Arlington County is looking to buy and eventually redevelop an office building on Columbia Pike.
The county says the vacant, three-story building at 3108 Columbia Pike would make a good home for both the Columbia Pike library branch — currently located on the ground floor of the Arlington Career Center — and affordable housing. Until that project materializes, it will serve as a parking lot.
This weekend, the Arlington County Board is slated to review a proposal to buy the property, appraised at $8 million, for $7.55 million. Money would come from funds already appropriated in previous budget cycles for land acquisition and bond premiums, according to a county report.
It will cost about $1.5 million to tear down the 1960s-era building and turn it into an interim parking lot, the report said. Staff determined retrofitting the building would require “major reconstruction” to meet modern safety and accessibility standards.
The one elevator cab and the restrooms don’t meet accessibility standards, the fire alarm system and the heating and cooling systems need to be replaced, and the building does not have a fire sprinkler system, the report said.
“County staff recommends that the building be demolished, and its footprint paved to the same level as the existing parking lot, providing a 43,101 square foot (approximately 1 acre) site available for future redevelopment for branch public library and co-location of other County Board priorities, such as affordable housing,” per the document.
The acquisition comes after renovations wrapped up to the current Columbia Pike library branch (816 S. Walter Reed Drive) last summer, consolidating the library to one floor to add seats at the Career Center above it. With enrollment there expected to continue rising, Arlington Public Schools is preparing to start construction on a new career center, next to the old one, in 2023.
APS will keep the existing Career Center building as a “flexible space.”
The county says an interim parking lot would be helpful during the construction across the street.
“The existing parking lot is in very good condition with 63 parking spaces,” the report said. “Removal of the building by demolition, with paving and restriping, could add another 58 spaces (for a total of 121 parking spaces) for interim use as a surface parking lot for the Career Center redevelopment and/or metered public parking, pending future redevelopment.”
The county has 60 days after signing the purchase agreement to inspect the building and rescind the offer if need be.
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