Rosslyn Gateway Project Approved

by Katie Pyzyk July 25, 2012 at 10:35 am 7,961 65 Comments

An entire block of Rosslyn is going to be redeveloped, now that the County Board has approved the rezoning and phased development site plan for the 1 million square foot Rosslyn Gateway project.

The mixed-use project covers the 2.2 acres of land bounded by N. 20th Street on the north, N. Moore Street on the east, N. 19th Street on the south, and Fort Myer Drive on the west. The existing two office buildings will be replaced with three buildings — an office building, a residential tower and a hotel/residential building.

The County Board voted 4-1 to approve the project at its meeting last night (Tuesday).

“Rosslyn Gateway is a turning point for the County’s efforts to transform Rosslyn into a more welcoming neighborhood for the people who live, work or visit there,’’ said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. ‘’This is exactly the sort of high quality, beautifully designed, mixed use development we hoped that the rezoning of Rosslyn would encourage.”

The project will be constructed in three phases:

  • Phase 1 — 25-story, 490,056 square-foot office building with 8,688 square feet of ground-floor retail.
  • Phase 2 — 25-story building with 133 residential units, 148 hotel rooms and 10,001 square feet of retail.
  • Phase 3 — 20-story residential tower with 140 residential units and 7,687 square feet of ground-floor retail.

Under an agreement with developer JBG, the county will vacate certain easements and public rights-of-way it owns, including the service road that loops around part of the block. JBG would pay compensation to the county for the vacated areas, listed at about $7.5 million.

In addition to removing the service road, three sky bridges will also be removed to accommodate the new development. The sky bridges will be replaced with 12 foot wide clear sidewalks, crossings and street trees to improve pedestrian safety and encourage connections between the buildings. Parking will be located beneath the buildings.

Businesses on the block, such as Continental (1911 Fort Myer Drive), will be affected by the redevelopment. However, it’s unclear if they will relocate or if they will negotiate with JBG to take up some of the ground floor space in the new development.

JBG also agreed to provide $30 million worth of public benefits as a condition of site plan approval. The benefits include contributions to the county’s affordable housing fund, Gateway Park planning efforts, off-site transportation improvements and the Corridor of Light public art project.

A county staff member says the timeline for the project is still up in the air, although JBG’s current work on Central Place will likely take precedence over beginning construction on Rosslyn Gateway. However, due to county guidelines approved in the agreement, work would have to begin sometime in the next five years.

  • WeiQiang

    $30M extracted from JBG … now THAT’s some negotiating. Boeing could have funded the LBP cement pond instead of just some potted plants and a CaBi stand.

    • Aaron

      Moreover, that $30M is on top of the $7.5 million they paid to build where the slugline currently is.

      • WeiQiang

        Is the slug lobby that powerful? Will that money be used to build the slugs an air conditioned waiting lounge … or a lifetime supply of “610” or “Tacketts Mill” paper signs in plastic sheet protectors?

        • South Awwlington


          • Aaron

            Humor aside, it seems strange that the County would so swiftly dispose of a transit option that reduces congestion and pollution. Each slug is conceivably a car that didn’t commute to Rosslyn that day.

          • WeiQiang

            I agree. I work with a bunch of folks who slug. Will the slug station be re-located or is there a definitive decision to make no provision for it?

          • South Awwlington

            part of the allure of slugging is lack of government interference. They will adapt and relocate. Trust me.

  • Elmer

    Anyone figured out yet that the developers rule this bunch of lapdogs on the county board?
    Just wave the promise of a few millions in “public benefits” and pony up cash money to the county’s “affordable housing fund” and other board special pet projects and they’ll roll over like Pavlov’s dog.
    But let the little guy try to get a waiver and you’re screwed.
    You should also know that the board caved to the developers again last night and now will allow the placement of lighted signs on the roofline of high rises. Even the board’s vaunted model city of Portland, Or. does not allow that.

    • What’s wrong with signs on buildings?

    • drax

      So do you oppose the signs, Elmer?

    • Arlanon

      I like the lighted signs. Not everything has to be bland and uniform.

      • CrystalMikey

        Me too. Plus it helps to have identifiable landmarks

        • Elmer

          Yep. Next time a tourist asks for directions to The Tomb of the Unknown or JFK’s grave, just tell then to look for the big bright neon signs of the surrounding high rises.
          Adds so much to the dignity and reverant atmosphere don’t you think?
          Just perfect for the video gameing generation!

  • bman

    there goes the neighborhood.

  • Becoming indifferent

    Big shock–another high end construction approved. Why is this news?

  • Arlanon

    Awesome! It looks like a great project, and those current buildings are darned fugly.

    • Mary-Austin

      One of the current ugly 12 story buildings is staying. The project would be better without it.

      • Arlanon

        Agreed. The RCA building really needs to go as well.

        • bred

          RCA as a company doesn’t exist anymore. This sign should be deemed a historic site, well whatever the square footage is!!

      • Patrick

        I think the 12 story building shown in the picture will be removed as part of phase III.

        • TJLinBallston

          Exactly. It’s important to get the big picture. This project raised the bar. Turnberry Towers is about to live on a very nice corner. Newbie will eat the view.

        • Arlanon

          It will be. However, there is another 12 story building to the left of this development (the RCA building) which is outside the frame of the picture above and looks very similar to the one on the right. Unfortunately no plans yet to raze that one.

      • karzai

        RCA building needs to go….

  • Openly Gator

    This is pretty much the end of the Rosslyn skywalks. A good idea that was never properly executed.

    • Trolly Troll

      So now the Gateway park will have a sky-bridge to nowhere. Although, it will help keep the homeless confined to the park.
      I could sketch a sky-bridge master plan in 10 minutes. Connecting with pedestrian sky-bridges should be a requirement for the developers.

    • JohnB2

      The skywalks were purposely left to die because they took away from the ground-level retail dogma.

      • TJLinBallston

        …and for that we give thanks. We’re all on ground together. That said, Ballston has special-needs and it’s Rialto stained-glass thing works with the bashful mall, such as it is.

      • karzai

        This is a man who knows his stuff.

  • John

    The is the best project ever proposed for Rosslyn. Finally, some exciting architecture that doesn’t try too hard to impress with great urban design will help turn Rosslyn into a much more lively and attractive neighborhood.

    • Arlanon


  • Whatever they do, just make Rosslyn walkable. Unless you work there, there is no good reason right now to ever visit Rosslyn except for food trucks.

  • Lee-n-Glebe

    This sounds like a great project. Now if they could only find a way to get Tom Sarris to open up again . . .

    • Mary-Austin

      I miss seeing the Orleans House building. Would have been nice to keep one of the quirky landmarks around.
      Instead the idea the County’s idea of “keep Arlington weird” is the artisphere and requiring black-box theaters.

      • Terry

        Pretty sure no one in Arlington (and especially the board) has ever said, much less promoted “keep Arlington weird.” …..except for you.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          If I recall correctly, that used to be spray painted on a building that stood on the Cheesecake Factory block, right before the demolition.

          Then Austin called and demanded their slogan back.

  • drax

    So this displaces the only halfway decent place to go for a beer in Rosslyn. Great.

    • NoVapologist

      What place is that?

    • Em

      Right there with you.

  • who was the 1?

    ArlNow, please provide more on the 4-1 vote. Most things sail through 5-0 in Arlington. Who voted against it, and why??

    • Chris Zimmerman voted against it. He expressed reservations about several public benefit aspects of the site plan, including the affordable housing plan for the project and the fact that the third building in the project wasn’t required to have district energy infrastructure built in.

      • KalashniKEV

        I was all for it until I heard this- NO MORE SECTION 8 HOUSING!

        • Arlanon

          Where is there Section 8 housing exactly??

  • wut

    That building needs a big corporate sign on it.

    • Id

      EAT AT JOE’S

    • ArmLancestrong

      How about a giant, crumpled, hand-scrawled paper banner that says “Steak and Cheese”

    • ArLater


  • South Awwlington

    Last night’s meeting was not without drama. Some of our Board Members, all D or not, really don’t seem to like one another that much. Kitty claws appeared more than once over signs and Rosslyn. Perhaps were competing with Reality TV rather than acting like Ladies and Gentlemen.

    • ACDC Hack

      That has been my impression too….it is interesting to watch the faces of the other board members when one of them is on a “roll”……

      • South Awwlington

        Methinks someone has issues in that this year, it’s not the “Chris Zimmerman Show,” well not directly at least.

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    Those clear sidewalks…will they be elevated? If so, doesn’t that cause some “up-skirt” issues?

    • ARLwahoo


  • nauckneighbor

    Ok, so why is there no affordable housing required to be built in Rosslyn, yet developers along Columbia Pike are required to set aside between 20-30% of their new units.

    I support affordable housing EVERYWHERE in the county. I wish the county board did too.

    • Id

      Typical liberal fashion, let the requirement apply to everyone else but them.

      • drax

        Another “liberals!” comment without actual facts.

    • South Awwlington

      I don’t think they require it ON SITE and they should. Instead, that pay into AHIF and locate elsewhere along the County.

      The TIF that was proposed and failed would have concentrated even more housing on the Pike instead and throughout the County.

      I agree this is a county-wide issue and should be addressed as such.

    • Ralph

      You want affordable housing in Rosslyn?

      • South Awwlington

        I think the point of the comments are something like:

        Since it’s here to stay, the best way to mitigate the affects on neighborhoods is to have it self contained on site and not identified as such.

        A 200 unit building full of tenants at one income level isn’t helpful to the neighboring CA’s and owners.

  • info81

    I like the RCA building, I think it is iconic.

    • NoVapologist

      Per the boundaries given in the article, the RCA building is not part of this plan.

    • His Master’s Voice

      Me too. I could sit and stare at it all day.

  • TJLinBallston

    The Board’s final language on signage over 40 feet is spot-on. It’s good to aesthetics and common sense fuse once in a while. Arlington’s parameters for high-rise signage insists on understatment and elegance. Vegas stayed in Vegas.

    • Elmer

      Tasteful? Like the “Corridor Of Light” public art project referenced in the article.
      The video gaming generation gone wild.

  • Mc

    JBG is having trouble funding Central Place. I don’t see how they will fund yet more office buildings in a softening market.

    • Elmer

      From what you say, the county may be wise to start getting their “cash contributions” up front!

  • karzai

    This building notwithstanding, Rosslyn is not going to ever amount to a walkable, 24-hour neighborhood. Abandoning Rosslyn for Clarendon in 2005 was the best move I’ve ever made.


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