(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Dozens of law enforcement officers, along with fire department and county government personnel, are on scene of the former Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn.
A smaller police presence seen at the nearly 65-year-old hotel building last night grew into a parking lot-filling operation this morning. A drone could also be seen flying nearby, apparently part of the response.
Initial reports suggest that the property is being cleared of squatters, a significant task in such a large building. Arlington County said in a 6 a.m. press release (below) that the building is being condemned.
The press release suggests that the county expects the operation will take most of the day and will include ensuring those living in the building “have a place to go” and are provided “the services and care they may need.”
Arlington County has deemed the former hotel site at 1401 Langston Blvd. as unsafe and unfit for habitation. Due to the risk posed to the community’s safety and health, the County is condemning the building.
The County’s actions are authorized by the Virginia Uniformed Statewide Building Code and the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, which gives local officials the ability to condemn a structure and secure it to prevent access.
The County has a duty to ensure everyone’s health and safety, including any individuals who have sought shelter inside the building, first responders who may need to respond to calls for public safety assistance, and the community at large.
Using a “whole of government” response, multiple departments across Arlington County, in conjunction with nonprofit partners, are prioritizing the health and safety of individuals at the property, ensuring they have a place to go, and providing the services and care they may need.
The site will then be properly secured.
The property, formerly known as the Key Bridge Marriott, was purchased in 2018 by KBLH LLC (a subsidiary of the owner Woodridge Capital Partners). In March 2020, the County Board approved a site plan project from KBLH to partially demolish and renovate the existing hotel and construct two new residential buildings. In July 2021, Marriott ceased operation of the hotel and the building was closed in preparation for development. The current property owner has not proceeded with the project.
Media briefings are scheduled to be held across Langston Blvd. at Gateway Park (1300 Langston Blvd.), on Friday, March 24, 2023, at both 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Parking will not be available at the 1401 Langston Blvd. property.
The challenging logistics of the operation are not limited to clearing hundreds upon hundreds of rooms. According to scanner traffic, a lack of working bathrooms or portable toilets earlier this morning prompted police to be instructed to drive elsewhere should they need to go.
ARLnow reported in December that the planned redevelopment of the large property, which overlooks the Potomac, “appears to have stalled with no indication of picking back up.”
The redevelopment, approved in March 2020, would have included “the renovation of the hotel — one of Marriott’s earliest hotels, which first opened in 1959 — as well as the construction of three new 16-story residential buildings, with about 300 rental apartments and 150 condo units.”
While the hotel has sat empty, it has reportedly been used as a makeshift shelter for a growing contingent of unhoused individuals. But that has posed challenges for law enforcement; according to records provided to ARLnow, police have responded to the property at least 10 times so far this year for things like trespassing, burglary and suspicious circumstances.
One such incident, from March 6, required a large contingent of officers to search the hotel for a person who said they were injured. That person was not found but a fugitive from Maryland was.
“At approximately 11:20 a.m. on March 6, police were dispatched to the 1400 block of Langston Boulevard for the report of suspicious circumstances. The reporting party stated she was inside the building and was hurt,” APCD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Responding officers conducted a search of the building and she was not located inside. While searching the property, officers located an adult male inside the building and determined he was wanted by the Harford County Sheriff’s Office (MD) for a Probation Violation. [A suspect], 36, of Baltimore, MD was taken into custody and held on a Fugitive from Justice warrant.”
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