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New PenPlace Site Plans Dramatically Scaled Back

After initially fighting hard for increased density, an amended site plan for Pentagon City’s proposed PenPlace features drastically scaled back development desires.

The initial office-oriented plan called for five buildings between 16 and 22 stories high on a 10.2 acre parcel, including a 300-room hotel. Now, the plan calls for a more minuscule residential development of 300 apartments between two buildings at a height of seven stories.

A west building would have 171 apartments; an eastern building, 129. The density is much less than some on county staff desire, ARLnow.com was told.

“We will have to look at… in terms of height and scale and density, if this is appropriate,” said a county planner, adding that it was “highly unusual to see site plans coming in below an approved or allocated figure.”

According to the county planner, the applicant has said that they will reallocate the density, but has not yet explained how. The company could shift the approved density from one area to another, but will have to be more specific as to the impact on land use before getting county staff approval.

Another county employee familiar with the updated site plan noted that the plan would be less expensive for JBG Smith, which merged with original site plan applicant Vornado, to construct.

The employee explained that since steel reinforcement is only necessary on buildings that are more than five stories high, the building’s framework could be wood. The employee added that the first two floors in the site plan are concrete, so the additional five floors could legally be built atop of that with wood.

Matt Ginivan, JBG Smith’s senior vice president of real estate development, told ARLnow.com in an interview that he wasn’t aware of some county staff’s skepticism of the diminished density and that JBG Smith has not formally received any feedback or questions yet.

Ginivan said that rather than maxing out the PenPlace site’s capacity, they wanted to “improve the pedestrian experience” with a mix of ground floor options that aren’t just the larger projects that are already prevalent in Crystal City and Pentagon City.

Photos via Arlington County

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