Arlington, VA

by ARLnow.com October 31, 2016 at 4:40 pm 0

Vornado Realty TrustVornado, Arlington County’s biggest private landowner — with major collections of properties in Crystal City and Rosslyn — announced today that it is spinning off and merging its D.C. area operations with Chevy Chase, Md.-based JBG Companies.

The combined company would have both office and residential properties throughout Crystal City, Pentagon City and the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. Among JBG’s properties in Arlington are the under-construction Central Place project in Rosslyn and the iconic “Bob Peck” office building at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston.

In 2014, Vornado’s properties in Arlington were assessed at $3.8 billion, or 5.7 percent of the total assessed value of all property in the county, according to the Washington Business Journal. JBG’s properties in Arlington were assessed at $1.31 billion.

From a press release, issued late this afternoon:

VORNADO REALTY TRUST (NYSE:VNO) (“Vornado”) announced today that its Board of Trustees has approved a tax-free spin-off of its Washington, DC business, currently known as Vornado/Charles E. Smith, and that it has entered into a definitive agreement to merge SpinCo with the operating company and certain select assets of The JBG Companies (“JBG”), a leading Washington, DC real estate company.

The combined company will be named JBG SMITH Properties. It will be the largest, market-leading, best-in-class, pure-play Washington, DC real estate company. This transaction represents a key milestone in Vornado’s value creation strategy which will have produced three world-class, highly focused REITs – Vornado itself (RemainCo), Urban Edge Properties, and now, JBG SMITH. Each of these companies has a highly focused
management team, unique assets, and a clearly defined mission.

About JBG SMITH

  • Vornado shareholders are expected to own approximately 74% of the combined company, JBG limited partners are expected to own approximately 20%, and JBG management is expected to own approximately 6% (all percentages subject to closing adjustments).
  • JBG SMITH will be led by JBG’s senior management team which has a proven track record of superior execution in the Washington, DC market over the long term and through numerous cycles.
  • The combined company’s portfolio will consist of 50 office properties totaling approximately 11.8 million square feet, 18 multifamily properties with 4,451 residential units, and 11 other properties totaling approximately 0.7 million square feet. These assets are located in premier submarkets within the Washington, DC metropolitan area, concentrated in Downtown District of Columbia, Crystal City and Pentagon City, the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, Reston, and Bethesda.
  • Importantly, JBG SMITH will have a pipeline of projects under construction and land for future development that could add over 20 million square feet to the portfolio, positioning the company for strong growth and attractive shareholder returns.
  • JBG SMITH will be the largest landlord to the U.S. Government in the nation’s capital.
  • The Company will be well capitalized, have substantial liquidity and a strong balance sheet.
  • The combination is expected to result in approximately $35 million of synergies producing an overhead structure in line with best-in-class peers.
  • The new company will continue to manage the JBG funds’ assets that are not being contributed for customary fees. The company will not raise new investment funds. JBG SMITH Board and Management
  • JBG SMITH’s Board of Trustees will consist of twelve members, a majority of whom will be independent. Vornado and JBG will each designate six trustees.
  • Steven Roth, Vornado’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will be Chairman of the Board.
  • W. Matt Kelly, a Managing Partner of JBG, will be Chief Executive Officer of JBG SMITH and a member of the Board.
  • Rob Stewart, a Managing Partner of JBG, will be Executive Vice Chairman of the Board.
  • The Board will also include seven independent trustees including Alan Forman of the Yale University Investments Office, JBG’s largest investor.
  • Michael Glosserman, a Managing Partner of JBG, will also join the Board, as will Mitchell Schear, current President of Vornado/Charles E. Smith.
  • From JBG, David Paul will be President and Chief Operating Officer, James Iker will be Chief Investment Officer, and Brian Coulter and Kai Reynolds will be Co-Chief Development Officers.
  • From Vornado/Charles E. Smith, Mitchell Schear will be a member of the Executive Committee, Patrick Tyrrell will be Chief Administrative Officer, Jim Creedon will be Executive Vice President responsible for Office Leasing, and Laurie Kramer will be Executive Vice President focused on integration of the teams.
  • The new company will look outside for a Chief Financial Officer and intends to have that individual in place before the close of the transaction.
  • The new company will integrate the best talent from each of Vornado/Charles E. Smith and JBG.
  • Vornado will provide transition services to JBG SMITH, in areas such as IT, tax and SEC reporting for an interim period.

by ARLnow.com November 11, 2019 at 6:00 am 0

It’s Veterans Day — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed Mon., Nov. 11, 2019, on Veterans Day.” Also, ARLnow will be on a limited publishing schedule. [Arlington County]

Fracture in Ranks of Arlington Dems — “Longtime Democratic volunteer John Richardson removed his name from the roster of ‘poll greeters,’ bemoaning party ‘orthodoxy.’ After last May’s divisive primary for commonwealth’s attorney, Richardson went public with criticisms of the successful outside-funded Parisa Deghani-Tafti campaign against incumbent Theo Stamos. That led party officials, he said, to ‘disinvite’ him from being a greeter.” [Falls Church News-Press]

County Releases Flood History Map — “Working toward a more Flood Resilient Arlington, the County continues to add to its array of stormwater management resources for the public. Challenges and the Path Forward, a just-published, visually rich Story Map, illustrates how Arlington’s peak 20th century development took place amid few standards for stormwater — and the ramifications for today’s more frequent, intense rain storms lasting very short periods of time.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Skyline Complex Acquired — “A New York-based commercial real estate firm has acquired the aging Skyline office complex in Baileys Crossroads for about $215 million with plans to revitalize the 1970s-era property Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO) relinquished ownership of nearly three years ago.” [Washington Business Journal]

by Airey October 11, 2019 at 10:35 am 0

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) As the development plans stack up for Crystal City and Pentagon City, the need for a new school could be growing.

As plans progress for Amazon’s second headquarters, developer JBG Smith has submitted its own plans to the county proposing to build thousands of additional apartments (and potentially condos) in the area, to help house the tens of thousands expected to one day work at HQ2.

JBG Smith’s plans for Crystal City and the Pentagon City area so far include adding:

However, the public elementary school that serves the area, Oakridge Elementary in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood, already is facing significant overcrowding.

While apartment buildings catering to younger workers are unlikely to generate an abundance of students — in 2015 it was reported that the entire 1,670-unit Riverhouse complex in Pentagon City only housed 30 Oakridge students — the redevelopment plans are still raising an eyebrow among those monitoring school capacity issues.

Local officials tell ARLnow that there are no specific plans in the works for building a new school to accommodate new students in the area. There has been past discussion, however, of Vornado (now JBG Smith) providing a site for a new school.

“As of this moment, [Arlington’s planning department] has not had any discussions with JBG Smith about any of their pending applications regarding providing a school site,” a county spokeswoman when asked whether there are current school-related discussions with the developer.

In an interview with the Washington Business Journal, Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said that in exchange for approving the massive developments, the county could ask JBG Smith for a package of “truly transformative community benefit improvements.”

Dorsey did not immediately respond to a request by ARLnow to clarify what might be included in such a package.

“APS has discussed an elementary school in that area in the past,” said school spokesman Frank Bellavia, when asked if Arlington Public Schools was considering adding a new school to the area.

“Specifically, the South Arlington Working Group had identified the Aurora Highlands neighborhood,” which is adjacent to Pentagon City and Crystal City, as a potential site, Bellavia said Thursday. “We are in the process of working through our future seat needs and will most likely need elementary seats in that neighborhood.”

Prior to its merger with JBG Smith, Vornado had given APS a tour of vacant office space it owned nearby which could be converted into a school.

APS will be updating its facilities plan in early 2020 as part of the county’s 2021-30 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), according to Bellavia.

A spokeswoman for JBG Smith said the developer is “working with the County but it’s too early to discuss the community benefits package.”

by Airey October 9, 2019 at 1:35 pm 0

Two new, towering buildings have been proposed for the northwest corner of the intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S.

The pair are part of JBG Smith’s massive mixed-use development in Crystal City, which includes thousands of new apartments across five new buildings, along with a new office building. With Amazon’s HQ2 staffing up, the large-scale redevelopment could help house thousands as new workers flock to the area.

The new plans call for a pair of towers on 2000 and 2001 S. Bell Street with 762 housing units and 54,215 square feet of retail space. And on 2525 Crystal Drive, JBG Smith is planning two connected, V-shaped towers with 752 housing units and 59,000 square feet of retail — an unusual design rolled out months after critics called designs for Amazon’s nearby permanent HQ2 “unambitious.”

Two towers on 23rd Street S.

The towers proposed near 23rd and Crystal echo six-year-old plans by Vornado, which was merged with JBG Smith in 2017.

It calls for JBG Smith to demolish the existing 11-story “Crystal Plaza 5” office building at 223 23rd Street S. and the one-story retail building that currently houses celebrity Chef José Andrés’ award-winning Jaleo restaurant.

One part of the site is reserved for the “West” tower at 223 23rd Street S., which will stand 31 stories tall and house 645 apartment units as well as 20,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The majority of units in the building are slated to be smaller-sized one bedroom apartments (215) but plans indicate the West tower will also include 75 two-bedrooms.

On the roof, the development will feature a swimming pool with lounge chairs, some artificial turf, and greenery.

The ground floor will include 1,850 square feet of bike storage with room for 276 bikes.

An office tower along Crystal Drive

A second building on the same site — the “East” office tower at 2300 Crystal Drive — will be 24 stories tall, plus a penthouse space. Instead of residential space, the East tower will feature 520,000 square feet of office space and 15,000 square feet of retail space.

Renderings reviewed by ARLnow indicate the office tower will have floor-to-ceiling glass panels installed from top to bottom, framed with burnished bronze.

The ground floor will include four retail spaces totaling 15,071 square feet, as well as 1,000-square-foot bicycling parking area. In total, the bike facility is slated to include 88 bike parking spaces. Building tenants, including cyclists, can expect to have access to 176 lockers and 12 showers.

The building is also expected to include lounge space on its narrow, step-style roof, with terraces featuring furniture and greenery.

Some Added Green Space

While JBG Smith’s plans paint the picture of a thoroughly urban Crystal City, looking more like the downtown of a major city than a suburban enclave, it also includes at least a bit of extra green space near the 23rd Street towers.

To the west of the 223 23rd Street S. residential tower is a new, tiny strip of parkland, replacing at least a portion of what’s currently a driveway and a planter wall next to the WeWork building at 2221 S. Clark Street.

Diagrams show new trees planted along the green strip, with a walkway down the middle.

Image 9 via Google Maps

by Airey July 22, 2019 at 10:15 am 0

Developer JBG Smith says it has submitted new plans for a major redevelopment of its RiverHouse apartment property in Pentagon City, four blocks from Amazon’s new HQ2.

The developer announced today (Monday) that it submitted a site plan application to Arlington County to build about 1,000 new housing units along S. Joyce Street. The units will be in two, six-story apartment buildings, as well as traditional townhouses and maisonettes, per the press release, and about 260 of the units will be available for purchase.

The six-story buildings will have mix of units, including studios and three-bedroom units, for a combined total of 750 units. These two buildings will be constructed on the parkings lots in the northern end of the site and will feature central courtyards, and 30,000 square feet of “community-oriented street-level retail, including a potential daycare center and medical office, at the base of the two new buildings.”

The townhouses will be built on “underutilized” surface parking lots in the southern end of the site, facing the Aurora Highlands neighborhood and its single-family homes, JBG said

The extensive, 36-acre RiverHouse property is on a long lot bordered by Army Navy Drive, S. Joyce Street, 16th Street S., S. Arlington Ridge Road, and S. Lynn Street, at the edge of what’s being called “National Landing” — the recently-created term for the Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods.

Currently, RiverHouse has three apartment towers built in the 1950s and 1960s, with a combined 1,670 apartment units. JBG Smith intends to keep the three towers, per the press release, and will instead construct the new buildings around the existing towers.

JBG Smith Executive Vice President Andy Van Horn said in a statement that the developer aimed to design a plan that “respects and complements the scale and character of the surrounding neighborhoods while creating a more cohesive sense of community.”

“We also focused on providing a wide range of rental and for-sale housing opportunities that meet the differing needs of Arlington’s diverse and growing residential population,” he said. “It is our goal to deliver additional housing units concurrent with Amazon’s occupancy of its new headquarters to help meet anticipated new housing demand and mitigate upward pressure on rents in National Landing.”

Vornado — which was later acquired by JBG Smith — had planned to redevelop RiverHouse with more than 1,000 rental apartments in three, mid-rise towers. The new submission, which JBG Smith says is “consistent with the Crystal City/Pentagon City Sector Plan which calls for 7,500 additional housing units by 2040,” supersedes the previous, pre-HQ2 plan.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com April 11, 2019 at 9:45 am 0

WhyHotel, which uses a portion of new luxury apartment buildings as a “pop-up” hotel, has opened a new location in Ballston.

The new WhyHotel at the Origin Ballston building (700 N. Randolph Street), next to Ballston Quarter mall, is officially opening to its first guests today, a PR rep said.

WhyHotel launched in 2017 and operates temporary hotels in D.C., Baltimore and Northern Virginia, taking advantage of the fact that it usually takes a year or more for all of a new apartment building’s units to be leased.

More from a previous article on WhyHotel’s new Ballston location:

WhyHotel… will soon offer 175 rooms for rent in the residential tower attached to the Ballston Quarter development, and another 150 rooms in the “Centro Arlington” project, which is taking the place of the Food Star grocery store off Columbia Pike. The company recently scored $10 million in venture funding to power the new projects, in addition to a similar “pop up” hotel in “The Boro” development in Tysons.

Unlike a home-sharing service like Airbnb, WhyHotel strikes agreements directly with the owners of large residential properties to rent out blocks of furnished apartments, bringing along an on-call staff to handle cleaning and other guest needs. The company is hoping to provide a happy medium for customers between staying at a friend’s place and shelling out for a hotel room, while helping developers fill space in new buildings as they lease them out.

Jason Fudin, WhyHotel’s co-founder and CEO, told ARLnow that he was interested in opening up shop more properties around Arlington because of the area’s potent mix of tourism and booming residential development. WhyHotel is aiming to open its first “pop up” in D.C., but Fudin says he never lost sight of the county as a “great place to be.”

“We do expect to be in Arlington in perpetuity,” Fudin said. “And as there’s more and more development, we’re hoping to be the solution people look to as they activate their developments.”

Fudin noted that the company has its roots in Arlington. The concept began as an initiative by developer Vornado Realty Trust at “The Bartlett” complex in Pentagon City, but its backers then struck out on their own, initially joining up with Crystal City startup incubator 1776.

Considering that Fudin viewed the company’s work in Pentagon City as a clear success for all involved, driving plenty of business to retailers near the building in the process, he’s hoping to replicate the same formula in Ballston and along the Pike.

by ARLnow.com April 11, 2019 at 8:30 am 0

Crystal City to Grow With Amazon — “‘Amazon, and its 25,000 employees, coming to Crystal City will change everything,’ [Vornado Realty Trust Chairman and CEO Steven] Roth wrote in the letter. ‘Crystal City will become a teeming metropolis of apartments, shops and offices.'” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Couple Talks About Deadly Accident — “An Arlington couple is making a personal plea for a recall of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘N Play sleeper after their son died while laying in the product. Arlington parents Evan and Keenan Overton’s baby son Ezra died in the Rock ‘N Play sleeper right before Christmas in 2017.” [WJLA]

FLIR Moves to Pentagon Row — Infrared camera manufacturer FLIR Systems is moving its D.C. area headquarters to Pentagon Row, in the former LA Fitness space. The company recently announced an investment in a drone company and a large new DoD contract. [FLIR, BusinessWire, BusinessWire]

Confusing Signs Corrected on the Pike — A pair of seemingly contradictory direction signs on Columbia Pike, at the Washington Blvd interchange, have been corrected, county officials say. [Twitter]

Arlington Holds #MeToo Event — “On Wednesday, several Arlington County groups and Arlington’s ‘Project PEACE,’ held an event named ‘#MeToo: Being Men – Raising Men’ at the Arlington County Central Library. Lisa Tingle, the senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Fairfax County and Falls Church, said it is important to teach men about sexual harassment at an early age.” [WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

by Alex Koma February 11, 2019 at 10:00 am 0

JBG Smith is starting to sketch out its plans for a major redevelopment of a Crystal City property that will drop hundreds of new apartments and thousands of square feet of retail space directly adjacent to some of Amazon’s new office space in the area.

The developer has now filed preliminary plans with the county detailing the future of a vacant office building at 1900 Crystal Drive. The company has already started some demolition work for the current structure, and previously announced plans to build two new mixed-use buildings in its place, accelerating the project now that Amazon is on the way.

The tech giant plans to lease space at two of JBG’s properties on the same block, buildings at 241 18th Street S. and 1800 S. Bell Street, so this new development could offer Amazon workers with apartments within easy walking distance of the new headquarters.

Developers throughout the area have been racing to build new housing across Pentagon City and Crystal City since the company announced its plans in mid-November, though the neighborhoods do have slightly higher than average residential vacancy rates, for now.

JBG kicked off the redevelopment process in earnest in late January, asking for a slew of county zoning changes and a “site plan amendment” to key the full redevelopment of the block. The plans call for the construction of two large towers, holding a total of 790 apartments. One will be 26 stories tall, the other 25 stories.

Each one will also have space for ground floor retail: 19,390 square feet of space in one tower and 16,800 square feet in the other, according to documents filed with the county.

The developer is envisioning a “pedestrian plaza” in between the two buildings, with room for just under 9,000 square feet of retail in the plaza. The plans even allow for a park to be built nearby, though the documents don’t specify where, exactly, it will be located on the block — but if it is built, a “grand staircase” will connect it to the pedestrian plaza.

When it comes to parking, JBG plans to partially rely on the existing underground garage on the site. The developer plans to demolish part of the garage, but leave 306 spaces unchanged. Then, it hopes to add a new section of the garage with 290 new spaces for a total of 596 available in all.

The project is a long way from being approved, however — the county’s Site Plan Review Committee will now scrutinize these plans, before they head to the Planning Commission and County Board. Vornado/Charles E. Smith previously secured permission to build a 24-story building on the property, but that approval lapsed in 2015. The company spun off its local property holdings in a merger with JBG the next year.

This is far from the last redevelopment JBG is planning in the neighborhood in the coming years. In addition to its large “Central District” project (bringing a new movie theater, grocery store and office space to the area), the company previously told its investors that it could look to redevelop properties including 2001 Jefferson Davis Highway, 223 23rd Street S., 101 12th Street S., and the RiverHouse Apartments (1400 S. Joyce Street).

Though JBG is by far the largest property owner in the area — controlling about 71 percent of the market’s office buildings — county officials hope other landlords take similar steps to refresh nearby buildings.

As for Amazon itself, the company won’t file any plans with the county until the Board signs off an incentive package to formally bring the headquarters to the area. The Board won’t take up that issue any earlier than March.

by Alex Koma December 11, 2018 at 9:45 am 0

A startup offering temporary hotel rooms in new apartment complexes is now planning to expand to two Arlington developments.

WhyHotel announced today (Tuesday) that it will soon offer 175 rooms for rent in the residential tower attached to the Ballston Quarter development, and another 150 rooms in the “Centro Arlington” project, which is taking the place of the Food Star grocery store off Columbia Pike. The company recently scored $10 million in venture funding to power the new projects, in addition to a similar “pop up” hotel in “The Boro” development in Tysons.

Unlike a home-sharing service like Airbnb, WhyHotel strikes agreements directly with the owners of large residential properties to rent out blocks of furnished apartments, bringing along an on-call staff to handle cleaning and other guest needs. The company is hoping to provide a happy medium for customers between staying at a friend’s place and shelling out for a hotel room, while helping developers fill space in new buildings as they lease them out.

Jason Fudin, WhyHotel’s co-founder and CEO, told ARLnow that he was interested in opening up shop more properties around Arlington because of the area’s potent mix of tourism and booming residential development. WhyHotel is aiming to open its first “pop up” in D.C., but Fudin says he never lost sight of the county as a “great place to be.”

“We do expect to be in Arlington in perpetuity,” Fudin said. “And as there’s more and more development, we’re hoping to be the solution people look to as they activate their developments.”

Fudin noted that the company has its roots in Arlington. The concept began as an initiative by developer Vornado Realty Trust at “The Bartlett” complex in Pentagon City, but its backers then struck out on their own, initially joining up with Crystal City startup incubator 1776.

Considering that Fudin viewed the company’s work in Pentagon City as a clear success for all involved, driving plenty of business to retailers near the building in the process, he’s hoping to replicate the same formula in Ballston and along the Pike.

Fudin expects that WhyHotel will have its Ballston Quarter rooms ready by April 1, slightly after the residential section of the development (located at 700 N. Randolph Street) is slated to open up. Some stores in the newly renovated Ballston Common mall have already started opening for business, and Fudin expects that will make the rooms immediately above the development plenty desirable.

Beyond the location’s proximity to D.C., he added that the large number of corporate headquarters in the neighborhood (not to mention federal tenants like DARPA) should bring plenty of travelers to the area.

Fudin conceded that the location on the Pike (950 S. George Mason Drive) is a “less dense urban area” than either D.C. or Ballston, but he said the company was still interested in moving in because of how close it is to the Pentagon.

“You have a tremendous number of people that work in defense or in the federal government who call that area home, so we natural customers in that space,” Fudin said. “It’s a great spot for families who are relocating. When you relocate to city, you don’t instantly have housing, whether you’re military or otherwise, and we see this as a great option for them… The ability to stay in a ‘like-home’ experience rather than a small hotel room is better for everybody.”

The Centro Arlington development, which will be anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store, is to set to open in earnest midway through 2019, so Fudin expects WhyHotel’s rooms will be available there in “late summer or early fall.”

The County Board is set to sign off on allowing WhyHotel to offer some of its new rooms next week. County staff is recommending the Board’s approval for the temporary hotel use at Ballston Quarter for the next two years or so at a Dec. 15 meeting.

by Alex Koma December 4, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

(Updated Wednesday at 10:20 a.m.) Demolition work is kicking off ahead of the development of a new apartment complex in Crystal City, set to be located immediately adjacent to some of Amazon’s new office space in the area.

JBG Smith, the area’s dominant property owner, started work yesterday (Monday) to tear down an office building at 1900 Crystal Drive. Eventually, the company hopes to add two buildings to the site, with room for 750 apartments and some ground-floor retail.

JBG is aiming to kick off construction on the project next year, and it specifically identified the effort as one it hopes to accelerate now that Amazon is officially Arlington-bound. Crystal City currently has a slightly higher than average residential vacancy rate, and hasn’t seen much in the way of new apartment development recently, but local property owners are racing to offer new options to the thousands of Amazon workers set to descend on the neighborhood in the coming years.

The developer has yet to secure county approval for the 1900 Crystal Drive project, however. Vornado/Charles E. Smith previously secured permission to build a 24-story building on the property, but that approval lapsed in 2015. The company spun off its local property holdings in a merger with JBG the next year.

But JBG can pursue demolition of the building as “by right” work in the meantime, meaning it doesn’t require any approval from the county until new construction starts.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District is warning that the demolition will prompt a few sidewalk closures, near Crystal Drive’s intersection with both 18th Street S. and 20th Street S. JBG will also build a covered walkway over the sidewalk along Crystal Drive to allow pedestrian access as the work continues.

The BID says the garage entrances on both 18th Street S. and 20th Street S. will remain open during the construction. Additionally, JBG plans to keep offering the collection of basketball hoops and other games it maintains in one of the building’s parking lots, but will move those over to the plaza behind the 1900 Crystal Drive building, along S. Bell Street.

The building’s demolition will also mark the disappearance of one of the most colorful structures in Crystal City. JBG affixed brightly colored artwork to several buildings in the neighborhood as it mulled how to revitalize the area, and do away with its more outdated facades.

Photo 1 via Google Maps

by Alex Koma August 28, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

Plans for a new parking lot at the large “PenPlace” development in Pentagon City are shaping up to cause a bit of friction between county staff and the project’s developer.

JBG Smith is hoping to build a temporary, 204-space retail parking lot adjacent to the development, located on a nine-acre plot of land along S. Fern Street and just off Army Navy Drive. But Arlington officials would much rather see the developer construct a lot roughly a quarter of that size, over fears that so much parking would contribute to a car-dependent culture in the area.

The real estate firm argues that the parking is necessary to meet demands of the up to 50,000 square feet of retailers who will someday occupy the development, noting that the lot will only be a temporary necessity. Yet county staff have repeatedly insisted on changes, marking another dust-up over the development after officials previously expressed skepticism about JBG’s desire to significantly scale back the size of some buildings planned for the site.

The County Board approved the project back in 2013, when it was proposed by Vornado before the company spun off its D.C. holdings in a merger to form JBG Smith. Original plans called for three office buildings between 20 and 22 stories tall, an 18-story, 300-room hotel and a 300-unit apartment building between 16 and 18 stories tall.

JBG decided earlier this year to spread the residential space among two seven-story buildings instead, shifting the hotel rooms to some of the other buildings on the site, which prompted a new round of county scrutiny of the project.

Documents prepared for the project’s Site Plan Review Committee over the last few months show that county staff remain concerned about the reduced density on the site, citing the “dramatically lower heights and scale” of the seven-story buildings as especially problematic given their potential to house people close to the Pentagon City Metro station. Arlington planners previously called it “highly unusual” that a developer would seek to build something less dense than originally approved, though JBG executives have said the change was meant to “improve the pedestrian experience in the area.”

The newest debate centers around the parking lot proposed for a new segment of 11th Street S., which would sit behind two of the buildings to be built along S. Eads Street.

JBG argues that its plans for copious new retail in the area make the new lot essential, at least until another 1,600 parking spaces become available as the developer builds garages alongside the office buildings it has planned for the area.

“In addition, the applicant has claimed that a larger amount of parking is necessary due to the type of retailers being sought,” county staff wrote in a July 23 SPRC report on PenPlace. A JBG executive did not respond to a request for comment on the exact nature of the developer’s plans.

But to add so much parking for the new buildings, JBG needs an exception from the county’s zoning ordinance, which only lets developers construct one space for every 1,000 square feet of retail space. JBG’s proposal, by contrast, works out to about one space for every 196 square feet.

That’s a problem for county officials, who believe the parking lot “encourages auto traffic to the site, and proliferates surface parking.”

JBG has offered to shrink the size of the lot slightly, adding a 10,000-square-foot temporary dog park to cut the number of spaces to 180. Arlington planners wrote in the July 23 report that such an offer is an “improvement,” but lament that the change “does not address comments from staff regarding confining parking lots to future building footprints.”

So far, the SPRC has met four times to discuss the PenPlace plans, but does not yet have another meeting scheduled to hash out this dispute. Plans will ultimately need to go to the Planning Commission and then the County Board for final approval.

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