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Demolition begins on former Jaleo in Crystal City as redevelopment plan advances

Demolition of the former Jaleo restaurant building in Crystal City began this week, as the site plan review process for a redevelopment on the block kicked off earlier this month.

The proposal by JBG Smith is making its way through the county approval process to turn the 2250 Crystal Drive and 223 23rd Street S. buildings into two apartment towers with ground floor retail and an underground parking garage.

The two 30-story apartment towers replacing the former restaurant space and the aging 11-story “Crystal Plaza 5” office building would include:

  • A “West Tower” at 223 23rd Street S. that would be 309 feet tall and have 613 dwelling units, 4,379 square feet of retail and 184 parking spaces
  • An “East Tower” at 2250 Crystal Drive that would be 304 feet tall, and have 827 dwelling units, 13,059 square feet of retail and 249 total parking spaces

An underground garage structure would serve both buildings, averaging 0.3 spaces per unit, and connect to the existing parking structure on the block, county planner Michael Cullen said in a presentation earlier this month.

JBG Smith also proposes moving the plaza and pedestrian access to a collection of underground shops and corridors to the northwest corner of the east tower.

Once approved and constructed, the buildings would make the block, called “Block M” in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan, 80% residential. Most of the buildings on Block M are owned by JBG Smith.

There was one adjustment in JBG’s most recent presentation to the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC).

Along the east-west connection, JBG Smith added a park option based on community feedback at the Long Range Planning Committee, said Madhvi Shukla with JBG Smith. In both options, the whole east-west connection, which links Crystal Drive and another path to 23rd Street S., would be publicly accessible.

“The section that isn’t chosen for the park would have a public access easement to ensure whichever park space is chosen has public access to both Crystal Drive and to the underground entry,” she said.

A graphic of the east-west connection for the 2250 Crystal Drive project shows a new location option for a park on the right (via JBG Smith)

Three park spaces are incorporated in the plan, which ultimately will total 26,000 square feet, but one of the spaces will be phased into its final size over time, Shukla said.

The 13,000-square-foot park envisioned in the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan would not be fully finished unless JBG Smith redevelops the Crystal Plaza 6 apartments at 2221 S. Clark Street. In the interim, the park will total about 8,000 square feet on the site’s southwest corner, and an alley between the two towers will be a dead end.

The north-south connection between 23rd Street and the east-west connection would be designed to prioritize pedestrians, with 8 and 9-foot sidewalks, elevated planters for protection and string lights to signal it’s a pedestrian-first zone, Shukla said.

On 23rd Street, there will be protected bike lanes going in both directions, Shukla said, as well as a protected bike lane on Crystal Drive. While the 23rd Street realignment will narrow the roadway, it will have the same number of lanes without a median.

A rendering shows what 23rd Street S. will look like with protected bike lanes and without a median (via JBG Smith)

On June 13 and July 21, there will be virtual SPRC meetings to discuss the project. Planning Commission meetings and a County Board vote are expected this fall.

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