(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) BRAC and federal cuts are a drag on Arlington’s real estate market, but Tysons Corner will not be as competitive as some in the county fear, according to Arlington Economic Development (AED).
The county agency gave its annual real estate market review and forecast to a group of developers, property owners and local leaders on Monday. This year’s presentation was titled “Silver Line-ings,” after the new Metro line that is expected to open within a year and bring increased economic development to Tysons.
“I’m not freaked by Tysons Corner,” said AED Director Terry Holzheimer, adopting a bit of youth lingo.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a big negative from Tysons,” he continued. “Arlington will continue to be a better place. Arlington will continue to have better product. Arlington will continue to be highly competitive to Tysons Corner.”
Holzheimer said Tysons will “never catch up” with the kind of walkable, high-density, high-amenity urban corridors Arlington enjoys, and will continue to suffer from traffic problems. Plus, Holzheimer pointed out that commercial property taxes in Tysons are higher than Arlington. He said there’s “not a chance” of Tysons becoming the region’s “new downtown” — as proclaimed by some — in the next 20 years.
Still, Arlington is facing challenges.
Office vacancies are up as the federal government makes cuts, plays hardball with office rental rates, and as BRAC continues to pull military offices out of Arlington. While BRAC was supposed to end last year, Holzheimer said Department of Defense office moves are expected to continue for the next three years, on top of the 17,000 employees that have already moved out of Arlington due to BRAC.
“It’s not even close to being done,” he said. Another 65 office leases in 25 Arlington buildings are expected to be impacted by BRAC in the next few years.
As a result of BRAC and federal cuts — “this malaise we’re in” region-wide — Holzheimer said office vacancy in Arlington has increased to 16.1 percent. Whereas Arlington usually has a lower-than-average vacancy rate for large central business districts (we’re between Boston and Houston in terms of office square footage), he described the county’s current vacancy rate as “middle of the pack” for the first time in a long time.
Interestingly, office rent in Arlington has remained high. The average per-square-foot “asking rate” is $41.13 in Arlington, compared to $18.93 in Dallas, $26.10 in Philadelphia, $31.54 in Chicago and $48.52 in the District of Columbia.
Fisette Promises Details on Water Bottle ‘Crusade’ — Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette says he will provide additional details about his “crusade” against single-use water bottles — first announced at the Board’s New Year’s meeting — in April. Fisette did reveal that the anti-bottled water effort would involve a 15-member steering committee. [Sun Gazette]
New Metro Station in Rosslyn? — As part of Metro’s “Momentum” plan to revamp and expand the aging transit system, the agency has proposed building a new station in Rosslyn. Greater Greater Washington expounds upon that plan and examines the possibility of splitting the Blue Line at Rosslyn, building a separate Blue Line station, and running the line separately across the Potomac and into Georgetown. [Greater Greater Washington]
Metro Cell Phone Installation Delayed — Metro’s effort to enable cell phone service in its tunnels has hit a snag: after the contractor performing the work filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It could be 2016 before riders are able to use their cell phones in Metro tunnels. [Washington Examiner]
Above-Normal Lead Levels Found in Office Building – The General Service Administration has found above-normal lead levels in an office building in Crystal City. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White.
The 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.
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.
“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.
The development of 5.3 million square feet of office, 836,543 square feet of retail and 7,572 residential units in Arlington has been approved by the county but is not yet under construction, according to the 2012 Arlington County Government annual report. That’s up from last year’s annual report, when 4.3 million square feet of office, 813,479 square feet of retail and 5,839 residential units were approved and awaiting construction.
As of Sept. 30, approximately 1 million square feet of office, 150,000 square feet of retail and 1,380 residential units were under construction, up about 50 percent, 70 percent and 20 percent year-over-year, respectively.
The figures are a reflection of continued developer interest in Arlington County, despite economic competition from D.C. and the new Silver Line corridor.
“The increased competition from the Silver Line construction certainly exists, and our team is working diligently to showcase the opportunity that exists in Arlington,” said Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell. “Developers are continuing to plan new and exciting projects in Arlington, and our BizLaunch program works with as many as 3,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses every year.”
Still, some believe that the Silver Line may take some Metro-oriented development away from Arlington, particularly after the first section of the rail line — running from Reston and Tysons to Arlington and D.C. — opens in late 2013 or early 2014.
Most of the projects not yet under construction in Arlington were approved in the past 5 years, although some date back to the 1990s and one dates back to 1981. All told, there is about 40 million square feet of office space in Arlington, plus 43,000 residential units along Metro corridors and 105,000 residential units countywide, based on the county’s 2012 profile.
The developments approved but not yet under construction (as of 11/1/12) include:
- Rosslyn Gateway Phases 1 & 2 — 1901 Ft. Myer Drive — 490,056 sq ft office / 26,376 sq ft retail / 273 residential units / 148 hotel rooms
- Rosslyn Commons Townhouses — 1500 Clarendon Blvd — 25 residential units
- Central Place — 1801 N. Moore Street — 570,549 sq ft office / 44,554 sq ft retail / 374 residential units
- Wakefield Manor — 2025 Fairfax Drive — 188 residential units
- 1919 Clarendon Blvd (Hollywood Video Site) — 1919 Clarendon Blvd — 24,657 sq ft retail / 198 residential units
- The Tellus — 2009 14th Street N. — 10,674 sq ft office / 4,354 sq ft retail / 254 residential units
- Washington View – 2001 Clarendon Blvd — 32,840 sq ft retail / 154 residential units
- NTSA Office Site — 1840 Wilson Blvd — 107,920 sq ft office / 10,000 sq ft retail
- Demar Office Building — 2311 Wilson Blvd — 100,328 sq ft office / 4,906 sq ft retail
- 3001 Washington Blvd (Penzance) – 3001 Washington Blvd — 284,012 sq ft office / 22,479 sq ft retail
- Beacon at Clarendon West (formerly The Waverly) — 1200 N. Irving Street — 18,299 sq ft retail / 195 residential units
- 3901 Fairfax Drive – 3901 Fairfax Drive — 178,131 sq ft office / 3,200 sq ft retail
- Virginia Square Towers – 3440 Fairfax Drive — 12,815 sq ft retail / 540 residential units
- 3803 Fairfax Drive Expansion — 3803 Fairfax Drive — 43,045 sq ft office
- 650 N. Glebe Road (Goodyear Site) — 650 N. Glebe Road — 2,203 sq ft retail / 163 residential units
- Founder’s Square North Office — 707 N. Randolph Street — 418,810 sq ft office / 7,670 sq ft retail
- The Place (Founder’s Square North Residential) — 4000 Wilson Blvd — 9,035 sq ft retail / 256 residential units
- Peck/Staples/AHC Townhouses — 815 N. Woodrow Street — 28 residential units
- The Spire/Fairmont — 4420 Fairfax Drive — 9,200 sq ft retail / 237 residential units
- 1900 Crystal Drive — 1900 Crystal Drive — 719,704 sq ft office / 11,290 sq ft retail
- Boeing Site — 608 S. Ball Street — 453,422 sq ft office
- Potomac Yard Land Bays C & D — 3001 Jefferson Davis Hwy — 1,064,298 sq ft office / 73,696 sq ft retail / 691 residential units
- Lofts at Crystal Houses — 1900 S. Eads Street — 252 residential units
- Crystal City Retail Phase II – 2010 Crystal Drive — 84,034 sq ft office / 92,920 sq ft retail
- Airport Plaza IV — 2600 Crystal Drive — 198 residential units
- Pentagon City PDSP Parcel 3 — 501 15th Street S. — 64,231 sq ft retail / 1,172 residential units / 300 hotel rooms
- Pentagon City PDSP Parcel 1D — 1197 S. Fern Street — 930 residential units / 582 hotel rooms
- The Acadia (Three Metropolitan Park) – 1201 S. Fern Street — 16,345 sq ft retail / 411 residential units
- Pentagon Centre Phases 1-3 – 1201 S. Hayes Street – 776,982 sq ft office / 327,070 sq ft retail / 600 residential units / 250 hotel rooms
- Pike 3400 — 3400 Columbia Pike — 15,443 sq ft retail / 301 residential units
- Axumite Village – 1100 S. Highland Street — 36 residential units
- Columbia Place — 1100 S. Edgewood Street — 2,960 sq ft retail / 22 residential units
- Buckingham Townhomes Village I — 424 N. George Mason Drive — 68 residential units
- Greenbrier Village Phase II — 2251 N. Greenbrier Street — 4 residential units
- 705/707 N. Barton Street – 705 N. Barton Street — 2 residential units
Ft. Myer Daycare Investigation Widens — What started as allegations of assault against two workers at a daycare center on Ft. Myer has widened into a worldwide probe of military child care hiring practices. At least 31 daycare staffers at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall have been suspended after investigators found “disqualifying factors in their records, including history of drug use and past allegations of assault.” One official called it “a severe lapse in the background checks system.” [Washington Post]
DoD Relaxes Security Standards for Some Buildings — A loosening of the Department of Defense’s security standards for commercial office buildings may make it easier for the DoD to lease office space in Arlington (and elsewhere). Earlier this month, the Pentagon reversed a policy put in place in response to 9/11 that required that leased office space meet stringent anti-terrorism security standards, even for administrative offices within the DoD. [Washington Business Journal]
Marymount Seeking to Redevelop Ballston Property — Marymount University is pushing ahead with a plan to redevelop its 50-year-old “Blue Goose” building at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive in Ballston. The university has proposed replacing the aging building with an office building and an apartment building. [Sun Gazette]
Science Focus Teacher Wins Recognition — “Arlington Science Focus School Principal Mary Begley was named Administrator of the Year by the Greater Washington Reading Council at its annual conference in Fairfax” on Wednesday, says a school press release. [Arlington Public Schools]
Flickr pool photo by Damiec
Courthouse Office Building Approved — At its meeting on Saturday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a redevelopment plan for a new 8-story office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse. [Arlington County]
Goody’s Expansion Plan Foiled by the Fiscal Cliff? — Clarendon pizza restaurant Goody’s was featured on the Friday broadcast of NBC Nightly News. The owners of the restaurant say they’re only making a small profit and they’re worried about having to close due to the impact of the so-called fiscal cliff (primarily the increased taxes that could go into effect if no deal is reached). Goody’s owners were planning to expand next year, but have put those plans on hold, according to the broadcast. [NBC News]
First Streetcars, Then Spaceships — Trying to make the point that the County Board doesn’t have a hidden agenda when considering adoption of the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act, Board member Walter Tejada said that public-private partnerships could be used for future projects, and not just for streetcars. “It could be used for spaceships down the line in the future,” he said. [Sun Gazette]
Winter Coats and Clothes Collected — The Rosslyn Business Improvement District collected 119 bags of winter clothing from area businesses and residents over the past month. The clothes will be donated to the homeless clients of the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network. The Nauck Community Service Center, meanwhile, collected more than 500 coats for distribution to Arlington residents in need.
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday afternoon for 1776 Wilson Boulevard, one of the county’s newest office buildings.
The $33.5 million office building includes four floors of office space, 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, and 231 garage parking spaces. With environmental features like a green vegetated roof, solar panels, electric vehicle chargers and water use reduction systems, developer Skanska USA is seeking LEED Platinum sustainability certification.
The building is located in Rosslyn at the intersection with N. Quinn Street. The project included the construction of a new section of N. Quinn Street to connect Wilson Blvd to Clarendon Blvd.
Attendees at Friday’s ribbon cutting included representatives from Skanska USA, County Board members Jay Fisette and Chris Zimmerman, Rosslyn BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy, and George Contis, the doctor who sold the property to Skanska in 2010.
The building still being leased out, but confirmed tenants include CRDF Global and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Skanska has also established its new regional headquarters in the building.
Election Board Calms Election Fraud Fears — Don’t worry about election shenanigans in Arlington, says the Arlington Electoral Board. The board is made up of two Republicans and one Democrat. At the Arlington County Republican Committee meeting on Oct. 24, Republican board member Scott McGeary said the county’s election staff will “make certain we have the utmost ballot integrity.” Local Republicans have been fearful of a “stolen election” in recent days, given the release of a video depicting Rep. Jim Moran’s son discussing ways to fraudulently cast ballots. [Sun Gazette]
Proposed Courthouse Office Building Still in Limbo — The ‘Clean Technology Center‘ — a new office building proposed for the 2300 block of Wilson Boulevard in Courthouse — had a vote on its site plan postponed by the Arlington County Board on Tuesday. The Board and local residents have been critical of the building’s design and its purported lack of public benefits. [Arlington Mercury]
Zimmerman Joins National Smart Growth Council — From a county press release: “Arlington County Board Member Chris Zimmerman is one of 22 leading local officials from jurisdictions around the country to join the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s new Local Leaders Council , a nonpartisan group of local officials.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
At 24 stories and 719,704 square feet, the building — 1900 Crystal Drive — will be second only to the Pentagon in Arlington in terms of floor space.
(Alhough 1900 Crystal Drive will be the tallest in Crystal City, the 580,000 square foot, 35-story office building currently under construction at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn is still expected to be the tallest countywide.)
The building includes 11,290 square feet of ground floor retail space, plus a five-level, 732 space parking garage and nearly 150 bicycle parking spaces. Vehicle parking will be available to the public on weekends, holidays and after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. Some residents expressed concern about extra vehicular traffic as a result of the building, but it won approval from the county’s Transportation Commission by a vote of 9-0.
Vornado, the developer of 1900 Crystal Drive, agreed to a number of community benefits in exchange for the extra zoning density required for the project. Among the benefits:
- $3 million contribution to the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund
- $75,000 contribution to the county’s public art fund
- $154,000 for Arlington utility fund, $20,000 for multi-space parking meters
- Various improvements to 18th Street S.
- $1.4 million for Arlington County Commuter Services and $65 Metro SmartTrip cards for building employees (to encourage transit commuting)
- $2.76 million for a temporary half-acre park
- $2.56 million for a four-pipe hydronic heating and cooling system, part of the county’s plan to encourage a district energy system for Crystal City
Though resident concerns about the building were largely assuaged, thanks to the addition of low-reflection glass and a 900 square foot community meeting room, Board member Chris Zimmerman voted against the project. (It passed 4-1.)
Zimmerman said that the community benefits associated with the project were relatively small for a building of its size, but ultimately his ‘no’ vote came down to his view that the building’s site plan does not pave a sure-fire path to the construction of a proposed, adjacent “Center Park.” Instead, the site plan just requires Vornado to work with county staff “to prepare an implementation plan for guiding the achievement of Center Park.”
The building’s current tenant, the Department of Defense, will be moving out in December as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). In anticipation, the building’s owner is embarking on a major renovation project to “re-position” the 1960s-era building for occupancy by a new tenant.
“The building… will be fully renovated, with a new lobby, landscaping, façade improvements, fitness center, updated common areas, updated HVAC and fire and life safety systems, and a roof deck with extensive views,” according to a press release. “We see a unique opportunity to deliver a fully refreshed, high quality work environment at a price point substantially lower than the new buildings being delivered in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.”
To fund the $5 million renovation project and the leasing efforts, owner RESI Management has raised $21.2 million from Chevy Chase-based Federal Capital Partners, along with a $33.5 million loan from Wells Fargo. The renovations are expected to be complete by mid-2013.
The 184,216 square foot building first opened in 1966. Located two blocks from the Ballston Metro station, the building has been serving as the headquarters for Department of Defense Education Activity, which manages schools for military children.
Man Saves Life of Granddaughter — A grandfather saved the life of his granddaughter on Sunday, after the little girl started choking on fruit inside her family’s Arlington home. The grandfather, Rick Corbett, used his CPR training from the Boy Scouts in order to help save her life. [WUSA 9]
County Still Trying to Buy Courthouse Building — Arlington County is in negotiations to purchase the 1960s-era office building at 2020 14th Street N. The potential purchase sparked controversy among neighbors, largely due to the plan to place a year-round homeless shelter on the building’s lower floors. [Sun Gazette]
Tech Event Tonight at Artisphere — The technology networking organization Tech Cocktail is holding a mixer and startup showcase tonight at Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd). Last-minute tickets for the event, which runs from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., are $20. [Tech Cocktail]
A window washer is clinging to life after plummeting about 7 stories onto the sidewalk while working on a Rosslyn office building.
The incident was detailed in this week’s Arlington County crime report, although it’s not being investigated as a crime. Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said investigators believe the victim forgot to clip in his safety harness. He stepped over an edge, fell, and landed on the sidewalk near the entrance to the offices of WJLA (ABC 7).
INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT, 07/27/12, 1000 block of Wilson Boulevard. At 11:10 am on July 27, a worker fell approximately from the 7th floor while cleaning windows. Victim is currently in critical condition.
Also in this week’s crime report, a Nauck resident’s glass door was shattered by an apparently stray bullet.
MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 07/29/12, 2100 block of S. Oxford Street. At 3:40 am on July 29, victim had the front glass door shattered by a bullet fired by an unknown suspect.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
Developers of a new office building in Ballston have added another historical touch to commemorate the old Bob Peck Chevrolet dealership that for decades served as a neighborhood landmark on the same site.
Alexandria-based Bowman Consulting, the landscape architecture firm on developer JBG’s 10-story office building at 800 N. Glebe Road, recently designed and installed a historical marker to honor the dealership’s iconic Googie architecture style.
In January, builders added a diamond-shaped facade to the front of the building to mimic the style. Bob Peck Chevrolet was demolished in 2008.
From the text of the historical marker:
Bob Peck opened his first Chevrolet dealership in 1939 on Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon. In 1964, he moved the dealership west to Ballston to the very prominent corner of North Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard, 300 feet south of this marker. Taking advantage of the site’s unique location and visibility, local architect Anthony Musolino designed a transparent circular showroom of glass and chrome, with a butterfly roofline whose frieze of diamond-shaped blue panels spelled out “Chevrolet.” The building was an excellent example of Googie architecture, reflecting the era’s prevailing interest in the future — space travel, nuclear energy, rockets — through the use of upward slanting and cantilevered roofs, geometric patterns, acute angles and large sheets of glass.
Musolino’s design evoked thoughts of flight and movement, with its walls of transparent glass and a roof that appeared to float skyward. The transparent showroom was a living billboard. Motorists could see the chrome-trimmed vehicles from the street. Peck Chevrolet became a community icon and a landmark for motorists traveling to and through Arlington. The showroom’s design is represented in the new diamond-shaped frieze of the office building now located at the former Bob Peck site.
Photos courtesy Bowman Consulting
The Georgetown Center for Continuing and Professional Education (CCPE) will be moving from Clarendon to the District.
The campus, part of the Gerogetown School of Continuing Studies (SCS), is recognizable by the “Georgetown University” sign across from the Clarendon Metro station. CCPE, which offers non-credit classes and 25 professional certificate programs, is one of the tenants of an office building at 3101 Wilson Boulevard.
The Center is being consolidated into a newly-announced Georgetown SCS campus in the Chinatown section of D.C., according to a university spokeswoman.
“Right now we’re hoping the new Georgetown downtown space will be ready for fall 2013,” said Stacy Kerr, Georgetown’s Assistant Vice President for Communications. “We would intend to keep our SCS students in Clarendon until the new space is ready.”
Kerr tells ARLnow.com that the university is still deciding what to do with the Clarendon space. Georgetown’s lease runs through fall 2014, she said.
“We certainly have needs and we would like to keep it as a consideration,” said Kerr.
International developer and construction company Skanska is working on the five story building at 1776 Wilson Blvd, which will contain both retail and office space.
To earn LEED certification, a developer must earn credits in six categories called Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design & Regionalization. The rating system has a total of 110 points, and 80 are necessary to receive platinum certification.
Some of the green features included in the new building are ultra-efficient plumbing fixtures that offer a 40 percent reduction in the typical amount of water used, and water efficient landscaping that doesn’t require a regular irrigation system. Solar panels will be part of the effort to reduce the building’s annual energy costs by 24 percent, and high performance glass will prevent heat gain in the building.
There will also be a green roof terrace on the fourth floor. The garage will feature preferred parking for fuel efficient vehicles, and will be outfitted with power outlets to accommodate electric cars.
The building is scheduled to be mostly completed by August, and the hope is that tenants can move in this fall. Already, the building is 50 percent pre-leased.