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Economic downturn puts Columbia Pike redevelopment on hold

Construction of an approved residential development at the Rappahannock Coffee site on Columbia Pike is on hold for now.

The approved six-story, 120-unit building with ground-floor retail and underground parking would replace three one-story retail buildings and a surface parking lot on the southeast corner of the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Barton Street, at 2400 Columbia Pike.

Yao Yao, with YW Development, told ARLnow that his firm isn’t going to pursue redevelopment at this time, citing high and climbing interest rates and a generally poor economic outlook — including mixed signals of a looming recession.

Instead, he is looking for a new tenant to fill the vacant retail space next to Rappahannock Coffee and Roasting and generate some income before moving forward with the project. It used to be occupied by Cabinet Era before the business moved to Falls Church.

Leasing agent Erik Ulsaker says the space will work as-is for a temporary retail concept. Any tenant would have to be okay with a termination option if, in three to four years, economic conditions improve and it comes time to build.

“This is a good space for startups, and people who want to get going on their business plans,” he said, adding that he and his business partner “welcome creative ideas,” like pop-ups.

“If it goes over well, it could be put into the development, as we’ve got 16,000 square feet of retail on the back end,” he said. “It’s a good way to test the market.”

YW Development’s proposal went before the Arlington County Board last year. It modified an existing, already-approved proposal for the site by adding 6,500 square feet, 15 residential units and 36 parking spaces while preserving existing building facades.

The long-delayed project — first proposed in 2013, approved in 2016 and pushed back in 2020 — was initially led by Columbia Pike-based B.M. Smith, which was behind the Penrose Square development across the street.

Hat tip to John Antonelli

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