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Avis looks to rent cars from garages under vacant TSA buildings in Pentagon City

Vacant TSA headquarters at 601 and 701 12th Street S. in Pentagon City (via Google Maps)

The old Transportation Security Administration buildings in Pentagon City, vacant and awaiting redevelopment, could get put to a new, temporary use.

Avis Car Rental is looking to add rental operations to the pair of offices and their underground garages at 601 and 701 12th Street S. The business, which currently has a location at 2600 Richmond Hwy, has filed two applications, one for each building, with the county.

The TSA announced in 2015 that it would be leaving its headquarters for offices in Alexandria after the expiration of the five-year lease it signed in 2013. That stalled and amid the pandemic, the agency switched course and instead moved to Springfield, opening its headquarters in 2021.

At the time of the announcement, Arlington was coping with relatively high office vacancy rates driven in part by the departure of major tenants — including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Science Foundation — in search of cheaper leases.

After a dip down, the pandemic hit, sending the office vacancy rate even higher, where it has remained due to lasting remote work trends Covid catalyzed.

Avis proposes an alternative use until the owner of the office buildings, Brookfield Properties, razes these towers and builds four new towers with a mix of residential, office and retail uses. Brookfield’s redevelopment plans, first filed in 2019, are currently on hold.

“The proposed Vehicle Rental Use will further Arlington County’s goals and aims for a resilient commercial market,” attorney Matthew Weinstein, representing the car rental company, wrote in an application. “The Property is currently operating as a vacant office building until future redevelopment. The Vehicle Rental Use will improve existing conditions by activating space that would otherwise remain vacant for the short to mid-term. Moreover, the Vehicle Rental use will benefit the National Landing area by allowing customers arriving at National Airport to have a reliable and efficient option for renting vehicles during their visit to the Washington, D.C. area.”

Avis plans plans on using 50-250 spaces daily per garage, but is leasing some 922 parking spaces between the two TSA buildings to have extra space “depending on the operational needs,” such as handling overflow from other facilities, Weinstein writes.

Customers will access the facility from the lobbies of both buildings, where there will also be service counters. Avis plans to serve customers and rideshare drivers and rent an estimated 40-50 vehicles per day. The proposed hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

“The Applicant’s vehicle rental facility network works cohesively to ensure each rental facility is meeting customer demands and the Applicant’s operational needs. This means that at certain times each vehicle rental facility in the Applicant’s network will back up and supplement each other depending on demand and operational requirements.”

Meanwhile, plans to redevelop the TSA buildings have been on hold since 2020, at the request of Arlington County planners, Brookfield previously told the Washington Business Journal. At the time, they were working on a new sector plan to guide future development in Pentagon City.

The plan that was in place when Brookfield filed preliminary redevelopment plans reached the end of its useful life in light of Amazon’s second headquarters. Despite some vocal opposition, the Arlington County Board approved a new plan that focuses on residential infill development and “ribbons” of tree- and plant-lined walking paths.

Brookfield did not return a request for comment about an updated timeline for redevelopment.

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