A church in Clarendon could be redeveloped with senior housing, pending the outcome of a forthcoming county land-use study.
Over the last year, Clarendon Presbyterian Church and Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, or APAH, have been developing plans to tear down the 75-year-old church at 1305 N. Jackson Street and build a 92-unit affordable apartment building for seniors 55 or 62 and older.
The church would move into a new 8,000-square-foot space in the building, with design elements and programming specifically geared toward LGBTQ seniors, says Pastor Alice Tewell. The Clarendon Child Care Center — which a parent co-op board runs from the church — would also move in and have space for up to 58 children, an increase from the 40 today.
The process is in its early stages. This summer, Clarendon Presbyterian and APAH asked the county to embark on a special General Land Use Plan (GLUP) study to determine if the property can be redesignated from “semi-public” to “low-medium residential.”
The county granted the request and scheduled a “Tier 1” review to begin later this fall, though no meetings have been scheduled. In this stage, the Long Range Planning Committee would review whether it is appropriate to consider the property for a new land use designation.
Removing the “semi-public” designation would lay the groundwork for this project, located a 5-minute walk from the Clarendon Metro station. The project would require rezoning, too, as the site is zoned for single-family homes — and now 2-6 unit homes, with the approval of ‘Missing Middle’ changes.
The church is located next to older garden style apartments and new, market-rate apartments.
If the Arlington County Board approves the designation change, the church and APAH would then file a site plan application subject to public review. It will be a few years before the duo has the approvals they need to obtain financing from federal tax credits and commercial, local and state loans, says Tewell.
Should all this happen on schedule, the church could open its new doors in 2029 or 2030 after a two-year construction period. That means a few more years in a church building that is too big and too old to serve the congregation and community effectively, according to the pastor.
“Our current building of nearly 75 years — built for 450 people and now serving a congregation of less than 80 — is literally falling apart with massive annual repair costs, and we will soon no longer have the resources to maintain it and continue serving the Clarendon community unless we redevelop and create a new and much smaller worship space for the congregation,” Tewell said.
The congregation identified the need to redevelop in 2021 and a year later voted to work with APAH, she said.
During this time, the church sunk more than $100,000 into HVAC, electric and plumbing maintenance, according to a letter to Arlington County. The letter foretells the church moving, possibly from Arlington, in five to 10 years if the expenses continue to mount with no redevelopment option.
Should the church leave, it says, childcare, community programming and monthly food and toiletry drives would go with it, and would be “a sore loss for the entire Arlington community.”
But not everyone is on board. A petition to “save” the church and “preserve our residential neighborhood” has north of 640 signatures to date.
Sixty-eight residents of an apartment building in Crystal City were told this week that they have 14 days to leave due to damage from a fire in the boiler room last month.
One resident tells ARLnow the news leaves affected tenants scrambling for last-minute housing options. He says those told to vacate include an octogenarian who has lived in her apartment for three decades and “is unsure of where to go.”
“To say that this has caused turmoil and distress would be an understatement,” the resident said. “Finding alternative housing, coordinating a move, and dealing with the various challenges that come with such a sudden eviction is a monumental task in itself.”
On Aug. 21, a fire broke out in the boiler room of the southern wing of the Crystal Plaza Apartments at 2111 Richmond Hwy. Industrial hygienists, air quality specialists and engineers, among other specialists, assessed the impacts to every apartment, according to a letter shared with ARLnow.
They determined some apartments need new flooring, cabinetry, walls and systems to remove all residual soot and other pollutants — work that would require tenants to vacate, the letter said. The notice gave them 14 days, the minimum required by Virginia law, to leave.
The notices were dated Sept. 14, after owner Dweck Properties learned from an industrial hygienist that these apartments would need a more comprehensive assessment and, possibly, extensive remediation work, a Dweck spokesperson tells ARLnow.
These additional assessments are contingent on apartments being vacant, the spokesperson added. They would determine the scope and cost of work as well as how long it could take.
“This notice was needed to ensure we could access units for repair if required,” the spokesperson said. “We are now working with each resident on their transition — identifying alternative apartments, understanding each of their timing needs, and assisting them in any way we can.”
Before this notice, the resident says a community-wide notice went out a few days after the inspections, describing which apartments suffered the most damage and required immediate work.
“Our apartment was not included in this list,” the resident said. “It is essential to emphasize that since the fire, we had received no communication or updates regarding our situation.”
The Dweck spokesperson did not say whether residents also received the community-wide notice.
In its letter, Dweck was apologetic and offered to cover $2,000 in moving expenses per unit.
“The fire incident has had a wide-ranging impact, and we are so very sorry for the disruption it has caused,” the letter said.
Since the letters went out, Dweck tells ARLnow it has taken more steps to ease these transitions. In meetings convened Monday and Tuesday, Dweck told residents it would also cover insurance deductibles up to $500 and reimburse residents for rent paid from the time of the incident to the time they move out.
“While some of this work requires units to be vacant, our inspection team is revisiting all of these 68 apartments this week to see if there is any possibility of performing remediation while the apartments are occupied — in apartments that potentially require less work,” the company spokesperson said.
Longtime plans to redevelop the former Silver Diner site in Clarendon are headed to the Arlington County Board for approval.
An 11-story, 290-unit apartment building with about 16,000 square feet of retail and a 10-story, 229-room hotel with a rooftop terrace and bar are proposed for the site, dubbed “Bingham Center.”
This Saturday, the Board is set to review the plans from owner TCS Realty Associates and developer Donohoe Cos., including a request for the county to vacate portions of a public alley and street. In exchange, Arlington would receive some $1.15 million in compensation, per a county report.
The new buildings would sit on a triangular parcel bounded by Wilson Blvd, 10th Street N. and N. Irving Street, across from Northside Social. They would replace the now-closed Silver Diner, the Lot beer garden, two brick structures called “The Doctors Building,” an auto repair facility and surface parking.
The 3200 Wilson Blvd property is near the Joyce Motors site which was approved for another significant development earlier this year, as well as the Wells Fargo development site that’s currently under review.
The project comes forward two months after the County Board approved a deadline extension request from TCS and Donohoe. They asked for more time to fix “unresolved design challenges” along N. Irving Street, particularly regarding the pedestrian experience.
The duo had proposed a loading area and hotel-serving facilities along N. Irving Street, which county staff previously noted deviates from the 2022 Clarendon Sector Plan. This plan, developed in anticipation of a handful of projects, including Silver Diner, envisions a walkable, retail-studded N. Irving Street.
Members of the Site Plan Review Committee agreed. They said the loading dock would create conflicts with pedestrians accessing a proposed plaza on N. Irving Street. They also had misgivings about the bricked-over, retail-less façade on N. Irving Street.
An early suggestion from TCS and Donohoe included adding a “living green wall,” but the county and the public said this did not address the issues of missing retail or pedestrian-vehicle conflicts.
Now, the county says the developers have found a solution and there are no outstanding issues.
TCS and Donohoe moved the dock to the forthcoming extension of 10th Road N. As part of the overall Bingham Center project, Donohoe will extend this one-block-long road east of the site so that it cuts through the site and intersects with Wilson Blvd.
In addition, the developers agreed to install windows into the kitchen that abuts the future “Irving Plaza,” envisioned in the Clarendon Sector Plan. The proposed green wall has been replaced with a “decorative element” intended to enhance the otherwise un-enlivened façade.
A forthcoming apartment building in Courthouse already has a lineup of restaurants and fitness studios slated to move in.
A franchise location of Rumble Boxing and a Japanese restaurant and bar called Gingerfish are among those getting in on the ground level of The Commodore, a nearly completed apartment building at 2055 15th Street N.
Over the last two years, developer Greystar has been at work building a 20-story, 423-unit building on what is dubbed the “Landmark Block.” This block, at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Courthouse Road, was once home to a collection of restaurants, including Summers.
When photographed today, the building appeared nearly complete from the outside, though separate transportation upgrades — which include pavement, sidewalk, curb and gutter improvements to public streets — are ongoing.
Work appears to be wrapping up on the building, as social media posts — playing up the apartment’s pet-friendliness — note the building is “coming soon.” Other signs of completion include the retailers that are already listed as forthcoming tenants.
Gingerfish is “by a local restaurant group with various other concepts in the Arlington market,” according to CBRE leasing agent Jared Meier.
“[Regarding] other tenants for the space, we are not at liberty to announce who they are, but I am excited to note that we are close to finalizing leases with an açai bowl operator, a yoga studio, and a taqueria,” he said.
A leasing map indicates a letter of intent has been or is being put forward for the one space, leaving just one listed as available.
The project broke ground almost two years ago, projecting a fall 2023 completion date at the time. It appears developer Greystar remains largely on schedule.
“We are anticipating first move ins for The Commodore in early October,” said Allison Rynak, the director of marketing communications for Greystar.
Meier also expects retail tenants could move in next month. The new restaurants and fitness gyms could be open for business next spring or summer, he said.
Meanwhile, work continues on another Greystar project a few blocks away. What was once a Wendy’s will become an apartment tower, ground-floor retail and a plaza at 2025 Clarendon Blvd. The two projects realize a significant part of the county’s vision for the neighborhood.
Arlington County expects to accept a handful of major development applications this month, teeing them up for public engagement down the road.
The four pending projects span Pentagon City and Crystal City to the south and Rosslyn and Courthouse to the north.
Apartment buildings figure into all the proposals, though two developers are mulling a mix of office or hotel uses, too. Of those in the queue, two are straightforward, single-phase apartment projects while two are far-afield, multi-phase redevelopments with details still to iron out.
First up, between Rosslyn and Courthouse, sits the future home of an apartment building by D.C.-based developer the Fortis Cos.
Fortis proposes demolishing the existing National Science Teachers Association headquarters at 1840 Wilson Blvd, and surrounding restaurants, to construct an apartment building with 188 units and about 12,000 square feet of retail space. It purchased the properties at the start of this year for $14 million and filed its application, complete with new renderings, this summer.
Next up, in Crystal City, JBG Smith proposes to build a 7-story tower with 370 apartments and about 3,300 square feet of retail or equivalent space on land dubbed Block W, located at 2451 Crystal Drive.
The site is bounded by Crystal Drive, a National Airport access road, and railroad tracks, and is currently home to a gravel parking lot, an off-ramp from the access road and a small, JBG-owned workout park.
The off-ramp would be removed for construction, as envisioned in the Crystal City Sector Plan, but JBG Smith will be keeping adjacent sand volleyball courts.
Heading to Pentagon City, two developers are taking steps forward on long-standing redevelopment plans.
The first, plans from Brookfield Properties to redevelop the old TSA headquarters at 601 and 701 12th Street S., marks progress after a years-long pause. Brookfield held off on advancing these plans while Arlington County was developing the Pentagon City Sector Plan, approved last year.
Now, Brookfield proposes carving up the land, dubbed 12th Street Landing, into three bays. It is mulling either apartments, condos and an office building, or a apartments and a hotel, per filings with Arlington County.
To keep its options open, it asks Arlington County to approve the overall “density and intensity consistent with the maximum allowed by the [Pentagon City] Sector Plan,” the materials say.
More concrete details would be approved with a later site plan application, the letter to the county said.
New apartments along N. Glebe Road in Ballston are nearing completion.
Developer Southeastern Real Estate Group, LLC tells ARLnow construction on the residential redevelopment, near the Harris Teeter store, should be done in the next couple months.
Construction work on the apartments began in 2020. Although the units at the complex, dubbed URBA, are not quite finished, people are already signing leases, says Southeastern Vice President Mary Senn.
“Our first phase at URBA is currently in lease up,” she said.
The full redevelopment project is far from over, however. The next phase, of three, includes more apartments and a roughly 0.6-acre public park.
Senn says this phase will start “next summer.”
After that, a temporary parking lot will become the third apartment building: a 227-unit residential building ground-floor retail and below-grade parking.
Arlington County approved the redevelopment of 600 N. Glebe Road back in 2019. The proposal includes three residential buildings, with a total of 732 units, a new Harris Teeter and 77,575 square feet of ground-level retail.
There will also be below-grade parking garages, with 942 parking spaces total. Southeastern will also extend the existing N. Tazewell and N. Randolph streets into the site.
It is too early to tell whether this grocery store could potentially become a Piggly Wiggly, as the Washington Business Journal reported is a possibility after an ownership change of 10 local — but so far unidentified — Harris Teeter stores.
(Updated 10:30 a.m.) Where the prosaic golden arches of the stand-alone McDonald’s once perched, a residential high-rise now joins the many skyscrapers defining Rosslyn’s changing skyline.
Some old landmarks have been incorporated into new high-rises, including the McDonald’s now beneath Central Place Tower on N. Lynn Street and the former Fire Station 10 at the base of The Highlands.
Others, such as Tom Sarris’ Orleans House, a fixture for nearly 50 years, were replaced with offices and a newer generation of businesses like Compass Coffee and Cava.
Although commercial office buildings have been a constant feature of Rosslyn’s skyline over the past 40 years, the last decade has seen a shift towards more living space.
Anthony Fusarelli, Arlington County’s planning director, says that out of the approximately 8 million square feet of new development planned in Rosslyn, nearly half is designated for residential use. Office space accounts for roughly 2.8 million square feet, retail occupies 171,459 square feet, and the remaining space is allocated for hotels.
The transformation reflects a broader shift the county undertook over the last 20 years to steer urban planning toward residential and mixed-use development to accommodate a growing population, boost economic activity and adapt to people’s waning enthusiasm for the conventional workplace.
This trend is likely to persist, not only because of changes in work patterns post-pandemic, but also because Arlington County is encouraging residential development in Metro-oriented Rosslyn to help address its reported shortage of housing supply.
Planning Rosslyn’s future
To understand how and why this shift occurred, Fusarelli pointed to Rosslyn’s history.
Sixty years ago, if someone had ascended the 555-foot Washington Monument and looked westward across the Potomac River, they would have seen a very different Rosslyn. The view would have been dominated by rail yards, pawnshops, oil storage tanks and other retail and industrial operations.
“So, just this mix of varied uses that is quite different from what we have today,” Fusarelli said.
After World War II, Fusarelli said the Arlington County Board recognized the area was valuable because of its proximity to D.C. Eager to establish Rosslyn as an auxiliary office hub for the growing federal government, the county embarked on an aggressive campaign to transform the area into a vibrant business district.
“Back in the early ’60s, Arlington established a new zoning tool called the ‘site plan process,’ which incentivized private landowners to build much taller buildings, much bigger buildings, in exchange for providing certain public benefits,” Fusarelli said.
Arlington is “most desired city by renters” in the United States for the second month in a row, according to a rental website.
From RentCafe.com’s August Rental Activity Report:
Arlington, VA, is August’s most sought-after city by renters looking for an apartment for rent on RentCafe.com, the same as last month. Apartment listings in the city attracted a significantly higher number of engagements compared to this time last year.
Specifically, traffic on Arlington listing pages more than doubled year-over-year, while renters favorited 72% more apartments and saved 38% more personalized searches. This continued (and growing) interest from apartment seekers in Arlington listings also helped the city keep its top spot for another month.
Arlington was followed on the top of the list by a trio of midwestern cities: Kansas City, Minneapolis and Cincinnati. Neighboring D.C. ranked No. 15, falling two spots.
The popularity comes at a cost, however. One- and two-bedroom rents were up 6% year-over-year as of May, according to a report from another rental website, Zumper, which ranked Arlington County as the 10th priciest rental market in the U.S.
A proposal to redevelop the Red Lion Hotel near Rosslyn is beginning its journey through the Arlington County approval process.
Local development group Orr Partners took over previously approved plans from 2019 to replace the hotel and the Ellis Arms Apartments in the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhood with a 10-story condo building and 12-story hotel.
After taking over, Orr expanded the scope of its project. Now, it intends to build on a 2.2-acre site composed of the hotel, formerly the Best Western Iwo Jima hotel, which opened in 1958, as well as the Ellis Arms and Williamsburg apartments, which were built in 1954.
Instead of a condo building and hotel, it proposes building a 446-unit, 8-story apartment complex at 1501 Arlington Blvd, bounded by Fairfax Drive to the south and the Parc Rosslyn Apartments and Belvedere Condominiums to the north.
“We think it will revitalize this neighborhood and bring critically needed housing to Arlington County,” Tyler Orr of Orr Partners said in a video. “Our company has been honored to deliver numerous projects in Arlington County over the last 35 years. In all our projects, we seek to enhance the fabric of the surrounding community, be considerate of our neighbors and give something back with any new community we deliver.”
In exchange for razing the two 14-unit apartment buildings, Orr says the company will provide on-site affordable housing.
That has to amount to at least 28 units or the same square footage lost to redevelopment, according to county planner Adam Watson. He said in a video that Orr is held to this standard because it is building on a site that is mostly designated a “special affordable housing protection district.”
Watson said county staffers are working with Orr on an affordable housing plan that replaces the lost housing.
Presentation materials from Orr say the proposal mostly includes a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, though there are 15 two-bedroom “junior” apartments and 12 three-bedroom units, which are at a premium in Arlington County.
Orr Partners intends to reach LEED Gold certification and plans to include three courtyards as well as at- and below-grade, at a rate of 0.57 spaces per unit.
“Architecturally, the base of the building is scaled to respect the heights of the residential developments along the Arlington Blvd corridor,” architect Chris Gordon said in the Orr presentation. “The design incorporates various techniques to break up the massing, through alternating materials, use of color, textures and providing interior courtyards out to Arlington Blvd beginning at third-level amenity terrace.”
He notes the structure is shaped to capture “primary views of the Capital mall” and to bring together amenities so “all residents to engage in this terrific location.”
Orr Partners is also leaving enough space in its development to allow Arlington County to reconstruct the Arlington Blvd Trail that is across street, says county planner Adam Watson. Base engineering for that project is in progress.
The county is asking for feedback on the proposal related to land use, building form, architecture, transportation, landscaping and public space and community benefits.
After the feedback form closes later this month, the first Site Plan Review Committee meeting will be held in September, followed by a second in October. Meetings for commission and Arlington County Board approval have yet to be scheduled.
Arlington has the tenth-highest rent in the United States, according to a new report.
Rental website Zumper compiled median one-bedroom rents in localities across the U.S. and Arlington is No. 10 on the list. The good news, though, is that the county moved down a spot, after neighboring D.C. moved up to No. 9.
Arlington’s drop in the rankings may be a sign that the creation of new rental units is keeping pace with demand for housing in the area, we’re told.
“The price of one bedroom units in Arlington remained flat at $2,390 last month, while two bedroom units increased 0.3% to $3,130,” Zumper PR manager Crystal Chen noted to ARLnow.
“Arlington did drop a spot in our rankings to become 10th. However, that seems more to do with D.C.’s rent on the rise since Arlington had a stable month for both one and two-bedroom rents,” Chen continued. “Arlington overall seems to have a fairly balanced market as the year-over-year changes for both bedroom types are within 3%. This should signal that the available stock is meeting the current demand there.”
Nationally, Zumper says it is unlikely that rents will fall anytime soon.
“Though price increases have slowed dramatically, we don’t expect to see rents decrease anytime soon. In reality, prices are still correcting after astronomical pandemic-era rent hikes,” Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades said. “Renters hate uncertainty, and many are putting off moves until they’re more confident in the economy.”
The long-awaited Westmont Apartments on Columbia Pike is now open and ready for move-ins, with a pair of restaurants setting up on the ground floor.
Developer Republic Properties Corporation announced last week that the 258,000-square-foot mixed-use building at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road had opened its doors. The project was first approved about four years ago.
The new construction sits on the former site of the Westmont Shopping Center, which was demolished in late 2021. Apartments are “now available for lease with immediate move-ins available,” reads the press release, with monthly rental rates starting at $2,345.
Westmont is also set to have six ground-floor retail tenants in addition to 250 apartments, a spokesperson confirmed to ARLnow. That includes a now-national burger franchise returning to where it started.
ARLnow reported back in March that Five Guys Burgers & Fries was set to return to near the site of its original location. Five Guys opened its first very small location at the Westmont Shopping Center in 1986. Close to four decades later, there are more than 1,700 restaurants doing close to three billion in sales across the world.
The new Five Guys on Columbia Pike will take up about 2,400 square feet and will be located near the Glebe Road intersection. An opening date for the burger spot has not been finalized yet, per a Republic Properties spokesperson.
While the spokesperson declined to provide any other information about the other five tenants, a recent leasing brochure obtained by ARLnow provides clues to at least two other businesses moving in.
An Allcare urgent care clinic appears to be coming to the S. Glebe Road side of the development. This would be the fourth Allcare clinic in Arlington, with the latest opening in Rosslyn earlier this year.
And two doors down from Five Guys on the Columbia Pike, it appears that a Jersey Mike’s Subs will be opening in a small 1,141-square-foot space. This would be the sub shop’s first location in Arlington.
There remains a 2,164 square foot space, 1,756 square foot space, and a much larger 10,630 square foot space, per the leasing brochure.
A smaller-format grocery store was initially supposed to fill one of those spaces, but it’s currently unclear where that stands.