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by Katie Pyzyk — November 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm 1,096 0

Rendering of the new, proposed Berkeley Apartments(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) AHC has proposed replacing The Berkeley apartments (2910 S. Glebe Road) in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood with a new housing development on the site.

The proposal requests approval of a site plan for two new five-story apartment buildings with 287 units and 264 parking spaces. There would be 171 units designated as affordable to households earning less than 60% of the area median income.

Currently, The Berkeley has 110 affordable units out of 137 total units. The two four-story buildings built in 1961 would be demolished under the proposal.

County staff members are reviewing the site plan application and hope to begin the public review process soon. The first Site Plan Review Committee meeting for this proposal is scheduled for Thursday, November 21.

by Katie Pyzyk — October 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm 929 0

The Springs Ballston renderingA proposed affordable housing development near Ballston will go before the county’s Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) tonight.

As announced in August, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) plans to replace the existing 3-story Carlyn Springs apartment complex with a new 5-story complex dubbed “The Springs” at 4318 N. Carlin Springs Road. Part of the building’s first floor would house offices for APAH’s headquarters. The offices would have an entrance on N. Carlin Springs Road, separate from the residential lobby and community room entrance on N. Thomas Street.

The proposed building would be 5-stories tall, offering a transition from other high-rises in Ballston to nearby low-rise residences. It would consist of 104 units.

The development would have two levels of underground parking, accessible from N. Thomas Street. The developer is requesting 104 spaces for residential use and seven for office use. Although 10 office spaces are required, special permission for a reduced number has been requested. The developer contends that the spaces will be shared between residents and office workers, so office workers will be able to use open spaces during the day while residents are at work.

Currently, sidewalks surrounding the property measure four to five feet wide, with a two to three foot treeless green strip. The development plan recommends expanding the sidewalks to 11-13 feet wide, with adjacent tree pits.

One issue the SPRC hopes to work through is the 26 foot setback area at the south side of the building, which is proposed to be a recreation area and play space for residents. The developer wishes to locate an above ground transformer at this location. County staff suggests moving the transformer vault inside the building or underground in the parking garage.

Although it may come up at future SPRC meetings instead of at tonight’s, county staff is expected to further discuss construction of a pedestrian/bike path to break up the “superblock” at this site. The path would also provide access to a park proposed for the area.

The developer has proposed building ground level apartment units, and county staff has encouraged the developer to consider stoops and street entrances for these units. That would give residents direct access to the proposed pedestrian/bike path, should the path be built.

Tonight will be the second time The Springs has been addressed at an SPRC meeting. There’s no word so far on exactly when the $35 million redevelopment proposal will be ready to go before the County Board.

by Katie Pyzyk — October 17, 2013 at 11:45 am 1,866 0

"Blue Goose" building in Ballston (photo courtesy Preservation Arlington) (Updated at 12:05 p.m.) A proposal for redeveloping Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston will go before the county’s Site Plan Review Committee tonight.

The proposal involves tearing down the existing 8-story building and replacing it with two new buildings. One would be a 9-story office and educational building, and the other would be a 15-story multi-family residence.

The L-shaped residential building would sit at the north end of the site, and would include 267 units. The ground floor would house about 3,000 square feet of retail space along Glebe Road. A landscaped plaza with specialty paving, lighting and planters would separate that building goose planfrom the office/educational building at the south end of the site, at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive. The plaza plan includes outdoor seating for the retail and food vendors. A wall would separate the outdoor retail area from the ground floor residential area.

Both buildings would sit on top of a 3-level underground parking structure, which would include 265 residential spaces. Currently, the Blue Goose has 202 surface parking spaces with an entrance along Glebe Road. The plan for the underground structure involves moving the parking entrance to the lesser traveled N. Wakefield Street.

Rendering of proposed development on "Blue Goose" siteThe redevelopment proposal would keep the street lane configurations the same on Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive, but expand the width of the sidewalks. The developer would also provide a cycle track adjacent to the Fairfax Drive frontage. County staff will look at how best to improve bicycle and trail access with the wider streetscape.

In response to comments about the historic preservation of the existing Blue Goose structure (built in 1962) — which recently made Preservation Arlington’s “Most Endangered Historic Places” list — the developer has agreed to include blue panels on the ground floor retail space’s building facade and on part of the interior.

So far, it’s unclear if this will be the last time the Site Plan Review Committee addresses the Blue Goose development, or if more tweaks to the design are anticipated at future meetings. Once the committee feels a consensus has been reached on any outstanding issues, the project will move on to the Planning Commission, and then on to the County Board for final approval.

by ARLnow.com — October 16, 2013 at 5:20 pm 3,231 0

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is planning a 50,000 square foot expansion that will add new street-facing retail space to the front of the mall.

The plan is being presented to Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee tonight (Wednesday). The meeting is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. at the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S.)

The expansion would eliminate some of the driveway in front of the mall, facing S. Hayes Street, and replace it with a two-level addition featuring 46,000 square feet of lease-able space for 5-7 tenants. In a presentation, mall owner Simon Property Group says it plans to market the outward-facing retail bays to “fashion retail, fast casual dining and restaurants.”

As proposed, the facade of the addition will be largely curved, featuring glass, tapered metal panels and limestone. Along the outside of the curved portion of the addition will be outdoor cafe-style seating.

No word yet on when the site plan amendment required for the project to proceed will reach the Arlington County Board for consideration.

by Katie Pyzyk — July 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm 1,852 0

Rendering of Vornado's planned Metropolitan Park apartment buildingThe site plan for a new apartment building in Pentagon City with a Whole Foods grocery store on the first level will go before the County Board for approval on Saturday.

The proposal involves Metropolitan Park Phase 4/5 at 1200 S. Eads Street. Developer Vornado wishes to combine Phases 4 and 5 to make one building, the fourth in the Metropolitan Park development. Phases 1 and 2 of the project focused on building The Gramercy at Metropolitan Park and The Millennium at Metropolitan Park, which are both currently occupied. Phase 3 is for The Acadia at Metropolitan Park, which is under construction. Planning for the overall project has been in the works for about a decade.

The 22-story new building would contain nearly 700 residential units and would have more than 40,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. Almost 37,000 of the retail space would be taken up by a Whole Foods. The plan includes a four level, 885 space underground parking structure that will likely have one floor reserved exclusively for use by the grocery store.

In addition to site plan approval, the Board will consider an amendment to the 1976 Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan to permit the proposed building height. An amendment to the Master Transportation Plan has also been requested to allow the removal of a portion of a previously planned new street — 12th Road S. — from the proposal.

The Planning Commission’s Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) discussed Metropolitan Park Phase 4/5 at six meetings from November 2012 through April of this year. Members discussed numerous aspects of the development that could be cause for concern like building height, building density, streetscape improvements and grocery store operations. No major issues were identified in the final site plan that would prevent approval of the project.

Last week, members of the Planning Commission voted unanimously (11-0) in favor of the proposal. Similarly, the Transportation Commission unanimously (7-0) approved the final site plan proposal and amendment to the Master Transportation Plan at its meeting on June 27.

Staff recommends the County Board follows the lead of the Planning Commission and the Transportation Commission by approving the proposal.

by Katie Pyzyk — February 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm 1,033 32 Comments

New site plan for Pierce Queen ApartmentsApproval for a high rise development in the Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood has been put on hold until the County Board receives more information about the plan.

Bozzuto Development Company had submitted a proposal for a large scale project in the 1600 block of N. 16th Street. It would involve redeveloping the five buildings that make up Pierce Queen Apartments; three of the buildings would be razed and replaced with a new 12-story apartment tower, and the other two buildings would be preserved and renovated. In total, the buildings would house more than 190 units.

The county’s Site Plan Review Committee raised several issues with the proposal during a January meeting. Problem areas included the proposed building bulk, lack of open space, above-grade parking, proposed locations of electrical switchboxes and the lack of a public art contribution. Additionally, concerns arose regarding the applicant’s request for Affordable Housing Investment Funds (AHIF) for the 76 affordable units and the anticipated request for competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

Earlier this month, the developer submitted a revised proposal that addressed a number of the issues. The developer has agreed to measures such as installing public art, eliminating above-grade parking and re-designing an interior courtyard. However, the AHIF concerns remain a sticking point.

The staff report says the developer didn’t propose a potential Tenant Assistance Fund and no affordability commitment period had been submitted. Staff also reported that no official AHIF application had been received, but the developer is seeking a county investment ranging from $6 million to $9.5 million. The developer had presented a plan indicating each market unit would cost $365,000 to develop and the affordable units would each cost $455,000 to develop. That exceeds the VHDA development cost limit of $350,000 per unit, although sometimes exceptions can be made. Concerns also exist in the way the developer plans to repay the AHIF and the time frame for doing so.

Existing Pierce Queen ApartmentsCounty staff recommended deferring the issue until May but the Board voted unanimously to defer until March 11. That date was chosen in an attempt to approve the plan before the March 15 tax credit application deadline. Board members mentioned the unusual circumstances, but stressed that there’s no guarantee the plan would receive approval in time. The applicant still must prove that all contingencies have been adequately met.

“If this is going to work it’s going to have to be all hands on deck working really hard,” said Board member Jay Fisette. “I hope we can get there.”

Although there’s a push to get the proposal handled quickly, Board member Mary Hynes highlighted the need to still be thorough. Because the process has been so rushed to meet the deadline, she said everyone from Board members to county staff working on the matter are still fuzzy on how the specifics will work out. Board members aren’t interested in moving forward, regardless of tax credit deadlines, if the plan isn’t solid.

“We don’t have a clear understanding of how all the bits and pieces are going to fit together. It’s important for us on the Board that our staff is confident,” said Hynes. “Doing affordable housing in new construction is expensive. And doing it on the Metro is even more expensive. We have to do a lot of due diligence around this to make sure the taxpayers are getting the best value for their dollars. I think we need to give this enough time to be sure.”

by ARLnow.com — December 21, 2012 at 9:30 am 3,817 54 Comments

Rendering of the future Pierce Queen Apartments 

Three aging, affordable garden apartment buildings will be replaced with a new, 12-story residential tower as part of a planned mixed-income development in the Rador-Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood.

Wesley Housing Development Corporation is partnering with Bozzuto to redevelop the five-building, 50-unit Pierce Queen Apartments, built in 1942 and located on the 1600 block of 16th Street N. The developers have proposed to tear down three of the buildings in order to build a new 186-unit apartment tower, while renovating the remaining two garden apartment buildings.

Each of the five existing buildings have been deemed historically “important” in Arlington County’s Historic Resources Inventory.

All told, the finished project would have 198 apartment units, 40 percent of which will be reserved as committed affordable housing, plus 207 off-street parking spaces.

As reported by the Arlington Mercury, however, the county’s Site Plan Review Committee expressed reservations about the project at a meeting on Monday.

SPRC members questioned various aspects of the project’s design and one member said flatly that he was “not comfortable” with the overall design. Members also questioned whether parking fees for market-rate apartments (parking will be free for affordable apartment residents) would send cars onto neighborhood streets seeking free parking.

The project’s McLean-based architect countered that his firm followed the county’s sector plan for the area “almost to the exact T,” the Mercury reported.

The county’s Planning Commission is currently expected to take up the Pierce Queen development in January, with a County Board vote expected in “early 2013.”

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