Last night, the Arlington County Board denied developer Penzance permission to extend construction hours on a luxury condo project in Rosslyn.
The Board unanimously rejected the request to add an extra hour of work in the mornings, allowing crews to start at 6 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, after dozens of residents testified about numerous problems they have already endured with the existing schedule.
Board member Katie Cristol introduced the motion denying the request during the Board’s Tuesday night meeting. While she appreciated Penzance’s desire to speed up its construction process, she couldn’t support “literally unprecedented” construction hours that would be, “an awfully extraordinary action given the resounding comments we’ve heard from the neighboring property owners.”
Cristol noted that the request would only shave a few weeks off the construction schedule, which is projected to wrap up in January 2020. Penzance is building a trio of high-rises on the 1500 block of Wilson Blvd — collectively dubbed The Highlands — with 884 luxury housing units and 40,000 square feet of retail space.
Dozens of residents of the Atrium Condominium building, which is located behind the development site, showed up to Tuesday’s meeting to voice their opposition to Penzance’s request.
“I apologize and thank the community on behalf of the county for what sounds like pure hell for some of you, and I can appreciate that that’s no fun,” said Board member Erik Gutshall, after listening to their testimony. “So stick with us. Nobody sell your unit. No one leave. We will get through this. It’s going to be a beautiful great place and I appreciate folks who can see past that.”
Susan Miller, a 30-year resident of the Atrium, said she has “never seen anything like the horror that this project has brought to this community that we are in,” citing noise and dust and dirt that permeate her balcony.
Another long time resident, Pendita Welch, said that the noise is so loud she has to take phone calls in her closet, and worried that vibrations could be causing her walls to crack.
“I live on the back of the building, and I am partially deaf,” said resident Kelly Davidson, who spoke through tears. “And I can tell you that the noise is loud enough, at nearly the top of the building, partially deaf, to wake me in a startle.”
Davidson told the Board she now has to take medication for frequent migraines.
Amazon is planning to build 2.1 million square feet of new office space in Pentagon City as part of the first phase of construction for its permanent “HQ2” in Arlington.
The retail and tech giant announced its plans today in a blog post.
We are looking to build an urban campus that will allow our employees to think creatively, to be a part of the surrounding community, and to remain connected to the region’s unique culture and environment. As with our Seattle headquarters, we plan to invest in developing a new headquarters in Arlington that will grow alongside its neighbors, supporting local businesses, building new public spaces for all to enjoy, and integrating sustainable design features throughout our campus.
Amazon says it filed its initial development plans with the county this week.
The plans call for a first phase of development that will replace vacant warehouses on the Metropolitan Park site along S. Eads Street, while a second site — the vacant PenPlace site along Eads closer to the Pentagon — will presumably await a second phase.
Included in the plans for the first phase:
- 2.1 million square feet of office space in two LEED Gold-certified, 22-story towers
- 50,000 square feet of retail space “for shops, restaurants, and a daycare center for area residents and Amazonians”
- 1.1 acres of public open space for use as “a dog park, recreation areas, farmers markets, and more”
- On-site bike facilities, a new cycle path along S. Eads Street, and storage space for 600 bikes
- A “below-grade parking structure with 1,968 parking spaces,” per the Washington Business Journal, though Amazon says it will encourage transit use
“These buildings are the first step to creating an urban campus where our future 25,000 employees and the local community can live, work and play,” the blog post says.
The buildings will likely take several years to build, requiring a public process and County Board approval prior to construction. In the meantime, Amazon is leasing temporary office space in Crystal City as it starts to ramp up hiring for HQ2.
More from Amazon’s blog post:
We plan to invest more than $2.5 billion dollars in building our campus over the next decade, driving the creation of thousands of indirect jobs in construction, building services, hospitality and other services industries across the region. In Seattle, where we have invested more than $4 billion in our campus and hired an average of 5,000 people every year since 2010, we estimate that Amazon’s investments have created an additional 53,000 jobs on top of our direct hires.
We are grateful to our new neighbors, and all the elected officials, civic leaders, local businesses, nonprofits and associations who have talked with us about our plans, asked questions, and shared their views. We will continue to listen to their feedback during this process and learn from them as we continue to grow our teams in Virginia.
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) New renderings show one of the three luxury condo buildings being built in Rosslyn.
The Pierce is part of the Highlands development of three high-rise housing buildings on 1555 Wilson Blvd, which is slated to include 884 luxury housing units and 40,000 square feet of retail space when it’s completed.
At 27 stories tall, the Pierce will include a total of 104 one-, two-, and three-bedroom condominium residences, according to a spokeswoman for the developer Penzance. The size of the units range between 1,266 to 2,403 square feet.
The project originally faced opposition for replacing what was once recreational space and Arlington Fire Station 10. In exchange, Penzance pledged to build a new fire station on the ground floor of the new development, along with a landscaped public plaza and an extension of N. Pierce Street to 18th Street — a deal the county accepted in 2016.
A new 360-tour using renderings of the luxury units in the Pierce building show 10-foot ceilings, quartz countertops, and windows facing the Potomac or Rosslyn. A spokeswoman added that bathrooms in the units will have heated floors.
Other renderings show such building amenities as a gym, pool, and rooftop space for residents. In total, the building offers 2,250 square feet of outdoor amenity space, and an additional 8,600 square feet of shared amenity space when you include the rooftop pool in the adjacent Evo building.
The project recently generated some controversy after the developer asked the County Board to extend permitted construction hours by one hour in the mornings, to 6 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. weekends, through the end of the year. The developer previously said the project is slated to finish in 2021.
Some in the area are unhappy with the proposed extended hours.
“This will be disruptive to all in the area, including businesses, residents, and the already increasing traffic issues,” one tipster told ARLnow. “I also want to note that this is yet another time Arlington County Board shows a disregard for the community in the area.”
The County Board is scheduled to vote on the new hours during a meeting this Saturday. The item is currently included in the meeting’s consent agenda, which is typically reserved for matters expected to pass without debate.
Images courtesy of Neoscape
Plans to construct a public park in the center of Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood may move forward this week after decades in development.
The Arlington County Board will consider awarding a construction contract during its meeting this Saturday, May 18, which would turn an area of what is now mostly empty land, at 2400 S. Shirlington Road, into a town center park.
The contract would provide “construction of park improvements, utility undergrounding, street improvements and street lighting” in the space.
The county’s website lists a 2020 projected finish date for the park, dubbed Nauck Town Square, and says construction will include an outdoor stage, a plaza, on-street parking, and tables.
McLean-based concrete contractor Ardent Company LLC is the winner of the county’s competitive contract process for the project. The company would be awarded $4,853,460 for the work if Board members approve the contract, per the staff report.
Discussions on the project date back to the 1998 Nauck Neighborhood Comprehensive Action Plan. The project area includes the former Lucky Seven food market site; the store caught fire in 2012 and was torn down.
Board members originally approved the town square project as part of the 2004 Nauck Village Center Action Plan. It is described in the recent report as “an anchor project to serve as the social and cultural center of the neighborhood.”
In 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Arlington $75,000 for public art as part of the town center project.
The county tapped artist and landscape architect Walter Hood for the project’s design, which then-Public Art Administrator Angela Adams said was one of the reasons Arlington won the federal grant.
“I think that what we’re going to get with Walter’s involvement is a very sophisticated design that continues to make great public spaces here looking contemporary and fresh, but also reflective of the community,” Adams told ARLnow at the time.
The item for Saturday’s discussion is currently included in the Board’s consent agenda for the meeting — a placement usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.
It’s unclear whether the town square will retain the Nauck name after completion. Last week, the Arlington County Civic Federation approved the Nauck Civic Association’s request to change its name to the Green Valley Civic Association — a move the County Board is expected to consider in the coming months.
Arlington County is seeking volunteers to participate in focus groups and provide feedback on proposed changes to Lee Highway.
Residents can sign up online if they want to represent their neighborhood in discussions about future plans for the roadway and land use around it.
Last August, former Board member John Vihstadt called Lee Highway “the next big planning frontier” but said it was important to be “sensitive” to the neighborhoods bordering the roadway.
Feedback formally kicked off in February, when the county began hosting “Plan Lee Highway” community events to discuss ideas for redeveloping housing and retail areas along the corridor between the East Falls Church Metro station and Lyon Village near Rosslyn.
The area’s many single-family home neighborhoods and possible increases in density will likely be a topic for discussion now that Amazon’s 25,000 newly promised jobs is a done deal.
“Plan Lee Highway will meet with community members over the course of the planning process to get feedback on proposed potential areas of change along Lee Highway and the types of change that should be planned for in these areas,” notes the county website.
Those who live in the neighborhoods or own businesses along Lee Highway can sign up to join focus groups, and those who don’t but are still interested in the process can sign up to be “notified of other engagement opportunities.”
Previously, the Arlington County Board considered spending millions for dedicated bus and HOV lanes along the highway to move more people and reduce congestion, among other improvements.
Images via Arlington County
According to an employee at the Jefferson Apartment Group, the company developing the project, the project’s expected completion date is 18 months away.
The project at 4000 Fairfax Drive is planned to be a 22-story luxury complex with 330 units. Plans include a swimming pool and sundeck on the roof of the project.
Street retail — totaling 8,260 square feet — is also planned for the project along an outdoor plaza, but no tenants have been announced.
A developer wants to knock down the single-family home near the Colonial Village Apartments complex in order to build several townhouses.
The new Colonial Village Townhouses project aims to to build seven, four-story townhouses on a 15,920-square-foot “sliver” of land located between N. Veitch Street and 18th Street N., according to newly filed preliminary site development plans.
The plans say the townhomes will all have terraces and range in size from 1,468 square-feet to 1,938 square-feet.
“The seven townhouses are designed in a classic urban, Georgetown style, harmonizing with the existing Colonial Village apartments,” said the filing, which was submitted on behalf of the developer on May 6. The developer is listed as 1731 N Veitch Street LLC, which is a subsidiary of Bethesda-based BeaconCrest Homes.
BeaconCrest Homes Managing Partner Robert Malm declined to comment on the project when reached by ARLnow, but he did clarify that the single-family home on the property is “under contract” with BeaconCrest and slated for demolition.
The plans call for several exemptions to the zoning rules of the lot, including:
- A 2-foot exception to the 40-foot height limit zoned for the area, noting that the architectural plans call for the houses to be 41.98 feet high due “to the slope of the property.”
- Each unit is slated to contain a two-car garage and a driveway with space for two more cars for a total of four vehicles per townhouse. The plan notes this exceeds the parking regulations zoned for the area and requests an exemption.
A December county staff report noted that existing the zoning ordinance “does not specify that the County Board can modify building height for townhouse developing” in this kind of lot so that “further analysis” will need to be done on the requested height exemption.
As part of the community benefits requirement of the development, BeaconCrest says in a letter attached to the site plan that it will negotiate with the county to provide some nearby improvements, including:
- Sidewalk, curb, and gutter improvements
- Streetscape improvements
- Affordable housing contribution
- Contribution to utility fund
The winter staff report also asked the developer to create a detailed tree planting scheme to meet county canopy requirements considering some existing trees on the property may have to be felled. (BeaconCrest Homes faced outcry from some neighbors in years past due to tree removal.)
Mariska noted in the newly filed plans that the development will “provide new residential units with high-quality architecture and within easy walking distance to the Courthouse Metro Station and surrounding amenities.”
Preliminary site plan submissions are “the earliest stages of the site plan process,” notes Arlington County’s website. “During this stage, staff review draft applications to ensure that they meet technical filing requirements.”
Later stages in the site plan process typically involve a review from the Arlington Planning Commission followed later by a vote of the County Board.
Photo (2) via Google Maps
Rescuers Searching for Vehicle in the Water — “A vehicle apparently went into the water Sunday night near Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River, and a search was still under way Monday morning, authorities said. The search was being conducted near the island’s parking lot, according to the D.C. Fire and EMS Department. A witness reported that the vehicle went into the water.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Amazon Less Worried About HQ2 Housing Impact — “Amazon said its second headquarters in Arlington will not aggravate housing problems as much as the company has in Seattle because it will be able to plan for growth here in a way that it couldn’t in earlier years in its home base. Jay Carney, a senior vice president with the online retail giant, also said the company chose the Washington region for HQ2 and its 25,000 jobs partly because it is ‘a much more racially diverse area than the Pacific Northwest.'” [Washington Post]
Amazon’s Transformative Effect on Crystal City — “All of this points toward a vision of the future that was far-fetched even a few years ago: Crystal City as a place people would want to remain in after 5 p.m.” [Washingtonian]
County Had Cozy Emails with JBG Smith — “In a Dec. 6 email to Andy VanHorn, the executive vice president at JBG Smith Properties overseeing the development of Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, Schwartz pledged open and unfettered access to a roster of key county officials charged with overseeing the various pieces of the approval process.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Unemployment Rate: 2.1% — “Arlington will have to share the title of lowest jobless rate in Virginia for at least a month. With 150,932 county residents in the civilian workforce and 3,216 looking for jobs, Arlington’s unemployment rate for March stood at 2.1 percent, unchanged for a month before and tied with the adjacent city of Falls Church as lowest among the commonwealth’s 133 cities and counties.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Arrested After Police Chase — “An Arlington resident was arrested Thursday for allegedly stealing a Porsche and leading Fairfax County police on a chase through Tysons.” [Tysons Reporter]
A developer is planning to raze two office buildings on 601-701 12th Street S. in Pentagon City and build four new towers with residential, office, and retail space.
That’s according to a preliminary site plan filing with Arlington County. The plan also notes that the property’s current occupants — the Transportation Security Administration — are soon leaving the county.
Renderings in the filings from property owner Brookfield Properties depict four buildings planned for the area:
- a 14-story, 240-foot high southwest tower for office space
- a 20-story, 235-foot high southeast tower for residential or hotel use
- a 24-story, 275-foot high northeast tower for residential or hotel use
- a 26-story, 300-foot high northwest tower for residential use, with a penthouse
The company’s proposal says the development will occur in phases and will include “new access to the Pentagon City Metro, upgraded streetscapes and sidewalks, a new internal pedestrian pathway, public open spaces and outdoor seating” as well as public art.
Brookfield’s plans indicate that retail space is planned along the ground floor of the four towers and along 12th Street S.
Tysons-based law firm Venable LLP submitted the proposal, which included a request to make an exception to the site’s limits on building height and density for the project, on behalf of Brookfield.
The document notes that, “the proposal will help address the significant increase in demand for residential housing and hotel space, which will only grow considering the potential for office development in the region.”
The plan says it aims to “ease congestion on surrounding roads by integrating with nearby sites, improving internal circulation, and connecting to Metro.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is currently using the two buildings on-site and is scheduled to move out next fall, per agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
“The new building will be located at 6595 Springfield Center Drive, Springfield,” said Farbstein.
TSA announced in 2015 that it would move to Alexandria in a bid to save $95 million over the next 15 years, but the move was later overturned by a federal judge.
Brookfield Properties describes the two, 12-story buildings currently occupied by the TSA as, “aging, obsolete” and “unattractive.”
The county posted the address of the project on its website under “Preliminary Development Proposals” last week. However, the process of obtaining the plans revealed the county’s permitting and zoning offices were adapting the way they process records requests.
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) A development plan for a new hotel and a new apartment or condo tower in the Rosslyn area has decreased the number of units originally planned for the site.
Grant Investment Properties, LLC which owns both the Best Western Iwo Jima hotel at 1501 Arlington Blvd and 14-unit Ellis Arms Apartments at 1523 Fairfax Drive, is now seeking to build a 10-floor, 48-unit residential building and a 12-story, 160-room hotel building on the Rosslyn site, according to county documents.
The Arlington County Board is set to vote Tuesday on the amended plan, and county staff is recommending approval, according to a staff report. The plans also include a 160-space parking garage, LEED Gold certification for both proposed buildings and “an extensive green roof.”
An earlier proposal called for a 250-room “dual brand hotel” and a 64-unit residential building, as ARLnow previously reported.
“While the number of proposed units decreased, the total residential [gross floor area] is unchanged, as the average unit size increased due to the elimination of studio units and increase in two (2) bedroom units,” the staff report said.
During an April 8 Planning Commission meeting several community members expressed concern about how the development may displace current residents from the Ellis Arms apartment building, which is considered market rate affordable housing, according to County Board documents.
“In response, the applicant has indicated that, in addition to the required Tenant Relocation Plan, it is working to identify potential affordable units, nearby the site, where existing tenants may have an option to move,” the documents note.
Depending on whether the residential building becomes rental apartments or condominiums — the staff report suggests the current plan is for condos — the developer would provide either on-site affordable rental units or a multi-million dollar contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund, respectively.
The Arlington Park and Recreation Commission supports the plan, noting in a letter that the development’s community benefits package includes a donation to the nearby Ft. Myers Height Park, which will help fund improvements to “the picnic area (furnishings, ADA access, drinking fountain, invasive species removal), the half basketball court, and landscaping on a vacated playground site.”
Photos via Arlington County
New Census Population Estimate — “Arlington’s estimated population was up 14.4 percent from 2010 to 2018, more than double the increase statewide and nationally, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The federal government’s recently released guesstimate of Arlington’s population as of July 1, 2018, stood at 237,521, up about 1 percent from a year before.” [InsideNova]
Fraudster’s Arlington Home Sold — “The Arlington home of real estate developer Todd Hitt — who pleaded guilty in February to eight counts of fraud — has found a buyer, according to court documents. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, approved the $1.3 million sale of the 5,500-square-foot house on North Kensington Street.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Working With MoCo on DCA Noise Study — “Arlington government officials plan to formalize their agreement with leaders in Montgomery County, Md., to fund a study on the northerly aircraft departure route out of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The County Board plans to ante up half the projected cost for a consultant, with the Montgomery County Council putting up the other half.” [InsideNova]
County Proposes New Development Review Fee — “Arlington County staff is proposing a new fee for the acceptance and review of conceptual site plan applications, a process through which developers can get input on their projects before their formal submission.” [Washington Business Journal]