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New Office Buildings Approved for Clarendon

by ARLnow.com January 25, 2012 at 11:05 am 10,580 106 Comments

With an eye to historic preservation, the Arlington County Board last night approved a massive new office development on the 3000 block of Washington Boulevard in Clarendon.

The development will bring more than 300,000 square feet of office and retail space and nearly 450 underground parking spaces to the 1.13 acre block between Washington Boulevard and 11st Street N., one block from the Clarendon Metro station. While the development will replace several existing business on the block — including Eleventh Street Lounge, Potomac Crossfit, T.A. Sullivan & Son cemetery monuments, Atlantic Motors and a BB&T bank branch — it will also result in the preservation of several buildings and facades.

In order to build to the desired density (one 10-story office building and another 8-story office building) developer Penzance arranged to transfer development rights from two designated historic Clarendon properties: the Walgreens/Kenyon Peck building at 2825 Wilson Boulevard and the Boulevard Woodgrill/Faccia Luna building at 2901 Wilson Boulevard. Both buildings, considered “important” commercial structures by Arlington County’s Historic Resources Inventory, will be fully preserved.

The frontage of a historic building on the block to be developed will also be preserved. The former McQuinn’s Sporting Goods store building — now Eleventh Street Lounge and Potomac Crossfit — will be preserved and incorporated into the northwest corner of one of the office buildings.

In addition to preservation efforts, the developer committed to achieving LEED Silver green building certification for the project, will provide public art or contribute to a public art fund, and will provide $150,000 for pedestrian improvements in the area. Penzance also agreed to contribute $1.2 million to the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $56,500 to the county’s utilities fund.

The project’s valet-operated parking garage will be open to the public on weeknights and on weekends. The project will add 11 on-street parking spots and will fund installation of multi-space parking meters on the block.

The county noted that adding office space to the Clarendon area “will provide daytime support for retail and restaurant establishments while bringing office workers to the area in a reverse commuting pattern.”

“This development accomplishes many of the community’s goals for Clarendon, County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “It provides balance to Clarendon’s use mix by providing two new mixed-use buildings with offices built above ground-floor retail. It helps address parking concerns in the area, by providing underground parking that will be available to the public on weeknights and weekends. And it honors our past by fully preserving two key historic buildings and the frontage of a third.”

  • truth be told

    “With an eye to historic preservation, the Arlington County Board last night approved a massive new office development…”

    Classic comedy.

    • Thes

      Did you read the rest of the article, which discusses the precedent-setting historic preservation in Clarendon made possible by this project, or just stop at the first line?

      • IMPORTANT?! HA!!!

        What is exactly the point of this?!?!

        The former McQuinn’s Sporting Goods store building — now Eleventh Street Lounge and Potomac Crossfit — will be preserved and incorporated into the northwest corner of one of the office buildings.

        ???? why?!?!

        • Josh S

          The same reason facades are saved and incorporated into new buildings all the time. It’s a nod to the value that we place on history.

          • noddy

            A bit like how CVS gets rid of historical storefronts bu puts pictures of old stuff up in the window to compensate.

        • CW

          If they’re incorporating the facade, why couldn’t they just have incorporated the actual buildings, rerouted the plumbing and HVAC or whatever, and let the businesses continue to exist? Is this even architecturally feasible or am I spouting crazy-talk?

          • Thes

            The developer needs to excavate the parking garage and put elements of the new building’s foundation underneath the existing buildings.

          • Clarendon

            My understanding is they are disassembling the whole thing, putting it in storage and then bringing the facade elements back at the proper time for installation. They have to do this in order to construct the garage without damaging the preservation elements. So the businesses would have to move out in the interim no matter what. They did the exact same thing in the Clarendon Center building for the facades on Wilson and Clarendon that were preserved.

            The plans did show the bike storage on the B1 level that looked like it occupied about the same area as the current basement of the buildings. I wish they had kept the basement as a basement for the retail.

          • CW

            Ok – thanks. I wasn’t sure what the footprint of the new building exactly would be. Makes enough sense.

          • CW

            Although if they wanted to preserve character, you’d have think they could have just built a couple spots in the new development for those existing businesses.

          • Lou

            On the other hand, when the Tower Records complex was built in Foggy Bottom, they maintained those historic facades with an elaborate system of steel supports on the street side. They literally supported the brick walls and the excavation went on behind. This was also done with a building on L Street a couple of years ago. It can be done both ways if you are just preserving the facade; facadism, to use a term of art.

          • Clarendon

            As an engineer myself, I recognize that almost anything along these lines is possible, It gets to which method is technically and financially most appropriate. Facadectomy is also another term of the art.

          • Lou

            Or facadomy, if you are not a fan of the practice.

      • truth be told

        I read it. I just thought the first line was comedic.

      • Clarendude

        I agree, it is a bit odd. I see nothing wrong with being a bit odd (unique being a synonym in this context).

        It’s also true that Arlington has relatively slim pickin’ when it comes to physical objects that tell the story of where we came from.

        • Clarendude

          The above comment was responding to a comment up thread that it appears has been deleted. Why, I don’t know.

          • Justin Russo

            It’s the ARLnow way.

    • dave

      i think we need to have another civil war. take this place back to the good ol’ days

      • MC 703


  • Vik

    So, the developer had the rights to develop other properties on Wilson and they relinquished these rights in order to build denser at this new development site?

    Anyway, as much as some of the development stinks in North Arlington, I do like this plan because it’s on a block that should be dense. And, this seems like a tasteful way to incorporate some modern building designs into this particular area while preserving a pleasing street level experience.

    • Joey

      Doubtful. I haven’t read through the materials, but they likely used Transferable Development Rights (TDRs), which are relatively new in Arlington (and Virginia).

      TDRs allow one property-owner to make money off his density without building: by selling it to another landowner on a nearby parcel. Then, the original property (that sold the TDRs) no longer has the entitlement to build higher and is usually capped at its current density.

      Most of the skyscrapers in NYC in the past 40 years gained their height entitlements via TDRs.


    a step in the right direction, now we can be assured that the beautiful walgreens building will be preserved for posterity. if only the board had been so forward-thinking years ago, we might still have a shady, run-down blockbuster instead of that behemoth of a whole foods. i propose that we also preserve the hess gas station (formerly merritt) before it is too late.

    • charlie

      Erols Video, then Blockbuster was replaced by Orvis.
      Bread & Circus, then Fresh Fields and now Whole Foods replaced the Sears Hardware store.

      • Grateful

        I believe it was the Sears Garden Center.

        • bred

          Garden & hardware.

      • R. Griffon

        That’s what I was gonna say – Blockbuster was never at the Whole Foods location. It was down by where Rabbit is now, wasn’t it?

        And the Wallgreens building may not be beautiful in and of itself, but it’s a landmark that many associate with the area and (along with other storefronts along Wilson) allows the strip to maintain some of it’s old charm.

        I say it’s a win.

        • drax

          Blockbuster was down by Bardo/Dr. Dremo, on the other side of Whole Foods from Rabbit, etc.

          • Owl

            Original Blockbuster was where Orvis is now.

          • Factoid

            charlie is right. Blockbuster -> Orvis.

            The one down by Bardo way was Hollywood Video.

          • charlie

            and before that it was actually the first of the Gold’s Gym stores in corridor.

            and my great aunt said that the building was actually built as a Giant Food Store back in the day… but she also said that RHodeside Grill was a People’s Drug Store (now called CVS) and they had a soda fountain in the back and they’d go there after seeing movies at the Wilson Theater at 1800 Wilson which is now over priced condos…


    “Both buildings, considered “important” commercial structures by Arlington County’s Historic Resources Inventory, will be fully preserved.”

    why on earth are these structures considered important

    I can’t think of 2 less “important” buildings to preserve

    • IMPORTANT?! HA!!!

      Make sure we preserve the T&J Auto Body Repair too!

      Don’t forget about that historical treasure!!!!!

    • drax

      That’s because you are spewing your uninformed opinions instead of, like, going and finding out what history those buildings have that led the Historic Resources Inventory to deem them important. See how that works? You can’t just know a building’s historical value by looking at it.

      • IMPORTANT?! HA!!!

        I most certainly can.

        The Sistine Chapel needs historic preservation.

        These buildings…..are historically worthless eyesores.

        • Josh S

          This is why you’re not on the Historic Preservation Committee. No interest or appreciation for the community’s history.

          It doesn’t take much more than a third grader to recognize a qualitative difference between the Sistine Chapel and these buildings. However, no one is claiming these buildings are World Heritage sites. Nor do they need to be. They need to have local significance. That’s it.

          • IMPORTANT?! HA!!!

            and that significance would be?

          • flux

            They had valuable density to transfer to another site. And we get less bang for the buck so to speak, because now we get no development on the “historic” sites.

          • R. Griffon

            > we get less bang for the buck so to speak,

            Now that you’re going to have to justify. How, for example, is 300,000 sq. ft. of office or retail space LESS bang for the buck than 2 separate buildings of 150,000 each? If anything, concentrating density in a single site leads would lead to the cost savings of having only a single development project. Economies of scale ‘n all.

          • flux

            The way the formula’s work out, the “density” transferred from at least one of the sites is less than what you would be able to build on that site. So potential square footage has been lost in this process.

        • Observer

          You aren’t that one older cranky guy that showed up to be the ant at the picnic at the hearing are you ? I felt sorry for that guy.

        • drax

          You are mistaking beauty with historic importance.

          • IMPORTANT?! HA!!!

            and you are mistaking historic importance with worthlessness

          • drax

            Well, no, I’m not.

            Have an opinion all you want, but don’t abuse facts. Facts don’t like it when you do that.

          • Virginia^2

            Genuinely wondering here, is there any kind of link that contains findings/explanations of why these buildings are historically significant?

    • CrystalMikey

      I actually get a kick out of the Walgreens building, I for one am glad it will be sticking around.

    • Clarendon Cruiser

      For Historic Preservation, they should leave a few stray Cemetery Headstones on the corner…as well as some formerly involved in crime high-end autos.

  • j

    11 on-street parking spots. Really?

    • Johnny B

      It’s actually 22 on-steet spaces; the article is incorrect.

      • Johnny B

        Oops – wait they are ADDING 11. For a total of 22.

  • flux

    Daytime support for retail? That is kind of a bass-ackwards way to look at things.

    • Clarendude

      I don’t understand your comment.

      First, with restaurants, the high percentage of residential in and around Clarendon and some of the late-night activities (Live music, pool, drinking) I think has resulted in the restaurants having a solid nighttime and weekend business but the shear number of establishments that have come to Clarendon to service that nighttime demand have resulted in the daytime restaurant activity to be spread thin over many establishments. More office space helps support a lunchtime business.

      With retail, the daytime help maybe is less obvious, but office workers do shop for things during the day and many retailers aren’t open that late so they rely on business during the day.

      It would be nice in my opinion, for Clarendon to get more storefront retail to balance the restaurants but that is also tied to the general trends in retail shopping (e.g. online, big box) and its pretty tough for many types of retail.

      • flux

        It is very simple really. Retail is there to support everything else.

        Arlington insists that every new building have ground-floor retail, but that formula results in too much retail space, which is why it sits vacant in many areas. And it is also why some business groups want the county to back off and allow some ground floor space to be leased as regular offices.

        So, building a new building to support over-built retail operations is really a backwards development model.

        Retail should adjust to the market, which is what smart retailers do. It is nothing new, restaurants staff up in the evening, etc.

        • Southeast Jerome

          There was already retail here, they arent adding anymore retail frontage. I don’t understand your comment.

          • flux

            I think the context we are using here is considering retail throughout that general area, not just the retail on this site.

        • Clarendude

          In Clarendon it’s true that on most majors streets retail is required, but it is not required on many streets. The explaination for retail sitting vacant in a desireable area like Clarendon I don’t think is as simple as there being too much. Some retail leases up pretty fast and others not as fast and it isn’t always due to where it is located or how much it costs (although these are, of course factors). It includes the design and sizes of the space, whether it is for lease or sale, and the terms the landlord wants and several other factors.

          I’m for some flexibility in the transient programming of the ground floors of buildings as long as they are designed to be flexible and can adapt to the changing demands through the decades. As you said, retail should adjust to the market and it will as long as the space is there to accomodate that adjustment. The worst is when a developer is allowed to build a ground floor on a major, active street that forever prohibits (due to its design) an active use. Some of the early site plan buildings in Virginia Square are built that way, for example.

          • flux

            The Zoso Flats building is kind of the classic case study of retail struggling to fit the area. It is painful to some degree on some of the businesses, but eventually the market solves the equation itself. A higher degree of flexibility in the programming of the ground floor can only help that process happen sooner.

            I just found the statement that this building is solving a daytime retail problem kind of a solution begging the question of why that problem exists in the first place.

          • Clarendude

            I would also use the Zoso Flats building as an example of where the leasing terms were favorable enough to attract an interesting mix of businesses very quickly. There have been some casualties because it was risky to open a high end pizza place on a non-centrally located street in a district that is well supplied with pizza – but on the other hand the location seems desireable enough for someone else (The Green Pig) to give it a go. Not to mention the very wonderful businesses (Bake Shop, Screwtop and Artisan Chocolates among my favorites) that seem to be doing well in that location.

            Maybe we disagree about the ‘daytime retail problem’ statement because we interpret the problem differently. I see the problem as one of temporal balance. There is plenty of demand at night, so supply rushed in and the statement is about the way this development will help balance that extreme success at night with more success during the day.

            The same is true with the project’s impact on the balancing of the transportation system (Particularly Metro). There will be some proportion of people now that use westbound metro to come to this office project in the morning to work. They will get off the metro at Clarendon which allows people living in Clarendon to get on going into the district. How many, I don’t know but it seems to me that this balance will help.

        • R. Griffon

          I think you’re misunderstanding the problem that they’re trying to solve. They’re not trying to add retail space as if there is a shortage of it – they are trying to add daytime workers so that there are people to patronize local restaurants and retail during working hours. Because right now I think there’s a disproportionately low ratio of people to businesses in Clarendon during the work day.

          At least that’s how I read it.

    • Josh S

      I don’t think that the building is being built for the PURPOSE of providing daytime support for retail. This is simply being mentioned as an additional BENEFIT of building it.

    • Carol_R

      Why would daytime workers waste their hard earned money on overpriced retail shops in Clarendon – especially restaurants where there is a food tax?

  • Clarendude

    Amazingly, the video for this meeting from last night is already posted on the County website:


    In the blue box on the lower left, click on Item 41 to skip to the hearing on this item. It’s worth a watch to understand the history, the process, the participants and the project that was just approved.

    Detractors won’t like the Arlington Way Love Fest though. LOL.

    • ClarendonDweller

      Thanks, Clarendude. Watching this was really helpful – although you are not kidding about the Love Fest. And the amount of time spent on talking about parking was painful (although necessary.)

  • Southeast Jerome

    Should help foot traffic for South Block Burrito and whatever opens up wherever the American Flat Bread used to be.

    What does “valet operated garage” mean?

    • Yep Uhuh

      Probably the kind of garage where you drive up to the entrance and get out, letting the employees park your car.

      • flux

        It is probably because the gates will remain on the security system 24/7 so that workers who buy monthly passes can still come and go on off hours and have a relatively secure garage, while the valets will have their own transponders to get public’s cars in and out.

    • dave

      it means that a person parks your car for you in a garage and gives you a ticket which you then in turn present upon return to have your car brought up out of the garage. its like a coat check for your car. most people like to tip for this service but you can be cheap if you want..

      • Jerry

        Brings back memories of the Seinfeld episode where the valet had BO and Jerry could NEVER get rid of the smell. May have to fire up that episode tonite.

    • Southeast Shaniqua

      It’s just “South Block”. No Burrito.

      • Factoid

        OK, so I think the name was originally “South Block Smoothie and Burrito Co.” as reported initially and as can be seen in the logo picture


        But, I believe it was renamed “South Block Smoothie and Wrap Co.”

        The new name is better as I think they are more Wrap than Burrito. But either way, it’s a good place ! I wish the Thai wrap was spicier though. Slice up some serranos on it or something. They do have hot sauces I guess.

    • cj

      It matters because the valets can squeeze more cars into the same garage than people parking themselves. This was insisted upon by the neighbors to compensate for letting the developer build fewer spaces than the county standard.

      • Carol_R

        And they can damage your car & then it will be hard to prove it.

    • charlie

      it means you’ll pay for someone to dent your car and tell you they didn’t do it as opposed to someone dinging you and leaving a fake note.

  • Andy

    Need to add a few more traffic lights in this area, too.

    • Rick

      Good plan!

  • Stitch_Jones

    I will miss the Eleventh Street Lounge.

    I have no problem with any of this, although the linguistic hoops and flourishes that decorate the explanation of this project are more than amusing.

    • Cocktail

      Wouldn’t “11 Floor Lounge” be nice?

      • Cocktail

        Eleventh Floor Lounge

  • John

    Why do we not fight for better architecture. Clarendon has enough vaguely historical new developments. The project looks like a confusing mess of styles and volumes.

    • Hattie McDaniel

      Not to mention the tired curved glass corner which is de rigueur this season.

      • Justice

        I like it. I think the terraced triangle structure placed next to the massive curved glass wall of the second structure will create an interesting contrast at street level.

  • Bdgrgl

    Clarendon is starting to look like Rosslyn and I’m not a fan of it. Plus, the pedestrian issues need to be considered. The crossing at 10th and Washington Blvd is so dangerous.

    Not a fan of all this development. Traffic is bad enough.

    • Southeast Jerome

      Once they open that new apartment complex across 10th, they will definitely need to upgrade that intersection, its definitely the WOAT.

    • Virginia^2

      Not to mention the on-ramp to 50 a few blocks down… pretty insanely dangerous

  • YTK

    “While the development will replace several existing business on the block — including Eleventh Street Lounge, Potomac Crossfit, T.A. Sullivan & Son cemetery monuments, Atlantic Motors and a BB&T bank branch — it will also result in the preservation of several buildings and facades.”

    ALL of Clarendon is a FACADE.
    THANK YOU for promising us even MORE traffic.

  • Pete

    How about a plaque too?


    • Clarendude

      More info on McQuinn


      Not that this guy was any major figure in Arlington history or that the buildings being talked about are of national significance or anything, but I like the fact that our plans incorporate the idea that it is desireable and healthy for a community to include markers to its past.

      • Pete

        Second best hitter on the World Champion ’47 Yankees–behind only Joltin’ Joe. Not too shabby.

        Maybe before they move on, T.A. Sullivan & Son Monuments can leave something honoring their old neighbor.

        • Clarendude

          You know, I wish someone would have suggested that. The ‘graveyard’ (as some of my friends referred to it), was one of those things that was always a bit strange being there, and as Clarendon revitalized became one of those juxtipositions that made Clarendon seem ‘weird’ – in a good way. It should be honored in some way, in my opinion.

  • Developer Penzance has announced that it has signed a large tenant for the development. From a press release:

    “Penzance and CNA announced today the signing of a 175,000 square foot pre-lease for 3001-3003 Washington Boulevard, a new 280,000 square foot mixed-use project being developed by Penzance one block from the Clarendon Metro Station in Arlington, VA. Earlier this week, the project received site plan approval from the Arlington County Board. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, CNA, a not-for-profit research and analysis organization, will be relocating its headquarters to Clarendon from its current location in Alexandria.

    The 3001-3003 development is designed to function as two separate buildings, and consists of a 10-story, 200,000 square foot office building attached to and sharing complementary architecture with its neighbor, an 8-story, 80,000 square foot office building. Approximately 600 CNA employees will occupy the majority of the 10-story office building. In addition to the project’s office components, 28,000 square feet of retail space will animate the first floors of the four-cornered site. CNA will move into the project upon completion in early 2014 and will be vacating the building it previously occupied at 4825 Mark Center Drive in Alexandria, VA. With the CNA lease in place, remaining available space includes approximately 20,000 square feet on the very top floor of the ten-story building, all of the 8-story building’s office space of approximately 70,000 square feet, and 28,000 square feet of street level retail space spread throughout the project.”

    • Clarendon

      Great, just what we need – more brainiacs ! Just kidding, I think it’s great. Although, I’m starting to feel under dressed walking around Clarendon and that is really very odd for me.

      • BlueSkies

        Brown flip flops could cure that.

    • MC

      This looks like a good organization to be bringing in, given that the economic develop office positions Arlington “brain power” as a brand attribute. CNA was the former Center for Naval Analysis — does big ideas reviews of global issues, many defense related, but also education and global climate change.

    • Carol_R

      So a non-profit can afford to pay over-priced rent but no taxes. Geesh.

    • Sandals

      Sign me up for a job there. Walk to work!

  • Village Genius

    “Historic preservation” is similar to a wax nose — you can reshape it to your liking and call it the same as an earlier shaped nose.

    The video of the board meeting (starting around 2 hours, 15 minutes) has the architect showing how the old sporting goods store will be COMPLETELY changed by adding a nice facade and cutting numerous windows into the 11th street side. So much for maintaining that not-lovely building, but because the historic advocates like the new facade and think the new facade is how the building should have been built years ago to make it look nice, then they give their blessing. It’s arbitrary to say that something completely new is historic.

    Why pretend about the historic preservation — just saying we added stuff to make it seem like an older neighborhood building is more accurate?

    2:15 (architect discussing complete redesign of 11th street lounge)

    2:36 (Historic board presentation)

    • Virginia^2

      I’m too lazy to verify this but, if true, it seems like Arlington should just place freestanding large prints of old-time photos of Arlington near their respective locations. If we deem a building to have historical significance but we butcher it beyond recognition, what’s the point? To save the 100-year-old bones and complicate construction?

    • Clarendon

      Other than the adding of windows along the side of the McQuinns building and recladding with limestone on the side only, I believe all the work being done to change the buildings actually restore them back closer to their original built form. They had been extensively modified in the last couple of decades.

  • Tre

    I think the parking lot of tombstones should be preserved as well.

  • Civic Activist

    The Board was so anxious to kowtow to a developer that none of them noticed that the 3001 and 3003 numbers on the two building went in the wrong direction. The County’s sign ordinance is so ‘precise’ [Arlington Wayese for NITPICKING], that this will required a revote by the Board. Will this revote require further campaign contributions from the developer?

  • LyonParkVoter

    I think we need more banks! I don’t think we have enough in Clarendon.

  • CW

    Traffic in that area is going to beyond a nightmare. For cars, bikes, pedestrians, and suicidal scooter-riders. 11th and Garfield is my least fave intersection in the county as it stands now – too much playing chicken with people who don’t know how to work a 4-way stop. And from Washington to Clarendon blvd, the cabbies use Garfield as a taxi stand. They also need less street parking, not more – the street spots come too close to the intersections and garage entrances and obscure views.

  • karzai

    The development is a net positive for Clarendon. As a resident of Clarendon 1021, I can now look forward to even more retail within easy walking distance, and hopefully some of it will be different than what we now have. The block currently contains a run-down and sporadically functioning auto repair shop, an unsightly parking lot, the small BBT, the antiquated tombstone shop, a used car office, and of course Eleventh and Potomac Crossfit. It is a shame to lose these latter two, but the result will be much more retail and vibrancy.

  • lyon villager

    cracks me up when I see the county charging thousands of dollars to developers for “public art” and “public art fund” but they allow their own prominent location – Thurgood Marshall bldg at 2847 Wilson ,and its garden, to look like hell – year after year after year.

  • Lily

    As a nearby resident, I think this whole thing sounds terrible. The traffic on Washington Blvd during construction is going to be horrible. Construction noise will make pool dwelling intolerable for any buildings nearby. That intersection is already a huge problem. Another issue is that anyone coming from 66 will presumable be coming up 10th and turning left on Highland causing a huge back up at that light as well. I miss the days when Ballston and Rosslyn was where people worked, and Clarendon was where people lived. That’s why I chose Clarendon to live in the first place. I won’t be staying.

  • Chelsea

    Is there an estimated date construction will start?


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