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Plans Taking Shape for Large New Mixed-Use Development on Amazon’s Doorstep in Crystal City

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.

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Marymount Buys Ballston Apartment Building, Converting It to Housing for Students and Staff

Marymount University is buying a Ballston apartment complex adjacent to one of its other office buildings in the area, with plans to convert the space into upscale housing for its students and staff.

The university announced today (Friday) that it’s spending $95 million to acquire “The Rixey,” located at 1008 N. Glebe Road. The building opened in October 2017, with a total of 267 apartments in the 15-floor structure.

The Rixey is located right next to the university’s Ballston Center at 1000 N. Glebe Road, which is home to several of Marymount’s undergraduate and graduate programs (in addition to a cafeteria and a Starbucks). By buying up the apartment building, the university hopes to provide “apartment-style city living” for undergrad students in addition to its on-campus residence halls, and also offer “significant housing options to Marymount University’s veterans, families, graduate and international students,” according to a news release.

“This new acquisition further cements Marymount as an anchor of the Arlington community,” Marymount staff wrote. “This multimillion-dollar facility provides walking-distance access to Marymount graduate programs at Ballston Center, shuttles to Marymount campuses and Metro access, making the building an accessible living-learning community.”

Amenities at the building also include “an expansive fitness center with Peloton bikes and a yoga room, a bike repair station, a rooftop clubroom with views of D.C. and a lounge with cabanas and TVs,” the release said.

A spokeswoman for the university did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether anyone is currently renting an apartment in the building, or what might become of current renters following this acquisition.

The university added in the release that it managed the acquisition with a combination of state funds and private financing.

Marymount also maintains space at 4040 Fairfax Drive in Ballston, in addition to its main campus at 2807 N. Glebe Road.

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Long-Vacant Ballston Office Building Could Soon Lure New Tenants as Part of Revitalization Bid

A Ballston office building that’s sat largely empty ever since a federal agency moved out a few years back could soon lure a bevy of new tenants to the space.

The Arlington Square building, located at 4401 Fairfax Drive, looks set to experience a bit of a revitalization. The County Board is set to consider a series of zoning changes for the property tomorrow (Saturday) to lure in two tenants, and other retailers look to be on the way as well.

Built in 1988, the eight-story building was long the headquarters of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But the agency took off for Falls Church in 2014, as part of a series of federal tenants leaving the area, and the building has been “mostly vacant” since then, county staff wrote in a report to the Board.

The Brookfield Property Group bought Arlington Square for $33.5 million back in 2017, paying substantially less than its previous owner did in acquiring it for $53.9 million in 2010, according to county property records. The developer now “intends to attract a variety of uses and tenants to occupy the building,” staff wrote.

Specifically, the building’s owner is looking for a zoning change in order to lease out about 2,800 square feet of space on its ground floor to a “private college.” The Board report doesn’t name the institution looking to move into the space, but it does say that it will offer classes on nights and weekends, with “degrees in a Master of Business Administration, Bachelors of Science in Business, Bachelors of Science in Information Technology and general studies and electives programs.”

A behavioral therapy provider, known as “Mind Body Health,” is also hoping to move into about 2,400 square feet of space on the building’s second floor. The business is currently based in Courthouse, in a building at 2200 Wilson Blvd, and is looking for a new permit to operate in the space.

Brookfield is also planning on adding two retailers to the ground floor, to further “activate the streetscape,” staff wrote. One, the soup-and-salad restaurant Zoup!, has already posted signs at the location. The other looks to be Poke It Up, according to a report from Eater D.C., a chain with a location in the Pentagon City mall.

County staff are recommending that the Board sign off on the proposal, hailing its potential to bring more business to “a building that has sat largely vacant for five years.”

The Board has certainly put an emphasis on reversing the county’s rising office vacancy rate in recent years — though Amazon’s arrival in Crystal City and Pentagon City will make a huge impact on that effort, officials have warned that neighborhoods like Ballston and Rosslyn still have some catching up to do.

Photo via Arlington County

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Ballston Redevelopment Project Faces More Delays, Impacting Plans for New Metro Station Entrance

A Ballston redevelopment project that’s been in the works for more than a decade now could soon face yet another delay, complicating Arlington’s push to build a second entrance for the neighborhood’s Metro station in the process.

Since 2005, a rotating cast of developers has sought to tear down the office building at 4420 Fairfax Drive and transform it into a mixed-use building instead. Current plans call for a new, 23-story structure to be built on the property, complete with 237 apartments and 9,200 square feet of retail space.

But the trio of companies backing the redevelopment effort — Washington Capitol Partners, Kettler Development and Bognet Construction — haven’t made much progress since buying the property for $21.8 million back in 2015. Like developer JBG Smith before them, they’ve been unable to so much as tear down the existing, five-story building on the site.

Accordingly, the developers are asking the county for a bit more time to complete the project, generally dubbed “the Spire at Fairmont.” The site plan governing the project is currently set to expire in July 2020 — they’re hoping the County Board will agree to push that deadline back to December 2022 instead.

But the companies are also envisioning a few other changes. Not only do they want to cut back on the number of parking spaces they’ll offer on the property — moving from 289 spaces down to 237 — but they’re asking for a change in their obligations regarding the planned western entrance for the Ballston Metro station.

When JBG first secured the Board’s sign-off on the project roughly 13 years ago, it agreed to partially design and build the new station entrance at the base of the new building. That was a crucial concession for county officials, who hope to ease Metro access for people living and working along N. Glebe Road.

Now, the project’s backers are asking the Board to let them hand over cash to fund the second entrance, instead of building it themselves. The developers are also proposing to let the county start work on the project, which will include the addition of two elevators to reach the underground station, right away by granting officials an easement to access the site. In exchange, they’re asking for an extension on some other zoning deadlines associated with the redevelopment.

The county seems inclined to accept the easement deal — staff are recommending that the Board agree to the arrangement at its meeting Saturday (Jan. 26). But officials seem a bit more uncertain about the proposal to accept cash for the station entrance, and the extension of the site plan deadline.

Some of that trepidation likely stems from the county’s history of challenges finding funding for the Ballston Metro project.

The county had hoped to win regional transportation funding for the new entrance, to the tune of about $72 million. But the complex structure of the deal hashed out by state lawmakers last year to provide dedicated funding for Metro meant that the very group set to send Arlington cash for the project — the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority — would lose tens of millions of dollars each year, diminishing the project’s chances to win the money any time soon.

Legislation proposed in this year’s General Assembly session could restore the group’s funding, but it’s far from a sure thing that it will pass. And the Board pushed back any plans to fund the new entrance for years in its latest update of the county’s 10-year construction spending blueprint, as officials grapple with some tough budget years.

Staff are suggesting that the Board defer any final decision on the matter until March, in order to allow negotiations to play out between the two sides.

Photos via Washington Capitol Partners

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Market Common Clarendon Redevelopment Kicks Off, With New ‘Luxury Fitness Club’ On the Way

Work is now set to kick off on a major redevelopment project in Clarendon, with a “luxury fitness club” set to become the first tenant to move into the new, Whole Foods-adjacent building.

The developers controlling the Market Common Clarendon properties, located along the 2700 and 2800 blocks of Clarendon Blvd, announced yesterday (Wednesday) that they’re ready to start construction on an at-times controversial project transforming the old Clarendon Education Center into new office and retail space.

Eventually, Regency Centers plans to add a fourth floor and outdoor terrace to the current building at 2801 Clarendon Blvd, expanding it over an adjacent structure and adding more space in the process. The company is dubbing the building the “Loft Office at Market Common,” with plans to lease out about 145,000 square feet of space in the coming years.

The new development, located across Clarendon Blvd from Market Common’s other property known as “The Loop,” has attracted plenty of criticism over the years.

The building set to be revamped was once home to the popular live music venue the IOTA Club, and many people around the county’s arts scene have lamented the club’s closure as a result of this redevelopment effort, which was approved by the County Board last January.

But the project’s backers are marketing the work as a potentially transformative effort for the entire neighborhood.

“Our team is transforming an obsolete office building into a cutting-edge, mixed use destination by combining best-in-class retail and dining options on the street level, the nation’s premier luxury fitness club on the second level, and two levels of loft-style office space across from the only Whole Foods in the corridor,” Jason Yanushonis, Regency Center’s manager of investments, said in a statement. “Repositioning this building is a critical component to our overall investment strategy at Market Common. We feel like we are hitting the market at the right time with this truly unique space offering.”

The company said in a release that the aforementioned “luxury fitness” company will lease 5,000 square feet of space on the building’s first floor, and the entire, 26,000-square-foot second floor. However, Regency Centers is staying mum on which fitness studio, exactly, is on the way.

“We can’t say specifically just yet, but we are very much looking forward to being able to share that in the future,” spokesman Eric Davidson told ARLnow.

Permit applications from late last year appear to show cycling studio SoulCycle targeting the development for its first Virginia expansion, though those seemed to indicate it would be located in the Market Common retail space across the street from the new building —  Davidson would not address whether SoulCycle is the tenant in question for the new space.

As for the rest of the building, the company says there’s another 23,000 square feet of retail space available on its first floor and “86,000 square feet of creative office space available on the lower level, third and fourth floors.”

The company “primarily” hopes to attract “tech firms, IT firms and government contractors” for that space, the release said.

Regency Centers hasn’t settled on a firm opening date just yet, but is currently targeting the second quarter of 2020 to finish work on the project.

Just last month, the Baja Fresh restaurant adjacent to the soon-to-be redeveloped building abruptly shut down. However, it’s unclear if that was connected to this project or not.

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PBS Agrees to Keep Headquarters in Crystal City, Plans to Relocate to New Building

(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) PBS has signed a new deal to keep its headquarters in Arlington, though it will be relocating to a different building in Crystal City.

The media company announced today (Tuesday) that it will be moving from its current space at 2100 Crystal Drive to a 120,000-square-foot office at 1225 S. Clark Street. PBS agreed to a 15-year lease in the building, and plans to make the move sometime in “mid-2020,” per a press release.

The nonprofit has been based out of the 2100 Crystal Drive property since 2006. Its new headquarters is adjacent to both the Earth Treks climbing gym and the headquarters of the U.S. Marshals Service.

“We are thrilled that PBS will remain in Crystal City, especially during such a transformative and exciting time for this community,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement, no doubt referring to Amazon’s impending arrival just a few blocks away. “Keeping our headquarters in Arlington is great for PBS and our employees, and we’re proud to call ‘National Landing’ our home.”

The move takes PBS from one property controlled by developer JBG Smith to another. The company is the dominant property owner throughout Crystal City, Pentagon City and the nearby Potomac Yard, controlling millions of square feet of space even after helping bring Amazon to some of its properties.

“This continued long-term commitment by PBS to stay within the submarket further validates our excellent location, as well as our many planned improvements for the neighborhood,” David Ritchey, JBG Smith executive vice president said in a statement. “The relocation and extension of the PBS lease is also indicative of our plan to retain and attract diverse industries to National Landing, including associations and non-profits.”

The March of Dimes nonprofit also recently announced plans to relocate to the area, moving to a building at 1550 Crystal Drive.

Attracting businesses to the area remains a major concern for the county, even with Amazon set to take up as much as 8 million square feet of office space in the area someday. The county is hoping many property owners, like JBG, will use the company’s arrival as the impetus to refresh some of their older buildings in the area, and further reverse Arlington’s spiking office vacancy rate.

PBS member station WETA is also one of the county’s more well-known office tenants in South Arlington, though one of the TV station’s facilities could also be on the move. County officials hope to someday acquire the station’s studio property in Nauck, in which programs like the PBS NewsHour is produced, then use the land for the redevelopment of Jennie Dean Park.

Photo 1 via Google Maps

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With Amazon On Board, JBG Smith Prepares to Bet Big on ‘National Landing’

JBG Smith is gearing up to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard, arguing that Amazon’s impending arrival could make the “National Landing” area nearly as in-demand as D.C. itself.

In documents delivered to investors last week, the developer revealed its most detailed plans yet for how it expects to work with the tech giant as it moves its 25,000 workers to the county.

Perhaps most notably, JBG revealed for the first time that Amazon will fork over $294 million to buy the company’s “PenPlace” and Metropolitan Park properties in Pentagon City, where it will eventually build new offices. As work on those buildings continue, the company will sign “short-to-medium term” leases at JBG’s buildings at 241 18th Street S. and 1800 S. Bell Street in Crystal City, where JBG is also planning to spend another $15 million to spruce up the properties.

JBG also told its shareholders that Amazon will lease the entirety of a new building planned for 1770 Crystal Drive, which sits at the heart of the developer’s just-approved “Central District” redevelopment project for the entire block. The company expects to spend $80 million redeveloping the building, with the eventual goal of opening it in time for 2020 and making it a more permanent home for Amazon employees.

But those changes represent only the work the developer is planning that’s tied directly to Amazon. By its own estimate, JBG already owns about 71 percent of office buildings in the neighborhood, and it hopes “redeploy the proceeds” of its Amazon windfall “into either new development or income-producing multifamily assets.”

Per the documents, potential projects could include the redevelopment of 1800 S. Bell Street property once Amazon leaves, or the overhaul of some of its other existing Crystal City and Pentagon City properties; 2001 Jefferson Davis Highway, 223 23rd Street S., 101 12th Street S., and the RiverHouse Apartments (1400 S. Joyce Street) are all listed as possibilities.

Essentially, the company is betting that Amazon’s arrival will be a “powerful economic catalyst” and “kick-start the development of a technology ecosystem that has long searched for its footing in the D.C.,” CEO Matt Kelly wrote to shareholders.

“As vacancy in National Landing burns off and technology job growth gains momentum, we expect National Landing to [surpass] Rosslyn as the most valuable Northern Virginia submarket, and approach convergence with Washington, D.C.,” Kelly wrote in a letter to investors.

Those forecasts represent quite the radical change from Crystal City’s previous woes attracting any companies to the area. The departure of federal and military tenants left the neighborhood with a persistently high vacancy rate, shrinking a key tax revenue stream for the county, but officials have long touted Amazon’s impending arrival as a way to solve that problem virtually overnight.

JBG is so bullish on the impending demand in the area that it could very well convert one of its planned apartment redevelopments into more office space instead.

The developer recently began demolition work on a building at 1900 Crystal Drive, space it eventually hoped to transform into two apartment towers with a total of 750 homes between them. JBG plans to start construction by “early 2020,” but notes for investors that “this project could switch to office in the event of a substantial or full building pre-lease.”

The company plans to eventually spend $550 million on that construction and work its other Amazon-related properties, though it expects it will have little trouble affording such expense. Kelly noted in his letter that JBG saw increased demand in the area even before Amazon made its Arlington move official, and has been able to raise rents and property asking prices accordingly.

“We have also seen a dramatic increase in demand from retailers looking to locate in our initial phases of placemaking development,” Kelly wrote. “Since the announcement, we have had a further wave of increased inquiries. We believe that this increase in demand for our holdings in National Landing will continue, and likely amplify, as Amazon grows in the submarket.”

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Morning Notes

Rolling Thunder to Coming to a Stop — The 2019 Rolling Thunder rally will be the group’s last Memorial Day rally in the D.C. area, organizers say. The rally has brought thousands of bikers, along with road closures and motorcycle noise, to Arlington over the past three decades. [Washington Post]

The Gritty Pre-History of Crystal City — “Before development flourished (the entrepreneurs offered bargain rates to federal agencies), the area ‘was a conglomeration of places that sold junk, used tires, a drive-in movie theater, a run-down ice skating rink, second-hand materials — it was very unattractive…’ The industrial area leading to the Potomac Yard railway tracks for decades was bordered by sketchy bar-rooms of the 19th-century Jackson City and National Airport’s precursor, Hoover Field.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Seasonal Pop-Ups at Pentagon City Mall — A trio of “seasonal pop-up shops” are opening at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City: Chukulata, a sweet shop selling crepes and other treats; PolarX Ornaments, selling holiday decor and personalized ornaments; and Trunk and Drawer, which “specializes in men’s fashionable undergarments as well as sleepwear, activewear and swimwear,” per a press release.

Stepped Up DUI Enforcement Underway — “To help spread the message about the dangers of drunk driving, the Arlington County Police Department is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives during the national high-visibility enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, which runs from December 13-31, 2018.” [Arlington County]

JBG Buying More Sites in ‘National Landing’ — “JBG Smith Properties has reached a deal to buy a development site across from Virginia Tech’s planned innovation campus in Alexandria, part of a larger strategy to acquire land in and around the National Landing area that includes Amazon.com Inc.’s new headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Old Town Getting Left Behind? — “The old guard of Alexandria, mainly in Old Town, has for decades wielded a sort of NIMBY clout and deployed ample financial resources to fight projects. The plans to activate Alexandria’s 8.6-acre waterfront were delayed for years due to community pushback and legal challenges… But fears that Alexandria will be left behind as competition intensifies with flashier destinations such as National Harbor and The Wharf are spurring change.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman

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Rosslyn High Rise Owner Rolls Out ‘Flexible’ Leasing Options to Lure Government Contractors

The owner of a Rosslyn office building is changing up how it leases out some of its space, in a bid to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of government contractors.

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust announced today (Wednesday) that it’s rebranding some of its space at the Arlington Tower (1300 17th Street N.) as “Space+.” The firm acquired the property, located just across the street from Dark Star Park, back in January for about $250 million.

The program is designed to offer prospective tenants “high quality office space that can be customized and configured to be as large or small as a business needs at any given time,” according to a press release. The developer is marketing a variety of spaces in the building that resemble traditional coworking offices, but can also be customized to suit each business’s desires.

In all, about 22,000 square feet of the building’s 398,000 square feet of space will be reserved for the “Space+” offerings, according to spokeswoman Liz Wainger. The space will be available for lease right away, she added.

“Space+ reflects our willingness to be creative on lease term and structures, all to accommodate tenants who are grappling with rapid change in their industries,” Wainger wrote in an email. “Our bread and butter are smaller growing enterprises and contractors with immediate needs.”

Primarily, the company is hoping to ride a projected surge in new federal business in the area. Though many property owners in Rosslyn, in particular, have struggled with high vacancy rates in recent years, the developer doesn’t expect that trend to last much longer — particularly with Amazon coming to town soon.

“According to an analysis of government contracts awarded in the six zip codes in and around Arlington Tower, the data shows that nearly 370 contractors have been recently awarded or imminently expect to be awarded contracts that will notch a greater than 10 percent funding increase in 2018, with continued hikes in year-over-year funding in 2019,” the company wrote in the release. “With the ability to meet company demands — regardless of size — Space+ availability at Arlington Tower answer[s] the anticipated demand with straightforward pricing and fast move-ins to single offices, collaborative work spaces and furnished suites.”

Several other firms offering coworking offices and other flexible spaces have also opened in Rosslyn in recent months, including WeWork, Spaces, Convene and Eastern Foundry.

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Morning Notes

Emergency Water Main Repairs — Work is scheduled from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. today to repair a 20-inch water transmission main along 7th Road S. from S. Florida Street to S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike. Upwards of 200 customers are expected to lose their water service during the work. [Twitter]

Stamos Picks Up Challenger — Parisa Tafti, a “lifelong public defender and innocence protection attorney with a more than 18-year record of defending the indigent and speaking for the innocent,” has announced that she will be running against Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos in her bid for reelection to the top prosecutor job. [Blue Virginia]

Kanninen Calls for Kaepernick — Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen is among those calling on social media for the Redskins to “#BringColintoWashington” amid a rash of season-ending injuries at the quarterback position. [Twitter]

Fisette Launches Consulting Firm — Former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette has started a consulting firm to “advise business, nonprofits and local governments throughout the Washington region” with former Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner. [Bethesda Beat, Maryland Matters]

Office Rent Expected to Rise in Crystal City — “Crystal City is at risk of losing its status as the low-cost alternative for nonprofits and others on the hunt for office space in Northern Virginia as Amazon.com Inc. rolls out its headquarters plans… Colliers projects rental rates in Crystal City could jump by 17 percent in five years and by 37 percent in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]

Amazon Effect on Residential Real Estate — “Any immediate impact on the local housing market is expected to be muted… Long & Foster predicts the Amazon effect will add an additional 3 percent to appreciation the Washington area would otherwise experience.” [WTOP]

Harper Leaving Rosslyn? — Possibly outgoing Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper “has chosen not to renew his lease at his penthouse condo in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, VA, according to a source.” [Real House Life of Arlington]

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Proposed Rosslyn Hotel Redevelopment Could Transform Neighborhood’s ‘Gateway’

The proposed redevelopment of the Rosslyn Holiday Inn could not only bring hundreds of new apartments and revamped hotel rooms to the area, but also lead to a major transformation of the neighborhood’s appearance.

The Vienna-based developer The Dittmar Company has submitted plans to the county calling for a total overhaul of the hotel, located at 1900 Fort Myer Drive. As first reported by the Washington Business Journal, the proposal calls for two new towers of 26 and 38 stories on the site, totaling about 73,200 square feet of residential, hotel and retail space.

In all, the plans call for 490 apartments, 327 hotel rooms, 275,000 square feet of conference and event space and 13,400 square feet of ground-floor retail. Dittmar is asking for a site plan amendment and some zoning changes to complete the work, requiring a lengthy county approval process, but is aiming to kick off work by 2020 and open up the development in 2023.

“Though the hotel remains active and profitable, with very low vacancy rates, redevelopment will be of significant benefit to Arlington County and the surrounding community,” Nan Walsh, a land use attorney representing Dittmar, wrote in an Oct. 19 letter to county planners.

While the redevelopment would see the demolition of a hotel that’s been a part of the neighborhood’s skyline since 1972, it could also prompt a host of other aesthetic changes for the heart of Rosslyn.

Dittmar would demolish the hotel’s sky bridge over Fort Myer Drive as part of the construction, removing a main pedestrian path over one of the area’s busiest roads. However, Walsh argues in her letter that such a change largely meets the vision of the updated “Rosslyn Sector Plan,” which pushes for a move to more street-level pedestrian walkways after “execution of the skywalk concept fell short of expectations.” Plans for the development do call for a new “east-west” pedestrian path through the site, but that would connect N. Nash Street to Fort Myer Drive.

Walsh also argues in her letter that the new development’s design would help meet the sector plan’s vision of “creating a gateway to Rosslyn from Lee Highway and the Key Bridge.” The building’s offerings could also contribute to “the transformation of Rosslyn from an office-oriented downtown to a true mixed-use community with 24/7 activity,” she wrote.

To that end, Dittmar envisions using about 7,700 square feet of the development to offer a “full-service restaurant,” most likely located closest to Lee Highway to the property’s north. The remain 5,700 square feet of retail space could go to a commercial tenant, or be set aside for “civic space to be used by the county” — the plans suggest a public library could be a decent fit in the space.

Dittmar also plans to contribute cash to the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund as a condition of the development, and could even send the county enough money to complete its long-debated “Corridor of Light” public art project in the area.

As for the hotel portion of the development, Walsh envisions the new establishment as a “four-star, full service hotel.” Of the building’s apartments, 70 will also be set aside as “short term rentals,” designed for people looking to stay for 30 days or less.

The 38-story tower would also include a “6,000-square-foot event space” on its top floor, complete with panoramic views of the area. Rosslyn has increasingly become home to buildings marketing a similar view of the D.C. skyline.

The towers would also sit on top of three levels of underground parking and another four above ground, with 858 parking spaces available in all. A traffic study prepared by Dittmar’s consultants estimates that the project would only create “minor increases in delays” in the congested section of Rosslyn.

The county has yet to schedule any review of the proposed development, but it could eventually require work from the Site Plan Review Committee and Planning Commission before heading to the County Board.

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Morning Notes

Police Investigate Stabbing Near Alexandria BorderUpdated at 2:45 p.m. — Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing that happened last night at S. Arlington Ridge Road and S. Glebe Road. The incident, which started when the victim asked for help finding a ride, was initially believed to be a shooting, but was later determined to be “the result of a sharp weapon.” The victim was found with non-life threatening wounds just across the border in Alexandria. [Twitter, ACPD]

Major Redevelopment in Rosslyn — The Dittmar Co. has filed a preliminary site plan to redevelop the Holiday Inn hotel in Rosslyn, building 26- and 38-story towers housing 490 apartments and 327 hotel rooms. The proposal includes a 6,000 square foot event space on the top floor of the taller tower and the demolition of a skybridge crossing Fort Myer Drive. [Washington Business Journal]

Leonsis Says Build the Gondola — In a joint WaPo op-ed, Caps and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly and former GOP Congressman Tom Davis say the proposed Georgetown-Rosslyn gondola would be a “forward-looking and innovative” investment in our transportation infrastructure. [Washington Post]

Local CEO Buys Rosslyn Buildings — “Affiliates belonging to Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. CEO Dave Schaeffer, one of the region’s highest-paid chief executives, have acquired a pair of Rosslyn office buildings (1550 and 1560 Wilson Blvd) recently renovated to include upgraded common-area space and a new boutique boxing-oriented fitness facility.” [Washington Business Journal]

Sheriff’s Office Raises Money for Prostate Cancer — The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office helped to raise money for prostate cancer treatment at Virginia Hospital Center during the month of November via its “Beards with a Badge initiative.” [Virginia Hospital Center, WJLA]

November Sets Weather Record — Last month was the wettest November on record for the Washington area. It was also the second-wettest meteorological fall on record for the area, according to the National Weather Service. [Twitter]

Police Searching for Missing Man Last Seen in Georgetown — Police are still looking for David Stern, a D.C. accountant last seen at Dixie Liquor on M Street in Georgetown. The 29-year-old, who is engaged to be married, hasn’t been seen since buying a bottle of Crown Royal at the store this past Tuesday. [Fox 5]

Photo courtesy @wwwchris

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Major Pentagon City Redevelopment Nears Opening, Just in Time for Amazon’s Arrival

Update, Nov. 30 at 9 a.m.: After this story was published Kimco spokeswoman Jennifer Maisch contacted ARLnow to clarify that Glazer’s comments regarding the new parking garage were inaccurate. The garage will serve only retail customers, while each residential building will have its parking available on lower floors, she said.

A massive new mixed-development in Pentagon City is nearly ready to open — and its backers hope it’ll be perfectly positioned to serve the thousands of Amazon employees who will start arriving in the area in the next few months.

The first phase of the Pentagon Centre redevelopment project, backed by New York-based developer Kimco Realty, should start leasing apartments as soon as spring 2019, according to a news release.

The company hopes to open “The Witmer,” a 26-story residential tower complete with 440 apartments and 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, by the second half of the new year.

The new building will be the first of many new changes to come for the shopping center, located between S. Hayes and Fern Streets and 12th and 15th Streets S., as the developer embarks on a decades-long effort to redevelop the area. Kimco earned the county’s approval for the project back in 2015, but it’s taken on new significance now that Amazon plans to construct a pair of new buildings for its headquarters right next door — the company purchased the “PenPlace” and “Metropolitan Park” developments from JBG Smith as part of its move to the county.

“Our Pentagon Centre ‘Signature Series’ redevelopment is in excellent position to take advantage of the incredible growth Amazon’s National Landing headquarters will bring to the area,” Kimco CEO Conor Flynn wrote in a statement. “With ‘The Witmer’s’ location directly above the Metro Station and its stunning views of the Pentagon, Potomac River and Washington Mall, it will be at the heart of this new center of gravity.”

Geoff Glazer, Kimco’s senior vice president for national development, also told ARLnow that a seven-story parking garage along 15th Street S. is already “complete and operational” as well. The garage will serve residents of the new apartment building, as well as help replace parking lots for Costco customers to be occupied by the next phase of development in the area.

Kimco plans to build a 10-story residential tower, complete with 253 units and 15,541 square feet of ground-floor retail, once the first the building is ready. Glazer says the timeline for that project is a bit unclear just yet, however, calling it a “market-driven decision” with plans to “evaluate timing for the second tower in 2019.”

Real estate watchers expect that the market will demand plenty of new construction in the area as Amazon ramps up hiring, so the company may not need to wait long. Brad Dillman, the chief economist for national real estate developer Cortland, says that data suggest Crystal City and Pentagon City both have slightly higher residential vacancy rates than the D.C. metro area as a whole, but there will still be a huge demand for new development as Amazon’s 25,000 workers descend on the area.

“If you look across the whole market on the multifamily side, there were just under 9,000 new units delivered in the last year,” Dillman said. “It’s pretty clear that just Amazon alone is going to require some above and beyond new housing development.”

However, Kimco’s ambitions for the 17-acre property extend far beyond just residential buildings. Eventually, the company plans to demolish the mall building (the current home of retailers like Best Buy and Nordstrom Rack) and then tear down the Costco as well, replacing them with three new office buildings, 377,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 180-room hotel.

Those plans are quite ways off yet, though, with Glazer estimating that they’re “many years down the road given our existing lease obligations.” The company’s initial estimates suggest that the first phase of demolitions wouldn’t start for another 20 years yet, with more to come another 20 years after that.

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Morning Notes

Human Rights Award Winners Announced — The 2018 winners of Arlington County’s James B. Hunter Human Rights Award have been announced. The two individuals and two groups to be honored at a Dec. 13 ceremony are: former Arlington Public Schools social study teacher Marty Swaim, former Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette, the Arlington chapter of Awesome Women Entrepreneurs, and Arm & Arm, “an Arlington-based community group providing a variety of services to veterans and the incarcerated to aid in their reentry to society.” [Arlington County]

Fill the Cruiser Tonight Near Crystal City — Today, on Giving Tuesday, the Arlington County Police Department will bring its “Fill the Cruiser” toy drive to Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Aurora Highlands, from 6-8 p.m. [Twitter]

JBG Re-Ups Crystal City Tenant — “JBG Smith, just weeks removed from winning D.C.’s biggest economic prize in a generation in Crystal City, is already reaping side benefits. The REIT signed National Cooperative Bank to a 15-year extension on its 66K SF lease at 2011 Crystal Drive, it announced Monday. The building is a few blocks from where Amazon is leasing space from JBG Smith for Phase 1 of its HQ2 requirement.” [Bisnow]

Amazon News Roundup — Questions are being raised about the nondisclosure agreements Amazon required of jurisdictions bidding for HQ2. Alexandria officials “are confident housing prices and rental rates won’t become unbearable when Amazon sets up shop in Crystal City.” The spillover effects of Amazon’s Crystal City campus on the commercial real estate market may not extend much beyond Arlington’s Metro corridors. And finally — no, Amazon did not rename Crystal City.

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Westmont Shopping Center on Columbia Pike Could Soon Be Torn Down, Redeveloped

The Westmont Shopping Center, located at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, could soon be torn down and redeveloped into a new mixed-use building.

A developer has submitted plans to the county looking for permission to build a six-story building on the lot, long home to shops and restaurants including a Boston Market and an INOVA Urgent Care. The proposal calls for about 250 new apartments on the site, sitting above 23,225 square feet of retail space.

The new development would also include an underground parking garage for residents with about 285 spaces, and another 60 surface parking spots for visitors. The project is backed by Republic Properties Corporation, the developer of a variety of projects around the D.C. area. Perhaps its most notable effort is the sizable Potomac Mills mall in Woodbridge.

The proposal calls for the current shopping center to be razed in its entirety, but it would generally preserve the existing traffic pattern in the area — for instance, visitors would still be able to reach the parking lot via a left-hand turn lane on S. Glebe Road. It also includes some streetscape improvements along Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road, including the addition of new trees, benches and trash bins.

Though the development would bring plenty of new residents to the Pike, an area notorious for its transportation challenges, the county’s traffic consultants wrote in an August report it would still be a good fit for Arlington’s vision of “creating a mixed-use environment focused on multimodal transportation.”

They added that the redevelopment would result in only “minor increases in delay” at major intersections in the area, with differences of just a few seconds at each traffic signal.

County planners are still in the preliminary phase of reviewing the development, though the traffic analysis notes that the developer hopes to have it “complete and fully occupied by 2020.”

H/t Chris Slatt

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