Economic conditions, continued revisions slow two redevelopments in Clarendon and Virginia Square

Two development proposals in Clarendon and Virginia Square are facing delays.

Last week, ARLnow reported that St. Charles Catholic Church was suspending its church redevelopment plans for now, citing economic conditions. Two other projects nearby likewise cite the country’s economic outlook as one reason progress is taking longer than expected.

One project replacing the Wells Fargo bank — which saw a notable attempted robbery last year — and its parking lot, led by developer Jefferson Apartment Group, is expected to pick up the pace soon. The other, from the YMCA, may take a bit longer.

For both, Arlington County is waiting on revisions to their site plan applications, according to Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Erika Moore.

JAG proposes to demolish the bank and build a 12-story, 238-unit apartment building with 67,000 square feet of office and 30,000 square feet of retail space, including a replacement bank, which will no longer have a drive-thru. The Verizon telephone switching station will remain, screened from view.

The last public review opportunity for the Wells Fargo development was a site plan review committee (SPRC) meeting last April. Since then, says Moore, staff have not requested any major changes, however, “the developer has been reconsidering the proposed mix of uses on the site.”

She added that the developer has signaled it will soon file a revised site plan for the property, at 3140 Washington Blvd and 1025 N. Irving Street.

“Jefferson Apartment Group continues to advance the 4.1 site plan for the mixed-use redevelopment of the Wells Fargo/Verizon site in the Clarendon area of Arlington County,” JAG Senior Vice President Greg Van Wie said in a statement. “JAG has made some important changes to the plan and will resubmit to the County in the coming weeks.”

Economic conditions have forced the developer to move the start of construction, however.

“While market conditions have created financing challenges, JAG remains committed to commencing the project later this year,” Van Wie said.

Meanwhile, the development team for the Y continues to address comments from county staff made last summer but has yet to refile plans, project attorney David Tarter told ARLnow.

“The YMCA proposal remains active and underway,” he said. “Although it has taken longer than expected, the Y believes that all the input, thought and effort will make it a better project.”

The Y proposes a 7-story, 374-unit apartment building as well as a new 87,850-square-foot recreation center facility with indoor swimming pools, three indoor pickleball courts and convertible courts for squash, handball and racquetball, as well as fitness and multipurpose spaces. Tennis courts were axed last summer to the chagrin of some members.

He said the project is complex as it includes a new YMCA and apartment building “on a site with a steep grade and other issues.”

“Increased interest rates and other economic headwinds also present challenges, particularly for a non-profit,” he added. “We have additional work to do, but look forward to providing a new state-of-the-art facility and programing to better serve the broader Arlington community.”

Until the Y refiles its revised plans, the county cannot schedule two necessary meetings, Moore said.

During these meetings, county staff and Site Plan Review Committee members will examine the proposal and recommend changes before teeing up the project for review by the Planning Commission and Arlington County Board.

In an initial SPRC meeting last summer, county planner Peter Schulz said the developer made several revisions that brought the project closer to resolving issues staff identified in 2022, including insufficient community benefits to justify 374 apartments.

County staff retain their reservations about the size of a planned open space on the western side of the property, he said. Should the Y refile a revised set of plans, staff will analyze open space and how it will be used on a more granular level.

Schulz also flagged the proposal to build separate apartment and gym buildings, rather than a single building with a mix of uses as recommended in a study of the site.

These are not the only projects poised to change the face of these neighborhoods. Others include George Mason University’s $235 million expansion project, dubbed FUSE at Mason Square, which could be completed late next year, and the Joyce Motors and Silver Diner projects, which propose, respectively, an 11-story apartment building with ground-floor retail and a new hotel and apartment building.