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Board Approves County’s Largest Private Office Building

The Arlington County Board has approved a new 24-story office building in Crystal City — a building that’s being billed as a catalyst for Crystal City’s revitalization.

At 24 stories and 719,704 square feet, the building — 1900 Crystal Drive — will be second only to the Pentagon in Arlington in terms of floor space.

(Alhough 1900 Crystal Drive will be the tallest in Crystal City, the 580,000 square foot, 35-story office building currently under construction at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn is still expected to be the tallest countywide.)

The building includes 11,290 square feet of ground floor retail space, plus a five-level, 732 space parking garage and nearly 150 bicycle parking spaces. Vehicle parking will be available to the public on weekends, holidays and after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. Some residents expressed concern about extra vehicular traffic as a result of the building, but it won approval from the county’s Transportation Commission by a vote of 9-0.

Vornado, the developer of 1900 Crystal Drive, agreed to a number of community benefits in exchange for the extra zoning density required for the project. Among the benefits:

  • $3 million contribution to the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund
  • $75,000 contribution to the county’s public art fund
  • $154,000 for Arlington utility fund, $20,000 for multi-space parking meters
  • Various improvements to 18th Street S.
  • $1.4 million for Arlington County Commuter Services and $65 Metro SmartTrip cards for building employees (to encourage transit commuting)
  • $2.76 million for a temporary half-acre park
  • $2.56 million for a four-pipe hydronic heating and cooling system, part of the county’s plan to encourage a district energy system for Crystal City

Though resident concerns about the building were largely assuaged, thanks to the addition of low-reflection glass and a 900 square foot community meeting room, Board member Chris Zimmerman voted against the project. (It passed 4-1.)

Zimmerman said that the community benefits associated with the project were relatively small for a building of its size, but ultimately his ‘no’ vote came down to his view that the building’s site plan does not pave a sure-fire path to the construction of a proposed, adjacent “Center Park.” Instead, the site plan just requires Vornado to work with county staff “to prepare an implementation plan for guiding the achievement of Center Park.”

“It should not be overlooked that there are tremendous concessions being made [to the developer],” Zimmerman said. “For the amount of bonus density being added to this site, the benefits package has been minimized, while the building has been maximized.”

Located at the corner of 20th Street and the future, realigned Clark-Bell Street, the nearly 75,000 square foot Center Park is one of the centerpiece goals of the Crystal City Sector Plan.

1900 Crystal Drive is the first project to utilize the framework outlined in the sector plan, which was approved in 2010. County officials lauded the building as an important, precedent-setting first step in the modernization and revitalization of Crystal City following the loss of numerous military offices as a result of BRAC.

“Looking at the Crystal City community benefits that are being provided, the great value of this building is that it really does commence the redevelopment of Crystal City as recommended by the Crystal City Sector Plan,” a county staffer told the Board. “Hopefully this will encourage other property owners to undergo the same type of redevelopment rather than looking to renovate their buildings.”

The new building will replace an empty, Brutalist-style office building at 1851 S. Bell Street — a building regarded as so unattractive from street-level that audible laughter could be heard when Jay Fisette sarcastically referred to it as “beautiful.” Improvements to the streetscape were considered a significant community benefit of the project.

“We are beginning to see the community’s vision for a more vibrant, walkable and transit-oriented Crystal City take shape,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said following the 4-1 vote. “1900 Crystal Drive will be a catalyst for the sort of redevelopment that will reinvigorate the area with quality office space and more retail, and help ensure this area remains one of the region’s premier neighborhoods for decades to come.”

Mitchell Schear, President of Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the largest property owner in Crystal City, said the continued redevelopment of Crystal City will be a “team” effort. He encouraged the county to speed up its plan to build a Crystal City streetcar line that will run from Pentagon City to Crystal Drive to the Alexandria border.

In all, the approval process for 1900 Crystal Drive took about four hours on Saturday.

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It is the decision of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to implement the Proposed Action: the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update (Pentagon Master Plan) as the framework to guide future decisions regarding land use and infrastructure at the Pentagon site and Mark Center. The Pentagon Master Plan aims to provide an update to the existing conditions at the Pentagon and Mark Center and presents projects and revisions to land use categorizations that will address the specific needs to reduce the Pentagon’s environmental impacts and advance sustainability, security, and resilience. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review has been completed through preparation of a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate environmental impacts arising from implementation of the projects. WHS has concluded that no significant impacts to the human or natural environment will result from implementation of any projects, and recognized negative effects will be reduced by adherence to standard best management practices, applicable permit and consultation conditions, and standard operating procedures. This decision is further documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed on March 20, 2024.

This notice announces the availability of the FONSI to implement the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update.

For further information and to request a copy of the Final EA or FONSI, please contact Brian King, Environmental and Sustainability Program Manager, WHS/Facilities Services Directorate/Standards and Compliance Division/Environmental and Sustainability Branch; (703-614-3658 or [email protected]). Please include “Pentagon Master Plan Final EA and FONSI” in the subject line.

Submit your own Announcement here.

The 3rd Annual Arlington Fair Housing Conference will feature Thomas Silverstein, renowned Fair Housing expert and Associate Director of the Fair Housing & Community Development Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Come hear the latest news about fair housing enforcement, policy, and programs within Arlington County, Virginia, and across the country! Our expert panelists and guest speakers include fair housing advocates, elected officials, and government officials tasked with advancing housing equity at the local, state, and federal level.

Arlington has made substantial strides in advancing housing equity and improving fair housing policy with the adoption of the Regional Fair Housing Plan in 2023. Come learn what’s next to fight housing discrimination, incorporate equity for marginalized populations in our housing policies and programs, and increase awareness of fair housing rights under state and federal law.

We’ll have updates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing federal rule, a panel discussion of fair housing progress at the General Assembly and across Virginia, and a panel of local experts discussing the progress Arlington has made and what remains to be done.
Please RSVP in advance to ensure you receive your free lunch at the conference. Free and open to the public.

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Submit your own Announcement here.

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“The Secret Garden”

The St. Andrew’s Players Present “The Secret Garden”

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