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Developer buys property Rhodeside Grill and Il Radicchio buildings and offices for $14M

A property between Rosslyn and Courthouse that is home to an office building and two long-time restaurants has been sold to a developer with plans to build apartments and retail.

D.C.-based The Fortis Cos. bought the property at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Rhodes Street for $14 million.

The site includes a four-story, 48,000-square-foot office building (1840 Wilson Blvd) and the restaurants Il Radicchio and Rhodeside Grill. The office building was the headquarters for the property’s previous owner, the nonprofit National Science Teaching Association (NSTA).

“This is a very familiar and highly visible property within the County and along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, and FORTIS is excited work on a new vision for the site, which will likely be mixed-use multifamily residential over ground floor retail,” Fortis Vice President Matt Bunch tells ARLnow.

In a press release announcing the sale, real estate company CBRE — which represented the nonprofit in the transaction — called the property “one of the last commercial development sites in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Arlington.”

Its development potential and quarter-mile distance from the Courthouse Metro Station generated “a high level of interest from prospective buyers,” CBRE Senior Vice President Dean Stiles said in a statement. “We are confident that it will be a valuable asset for Fortis.”

Arlington County has identified this site for mixed-use redevelopment, and Fortis intends to build a seven-story, 85-foot-tall apartment building.

Bunch says that plans for the site are still tentative and there’s no timeline to share — yet.

“We are in the very early stages of exploring design alternatives for the property, but we look forward to working with the County and community this year as we pursue new redevelopment ideas for the block,” Bunch said. “As of the moment, we don’t have a timeline to share but we do intend to seek an extension of the prior site plan this year.”

Last year, Fortis submitted a conceptual site plan outlining its intentions and seeking county feedback on how high it can build. The application laid out plans to file an amendment in the first quarter of 2023 seeking an extension of the site plan until 2026.

This July, an existing site plan that is nearly 20 years old and has been extended several times will expire.

In November of 2005, the Arlington County Board originally approved a site plan that would have retained the NSTA building, demolished the restaurants and replaced them with a new, six-story office building with nearly 62,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space.

In 2008, it granted an extension until 2011 and it was automatically extended until July 2020 by a state statute enacted in the wake of the Great Recession. The County Board subsequently granted extension until July 1, 2023.

This would be the second current project in Arlington for Fortis, which has also reprised long-dormant plans to turn a single-family detached home off of Route 50 near Courthouse into an apartment building.

“[It] is consistent with our strategy to create well-located and walkable transit-oriented redevelopments,” Bunch said. “It is also a testament to what we believe are strong economic fundamentals and demand drivers in the County that will continue for the foreseeable future.”

NSTA said via press release that it was time to let go of its physical presence in D.C. because the pandemic proved the organization could function well remotely.

“The organization was able to continue to function at a high level throughout the pandemic, while staff worked remotely and NSTA members were able to take part in many excellent virtual meetings and professional programs,” said NSTA Executive Director Erika Shugart, Ph.D. “After a long and thorough process and careful consideration, our board of directors decided to sell the property.”

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