Arlington, VA

A new development that will build new housing in Rosslyn while renovating one of the region’s oldest hotels got the green light from the Arlington County Board over the weekend.

The board approved the redevelopment of the Key Bridge Marriott site by a 4-0 vote. The project will include the renovation of the hotel — one of Marriott’s earliest hotels, which first opened in 1959 — as well as the construction of three new 16-story residential buildings, with about 300 rental apartments and 150 condo units.

With the site perched above the Potomac River, near Key Bridge, many of the new homes will have enviable views of the river and D.C.

The project also includes the construction of two new street segments, as well as the contribution of land and funding for a new public park.

More from an Arlington County press release:

The aging Key Bridge Marriott hotel at 1401 Lee Highway will be partially demolished and renovated, and three new residential buildings will be added to the site under a plan approved by the County Board.

“This plan adds much-needed housing in Rosslyn, new public open space and a major renovation of the Marriott Hotel, greatly enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of this highly visible site in Rosslyn,” Board Chair Libby Garvey said.

The Board voted 4-0 to approve the redevelopment plan. […]

In addition to renovating the hotel’s 445 rooms, developer KBLH, LLC, will build three 16-story residential buildings, with a total of 451 units, on the 5.5-acre site on the north side of Lee Highway. One of the new buildings is expected to offer rental apartments and the other two are planned as condominiums. The modernized hotel’s new façade will face Lee Highway and Gateway Park.

The plan, which evolved significantly before and during the public review process, also calls for two new streets that will connect with an esplanade open to the public on the north end of the site, accessible to pedestrians and cyclists but not cars. The esplanade will offer views of the Potomac River and Georgetown and connect to the bike path leading to Key Bridge. A crescent-shaped park will be built on the site’s Fort Myer Drive frontage and will provide an improved bicycle and pedestrian path to Key Bridge. Most of the park is on National Park Service property and will require federal approval for improvements.

The developer has committed to achieving LEED Gold certification for the residential buildings and LEED Silver for the hotel and will install ENERGY STAR and WaterSense appliances. Among other community benefits, the developer would contribute land for a new public park on the site, fronting on Fort Myer Drive, $870,075 to help plan and build the park, and a contribution of $1.75 million to the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

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(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) More than 800 new residential units are coming to Crystal City.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a site plan for a new development at 1900 Crystal Drive. Developer JBG SMITH is tearing down an aging office building and planning to build two residential towers with ground-floor retail space in its place.

More from a JBG press release:

The proposed development at 1900 Crystal Drive comprises approximately 811 residential units and 40,000 square feet of street-level retail across two new mixed-use buildings. The proposed 27-story southern tower encompasses 472 apartments, while the 26-story northern tower includes 339 apartments. In addition to a private rooftop and green spaces for residents, the approved plan calls for a retail-anchored shared street, a central park, and activated retail via an alley similar to that of Blagden Alley in Northwest DC.

For the purpose of linking together community benefits, the project was approved as part of a Phase Development Site Plan (PDSP), which also includes two towers with residential, office and retail space at 223 23rd Street S., and a new office building at 101 12th Street S. Final approval of each of those site plans will follow, likely in 2021.

Among the community benefits offered by JBG SMITH as part of the PDSP are:

  • A 45,000 square foot public Center Park next to the 1900 Crystal Drive project, and $300,000 towards a planning effort for the park
  • A 54,500 square foot Gateway Park near where 12th Street S. turns into Crystal Drive, and $300,000 towards a planning effort for the park
  • A new 10th Street S., on the northern end of Crystal City, better connecting a portion of street grid
  • Roadway improvements, potentially including new bicycle facilities to be determined in a later community process
  • Use of about 83,000 square feet of residential space in JBG’s RiverHouse James Building as dedicated affordable housing for 30 years, affordable to renters making 60% of Area Median Income
  • About 7,200 square feet of space at 1901 S. Bell Street for a community library or similar amenities, rent-free for 20 years
  • LEED Silver sustainability certification for the new buildings

Given the coronavirus outbreak, JBG said in the press release that it “will thoroughly evaluate overall market conditions, construction costs, and other capital allocation opportunities prior to commencing construction” of the 1900 Crystal Drive project. A company rep, however, said at the meeting that work is likely to start shortly after approval, with construction expected to take 2-3 years.

“With Amazon employees already arriving in the area and many locals who want to live in a vibrant downtown, we are thrilled to reach this important milestone in National Landing’s ongoing development and transformation,” Tony Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Development at JBG SMITH, said in a statement. “New apartments and street-level retail are essential for cultivating a thriving 18-hour environment where people can walk from their home or office to their favorite restaurants and amenities.”

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After years of anticipation, preliminary plans have been filed for a major redevelopment project in Courthouse.

Apartment developer Greystar has filed a preliminary site plan application for the “Landmark Block,” consisting of the former CosiBoston Market and Jerry’s Subs restaurants, and the current Summers Restaurant and Mattress Warehouse.

The aging, low-slung buildings a block from the Courthouse Metro station are proposed to be replaced with a 20-story residential tower.

Greystar is proposing to contruct a 210-foot tall building with 418 residential units, about 400,000 square feet of total floor space, a rooftop deck, second floor pool and parking garage. The garage would have space for 418 bikes and 224 cars, including 60 vehicle parking spots for visitors.

The building would also have ground floor retail space, and penthouse apartments on the 20th floor. Greystar says the building would at minimum meet LEED Gold certification requirements, and the overall project would include a community benefits package with affordable housing and public art contributions, as well as “recognition of historic features and buildings,” among other things to be negotiated as part of the site plan process.

A planning process five years ago suggested that at least some of the building facades on the block would be preserved. The Envision Courthouse Square process also envisioned the Landmark Block redevelopment as being to the north of what could eventually become “Courthouse Square,” a large green park with underground parking below.

As part of fulfilling that more pedestrian-friendly vision for Courthouse, Greystar’s plans depict N. Uhle Street — located between the future building and the Metro station — as a tree-lined “promenade.”

While Greystar is listed as the applicant, affiliates of JBG Smith are listed as the owners of the underlying properties in county documents.

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Morning Notes

This Week’s Crystal City Garage Races Postponed — “Attention garage racers and friends: Tomorrow’s Crystal City races are postponed. We are operating with an abundance of caution after an employee of a tenant in the 201 12th St. S. complex was quarantined because of COVID-19. The complex common areas were cleaned and disinfected, today, but we are holding off before racing again.” [Facebook]

Deep Clean for Rosslyn-Based News Outlet — “Politico has asked several reporters who covered CPAC to self-quarantine over coronavirus concerns. It’s also sanitizing/disinfecting its office.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Winter is Over, Unofficially — “Winter was barely perceptible in Washington this year, and now, we can put a fork in it. We see no more potential for enduring cold or substantial snowfall. Spring is here.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Whitlow’s Rooftop Opens — “Rooftop opens for the season tonight at 5 p.m.! How’s that for a Monday?” [Twitter]

Neighborhood College Applications Open — “Learn how to become a neighborhood advocate and effect change through Arlington County’s free Neighborhood College program, which will meet on eight consecutive Thursday evenings beginning April 23.” [Arlington County]

Developers Pitch in to Help Housing Nonprofit — “Absent a budget from a central housing authority, APAH ‘can’t afford not to’ maintain solid relationships with developers — who donate, serve on its board and train future APAH staffers. ‘We’re blessed by their generosity,’ Janopaul says, citing Arlington builders Tim Naughton of AvalonBay Communities Inc., John Shooshan of the Shooshan Co. and Andy VanHorn at JBG Smith.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo courtesy Josh Folb

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Thanks to some push from local advocates and the county’s Transportation Commission, a new mixed-use development at 1900 Crystal Drive could be required to include protected bike lanes on Crystal Drive, a long time sore spot for bicyclists in the area.

There are bicycle lanes on Crystal Drive, but motorists notoriously ignore the lane markers and drive or park in the lanes designated for bicycle traffic.

“It’s almost a hoax on bicycle riders to say there’s a bike lane here when as a practical matter there isn’t,” said Transportation Commissioner Jim Lantelme.

At the Transportation Commission meeting Thursday night, the Commission recommended that developer JBG Smith be required to turn the existing bicycle lanes into protected lanes while adding new protected bike lanes to 18th Street S.

“First the Commission recommended that the County Board require JBG Smith to build protected bike lanes on 18th Street either as part of their upcoming 1900 Crystal Drive development or as part of the already-approved Central District Retail development,” Transportation Commission Chair Chris Slatt said in a press release. “Furthermore the Commission recommended that the County Board direct staff to study an appropriate cross-section for Crystal Drive that would safeguard those on bikes and scooters and, if schedules permit, incorporate the results of that study into the public space designs for 1900 Crystal Drive and any other unbuilt development approved along the Crystal Drive corridor.”

The last recommendation from the Transportation Commission was that the County and JBG develop a temporary southbound protected bike lane on Crystal Drive if the public process isn’t completed in time to be incorporated into the 1900 Crystal Drive plans.

County staff said in their report that making the lanes protected would require further traffic studies and analysis, with staff noting that a new bike lane would carve out part of the street and would have an impact on open space, traffic, or parking. That kind of impact would require a public process that would take additional time.

The developer said they hope to start construction at the end of March, with the streetscape being one of the last parts of the project to be completed.

“I worry there is the possibility we would not have a final decision-ready on Crystal Drive ready before this window closes,” Slatt said.

“There’s a lot of good, new information heard tonight,” said Gillian Burgess, chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee. “Crystal Drive bike lanes are blocked so often that they’ve become the test case for new apps and data collection that seek to test how often bike lanes are blocked.”

With three site plans in the area, Burgess said the County has a rare opportunity to improve the conditions for cyclists and other road users there.

The 1900 Crystal Drive proposal is set to be discussed by the Planning Commission tonight (Monday).

Photo via Google Maps

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The Arlington View Terrace apartments, which mostly have views of part of the Army-Navy Country Club golf course, are set for redevelopment.

The Arlington County Board last week allocated just over $8 million — a $7.25 million loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund and a nearly $1 million grant — to help fund the redevelopment of the aging apartment complex at 1420 S. Rolfe Street, in the Arlington View neighborhood on the eastern end of Columbia Pike.

The 30-unit garden-style apartment complex is set to be torn down and replaced by a new building with 77 apartments, affordable for those making 30-60% of Area Median Income, according to local affordable housing developer AHC Inc.

“The Arlington View Terrace redevelopment enables AHC to add much-needed affordable living opportunities in a rapidly gentrifying area along Columbia Pike,” AHC President and CEO Walter Webdale said in a statement. “The new building will also help diversify housing options with 15 new three-bedroom apartments, eight fully accessible units and 10% of the new apartments designated for households earning no more than 30% AMI.”

A press release notes that AHC is “also exploring solar panels and a possible partnership with Connect Arlington to provide free Wi-Fi for residents at the site.”

AHC spokeswoman Celia Slater tells ARLnow that “if all goes well, we could start construction in Spring 2021 and open doors to new families in Spring 2023.”

“We are working with a relocation firm to help [current residents] move temporarily to other apartments – hopefully other nearby AHC properties,” she added. “All current residents will have first opportunity to move back into the new apartments. We work one-on-one with individuals and families to meet their needs – like trying to keep kids in the same schools if possible, etc.”

Arlington View Terrace is one of a number of Form Based Code developments along the Columbia Pike corridor currently making their way through the development pipeline.

The full press release from AHC Inc. is below, after the jump.

Read More

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Progress is being made on an expansion plan for public broadcaster WETA’s Shirlington offices.

The plan is to construct a four-story addition between the existing office building, at 3939 Campbell Avenue, and its above-ground parking garage. The 17,000 square foot addition would then house the WETA studios — and the approximately 130 employees, according to county documents — that produce the national PBS NewsHour broadcast.

The current NewsHour studios, on 27th Street S. near the Weenie Beanie, are set to be sold to Arlington County and eventually torn down to expand the soon-to-be-renovated Jennie Dean Park.

Arlington County is expected to pay WETA $8 million for the property while also providing economic development incentives for the broadcaster to stay in Arlington and expand its offices, the Washington Business Journal reported in December.

“The goal is to bring the Purchase and Sale Agreement for the WETA Studio property, and the Economic Development Incentives agreement between WETA and the County, to the Board concurrently,” a county spokeswoman told ARLnow this afternoon. “We anticipate these items will go the County Board this spring — April or shortly after.”

The site plan amendment for the WETA expansion is set to be discussed by Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee on Monday. Public hearings and County Board consideration is expected later this spring, “shortly after the two aforementioned agreements are approved,” the spokeswoman said.

Photo (2) via Google Maps

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The Salsa Room is moving out next month, and other tenants are being put on short-term leases.

All signs point to the planned redevelopment of the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center, on Columbia Pike just east of Walter Reed Drive and west of Penrose Square, starting soon.

The plan is to replace the aging, single-story commercial buildings — housing CVS, H&R Block, Atilla’s restaurant, the Salsa Room, and the Burritos Bros food stand — with a six-story apartment building featuring ground-floor retail. Work could start as soon as 2021, though merchants are also being told it could be 2-3 years from now.

“Hopefully something will come together as early as mid-next year,” said Harald Mangold, president and CEO of Scott Management, which operates the shopping center and the adjacent Fillmore Gardens Apartments. “It depends on lots of things… ounty approvals, the economy, and so on.”

Mangold said the redevelopment plan, presented last year to the county’s Form Based Code Advisory Working Group, remains the same.

The Salsa Room, meanwhile, is moving to Tysons in March. Co-owner Victor Villarreal said the owners of the shopping center “have been really honest with the tenants that they are actively seeking to redevelop.” All leases end in October and will then go month-to-month, he said.

Villarreal said he regrets moving out of Arlington but feels the club had little choice.

“It’s hard to find a building, build it out and do all that stuff. It takes time,” he said. “We’re going to miss the space a lot. I really feel that we contributed to the growth of that area and we’ve held a lot of fundraisers… It’s a nice location. It’s close to D.C. and everything. I wish we could stay there forever, but unfortunately [could not].”

A portion of the current CVS parking lot is expected to be ceded to the county, to be added to Penrose Square park, as part of the redevelopment.

Catherine Moran contributed to this report.

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A trio of development projects in Crystal City may be linked together in an effort to maximize community benefits.

The Arlington County Board voted 4-0 over the weekend to advertise public hearings on a Phased Development Site Plan for three of JBG Smith’s raft of post-HQ2 proposed projects in the area.

Included in the PDSP are:

Of the three projects, 1900 Crystal Drive is set for County Board consideration in March, while the other two are likely to reach the County Board in 2021.

The phased site plan will help the county better plan and obtain community benefits in exchange for the added density proposed for each project, county staff said.

“This PDSP will bind these three (3) noncontiguous projects together from the perspective of the maximum amount of density achievable with the associated Final Site Plan applications and a community benefits package related to the cumulative amount of additional density,” the county staff report says. “Staff finds this PDSP approach to be an innovative effort to link the delivery of community benefits associated with multiple site plan projects into a common PDSP that establishes a framework for how they will together facilitate the delivery of public improvements and other enhancements to the area.”

Two other JBG development proposals in Crystal City, meanwhile, have hit a snag after county staff balked at proposed building heights. The proposals “were not deemed acceptable as they requested height in addition to that permitted by the ‘C-O-Crystal City’ zoning district,” according to staff.

More from the Washington Business Journal:

County staff are specifically concerned about the proposed apartment towers at 2525 Crystal Drive and 2001 S. Bell St. in Crystal City. Those are set to hit heights of 300 feet in some places, well above the 200-foot limit mandated by the county’s zoning ordinance.

Planners have flagged other issues with the Bethesda developer’s proposals, including how each one will include new road alignments and public open spaces. It’s all enough for staffers to urge delays on those projects, even as several other JBG Smith efforts in the area advance.

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A residential development in Clarendon originally approved in 2015 may be nearing fruition.

The Arlington County Board previously approved a 580-unit, mixed-use development project in western Clarendon in October 2015. Set to replace the former Red Top Cab headquarters and dispatch center, and a pair of small commercial buildings, the development has shown few signs of progress since then.

That may be about to change. The KinderCare daycare center, located in one of the buildings to be replaced in the first of two planned construction phases, informed parents last week that it would be closing in June.

“Today I have some sad news to share: our center will close on June 5,” the center’s director wrote in a Feb. 20 letter. “As some of you may know, our center has been on short term leases for the last few years due to a new development project awaiting approval with the city. We recently learned that the project is moving forward.”

The letter went on to suggest that no replacement is currently planned for the center.

“I know this news may be unexpected and difficult to hear… Please know that all of us at KinderCare will do everything we can to support you and your child and to make this transition as stress-free as possible,” the letter says. “Since 2017, we’ve been diligently exploring all additional options for centers in the area… we are continuing to seek out additional child care solutions for families in Arlington.”

Facing a relatively tight turnaround for finding new childcare arrangements, some parents are incensed.

“This is incredibly short notice in an area that commands 6 months+ of wait lists for daycare services,” one parent told ARLnow. “Our understanding is that the teachers and director were blindsided as well.”

KinderCare is planning a town hall meeting for parents Tuesday night. The company says it will assist the center’s staff in finding new positions, potentially at other KinderCare centers in the D.C. area.

There’s no word on when developer Shooshan might be kicking off construction on the project, the first phase of which will also replace the Red Top Cab dispatch center. A company representative did not respond to several emails from ARLnow.

Shooshan is currently wrapping up construction of 4040 Wilson Blvd, the tallest building in Ballston and future home of VIDA Fitness, The Salt Line restaurant and the corporate headquarters of AvalonBay.

A host of new development in Clarendon is on the way, prompting county planners to reexamine the circa-2006 plan for the neighborhood.

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A long-delayed development project in the Potomac Yard area is likely to go back before the Arlington County Board this year with some changes.

Developer Meridian is expected to seek a modification to the earlier plan to build four office buildings on the empty plot of land along Richmond Highway, south of Crystal City, known as Potomac Yard Land Bay C.

The site plan was originally approved in 2007, per our earlier reporting, to include four buildings over an underground parking garage. It includes more than 1 million square feet of office space, 41,000 square feet of retail space and a half-acre park known as North Plaza. The window to start work on the site, located near the Lidl headquarters, was extended by three years by the state legislature in 2017.

A county spokeswoman tells ARLnow that half of the planned complex may be switched from office to residential use, with an option to also build a hotel instead. The change was foreshadowed in a conceptual site plan submitted to Arlington’s planning department. (Such plans are submitted for feedback from county planners and precede formal site plan filings.)

“The conceptual site plan for Potomac Yard Land Bay C proposes to convert the approved office GFA to residential use, with an option for hotel use as well,” said Dept. of Community Planning, Housing & Development spokeswoman Gina Wimpey. “The conceptual site plan is still under staff review, and we don’t know if or went the application will file a preliminary site plan, which would be the next step after the conceptual site plan. The conceptual site plan covers only the eastern half of Land Bay C, not the western half.”

A planning division presentation to the County Board last week suggested that planners were expecting the new site plan to be filed in time for County Board approval by the end of the year.

Arlington is experiencing a development boom, particularly in and around Crystal City, in the wake of the Amazon HQ2 decision.

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