A residential redevelopment planned for a four-story office building, bank drive-thru and parking lot on Columbia Pike is now heading to the Arlington County Board.
On Monday night, the Planning Commission unanimously voted its approval for a project that would tear down the Bank of America building at 3401 Columbia Pike, at the northwest corner of S. Glebe Road and the Pike, next to the Wendy’s. It will now head to the Arlington County Board, which is slated to consider the project at its meeting next Saturday, Feb. 18.
The property falls within the Pike’s Commercial Form-Based Code, which provides a streamlined process for developers provided they meet certain guidelines. The project needs Planning Commission and County Board approval because of its size, according to Commissioner Stephen Hughes.
“Otherwise, the goal is for it to be a by-right development subject to the Zoning Administrator, if every checkbox is met,” he said.
The developer, Marcus Partners, proposes a 250-unit, six-story apartment building with 4,500 square feet of ground floor retail and 287 parking spaces across a 2.5-level underground garage. It will have 172 one-bedroom, 39 two-bedroom and 38 studio units.
“I for one am excited to see this building get built because it’s different,” Hughes said. “The materiality and the architecture of it are something we’ve yet to see on the Pike, and so I think we’re a little excited to see that.”
As part of the project, Marcus Partners will make streetscape improvements, revamp an existing alley for parking and loading and build a 7,800 square-foot private open space. It will landscape a small triangular lot to create more of a buffer between the building and a single-family home to the north.
Throughout the review process, people have been sensitive to how close the proposed building will be to this home and have recommended ways to minimize impacts on residents, said county planner Matt Mattauszek.
“This is not the first, nor will it be the last time, that a form-based code has an adjacency to a low residential development zone and it is always shocking to me… the embracing of the density that goes on with my neighbors on the Pike,” Hughes said.
The proposed building will round out development of this prominent intersection, says Lauren Riley, a land use lawyer with Walsh Colucci. It is flanked by three form-based code projects: Pike 3400 to the south, Gilliam Place to the west and the under-construction Westmont project to the east.
“No need to worry, you’ll still have your bank services across the street,” she said.
The form-based code comes with height restrictions: three to six stories for what it designates as main streets, two to five stories for avenues and two to three stories for local streets. Developers are able to extend or retract these designations up to 50 feet to make their project work.
Even with this workaround, Marcus Partners would have had to make a small section of its building three stories shorter, which county staff agreed would be unworkable. The developer is asking the County Board for relief from the tapering requirement.
“The transition from a higher density to a single-family home had been well thought out on the form-based code and the unique instance of this site and the way the site was assembled warrants this change,” said Commissioner Leonardo Sarli. “But the transition from main street to residential is a really good approach and one that benefits the community as a whole.”
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Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to