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Board Approval Requested for 1900 Crystal Drive

(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Approval of the site plan for a new development in Crystal City will come before the County Board at its meeting this Saturday, September 15.

The board is being advised by county staff to adopt four provisions in the development proposal for the office building, dubbed 1900 Crystal Drive. That structure’s site proposal is the first in Crystal City to be considered under the Crystal City Sector Plan, which was adopted in 2010.

Part of the proposal involves rezoning about 1.7 acres of the property from “C-O” to the “C-O-Crystal City” zoning district. Another measure requests approval for construction of the new 24-story office building, which would require demolishing the existing 11-story Crystal Mall III structure (1851 S. Bell Street).

The building, designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, would have nearly 720,000 square feet of office space and more than 11,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. There would also be six levels of parking, with a total of 732 spaces. The parking will be available to the public at a discounted rate after 6:00 p.m.

As part of the agreement with the county, the developer, Vornado, would provide curb, gutter and streetscape improvements around the perimeter of the property. The plan also involves the construction of an approximately 16,000 square foot interim park near the intersection of Crystal Drive and 18th Street South. The park, which is not part of the property included in the current rezoning request, will remain for an undetermined amount of time until a new building is approved and constructed on the site.

In addition to being close to several bus stops, the Crystal City Metro station and the Crystal City VRE station, the site sits just south of a planned 18th Street station for the upcoming Crystal City/Potomac Yard transitway. The proposed transitway would provide service from the Pentagon City Metro station to the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria, and would link with the Columbia Pike streetcar.

County staff members say they have not received any written complaints about the site plan from neighboring civic associations, though at least one neighbor told the Washington Examiner that he was concerned that the building would cast a shadow over his condominium and produce additional local traffic.

Staff is recommending the board approve the measures in question. The staff report cites 1900 Crystal Drive as a significant investment that will act as a catalyst for future development, and may create momentum in the market.

The staff report stated, “Considering the impacts of BRAC, it is critical to initiate the redevelopment process, which will be difficult considering market conditions in Crystal City.”

The report asserts that the Crystal City area would not receive the entire scope of listed benefits if the existing building were simply renovated, instead of constructing a completely new structure on the site.

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