Arlington, VA

A developer is planning to raze two office buildings on 601-701 12th Street S. in Pentagon City and build four new towers with residential, office, and retail space.

That’s according to a preliminary site plan filing with Arlington County. The plan also notes that the property’s current occupants — the Transportation Security Administration — are soon leaving the county.

Renderings in the filings from property owner Brookfield Properties depict four buildings planned for the area:

  • a 14-story, 240-foot high southwest tower for office space
  • a 20-story, 235-foot high southeast tower for residential or hotel use
  • a 24-story, 275-foot high northeast tower for residential or hotel use
  • a 26-story, 300-foot high northwest tower for residential use, with a penthouse

The company’s proposal says the development will occur in phases and will include “new access to the Pentagon City Metro, upgraded streetscapes and sidewalks, a new internal pedestrian pathway, public open spaces and outdoor seating” as well as public art.

Brookfield’s plans indicate that retail space is planned along the ground floor of the four towers and along 12th Street S.

Tysons-based law firm Venable LLP submitted the proposal, which included a request to make an exception to the site’s limits on building height and density for the project, on behalf of Brookfield.

The document notes that, “the proposal will help address the significant increase in demand for residential housing and hotel space, which will only grow considering the potential for office development in the region.”

The plan says it aims to “ease congestion on surrounding roads by integrating with nearby sites, improving internal circulation, and connecting to Metro.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently using the two buildings on-site and is scheduled to move out next fall, per agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

“The new building will be located at 6595 Springfield Center Drive, Springfield,” said Farbstein.

The TSA had been planning to stay at the property, which is next to the Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters and across the street from the Pentagon City mall, until mid-2020.

TSA announced in 2015 that it would move to Alexandria in a bid to save $95 million over the next 15 years, but the move was later overturned by a federal judge.

Brookfield Properties describes the two, 12-story buildings currently occupied by the TSA as, “aging, obsolete” and “unattractive.”

The county posted the address of the project on its website under “Preliminary Development Proposals” last week. However, the process of obtaining the plans revealed the county’s permitting and zoning offices were adapting the way they process records requests.

After requesting to see a copy of the development proposal, this reporter was told by two zoning staff members that as of Monday, written Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were required to view such documents. But during a subsequent inquiry Arlington’s Resident Ombudsman and Director of Constituent Services, Ben Aiken, said staff was mistaken.

“There will be no requirement for a written request,” Aiken clarified.

He added that the system currently used by the office where members of the public signs in, requests documents, and waits for them at the Courthouse office had not changed.

However, employees are now being trained to fill out FOIA requests for cases when documents were not immediately available. This may open the public to having to pay fees for the requests, per the county’s FOIA fee policy. Aiken told ARLnow that some of these fees may be waived pending county review.

Last month, a Washington Business Journal reporter was also asked to file a FOIA for building permit.

The new FOIA requirement in the event of documents being unavailable is being put into place to ensure fairness, Aiken said.

“There were instances where people… who had relationships with certain officials in Arlington County… would go to them and get the records they wanted faster than if they walked in off the street or filled in the form,” he said. “That’s unfair.”

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