Construction Imminent on Pentagon City Development

by ARLnow.com May 8, 2012 at 9:55 am 12,340 64 Comments


(Updated at 10:05 a.m.) After several years of delays, construction is finally about to get underway on the third phase of the Metropolitan Park development in Pentagon City.

Three Metropolitan Park will be an 18-story, 411-unit apartment building near the intersection of S. Fern Street and 12th Street S. It’s part of the same development that includes the luxury Millennium and the Gramercy apartment buildings, on the site of the former Cafritz warehouses across from the Costco parking lot on Fern Street.

County officials expect construction on Three Metropolitan Park to begin “very soon” and to take about three years to complete.

As part of the project, the developer — McLean-based Kettler — will be building an extension of 12th Street S. to connect S. Eads Street and S. Fern Street. While crews have already done what looks to be some preliminary grading for the street, the area is expected to be used as a construction staging area and parking lot until the completion of the project. After the project wraps up, perhaps by mid-2015, Kettler will build the road for public use.

The new road is expected to bring some additional retail activation to Pentagon City. The plans for Three Metropolitan Park include ground floor retail spaces facing the future 12th Street S.

Pedestrian access from S. Fern Street to S. Eads Street — a key cut-through for commuters heading to the Pentagon City Metro station — will be maintained during the course of the construction project, according to county officials. Kettler has said it will provide a new, lighted pedestrian path along the construction site prior to excavation work.

  • -TGE0A

    Zimmie’s dream of killing Costco is one step closer.

    • CW

      I hear a lot of speculation, and I fear it to be true, but little concrete fact – what is the exact wording and timing of the get-out clause for Costco? I hope they stay forever.

  • WeiQiang

    The sidewalk on the north side of 12th is pretty much done.

  • abc

    Already bored! What is it with the “control+paste” design of this building. . .blah.

    • WeiQiang

      I don’t think we’re going to get any Frank Gehry any time soon. Folks in this area are just way to conservative for that. Planners/architects may be patting themselves on the back about how much better the design is than bldgs Crystal City.

      • drax

        Those are not our only choices.

        • WeiQiang

          I understand that and I wasn’t advocating an absolute dichotomy. My point was that some group of deciders thought that the current design is good [enough]. I’d like to see some greater variety and architectural interest. Kettler is apparently responding to the market [see also the bldg at 18th & Eads on the old post office site].

          • drax

            Yes, I agree completely that we need something better than the same old safe crap.

        • xard

          Yes they are.

      • Clarendon

        Those starchitect building designs aren’t that good for useable buildings. Often they have strange interior layouts and their unique cladding systems means substantial complications and/or costs when rennovations or repairs are needed. Brick/masonry with windows is a known quantity.

        What they could do is pay a lot more attention to the detailing. Interesting brick textures/patterns and cast panels, interesting quality metalwork in railings and color etc can be used better thn what they do generally. The Lyon Place apartments in Clarendon IMO has a lot of interesting detailing relative to what is being built these days.

    • Michael H.

      Most people don’t want to live in a Frank Gehry building. His buildings just seem to be block structures covered up by wavy metal panels anyway. And the I.M. Pei-designed East Building of the National Gallery was found to have serious design defects. That’s why all the exterior panels had to be removed and repositioned. I think that project is still going on. I’d prefer that the money be spent on creating nicer interior spaces and common amenities like a swimming pool and a rooftop deck.

      The ground-floor retail would be nice. But the local retail market has not been as hot as the residential market has been. There seem to be a lot of tenants in the new buildings in that area, but much of the ground-floor retail space is still empty. It’s the same situation with some of the new residential/retail buildings in the Arlington section of Potomac Yard.

      • WeiQiang


        • Josh S


      • ModerateonModernism

        “Most people don’t want to live in a Frank Gehry building”

        that may be, but nonetheless the new building in lower Manhattan seems to be commanding premium prices. I agree greater DC in general is more conservative – it seems the buildings in Arlington are somewhat more conservative than even those in DC proper. In Clarendon where there is need to fit into an existing residential neighborhood, that makes some sense. In the Pentagon city area a slightly more distinctive approach might work.

        • WeiQiang

          For the record, I wasn’t advocating Gehry or the Soviet apt block model of Crys City. The developers are going to sell what they think will sell and, abc’s boredom notwithstanding, the current design will not offend. Sometimes – like MM suggested above – a little envelope-pushing may be useful. Elsewhere on here, some folks have pointed out that retail isn’t renting as fast as residential. So, I’m thinking that there is an argument for a little ‘higher style’ in the residential market while also promoting the ground-level retail as a sort of ‘Design District’. Like 14th St or upper Georgetown Wisc Ave in DC, developers could attract furniture/home furnishing retailers which could sell the higher-margin items that could sustain the rents. Given the high-density residential growth just in Crys/Pent City and Potomac Yards, this niche retail should be able to sustain itself. I patronized DesI Living in Pent Row.

          • Ballston Resident

            How “upper” do you mean re: Wisconsin and upper Georgetown?

            Because I am not sure you have noticed how many empty retail spaces there are on Wisconsin as you head north from M.

    • Michael H.

      I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to live in something that looked like the proposed Eisenhower Memorial either. That’s designed by Frank Gehry. Big deal. I agree with the Eisenhower family that the memorial looks like a giant mess.

      Besides, these are residential buildings, not art museums.

  • South Awwlington

    ARLnow: How many affordable units with this building contain? How many are included in the already existing structures?

    I think that going forward, any article regarding residential development should mention how the developer is contributing to the affordable housing fund in Arlington County.

    • nom de guerre


      Will this project bring at least 75 “new jobs” to Arlington?

      Is this building LEED Certified? If so, what level?

      • Chris Slatt

        Site plan requires it be Silver Certified.

    • Chris Slatt

      According to the board report from when this phase was approved it appears they are doing one of the following (not sure which they get to choose):

      Providing 17 committed affordable units on-site.
      Providing 26 committed affordable units with 1/2 mile of the site
      Providing 35 committed affordable units elsewhere in the County.
      Contributing $2,809,000 to the County’s affordable housing fund.


      • South Awwlington

        Thanks for the info, it is much appreciated. I do hope that the County will start narrowing these options and requiring that all developers be inclusive when designed and planning their buildings. I am troubled by the ability to just “throw” 2.8 million at the County to make the poor people go away or go into other neighborhoods and sole use affordable housing (new or old, it makes no difference.) It not only continues the age old practice of creating “good” and “bad” neighborhoods and not the mixed community that Arlington boasts to be.

        • ArLater

          So, you’d be happiest if every neighborhood was just so-so then?

          • South Awwlington

            No, I’d be happy if the developers were contributing to the affordable housing inventory in the ways the program was designed to work, rather than allowing the developers to buy their way out of providing on-site affordable housing. Of course the county is going to jump at 35 units instead of 15 units but that surely isn’t going to have the maximum positive influence on the neighborhood that a mixed income building would.

        • Chris Slatt

          This all happened before I started paying close attention to Arlington politics, but my understanding is that Arlington attempted that – in 2004 they implemented a new “guideline” that 10% of Gross Floor Area in new residential and mixed use development that went through the Site Plan process would have to be dedicated to affordable housing. A developer sued saying it was a requirement not a voluntary contribution and the court agreed. The county worked out a compromise plan where the developers would have those choices about how to fulfill their affordable housing obligation and then the State passed a law giving them the authority to pass the ordinance.

        • John Fontain

          “I am troubled by the ability to just “throw” 2.8 million at the County to make the poor people go away”

          What poor people lived on this site?

          • South Awwlington

            If Affordable Housing is to be considered a County-wide (even regional) problem, it should be shouldered by the ENTIRE County. If the argument is made (and has been successfully) that mixed income communities are better for the whole County, then we shouldn’t be allowing “specialized” Affordable Housing developers to build modern day ghettos. Is that clear enough for you?

        • EastPike

          One would think “throwing” 2.8 million dollars at a problem related to a lack of money would alleviate the problem. Of course this assumes efficency and personal responsibility will be utilized. You’re probably right to object.

  • Cindy

    So, Arlington Ridge and Aurora Highlands will join Lyon Park, Lyon Village, Fairlington, etc., as de facto park and recreation areas for nearby mega-infill.

    • Pentagonian

      True. Although I’d be pretty happy if Arlington Ridge and Aurora Highlands were in the same echelon as Lyon Village. Fairlington, eh, not so much.

      • WeiQiang


      • Suburban Not Urban

        Huh, Arlington Ridge has been, is and probably always will be more desirable than Lyon Village

        • Josh S

          After all, they are on a hill.

        • Pentagonian

          No chance. I grew up in Clarendon and live in Arlington Ridge. With the exception of a few McMansions on the east side of Ridge Road, Lyon Village is clearly better.

    • ConsistencyIsTheHobGoblin

      yup, there iaren’t enough new parks and recreation to balance the new development.

      Plus that long branch park is a waste of county funds, that waterpark thing in Crystal city is stupid, etc, etc

  • DSS10

    Crystal City is really starting to have all of the charm of an unincorporated area outside Atlanta or Houston. I still think that Arlington as a whole will be the next Tysons Corners, not so much for the traffic and density but rather piss poor urban planning and acquiescing developers self interest. The whole “designed not to offend” argument is a rational for institutional mediocracy.

    • Pentagonian

      I think you’ve got that backwards – Tysons is trying to be more like Arlington. Crystal City Sector 40 year plan >> Tysons Corner 40 year plan

      • DSS10

        Tyson’s plan is to give up on any restrictions on density. They think that if they build sidewalks and add metro access then traffic will get better. If you have ever driven Tysons between Thanksgiving and Christmas you have seen the future of that area.

        • DSS10

          The Fairfax County Planning Commission is recommending a new approach to the Tysons plan that would remove density maximums and reduces the planning horizon. Tysons Tomorrow supports the creation of a true urban core in Tysons and welcomes greater density near the transit stations – but also hopes there can be additional development throughout Tysons in order to create enough places to work,…


    • Josh S

      I think that if you think Arlington and Tyson’s are similar or that Arlington is moving in the direction of Tyson’s from an urban design standpoint then you have absolutely no idea what is meant by the term “urban design.”

      • DSS10

        I do know urban planning and have served on planning boards. I also have a pretty good feel for architecture and you can not dispute that the building shown is a really uninspired and built solely for spec (cost per sqft and maximum salable floor space above all else).

        • Josh S

          Architecture is a whole different matter. I would then agree with you as to the similarities in Tyson’s and Arlington architecture.

          But urban design goes beyond architecture, doesn’t it?

  • WeiQiang

    VA Highlands Park has virtually been a regional park for a very long time. Gunston Park somewhat less so. Ft Scott much less so. Even Long Bridge Park has regional activities. Usage goes way beyond accomodating high-density residential. Having said that, I don’t recall seeing the County demand [sufficient] recreational spaces in the developers’ plans, so this evolution shouldn’t be a surprise.

  • Ted

    Rosenthal Auto redevelopment on the Pike will have a plaza-level dog exercise area and a swimming pool…for residents only. If they want to go to a real park or playground you can always use Douglas Park, across the street from Zimmy’s home.

  • Mary-Austin

    I think these buildings actually look kind of nice, particularly the Gramercy. I Think it has to do with the height and varying stories.
    I would say the development at this site is far far better than what they are calling the founders square site in Ballston, one of the best pieces of property in the area and the buildings are about as lame as possible.

  • Ted

    Swimming pool? If developers are going to be including swimming pools in new construction why build an aquatic center?

    • ArLater


      So your arguement is that because a new private highrise building (to be used by only those residents) is including a swimming pool then a new public aquatic center down the street (to be used by residents of all over) is uneccesary?

      That would equate to questioning building a jungle gym in a park for kids because your house already has a swing set in the back yard.

      Cmon man

    • drax

      When someone builds a pool in my backyard, you’ll have a point, Ted.

      • ACDC Lackey

        You mean like Jay has ??

  • TedS

    So, two or three new pools are also being constructed at Wakefield HS. Another special interest group has to be appeased with tax dollars, like the live theater crowd.

    • Americans for a Better Tomorrow Tomorrow

      Exactly. The public is a special interest group and corporations are people.

      • CD

        The more new swimming pools are constructed in the county, the more we ‘need’ an aquatic center. Live theater logic.

    • Josh S

      Sign that those in control are succeeding in their efforts to confuse and disrupt the public’s ability to participate effectively in a democracy. Calling everything and everyone a “special interest.” The term is loaded and full of negative connotations but is completely overused at this point so only serves to derail actual argumentation.

  • LIAM

    All of you people who think Arlington’s Affordable Housing Program is great and needs to be expanded are incredibly naive. The program is a total joke. These builder contributions should be paying for better schools and community services for everyone. Why should poorer residents get luxury housing in locations where 95% of Arlingtonians can’t afford to live and have it subsidized by the County and the taxpayers? Have you seen the new affordable housing in Courthouse, Clarendon and Ballston? These are luxury apartments with hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, etc, etc. These properties are all located within a few blocks of the Metro. These properties are on the most expensive land in the County. 95% of County residents can’t afford to live in these neighborhoods, why should our taxpayer money subsidize this so the less fortunate can live better than the rest of us? Arlington could build 4 times the amount of affordable housing if they built it in less expensive neighborhoods. Have you ever been in any of these buildings? People have 50″ widescreen TVs on their walls, luxury cars in the garage downstairs and many other amenities most of us “not so poor” residents don’t have. It’s a total joke. It’s not about helping the poor, it’s about re-distribution of wealth and people who know how to scam the system.

    • ACDC Lackey

      But they all become quite loyal members of the ACDC.
      They know which lever to pull come election time !!

      • SoMuchForSubtlety

        Exactly, the lever that made this County great.

        • South Awwlington


          Arlington County’s current success is due in large part to the Board Members past, particularly in the 1960’s and 1970’s. FYI – they weren’t all Democrats either. Furthermore, the current Board which grasps with every breath they have at claiming the greatness of past boards weren’t even out of high school when the big decisions were made.

          Have some respect.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      This is such a tired argument. Get over it. I don’t and never will have kids and yet I pay for your kids schools (half the County budget!) and don’t complain about it. And yes, public education, like affordable housing, does benefit everyone. Particularly those who can’t afford high priced housing or high priced private schools.

    • CD

      Almost all the ‘affordable’ one-bedroom units rent for $1000 – $1200 and up. When AHC renovates an older building the rents typically jump by $200 a month. Almost all are rented to people earning 50%-60% of area median income. Fifty percent of area median income is $50,000 a year. Very few ‘affordable’ units are rented to people earning 40% of area median income, because almost none are constructed. Check out Arlington Mill, which (except for a handful of units) will be unaffordable to retail and restaurant workers who work within walking distance on the Pike. How ‘Smart’ is that?

      • Josh S

        $50,000 is 50% of AMI for a family of 4.

        For a single person, it’s more like $35,000.

    • Josh S

      I think from what I can tell that the fixtures that you describe are the new normal when it comes to apartment construction. Developers are still using the word “luxury” to describe them but they are “luxury” compared to what? Only older buildings.

      Also, when building a mixed-income project, you can’t make the low-income units obvious. You can’t put them all on the ground floor, make them all studios, etc. Generally, there are minimum fit and finish standards for the units identified as affordable. They can’t be substantially different than the market-rate units. So if the developer is going for a certain look in the market rate units, then all the units will look similar. This would especially be the case for apartment buildings because a given may be market now but affordable later depending on turnover.

      I’m not sure what you are trying to get at in your rant about TVs on the wall or luxury cars in the garage. Yes, some of the units are market rate so probably those tenants can afford nicer things. In either case, though – you have no idea how a given person acquired their assets. Perhaps the TV was a gift? Etc. Not that it matters. Why is it your business? Or anyones? It’s not. If they passed the income qualification process, and of course assuming it was a good process and administered properly, then that’s the end of the story.

      If you have actual evidence of fraud, then I suggest you bring it to the proper authorities. Making vague, broad and seemingly baseless accusations on an internet discussion thread seems useless and silly.

      • Liam

        Josh S. – The buildings that I am referring to are 100% or at least 75% affordable housing buildings – The Jordan and The Park at Courthouse (above AHC’s headquarters). The Jordan (100% affordable) has hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances. Stainless is still considerably more than white or black appliances – it is also not as durable. Why should taxpayer money go to provide luxury amenities in these buildings? Why should affordable housing be located in very expensive neighborhoods where 95% of residents can’t afford to live. The County Board says affordable housing needs to be close to Metro because these “poorer” residents can’t afford cars, yet there are a lot of really nice cars parked in the basements of these buildings. 95% of the residents in the County do not live within walking distance of a Metro, why should people who are already getting the benefit of subsidized housing, also get luxury amenities and a location next to a Metro. Yes, the affordable housing should be near public transportation, but it can be on a bus line. Walter Tejada told me that they could build 3 times the amount of affordable housing if they built it in other parts of the County, but he said being next to the Metro is more important. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy paying over $1000 a month in property taxes for a house not in walking distance to Metro in order to subsidize housing for others who get to live a block away from Metro. In addition, the whole system is laden with fraud. A family will rent a 2 bedroom affordable unit and then illegally rent out the second bedroom to a non-family member. It happens more than you think. In addition, a single person will qualify for the housing and then their partner will move in with them and the partner’s income is not reprted to AHC. So a woman making $35,000 could qualify for a one bedroom, then her boyfriend who earns $75,000 a year moves in with her but doesn’t register with AHC. AHC will not pursue these situations, and they don’t ask for tax returns in future years, meaning someone can live there for years even if their income increased and is now way over the limit. This isn’t my opinion, these are facts. I suggest you learn the facts, visit the buildings and talk to some of the residents before you speak out.


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