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JBG Smith asks for more time to negotiate lease for Crystal City library

JBG Smith is asking the Arlington County Board for more time to negotiate a lease with the county for a library inside one of its new buildings.

In May 2021, the Arlington County Board approved JBG Smith’s plans to replace Crystal Plaza One (2050 and 2051 S. Bell Street) with two multifamily towers, an “East” and “West” tower, and shift S. Clark Street to the east to create a new S. Clark-Bell Street.

As part of a residential redevelopment project, JBG Smith agreed to financially support a new 7,200-square-foot library branch located in an existing building at 1901 S. Bell Street.

As of now, the developer is predicting it will not make a deadline set as part of conditions for its redevelopment, according to a county report. The conditions require the lease for the library space to be executed when a specific building permit, known as a footing-to-grade permit, is issued as construction progresses at the Crystal Plaza One site.

According to the report, JBG Smith and the county “have been diligently working to complete the lease agreement,” but they won’t be ready before construction reaches the footing-to-grade milestone.

“The result would potentially cause a work stoppage and prolong the construction timeline,” the report says. “To prevent construction delays and allow more time to complete the lease agreement, the applicant proposes to move the deadline for lease execution back to the final building permit for the second building (West Tower). This would provide approximately five months of additional time to complete the lease execution.”

County staff recommend requiring the lease to be executed when the final building permit for the second building is issued, or by April 1, 2023, whichever occurs first.

Additionally, JBG Smith has agreed to revised conditions ensuring it will begin contributing payments for the library’s operations before the footing-to-grade permit is issued.

JBG Smith previously agreed to contribute $250,000 per year, for five years, for a total of $1.25 million, beginning concurrent with the lease execution, per the report. These revisions will allow the payments to begin while the lease is being finalized.

Currently, people who live and work in the area have to cross busy Route 1 to reach the nearest library, the Aurora Hills branch located a few blocks from the Pentagon City mall. Previously, Crystal City residents also had access to a temporary, “pop-up” library.

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