CEO Pleads Guilty to Hacking — Ariel Friedler, the 36-year-old CEO of Arlington-based Symplicity Corporation, has pleaded guilty to federal computer hacking charges. Prosecutors say Friedler and his Chief Technology Officer gained access to the customer section of two competitors’ websites using hacked user credentials in order to steal customer and product design information and gain “an unfair business advantage.” [Pacific Standard, USDOJ]
Wizards Player Helping Clarendon Ice Cream Shop — Washington Wizards swingman Martell Webster tweeted last week that he is working part time at Nicecream Factory, the new Clarendon ice cream store. It turns out that Webster is merely helping out with the store’s marketing effort, which is being led by a long-time friend and former collegiate basketball player. [Washington Post]
Arlington Losing Its Urban Village Advantage? — Arlington is known as a leader in transit-oriented development, thanks to its walkable, mixed-use urban villages. But Arlington’s Mobility Lab suggests that Arlington may be losing its advantage. Tysons Corner, Bethesda, Silver Spring, White Flint, NoMa, and the Ballpark District are all “now competing on the Arlington model,” one county official said. [Mobility Lab]
YHS Senior Video — A group of Yorktown High School seniors recorded a song and created a music video in advance of their impending graduation. [Vimeo]
Wakefield Student Get Sheriff’s Scholarship — A Wakefield High School student has received a $1,000 scholarship from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office. Kiana Carter, a graduating senior, plans to study criminal justice. [Arlington County]
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.
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