Temporary pickleball courts proposed as Crystal City development project faces delays

Temporary pickleball and beach volleyball courts could be coming to Crystal City as plans to build two apartment towers face significant delays.

A pair of 30-story apartment buildings are ultimately expected to bring 1,439 residential units and over 22,000 square feet of retail to 223 23rd Street S. and 2250 Crystal Drive. But the project approved in early 2023 won’t be getting off the ground until “construction costs and interest rates normalize” — likely next year at the earliest, developer JBG Smith told ARLnow.

As a temporary measure, the company proposes to partner with Volo Sports to introduce a set of eight pickleball courts, four beach volleyball courts, a food truck, a beverage cart and a portable restroom trailer. The Arlington County Board is scheduled consider this proposal at a Saturday meeting.

“With more than 800 apartments delivering just down the street at The Grace and Reva, this exciting new recreational amenity will be enjoyed by both residents and neighbors, serving as a unique interim placemaking offering that complements the successful delivery of Water Park, Surreal and the retail at 1900 Crystal Drive,” said Amy Rice, senior vice president of retail leasing at JBG Smith.

If approved, the volleyball courts would open this summer and pickleball would come next spring.

Arlington would receive $3,600 in licensing fees every quarter, per a proposed license agreement. Parties could terminate the agreement at any point with 30 days’ notice.

The new, temporary recreation area has the support of the National Landing BID.

“We are excited about the addition of a new community-centered outdoor space in National Landing with the activation of the 23rd Street site,” said President and Executive Director Tracy Sayegh Gabriel. “This collaborative initiative is another example of the broad commitment to create more spaces for the area’s residents and visitors, offering a fun and engaging way to stay active and connect with their neighbors and build community.”

Construction crews began demolishing structures at 223 23rd Street S., which included the former Jaleo restaurant, in May 2022. A one-story Crystal City Shops structure still stands, but the structures that used to stand on top of it and beside it have been leveled.

News of the construction delay is the latest in a string of recent setbacks for Arlington developers.

Plans to build almost 2,000 new residential units in Pentagon City were cast into doubt last Tuesday after a lawsuit led a state court to overturn the Pentagon City Sector Plan. Additionally, following a year and a half of delays, a would-be developer has filed to abandon plans to redevelop a Columbia Pike retail strip as a 247-unit apartment building.

Pickleball, on the other hand, is going strong.

Construction on the somewhat controversial Walter Reed pickleball courts is expected to begin by the end of this year, and last month, the Arlington County jail recently hosted its second jail pickleball tournament.

The county’s map of Arlington pickleball courts displays eight locations where Arlingtonians can partake in the popular pastime, but none in Crystal City. The closest court to that neighborhood is in Fort Scott Park.

Volleyball, meanwhile, is already played at the long-time sand courts nearby at 2451 Crystal Drive — but a redevelopment of that property has been proposed. JBG Smith previously told ARLnow that it’s committed to ultimately preserving the courts. The development proposal is still working its way through the county’s process.