The County Board unanimously approved three new residential buildings for the western end of the Clarendon neighborhood last night.
The new buildings, developed by the Arlington-based Shooshan Company, will have up to 580 housing units and 3,477 square feet of retail space. The new development will sit on the site of the current Red Top Cab headquarters and two low-rise commercial buildings, which house a furniture repair shop and childcare center.
“This is an ambitious redevelopment that will transform the western end of Clarendon,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes in a statement. “It continues and expands the vision set forth for the Clarendon Revitalization District, and brings a much-needed street realignment and improvements to the transportation network.”
The new buildings may be as tall as 110 feet, but will “taper” from the single-family homes surrounding the buildings. The company is proposing to use three different colors of brick, keeping in mind the general look of the surrounding buildings.
“I think its a series of very striking buildings, architecturally. It’s going to continue the forward momentum of Clarendon,” County Board member John Vihstadt said.
Shooshan is proposing six committed affordable units in the complex, as a community benefit, in addition to meeting the zoning ordinance requirement for a development of its size as it pertains to affordable housing.
The ordinance gives Shooshan the option of a $1.8 million contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund, including 16 affordable units on site, or 23-31 off-site affordable units. That fits in with the county’s plan for more affordable housing, said County Board Vice Chair Walter Tejada.
“We’re looking at what we call the Metro corridor, so it’s not easy. And anything you can get in that site is great, and I’m not surprised that an effort was made by the applicant,” Tejada said.
The site plan also calls for a street realignment. Under the project, a portion of N. Ivy Street south of 13th Street N. will be deleted. 12th Street N. will be shifted to the east, providing a connection between N. Hudson Street and Washington Blvd. Shooshan will help the county with improvements to the streets around the development and with the construction of a new park.
“This is a traffic pinch point that we are going to be able to fix by doing what we’re doing together,” Hynes said.
Shooshan will paying for the changes to the streets and dedicating land for the new park.
“The developer will reimburse the county $3 million for costs associated with the improvements to Washington Blvd, 13th Street N., and N. Johnson Street. In addition, the developer will dedicate parcels to the county which eventually will be used to create the Clarendon Sector Plan’s recommended Washington Blvd/13th Street Park,” the county said in a press release.
Other community benefits include a public art contribution and sustainable building design elements that meet LEED specifications.
The proposed development was met with little public comment — only two members of the public chose to talk, activist Jim Hurysz and the lawyer for the furniture shop being sold to and demolished by the developer. The latter spoke in favor of the development, calling it a “win-win-win.”
“Although we started late, it’s pretty remarkable that something this significant has only two speakers, one of them who is our usual visitor,” Hynes said.
Board members also kept their comments brief, mostly praising the new development plan.
“There’s not much to dislike about it,” County Board member Jay Fisette said. “It’s a very attractive project.”
Construction on the project is slated to take place in two phases.