The Arlington Planning Commission gave a proposed Columbia Pike residential redevelopment the thumbs-up.
Now, plans to replace an aging, one-story retail strip in the 2600 block of Columbia Pike will head to the County Board for approval during its recessed meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 17.
Arlington-based Insight Property Group proposes to tear down the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive and build a multifamily building with ground floor retail. The six-story building, dubbed “The Elliott,” will situate 247 market-rate apartments above a grocery store (rumored to be an Amazon Fresh), a renovated CVS pharmacy and three levels of below-grade parking.
“This project has been a work in progress for several years now,” said Tad Lunger, the land use attorney representing the project. “As you know, it is a very prominent site in a town center on Columbia Pike, which was envisioned to accomplish a number of planning and community goals. The culmination of these goals has informed every aspect of this proposal.”
The developer will contribute land on the eastern edge of the site to the second phase of Penrose Square Park. This will nearly double the park’s size, and allow the two sculptures that comprise the public art installation “Echo” to be farther apart, as originally envisioned by its artist.
It will also build a new S. Cleveland Street, which separates the park and the site, a pedestrian passageway along the western edge of the site and an alley to the north.
Residents will have access to four amenity spaces: two internal courtyards, a pool courtyard overlooking the pedestrian passageway and a rooftop space. Insight Property Group is aiming for LEED Silver certification of the building.
Once engineering, building and landscape plans are finalized, demolition could begin in early fall, Erika Moore, a spokeswoman with the Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, previously told ARLnow. If that starts on time, construction would likely conclude by early 2025.
Members of the Planning Commission praised the project and had few questions.
“I’m excited by the presentation, and I’m excited to see this move forward,” said Daniel Weir, speaking not as the Planning Commission Chair but as a member. “I’m very happy as well with what we’ve been presented with.”
That there were no public speakers and few questions demonstrates how the Columbia Pike Form Based Code — which guides development on the Pike and favors mid-rise apartments with ground-floor retail — helped realize an “amazing building,” Commissioner Stephen Hughes said.
“Our long list of public speakers and fellow commissioners who have poignant things to add is a big old goose egg,” he said. “We stand on the shoulders of giants who helped build the original plan and worked to ensure the balancing act of many different areas were heard, communicated and then held to.”
The alley prompted one question from Commissioner Tenley Peterson, who referenced two car accidents involving alleys in November — one involving a toddler in Westover and the other an adult on a motorcycle who died of his injuries — that prompted a county task force to study alley safety.
“I’m interested in alley safety because this is a residential area and there’s residential area just north of this alley,” she said.
Transportation planner Jane Kim said her team wishes the alley were wider but recognizes there are some limitations imposed by nearby structures.
“It is definitely an intersection that we are planning to keep an eye on for several reasons, including safety,” she said.
This is one of three projects in the area that the county can use to address road safety, she said, including the newly relaunched Arlington Career Center expansion project and a department-led road re-striping project.
During construction, CVS is expected to move its pharmacy services to a trailer in the existing parking lot, Moore previously said. The trailer will remain open until the project’s completion, at which point CVS will relocate into the new building.
All the tenants at the shopping center, including Legend Kicks, Atilla’s Restaurant and the Columbia Pike Partnership (CPP), received a notice to vacate by May 31 of this year, CPP’s deputy director Amy McWilliams previously told ARLnow.
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Join Us on Monday, October 17, 2022, for our General Membership Meeting & Arlington County Candidate Forum led by the NAACP Arlington Branch Political Action CommitteeTime: 7:00-9:00 pmLocation: Virtual on Zoom County Board (3 candidates)Matt de Ferranti (https://mattforarlington.com/)Audrey Clement (https://audreyclement.com/)Adam Theo (https://www.theoforarlington.org/) School Board (2 candidates)James “Vell” Rives (https://www.rivesforsb.com/)Bethany Sutton (https://www.bethany4aps.org/)Open to the PublicRegister: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwvdu- gpzkpE9XJn5vI3Fy-LO6f1r0qli7V After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.”The NAACP is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse candidates for political office at any level. Persons affiliated with the NAACP at the national, state, and local levels are free to make candidate endorsements in a personal capacity, but they do not reflect support by the NAACP as an organization.” Derrick Johnson, President/CEO, NAACP, May 22, 2022
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