Office Building Would Replace Restaurants in Courthouse

by ARLnow.com January 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm 10,040 131 Comments


Update at 5:15 p.m. on 2/1/12 — The site plan is no longer expected to come before the County Board in February. It may, however, come before the Board as soon as March or April, according to Leon Vignes of the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development.

The Arlington County Board is expected to consider a site plan for a new eight-story office building in Courthouse at its February an upcoming meeting.

The development — dubbed the “Clean Technology Center” — would be located at 2311 Wilson Boulevard and would replace a pair of two-story buildings that house a number of restaurants, including Thai at Corner, Chez Manelle, Listrani’s, and Adams Corner. A short stretch of dead-end road called N. Custis Street would also be replaced.

Two adjacent structures — a 10-story Archstone apartment building and the two-story “Superstar Tickets” office — would not be affected.

The proposed building would contain 166,380 square feet of office space, 8,660 square feet of ground-level retail space, a 5,000 square foot daycare center (plus a fenced-in, outdoor play area), a 9,432 square feet conference center, and a 1,665 square foot fitness center. The plan also includes a 20,000 square foot parcel of publicly-accessible green space to the north of the site, between the new building and the parking lot for Key Elementary School.

The developer is promising LEED Gold green building certification, including solar panels and a partial green roof. A three level garage below the building would include 264 parking spaces and 150 bike spaces.

So far, there’s no indication as to when demolition of the existing buildings would start should the site plan be approved.

Image below via Google Maps

  • DarkHeart

    Isn’t the Orange Line already over capacity during rush hour? How about developers who increase density, also have to increase mass transit capacity?

    • Loggie

      I like that idea. With every 10 stories of condos or apartments the developer agrees to pay for one additional rail car turning a 6 car train into an 8 car train. If we had all 8 car trains I think Orange Line probably would be solved for the time being…

      • Sam

        Metro has enough cars to run more 8 line trains. What it doesn’t have is the infrastructure necessary to supply that much more electricity through the system.

        • Loggie

          Thanks Sam. is this someting metro is working on?
          I wonder what’s going to happen when the Silver Lane is up and running.

          • South Awwwlington

            It’s going to be damn nightmare…and everyone who paid a fortune to live on the OL are going to be REALLY pissed.

            Methinks the capacity issue in Arlington is really gonna come to a head in the next 3 years. It’s already bad, it’s gonna get worse.

          • Southeast Jerome

            well No. The people that paid a fortune to live far out on the orange line are going to be pissed. The people that live close in can drive downtown much easier than people living further out.

            Do you really think they havent figured out a way to solve it when the silver line comes? There will be plenty of power for the trains bro.

          • truth be told

            But not plenty of tracks.

          • Swag

            This call for a streetcar.

    • ClarendonDweller

      I watched the video from the latest county board meeting where they approved the huge new office complex in Clarendon, and the developer argued that constructing office buildings and not more residential space actually helped with the “Orange Crush.” His argument was that people would be coming in from the suburbs and getting off the train at Clarendon (or Courthouse, in this case) and not continuing into the city. Not sure if there’s any studies or actual evidence to back this up, but just thought I would share that line of thinking.

      • duh

        That only makes sense if those people currently have jobs in D.C. and move to that particular office complex in Arlington. The more likely scenario is that new companies will move into Clarendon or Courthouse that weren’t based in D.C. and thus will create even more of an “Orange Crush” on the metro up to Clarendon or Courthouse metro stops.

        • South Awwwlington


        • E2DAV

          So, basically you’re saying they should leave potential tax revenue on the table?

          • Southeast Jerome

            buildings are bad. unless they are old and historic, like the sweet walgreens. WE HAVE TO SAVE THE WALGREENS PEOPLE

          • Burger


    • RosslynM

      The silver line should actually help with this some, since it will share orange rail and stations in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and should increase the frequency of trains in all these stations.

      • Not so fast my friend…

        Not unless the trains are planning to stop and turn around in Rosslyn (hint: they aren’t). By continuing into DC, they are going to have to take the place of existing Orange Line trains, since they are currently at capacity on those tracks. So the same number of trains and a whole new population of riders (Silver Line) added to an extremely crowded section. It’s going to be really bad.

        • TuesdaysChild

          Can we remove some of the Blue lines from the tracks? 🙂

          • Michael H.

            Metro has already said they will divert some Blue Line trains from Rosslyn during rush hour. Some of the Blue Line trains will take the 14th St. rail bridge and follow the Yellow Line route into D.C., and skip Arlington Cemetery, Rosslyn, Foggy Bottom, etc.

            Ideally there would be separate tunnels for the Silver, Orange and Blue Lines, but that’s not happening in the foreseeable future. The new routing will prevent the Rosslyn-Foggy Bottom tunnel from becoming even more congested than it already is. Blue Line riders who travel to Farragut Square and Foggy Bottom will have to adjust their travel plans.

        • Tony Eveready

          The capacity issue is the tunnel under the river, not the orange line. They are going to run fewer blue line trains after the silver line opens, so when you add the orange and silver lines together, there will be more trains running between EFC and downtown.

          • Not so fast my friend…

            Well, you are right that they are replacing some of the blue line trains. I thought they had already done so, but apparently they aren’t doing it until mid-2012. That said, it’s only 3 trains each way per peak hour. They are moving these over to the yellow line tunnel. But now that tunnel will be at capacity. So they’re going to have issues no matter how they cut it.

          • Baja

            According to metro, the mid-2012 orange/blue swap during peak commuting hours will increase the orange line’s capacity by 18%; that’s pretty significant! Arlington-based orange line riders will recount the glory days of the gap between this switch and the opening of the silver line to their grandchildren…

          • Charlie

            Yes they are. Some blue line trains are being moved to the yellow line.

            Plus the silver line isn’t going to add zillions of people. It will take an hour for a train to get from Dulles to Roselyn due to distance and stops. People will still drive or , more likely jobs will move.

          • Southeast Jerome

            Silver Line is going to also take lots of its riders from western Fairfax that currently bus to West Falls Church and get on the Orange. There wont all of a sudden be 300,000 extra people suddenly working downtown jamming both silver and orange cars.

            People living Arlington on the Orange/Silver corridor should actually make out better after this switch.

          • Michael H.

            Only the first Phase of the Silver Line will be open in late 2013/early 2014. The 2nd phase, out to Dulles and possibly farther into Loudoun, won’t be ready for several years.

  • duh

    From a previous arlnow.com story today…

    “Arlington Office Vacancies Up — Arlington and Alexandria were the only two D.C. area markets that saw a significant increase in office vacancies in 2011, according to recently-released data.”

    So this new office building sounds like a GREAT idea!

    • R. Griffon

      If you’d read the article, then you’d know that was a one-time fluke due to the BRAC move. There is no problem filling office space along a Metro line.

      • duh

        Uh, that one time fluke is a pretty big loss. And there are more than a few office buildings on the Orange line that don’t have full capacity even now.

        • R. Griffon

          “Pretty big” is relative. I’d argue that if we see vacancy rates return to normal (i.e. some of the lowest in the region) within a couple of years, then it’s not too big in the grand scheme of things.

          But the major point is that office space here sells. That’s why it’s been low-vacancy for a long time, and commands a higher price than elsewhere. And even with the BRAC vacancies, you don’t see prices plummeting. A few good deals here and there to help cover the gap maybe, but no major swing overall. So apparently the market doesn’t think there’s a huge surplus.

      • truth be told

        When the silver line opens, and Tysons gets redeveloped, more jobs will be in Tysons and more people will commute there. That will also mean more vacancies in Arlington.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      They’ve already pre-leased most of the building. And BTW, when the Silver line opens Metro plans to run all 8 car trains on the Orange Line.

    • duh, duh…

      It’s amazing that someone on a message board would write off the development of a building versus someone who is investing an estimated $70-$80M do build it. Mind your business. Plus, it takes 12-24 months to deliver an office building and the R/B Corridor has some of the lowest vacancies and highest demand in the country. Risks are underwritten, duh.

  • novasteve

    Maybe the retail space in those new buildings can be another cupcake place? Man, it’s like they try to make arlington suck more than it already does.

    • Michael H.

      Then why are you still living here, if you hate it this much? Most people seem to think Arlington is a decent place to live. Would you rather live in Winchester or Capitol Heights?

      • Andrew

        Dude, calm down…in case you have not noticed, cupcake/burger/pizza jokes are fairly common here…

        • D

          Yeah, but those cupcake/burger/pizza jokes are just getting dated. Like we get it, there are a lot of those places. I agree with Michael though, if you think Arlington is such an awful place then why live here? I don’t understand why some people in this area constantly complain (either on here or wherever) about pretty much everything about Arlington, but choose to live here. I see these people as just miserable in general and blame it on where they live.

          • SoMuchForSubtlety


          • LuvDusty


          • Clarendon

            Go to any community that has a locally focused anonymous comment blog and it has a significant number of complainers. It’s not Arlington, its the nature of some humans to have the need to complain. An anonymous complaint forum enables them to satisfy that urge without incurring the stigma of everyone knowing that it is them. Of course, others like to complain about complainers ! Guilty as charged !

    • drax

      Who is “they”? The County Board? It’s not building these projects. Nor does it have the power to stop them outright.

  • John Fontain

    Oh how I long for you, Mr. Hibachi!

    • John Fountain

      Why don’t you try being homeless and hungry? Maybe then you’ll know what longing is.

  • David

    And there goes more character from Arlington.

    • MC 703


    • Zach

      I, for one, will not mourn the loss of the mediocre inhabitants of the current buildings.

  • novasteve

    The Board must really want Adams Corner gone since it allows hookahs. Not even cigarettes, but I’m sure they’ll be glad to see that gone.

  • TuesdaysChild

    Ahh, the “Ballston-ization” of the Courthouse-Clarendon area continues. Sad.

    Lining the roads with tall builidngs will create the canyon feel of Ballston. While this building is only 10 strories, it is built right to the sidewalk and then straight up. No set back. \

    • duh

      The buildings will create too many shadows. Soon we will have no sunlight and no grass or trees. That will lead to less air. We are going to die from lack of sufficient air!!

    • To your point, the “green” and “open” space is directly NORTH of the building. Tell me at what point during the day ANY of that space will see the light of day…..Just poor planning – simply poor.

      • jan

        You’re right!

      • ArlingtonWay

        C’mon. There’s no money to be made in this “sunlight” you speak of.

    • CanYuns

      It would be good if the county instituted some sort of regs to keep it 2 stories at the street withthe upper floors set back a little. Try to keep the “character” in tact. Done well in DC in a few places around Wash Circle and on N st.

    • Clarendon

      Does the article say how many stories the new building would be ? It says the adjacent apartment building is 10 stories, but I didn’t see anything on this. The rendering makes it look 8 stories or less.

    • Baja

      Get off Ballston, already. We’re doing much better (though admittedly not winning any awards) in the architectural department of late. The towering canyons of the R-B corridor are quite modest, and it’s what you get with transit oriented development and rabid old timers who don’t want amenities and increasing property values but don’t want their idyllic neighborhoods despoiled with dev’t and scream *traffic* every time someone builds near metro…

    • drax

      What bothers me is the retail space on the street level will have no character, both in terms of what it looks like and the tenants in it. Another cell phone or bank or yogurt joint in steel and glass.

    • karzai

      Exactly. There is no need for a building that imposing at that location. I am all for most development around here, but now it’s getting out of hand. This building is overkill, the little buildings there should be preserved, and this proposal should be turned down…. period.

    • Swag

      Gonna kill the view from my office =/

  • Swag
    • Swag

      No I’m not.

  • Bard

    I have little affection for the crap-holes currently leasing on that block, but the last thing Courthouse needs is another office building. With Ray’s, Wilson Tavern, Fireworks, Me Jana and a couple of other establishments, it’s starting to feel a lot less sterile there. This proposal does not sound like progress in that regard.

    • AllenB

      But nearly all (not sure where Wilson Tavern is) are in the ground floor of new office buildings or hotels. So the development also brings some decent destination restaurants. A fair trade I think.

      • Zach

        Yeah, talk about a self-defeating argument. All but Wilson Tavern are using modern ground-floor retail spaces in dreaded tall office buildings.

        This proposed building would fill a dead spot in the corridor. I don’t think the current tenants are adding much value, with the possible exception of Taste of Tunisia (formerly Chez Manelle, which I heard good things about but have never tried).

  • Stew Magnuson

    One and two story buildings on Wilson Blvd need to be put on the Endangered Species list. 20 years from now, it will be just one long concrete canyon from Rosslyn to Ballston.

    • Southeast Jerome

      WOW, like a city?

      • drax

        Yeah, it’s almost as if we live in an urban area that’s growing or something.

    • Andrew

      I don’t get it. People compain on here about sprawl and then compain about increasing density. Pick one!

      • AllenB

        I think you nailed it. People here just complain. Period.

  • Ed

    “Publically accessible green space” is already there — it looks like this could actually result in a smaller green space than before. Maybe I’ve been trespassing there all these years and should just count my previous blessings.

  • Swag

    Did that apartment building (or whatever) plan for the block next to this (Wilson tavern, MMA place, money-laundering operation) ever go anywhere?

    • Bard

      I think they still want to develop it, but my understanding is it won’t happen for at least 3 years. I think the landlord’s family actually owns the new bar they installed there (which isn’t half bad)

    • Chris Slatt

      The landlord won’t sign a lease longer than a year for that strip mall, so clearly they’re still pursuing redevelopment.

  • BuildOn

    Sorry, no pity for these dumpy eyesores. The new building looks fine, and will improve the corridor.

    • Tre


  • Matt in Lyon Park

    I’m really starting to dislike Arlington. Hooray! More office buildings, less nice cheap places to eat.

  • Condo owner

    Soon this place is going to be the next Manhattan and it will cost 1.4 millon to purchase a 900 sq ft condo…….Wait a minute, I own a 900 sq ft. condo……whooopeee !

    • R. Griffon

      *crosses fingers*

  • MC

    As I work in Court House, I can report that far more people get on the train there in the morning than get off. If more people work in Court House, this will balance out. Generally, you want to have a balance between office and residential — it also helps diversify the tax base. This is actually a small building – the big one will be when they want to build the 20 story office building on the block where Sumners and Cosi are.

    • karzai

      Summers needs to go. the place is a dump and spoils the look of the neighborhood. Cosi is nice, though. Will be a shame to lose it.

  • AllenB

    This is a major corridor in Arlington and the plans have always called for large office and apartments/condo’s to be built there. If this had been in the middle of a residential neighborhood, I think there’d be something to complain about. But this type of development is being done right where it should be – right at a metro stop.

    • truth be told

      Uh…have you walked a few blocks off of this site?

      • AllenB

        Uh… yeah, I live in Courthouse. I know the neighborhood pretty well.

  • geebee

    Rosslyn-Ballston is meant to be an urban corridor and thus meant to have a taller silhouette than what prevails on either side. Eight stories is hardly Manhattan yet dense enough to bring significantly more tax revenue and customers for our restaurants and retail than what it is replacing. One nice feature of our little urban strip is that if one becomes claustrophobic or put off by the shadows, it’s only a five minute walk, north or south, to the refuge of our gentle suburbia.

    • sue

      Gentle Suburbia? Who the h*ll are you kidding? They have been knocking down historic homes and erecting McMansions that rival the size of this Office Building….talk about looming buildings that cast shade all over the street (and neighboring houses). Arlington is going to sh*t. Take a drive through the “Village”.

      • AllenB

        Really, Arlington is going to sh*t? LOL… love the drama!!!!

        • sue

          It sure is getting uglier and uglier. Way to take a beautiful, tree-lined 1920-1940 neighborhood of historic homes and turn into an Ashburn Subdivision circa 2000 (only on lots 1/4 of the size of the Ashburn lots which makes it look worse).

          Now we are throwing up tall Office Buildings on every corner to turn this into RossBallston.

          I could take it if we had decent food. Everything is some bland, Americana, pizza, sportsbar, cupcake crap. Where is the creativity? Can’t we get a little of what is seen in Brooklyn in the eats department?

        • Carol_R

          Arlington is being destroyed in my opinion. I grew up here. High rise buildings continue to encroach on residential areas. Every patch of grass is being turned into a high rise it seems. Super high density housing.

          • truth be told

            Need to increase the tax base to feed those pet projects.

          • Southeast Jerome


            Clearly you grew up here and you want it to go back to what it was. You dont want highways expanded and you dont want more density.

            You cant and wont have Pleasantville, because the area is growing. You need to get over yourself and realize you cant have both things.

            Either people have to live further out b/c NIMBYs wont let developers increase density and roads have to be expanded (but they we have the NIMBYs again with the road widening thing).

            See how you are a hypocrit?

          • CW

            Carol, I have your solution.

            1) Sell house you likely bought decades ago for peanuts, reap $1 million profit.
            2) Move to Mayberry.
            3) Retire.

            See how easy that is?

          • Andrew

            This is going to be the reality in more and more areas. As the global population increases, the density around major cities is going to continue to increase.

        • Michael H.


    • Tre

      +15 awarded to geebee

  • awh hells bells

    @novasteve, the cupcake comment was funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if it would become a big hit with all the soccer moms. Otherwise you strike me as a self-loathing Arlingtonian.

    Maybe the retail space in those new buildings can be another cupcake place? Man, it’s like they try to make arlington suck more than it already does.

    • R. Griffon

      > @novasteve … you strike me as a self-loathing Arlingtonian.

      You must be new here.

  • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

    The C.B. is not going to be happy until the entire county is covered by a 30 story building …… the only way for them to maximize the revenue flowing into the county’s coffers.

  • Arlingtron

    Why does the dumpy Superstar Tickets (questionably sanctioned scalpers) building stay? I’m sure it’s not a part of the transaction.

  • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

    This is ridiculous. Enough with the glass walled high rises! The Arlington County Board is so in bed with developers its disgusting… and they’ll try and spin it that the added development helps our economy… which is why our taxes keep going up. BS. As someone else noted… nothing but a windswept concrete canyon from Ballston to Rosslyn. Then they’ll try to work their way west along Wilson Blvd. past George Mason. We’ll be a featureless, boring, extension of DC beyond what we have already become.

  • Frivolous

    Anything replacing Adam’s Corner is a good thing in my book.

  • I against I

    Arlington, the land of condos and office buildings. The most boring place in the DC area.

    • Tre

      What is the least boring place in the DC area?

  • DD

    What fitness center? Anyone know?

    • Chris Slatt

      Pretty sure it’s just as an amenity for the office workers, not like a Gold’s or anything that would be open to the public.

      • dirty biker

        It is a “clean energy” center- perhaps they tie the treadmills into the grid 😉

  • novasteve

    Self loathing? No, but I hate Arlington. If I didn’t have a good deal in my building, and but for the short commute, I would move further out. I still retain the right to comment how a sucky place gets suckier all the time. I can’t wait for my new year round homeless shelter to move in!

    • D

      A short commute and a good deal don’t seem like an incentive to live in a place you deeply despise and invest so much energy tearing down. But to each his own I guess.

  • Zach

    I will continue to root for every vacant or underused patch of land in the R-B corridor to be developed into an evil glass office or apartment building. It’s insane to let land sitting so close to ultra-valuable Metro stations sit underutilized with used car lots.

    Will I be sad when a business I like is forced to close? Yes. But it’s all for the greater good. It makes economic and ecological sense to develop as densely as possible within walking distance of the Metro. Sooner or later the terrible me-too frozen yogurt joints will go out of business and be replaced by something more worthwhile.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      Awesome comment. Fully agree.

    • JohnB


    • CW

      +1. I feel like part of why property and rents are so expensive here is because we have more wasted space than any other similarly-expensive metro area.

    • R. Griffon

      Speaking of which, when is someone going to finally develop that horrible moonscape of a lot immediately East of the Whole Foods (behind PNC Bank)? I shudder every time I see it. SUCH a waste of prime land. Heck – just level it and plant some grass already if you don’t wanna build there.

      • Tre


  • On our “windswept concrete canyon,” too many cupcake shops, and general purported suckiness, I’d note that people want to live here. Our house and condo values are resilient not only because of location but because folks like what this particular location has to offer. Money talks.

    As to the state of our leafy suburbia, I agree on McMansions. I don’t like them. But really, take a walk – or a nice long run, as I enjoyed on that gorgeous day yesterday – through any of our post-WWII neighborhoods. I don’t see any single-family dwellings replaced by 7-11s (a la Grosse Pointe Blank). The street my family moved to 50 years ago looks pretty much the same. 23 houses then, 23 houses now. Same trees (if taller), same barking dog too, or a decent mimic.

    We can always do better, but the glass I’m looking at is more than half full.

    Note: Green Metropolis by David Owen is a good read when it comes to some of the issues facing Arlington and the little urban strip running through it. It was lurking on the shelves of the Plaza Library last time I checked. Highly recommended.

  • All I ask is that the ground floor of the new office building has a good restaurant or two. Otherwise, like most of Courthouse, this area will be a ghost town after working hours.

  • susan

    This is terrible. It puts a lot more bicycle and vehicle traffic on a street that has enough already. I would also like to know how many millions in bonus density the developer will receive for installing a couple dinky solar panels on the roof?

    These development decisions are being made by non-resident County employees and rubber stamped by advisory commission members who have significant and hidden conflicts of interest.

    • Thes


      That’s quite a serious charge you’ve made about our advisory commission members. Care to elaborate on what you mean by “significant and hidden conflicts of interest”?

  • Clarendude

    One thing that I don’t think was made clear is that this building is part of a site plan that was filed in 1989 and approved at some point for a 7 story office building and a 10 story residential building. The residential building was built, the office was not.

    I presume they may wish to modify the site plan, or else they could probably just build what was approved already without approval of anything.

  • YTK

    HAHAHA “Clean Technology Center” will add more pollution in the form of more cars on the street, more people flushing (sewage system already overloaded) and more emissions, no matter how GREEN the buidling is.

  • susan

    Bloggers should look at what advisory commission members don’t report on their financial interest statements filed with the County but what turns up when you search their names on the Web

  • Evan

    I don’t understand the anger towards cupcake places. Who could hate cupcakes? I wouldn’t complain if there was a cupcake shop on every corner. I moved from Arlington to Portland where cupcake places are few and far between. You don’t know what you are missing until you know longer have it.

    • Evan

      “know” = “no”

  • AwwwMakesMeSad

    Would be so sad to see Listrani’s gone.
    It was in Listrani’s that I told my husband I was pregnant with our first child! I have a special place in my heart for Listrani’s.

  • Mr Neutron

    the Arl Co Board clearly has a huge case of pen!s envy for anyplace that has densely packed taller building loaded into what were once people-scaled neighborhoods.

    their ardor there is surpassed only by their self-congratulatory circle jerks.

    they’ve turned this longtime Dem into a Republican or Green voter in county elections, the one party monopoly is very unhealthy


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