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Additional apartments, townhomes mulled for Shirlington multifamily building

New apartments might one day be built on open space surrounding the Shirlington House apartments.

Arlington-based Snell Properties, which owns the property at 4201 31st Street S., filed conceptual plans with Arlington County last month, seeking staff feedback on a variety of topics.

This is an early step applicants can take before filing an official site plan application to pursue development. It does not guarantee the project — as currently envisioned — will move forward. Rather, it is a way developers can consult county staff and evaluate options.

Since January, Snell Properties has separately had informal discussions and communications with Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development staff, per its application.

The applicant proposes to build one 64-unit apartment building with a mix of studio, 1- and 2-bedroom units on a hilly open space between the existing 436-unit apartment building and the Citizen at Shirlington Village complex.

Open space near the Shirlington House and how Snell Properties envisions adding an apartment building there (via Google Maps and Arlington County)

It also proposes seven “street liner” buildings along 31st Street S. — between Shirlington village and the Fairlington neighborhood — which would create 14 2-story, 3-bedroom units, the application says. One purpose of the conceptual site plan is to ask county staff whether adding these “street liner” buildings is feasible.

Three-bedroom units are in high demand and Planning Commission members have frequently requested or discussed these “family-sized” dwellings during recent reviews of development proposals.

31st Street S., where ‘street liner’ buildings could go and how they would fit into the sloping on the site (via Google Maps and Arlington County)

The new units would be served by excess parking available in the Shirlington House surface lot and below-grade parking garage. The existing apartment building will remain as-is, according to the application.

Arlington County granted permission to build 437 units on the site in the 1980s. To get more units, Snell has to make the case it can mitigate the potential effects of adding density through community improvements.

Snell suggested “possible onsite affordable dwelling units.” Developers can also make transportation upgrades — such as adding bicycle lanes — to offset a potential uptick in car trips from the new development, or make cash contributions to affordable housing and public art funds.

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