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New Courthouse Office Building Set for Vote

by ARLnow.com December 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm 9,447 66 Comments

The Arlington County Board is set to vote on a new office building proposed for the Courthouse neighborhood.

The planned 8-story “Clean Technology Center” building at 2311 Wilson Boulevard will replace two small buildings containing three restaurants, including Listrani’s Restaurant and Bar. It will be located next to a 10-story Archstone apartment building and the two-story “Superstar Tickets” office.

County staff is recommending the Board approve the building, after the developer modified its plans to address the concerns of nearby residents.

“The proposed height and mass of the building facing the neighborhood was a major outstanding issue due to the lack of sufficient taper proposed on the north façade of the building, as well as concerns regarding the need and accessibility by the community to a proposed conference center,” staff wrote in a report to the Board. “The applicant has provided a revised design of the north façade that addresses the Planning Commission direction at its September 4, 2012 meeting and County Board’s comments at its October 23, 2012 meeting.”

With an increased taper on the neighborhood-facing side of the building, resulting in a floor area reduction of 4,249 square feet, the structure will now contain about 158,000 square feet of floor space, including 7,842 square feet of retail, 6,800 square feet of childcare, a 2,300 square foot fitness center, and a 2,000 square foot conference center that will be available for community use.

The south (Wilson Boulevard) side of the building will have an all-glass façade.

As part of its application, the developer is agreeing to make a $1.6 million “community facilities contribution” for improvements to the Courthouse Station Metro elevators, and to construct the building to LEED Gold sustainability specifications. The rear of the site will contain a publicly-accessible open space, located between the new building and the parking lot for Key Elementary School.

The Board is expected to consider the site plan for the building at its Saturday meeting. So far, there’s no indication as to when demolition of the existing buildings would start should the site plan be approved.


  • Ryan

    Some background on why the county board has the approve/disapprove power over this building site?

    • The developer sought more height (density) than the site’s zoning allowed. The Board will now vote on whether to award increased density as a result of community benefits, like the Metro contribution.

      • KalashniKEV

        Yup. That’s their typical shakedown scam.

      • David

        To be fair Arlington County keeps the “by right” density ridiculously low so that almost every office building above four stories has to go through the site plan process and have a County Board vote. They County Board wants to have the power to approve/disapprove most of the development in the county.

        • Josh S

          By and large, this seems to be working well.

          • R. Griffon

            Exactly. There’s a reason why people think of Ballston the way they do vs. Clarendon or even Courthouse. I’d say what they’re doing is working.

  • MrMeow

    Please dont’ do this.

    • drax

      Why shouldn’t the community get something back in exchange for a developer being allowed to exceed standards that protect the community? You don’t get stuff for free.

  • ArlGal

    Wow, that’s disappointing. I love Listrani’s and order from there all the time.

    • Captain_Obvious

      not sure you would anymore if a roach fell out of your menu…just sayin.

      • ArlGal

        Oh yuck…thanks, Captain_Obvious. Ignorance was bliss.

        • YTK

          Won’t miss them

      • dd

        There isn’t a restaurant here that doesn’t have them.

        They preceded and will long outstay us.

        • Captain_Obvious

          I’m sure you’re right, but you don’t want to see them so easily.

          • dd

            Agreed, Cap’n!

            Another cure for bliss: go to the Virginia DoH site and read the ArlCo restaurant inspection reports. 😉

        • food critic

          At Marios they call them “olives”

          • Ren

            LOL!! Does that ‘flavor savor’ run with the lease when the new developer comes in too?

  • Kitty

    It appears from the rendering that Kitty O’sheas coming back from the dead and replacing Wilson Tavern.

    • ClarenWeird

      Bring back Joe’s Bar!

  • QuangTri1967

    Just cut-and-paste that rendering into yesterday’s picture of Mario’s.

  • John

    This building is horrifying–a lazy attempt at late 90s-era contemporary design at best. But more importantly, the massing, height, and site master plan are out of character with the sector plan and adjacent neighborhood. For example, instead of a small park, a buffer of row houses would work much better.

    Also the renderings don’t depict how the retail spaces fit into this design.

    • CW

      Yes, it is soooooo horrifying. I just got done throwing up and crying into the pages of my vintage copies of Architectural Digest. It is going to be totally out of place next to the County court house building, which is a magnificant example of classic world-class architcture, straight from the fingertips of the Greek gods. It will be such a step backwards from the dumpsters, piles of trash, and vacant parking lot littered with beer bottles that currently grace the site. Those broken beer bottles were curated…it’s ART, man! And it totally lacks a buffer of green space, except that oh wait it backs right up to a school and its play fields.

      • TJLinBallston

        Outside of Arlington’s hyper-development bubble, this building proposed in, say, Buffalo, New York, would be huge front-page news and the first of its kind downtown in a long time. Ditto for Albany. It’s good to see weary Wilson Blvd. urbanizing with sleek projects while we’re young.

    • Zach

      Yes, horribly out of character with the 10 story apartment building next-door and the big office buildings across the street. I would say that the current run-down buildings are what is out of character in a neighborhood of valuable high-rises and million dollar single-family homes. If anything it will increase property values.

      Thai and Corner is decent, Taste of Tunisia is pretty good, and Listrani’s is downright awful. I’m sure whatever ground floor retail occupies this new building will be worse, and that’s too bad. But nearly 170,000 sqft in new commercial real estate will bring jobs and tax revenue to Arlington, which dramatically outweighs a forgettable strip of restaurants.

      • drax

        Glad Zach and CW are standing up for consistency in low standards.

        • Phil

          Despite your incessant desire to just contradict everyone, no matter what they say, I’m pretty sure CW’s comment: ” It will be such a step backwards from the dumpsters, piles of trash, and vacant parking lot littered with beer bottles that currently grace the site” is the antithesis of “standing up for consistency in low standards.” In fact, if I had to translate for you, I would suggest he might have been saying that the wasteland it is now is a low standard, and this building, or almost any other, will be a marked improvement.

          • drax

            You completely misunderstood CW’s post, and mine.

          • CW

            I’m pretty sure Phil is spot on with my post, and I can say this with certainty since I wrote it. Yours, on the other hand, makes no sense.

    • NoVapologist

      How can it be “out of character” with a neighborhood that has no character?

  • Joan

    Just what Arlington needs is another office building, to which I am OPPOSED. Listrani’s is a great restaurant. People who love it will now need to go to DC to eat at its original restaurant, costing tax revenue for Arlington. It will also cause Arlingtonians to have to drive for an enjoyable Italian meal, when it is now Metro accessible. Please don’t do away with Listrani’s in Arlington!!! And find a new place for Kitty O’Shea.

    • New flash

      Listrani’s is not a destination restaurant

      • Lee

        Not for me… Got towed from their parking lot while picking up carry-out last week. Sign was on the wall, in the dark. Manager had to bring me out with a flashlight to find it. $125 plate of spaghetti, not including cab ride to tow yard.

        • ConstantCritic

          you should include the cab ride

    • N.Arl.Guy

      They are also in McLean…..I’m more sad about the yummy Thai place going bye bye 🙁

      • SMDC

        Agreed. Thai at Corner is yummy.

    • Italy

      You can start going to La Tagliatella when it opens where the old Restaurant 3 was located. Stop your whining.

    • Deadite

      Call me nuts, Joan, but I’m pretty sure the county’s tax revenue from this lot will increase tremendously from this project. And try hitting up Il Radicchio just a few blocks down the hill toward Rosslyin if you want decent Italian food in/around Courthouse.

    • Corey

      That feeling when you’re pretty sure it’s parody, can’t tell, and then you realize it isn’t.

  • 7548

    The Francis X O’Leary building?

  • PeeperTom

    Should provide great views into the McMansions that have popped up around Adams, Custis and 16th in the last few years.

  • MrMeow

    What about Adam’s Corner? One less hookah place. Less vibrancy.

    • Deadite

      Why is the owner of that place is always so surly?

  • danielobvt

    This was going to happen eventually. These buildings were put up with the intent of being temporary until something better came along. It is not a good use of prime property for anything other than multiple story buildings to be in that close proximity to the Metro… And maybe something good will go into the retail space.

  • MrMeow

    Damn, I forgot that Thai at corner was there too. That’s even more reason to oppose this. have you noticed that anything that’s even remotely different is being removed from arlington? Soon everything will be a glass building. it’s like they’re deliberately trying to make arlington even more boring and characterless. We get cool places like Dremos taken away, and we get an office building and a fro yo place in return. I’ve lived in Tiny Villages in NY that were more exciting than this place and had much greater architecture, etc… I’m shocked they haven’t tried to tear down Ft. Myer or Arlington House yet.

    • Corey

      Power of the market at work, Steve.

    • drax

      Look at steve, calling for the government to interfere with private property rights – and on purely aesthetic grounds too!

    • Josh S

      There’s a place in NY called “Tiny Villages?” That must be where Elton John gets his inspiration…..
      But seriously, the reason the architecture in that small town may have been better is because all the buildings are at least 75 years old, so built before the whole Internationalist style and all that followed. It’s a trade-off – better architecture, but perhaps a mouldering economy?

  • TuesdaysChild

    That part of Wilson is starting to feel like a canyon.

    • Chicken Feet

      I like to think of it as a Rosslyn Jr.

      • 7548

        Arlington corners!

    • DCBuff

      It cqn’t be urban if it is a canyon.

  • 7548

    Why are they not building this office in one of the areas of Columbia pike that’s not being redeveloped. They picked the most expensive area they could find.

    • Josh S

      I’m sure the developers are quite aware of relative property values and presumably did their cost-benefit analysis to decide where would be more profitable to build. Columbia Pike is growing, but still does not come close in terms of economic vitality to the R-B corridor.

  • 7549

    Well, would you rather be right on a metro line or be on Columbia Pike where a glorified street car will be in who knows how many years?

    • 7548

      Maybe to cut the price of the project by one third and to make the county workers to see another park of Arlinton that they wouldn’t normally see on their commutes to louden county.

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        I think you might be misunderstanding something. I don’t see anything in the story to indicate the County will be a tenant. I think the headline references “Courthouse”, the area, not an office building for a courthouse.

  • headline news

    conservative commentator misinteprets and makes up facts shocker!

  • Andrew

    Does the entire building hang over the public walkway facing Wilson? Where else in Arlington was this allowed? It looks terrible in DC on 12th at Pennsylvania where the street is dark and shaded almost all day.

  • R. Griffon

    Anyone else get a chuckle out of their choice of vehicles in the renderings? ART bus, Fiat 500, Prius, Leaf, … throw in a few people on bikes to round it out. Say what you want, but at least these guys know their audience. 😛

    • drax

      Clean Technology Center. Duh.

      • Not so fast, missy

        Yeah, that Clean Technology Center is a hoot. Not a dang thing related to leading-edge clean technology here, just slogans and yesterday’s technology thank-you-very-much. But the marketing works.
        It is a MTFA gig. The principal, Michael T. Foster, is in with the developers.

  • Grandarch

    Who is the developer?

    Also, did folks notice the childcare mention? I’m glad Arlington is finally doing something to encourage childcare centers. I’ve been told by daycare directors that they have a pretty onerous regulatory system for setting up childcare space, which makes it hard to create a daycare center in a space that’s not built as one. Currently, the waiting lists are on the order of 2-3 years for daycare and prices are higher than rent.

  • TJLinBallston

    This is smart in-fill with Euro-massing of the glass on Wilson. Perhaps Listrani’s will return at street-level. Right at Courthouse, these smaller towers are important because they give the ‘hood critical mass right on the subway. I like how the County approves them one at a time with considered amenities and setbacks.

  • RJ

    Yeah, seriously…who is the developer? The article mentions an un-named developer several times without even idenitifying them or seeking comment.

    And, for all you armchair architects and developers out there critical of this project and/or its design, I can tell you from experience that it is impossible to design and build a project without significant, ahem, participation (i.e., interference) from the local government in a way which serves no public purpose whatsoever. You are at the mercy of a Planning Staff-person’s personal pereferences, ego and agenda much of the time. It is a miracle buildings like these (which create jobs, by the way) get built at all in activist jurisdictions like Arlington.

  • billj

    Nice Abarth…

  • Hank Hill

    now we just need to add a streetcar!!!


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