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Ballston Holiday Inn redevelopment proposal reaches Arlington County Board

Redevelopment plans for a Holiday Inn and office building in Ballston are headed to the Arlington County Board for approval.

The developers, Hoffman & Associates and Snell Properties, intend to replace the hotel (4600 Fairfax Drive) and Arlington Center Building (4610 Fairfax Drive) with a seven-story, 432-unit apartment building and two five-story, 15-unit buildings.

The development duo also propose building a new private road and alley for parking and loading activity, as well as new sidewalks and streetscapes along them.

The site is located west of N. Glebe Road, along N. Fairfax Drive, just before it becomes an on- and off-ramp to I-66. It is five blocks from the Ballston Metro station and two blocks from a proposed western entrance, currently in an early design phase.

“This site has a lot of surface parking, structured parking, an office building, the Holiday Inn, and a disconnected relationship to our neighbors to the south,” Cathy Puskar, a land use attorney for the developers, told the Planning Commission last week. “It’s been here quite a long time… so we are very eager to move forward with that.”

Hoffman and Snell have cleared nearly every step in the public review process. On Saturday, the Arlington County Board is set to review their request for easements in order to build on the site.

Much has changed since the initial submission more than a year ago.

“This project went through a substantial evolution as we went through the [Site Plan Review Committee] process,” Arlington County planner Adam Watson said during the Planning Commission meeting.

In response to public feedback, the layout changed and a bicycle and pedestrian path was widened to 12 feet and moved.

The 5-story buildings are now to the west of the 7-story building, rather than to its south. Watson says this creates a better height transition from the tall George Washington University building at 950 N. Glebe Road to the single-family homes west of the 4600 Fairfax Drive site.

Now, the proposed path separates the 7-story and 5-story buildings. Watson says this furthers county plans to add a “West Ballston Connection” linking with the Bluemont Junction, Custis and Ballston Pond trails at Fairfax Drive.

The evolution of the site layout for 4600 Fairfax Drive, by Jo DeVoe (via Arlington County)

Watson said the project now delivers “a much improved streetscape, especially along Fairfax Drive” and less impervious surface area. It preserves more trees to increase the buffer between the development and the single-family homes nearby, he said.

“We really loved that first version… but we are very proud of where we are today,” Puskar said. “Despite some painful cuts and changes, we listened, and this is why we have such a good plan in front of you today.”

While the developers directed the bulk of residential traffix to Fairfax Drive — as opposed to the smaller private road south of the site, to allay concerns about traffic flow — some residents still have misgivings, Planning Commissioner Jim Lantelme said.

Climate Change, Energy and Environment Commission representative Mark Greenwood praised the project’s use of electricity rather than gas, but suggested the developers replace the gas stoves with induction ones, while adding more parking for electric vehicles.

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