A proposal to redevelop the Red Lion Hotel near Rosslyn is beginning its journey through the Arlington County approval process.
Local development group Orr Partners took over previously approved plans from 2019 to replace the hotel and the Ellis Arms Apartments in the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhood with a 10-story condo building and 12-story hotel.
After taking over, Orr expanded the scope of its project. Now, it intends to build on a 2.2-acre site composed of the hotel, formerly the Best Western Iwo Jima hotel, which opened in 1958, as well as the Ellis Arms and Williamsburg apartments, which were built in 1954.
Instead of a condo building and hotel, it proposes building a 446-unit, 8-story apartment complex at 1501 Arlington Blvd, bounded by Fairfax Drive to the south and the Parc Rosslyn Apartments and Belvedere Condominiums to the north.
“We think it will revitalize this neighborhood and bring critically needed housing to Arlington County,” Tyler Orr of Orr Partners said in a video. “Our company has been honored to deliver numerous projects in Arlington County over the last 35 years. In all our projects, we seek to enhance the fabric of the surrounding community, be considerate of our neighbors and give something back with any new community we deliver.”
In exchange for razing the two 14-unit apartment buildings, Orr says the company will provide on-site affordable housing.
That has to amount to at least 28 units or the same square footage lost to redevelopment, according to county planner Adam Watson. He said in a video that Orr is held to this standard because it is building on a site that is mostly designated a “special affordable housing protection district.”
Watson said county staffers are working with Orr on an affordable housing plan that replaces the lost housing.
Presentation materials from Orr say the proposal mostly includes a mix of one- and two-bedroom units, though there are 15 two-bedroom “junior” apartments and 12 three-bedroom units, which are at a premium in Arlington County.
Orr Partners intends to reach LEED Gold certification and plans to include three courtyards as well as at- and below-grade, at a rate of 0.57 spaces per unit.
“Architecturally, the base of the building is scaled to respect the heights of the residential developments along the Arlington Blvd corridor,” architect Chris Gordon said in the Orr presentation. “The design incorporates various techniques to break up the massing, through alternating materials, use of color, textures and providing interior courtyards out to Arlington Blvd beginning at third-level amenity terrace.”
He notes the structure is shaped to capture “primary views of the Capital mall” and to bring together amenities so “all residents to engage in this terrific location.”
Orr Partners is also leaving enough space in its development to allow Arlington County to reconstruct the Arlington Blvd Trail that is across street, says county planner Adam Watson. Base engineering for that project is in progress.
The county is asking for feedback on the proposal related to land use, building form, architecture, transportation, landscaping and public space and community benefits.
After the feedback form closes later this month, the first Site Plan Review Committee meeting will be held in September, followed by a second in October. Meetings for commission and Arlington County Board approval have yet to be scheduled.
A collection of garden apartments near Rosslyn are set to be renovated this year.
On Saturday, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing received the last approvals it needed to repair 62 committed affordable units across six garden apartment buildings in the Radnor-Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood.
These renovations are part of a two-phase redevelopment project of The Marbella Apartments along N. Queen Street near Route 50. Two 12-story, 100% affordable buildings will replace a three-story, garden-style complex north of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall while the other 62 units will be renovated.
These units will get updated windows and façades as well as interiors, new handrails and new wells that protect windows that are level with the ground from soil, known as window wells.
The project had nearly cleared the last design and permitting stages when it was discovered that the property does not conform with present-day Zoning Ordinance regulations, per a county report. That meant some of its repairs, including the window wells, could not proceed by-right.
The apartments were built by-right in the 1940s, a decade before the ordinance was enacted. The buildings now do not meet the ordinance’s requirements for how close a property could be to the street nor parking and density regulations.
Arlington County staff and the applicant argued against trying to make the buildings conform with current zoning rules.
“Bringing the existing buildings into conformance with current parking and setback standards would negatively impact existing units, mature trees, and open space, thus compromising the goals of affordable housing preservation and the historic qualities of the garden apartment property,” the report said.
Instead, on Saturday, the Arlington County Board designated the property with the Marbella Apartments as a “Voluntary Coordinated Housing Preservation and Development District.”
The property joins some eight other buildings in Arlington, the report says. They received this designation between 1992 and 2011.
The Board also approved a related use permit. These two moves allow the planned structural changes to the apartments without making them conform to zoning ordinances.
The buildings consist of mostly 1-bedroom apartments, with some studio, 2- and 3-bedroom units. They are available to people earning a mix of incomes up to 60% of the area median income.
Neither the report nor application materials indicated when renovations would begin.
Apartments proposed along Arlington Blvd, near Courthouse, have cleared the next hurdle on their way to final approvals.
Fortis Companies is proposing to remove a lone, single-family detached home, a “significant tree” identified in neighborhood planning documents, and two surface parking lots. In their place, it proposes a nearly 125-foot tall building with 166 new units and 120 residential parking spaces.
With this plan, Fortis intends to achieve LEED Gold certification for the building’s sustainability features, to set aside some on-site units for affordable housing and contribute cash to the Arlington County Affordable Housing Investment Fund in exchange for additional density.
In addition, Fortis proposes to make streetscape and sidewalk improvements to three of the streets bounding the site: N. Fairfax Drive, N. Troy Street and 13th Street N. Part of the changes to Fairfax Drive include turning it into a cul-de-sac and expanding the planting buffer between the Arlington Blvd Trail and Fairfax Drive.
The project at 2025 Fairfax Drive has undergone preliminary review by citizen commissions.
Through this process, Fortis made some tweaks to the overall design of the site and agreed to increase how much vegetation it will plant on a proposed courtyard so that it feels more like an “urban forest,” land-use attorney Andrew Painter said in a mid-May meeting.
“This is a really nice, elegant and lushly planted solution,” architect Jeff Kreps said at the time.
Final approval meetings by the Planning Commission and Arlington County Board have not been set yet.
If approved, Fortis expects construction to start in mid-2024 and last 24-30 months, with a completion date in late 2026, per a presentation it made in the May meeting.
The developer says it will conduct quarterly outreach meetings with the surrounding community. The 1.8-acre site is bordered by the Woodbury Heights Condominiums to the north, Taft Towers condominiums to the east, Arlington Blvd to the south and the Arlington Court Suites hotel to the west.
The historic Wakefield Manor and Courthouse Manor garden apartment complexes, built in the early 1940s, are also part of the site proposed for redevelopment. An easement was granted over these significant apartments to protect them for perpetuity.
In exchange for protecting these apartments, developer Greystar was able to increase the density of its apartment being built on the former Wendy’s in Courthouse.
Thieves damaged 25 vehicles in several North Arlington neighborhoods over the past few days.
That’s according to Monday’s Arlington County Police Department crime report.
The first theft spree happened last week, overnight Thursday into Friday, in the Waverly Hills neighborhood, not far from the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Langston Blvd.
Thieves damaged five vehicles while stealing the glass from side mirrors, according to police.
LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series) (Late), 2023-05190101, 4700 block of 20th Road N. At approximately 9:57 a.m. on May 19, police were dispatched to the late report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined between approximately 10:00 p.m. on May 18 and 7:30 a.m. on May 19, the unknown suspect(s) stole the glass from the sideview mirrors of four vehicles and damaged the glass of the sideview mirror of a fifth vehicle. No other items were reported damaged or stolen. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.
An even larger spree was reported over the weekend in and around Rosslyn, with some 20 Honda vehicles broken into and their airbags stolen.
From the crime report:
LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2023-05210011, 1300 block of N. Fort Myer Drive. At approximately 12:44 a.m. on May 21, police were dispatched to a vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, it was determined the reporting party observed three men in their 20’s breaking into vehicles. When she yelled out to them, they fled the scene in a gray sedan. During the course of the investigation, it was determined approximately 20 parked vehicles in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights, Rosslyn and Colonial Village neighborhoods had a window shattered and an air bag stolen. The involved vehicles are Honda models. The investigation is ongoing.
Four teens are facing potential charges after running from a felony traffic stop.
The incident happened Thursday afternoon in the Rosslyn area.
Arlington County police say the juveniles were in a stolen car when officers tried to pull them over. All four — including one who allegedly was armed with a gun — tried to run off, but they were each eventually taken into custody, ACPD said.
More, below, from an ACPD crime report.
RECOVERED STOLEN AUTO (Significant), 2023-05040170, 1600 block of N. Queen Street. At approximately 4:15 p.m. on May 4, police attempted a traffic stop at N. Quinn Street and Wilson Boulevard on a vehicle previously reported stolen out of Fairfax County, VA. The four occupants exited the vehicle and ran from the scene. Officers initiated foot pursuits and the occupants, four juveniles, were located and taken into custody. During a search of the driver, a firearm was recovered. Petitions for the four juvenile suspects are pending.
Although redevelopment plans for the mid-century Inn of Rosslyn pay homage to the motel, the county says the developer could do more.
Last fall, D.C. real estate company Monument Realty filed plans to replace the 38-unit hotel, built in 1957, with an 8-story, 141-unit apartment building with 88 parking spaces. It took over the property after JBG Smith purchased it in December 2020.
This February, the county kicked off a review process that will culminate with a vote by the Arlington County Board. Planning staff already have some suggestions for the developer to comply with recommendations for the site made in the neighborhood’s Fort Myer Heights North Plan.
They say Monument should study adding floors to shrink the overall footprint of the property — located at 1601 Fairfax Drive, fronting Route 50 — match it to heights of other nearby apartment towers.
The designs, meanwhile, should imitate nearby Art Deco and Colonial Revival garden apartments and the developer could incorporate more historic preservation of the property, county planners say.
“The building footprint should be reduced to provide the recommended landscaped green space which is not currently provided,” said planners in a county report. “The proposed building does not incorporate elements of Colonial Revival or Art Deco, as recommended.”
New renderings from Monument Realty depict a building with alternating stripes of lighter and darker brick, offset by wood-like paneling. Mid-century motifs on the balconies and a “50” sign out front pay homage to the architecture of the existing hotel.
The developer’s land use attorney, Nick Cumings of Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh, argued in a January 2023 letter to the county that the project does “compliment and draw from the architecture of the existing building and the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood.”
That includes the retro “50” sign and some of the materials to be used in construction.
“This selection of building materials is appropriate for the neighborhood, which predominantly features masonry, while also introducing a biophilic design with the wood-like paneling,” writes Cumings.
The county also wants the developer to work on “historic preservation elements” for the existing motel, while an attorney for Monument Realty argues that is not necessary.
Within the Arlington County Historic Resources Inventory, Cumings says, the property is designated as “Important” — but less distinctive and/or in worse condition than “Essential.” He added that the neighborhood plan does not call for its historic preservation.
Meanwhile, residents involved in the pro-housing group YIMBYs of Northern Virginia said on social media that their priority will be getting the developer to include more affordable housing in exchange for greater density.
Like staff, they envision the building reaching 12 stories — the tallest the Fort Myer Heights plan allows — so that more people can live in the Metro-accessible area.
Monument Realty already plans to earn some 59,000 square feet of extra density by participating in the Green Building Density Incentive Program, aiming to earn LEED Gold, and by providing some affordable housing. It’s unclear whether the provided affordable housing will be on-site or elsewhere.
Next up in the development approval process, the Site Plan Review Committee of the county’s Planning Commission will review the project twice before it heads to other citizen commissions and the Arlington County Board. No dates have been set for these meetings.
Arlington’s Colonial Village neighborhood is the No. 2 “Best Place to Live in America,” according to a recent set of rankings.
Two other Arlington neighborhoods, meanwhile, ranked in the top 25.
Colonial Village is best known for its historic garden-style apartments and condos, built between 1935 and 1940. Lush, landscaped and tree-lined, the community is both verdant and urban — it’s in easy walking distance to Courthouse and the Courthouse Metro station.
From Niche, which ranked neighborhoods across the United States:
Colonial Village is a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia with a population of 2,895. Colonial Village is in Arlington County and is one of the best places to live in Virginia. In Colonial Village, most residents rent their homes. In Colonial Village there are a lot of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many young professionals live in Colonial Village and residents tend to be liberal. The public schools in Colonial Village are highly rated.
Other notable local findings from Niche:
A new developer has reprised long-dormant plans to turn a house, a large tree and two surface parking lots near Courthouse into apartments.
D.C.-area developer Fortis Companies proposes building a 166-unit, 12-story apartment tower at 2025 Fairfax Drive, along a frontage road for Route 50 that dead-ends in front of a complex of historic brick apartment buildings. It also proposes an underground parking garage and an interior walkway between the nearby apartments and Fairfax Drive.
The new building would be located on the southeast corner of Fairfax Drive on the same block as the existing, historic Wakefield Manor and Courthouse Manor garden apartment complexes. In 2011, the Arlington County Board guaranteed the preservation of these buildings when it approved the original site plan.
The approved development “was never constructed, for a variety of reasons,” says Andrew Painter, an attorney representing Fortis, in a presentation. “We believe the proposed building will, at long last, fulfill the county’s land use, density, height and diversity goals for the site, and deliver high quality architecture and a building within easy walking distance of many community amenities.”
Fortis Vice-President of Acquisitions Matt Bunch says a design team spent two years studying the site and the 11-year-old plans to come up with a new proposal.
“We’re very excited to bring this project to fruition in a way that satisfies the existing residents’ parking needs, improves project overall viability and addresses the county’s planning guidance,” he said in the same presentation. “We believe this underutilized site is an excellent opportunity to provide new, smart-growth housing within the county that is easily walkable to the Courthouse Metro station.”
A parking garage accessible from N. Troy Street will have 30 parking spaces set aside for Courthouse Manor and Wakefield Manor residents.
The site is less than half a mile from the Metro station as well as bus stops along 15th Street N. Also a half-mile away is the Inn of Rosslyn, which is also slated for redevelopment.
The 1.8-acre site is bordered by the Woodbury Heights Condominiums to the north, Taft Towers condominiums to the east, Arlington Boulevard to the south and the Arlington Court Suites hotel to the west.
“The site is subject to the Fort Myer Heights North Plan (2004), which seeks to balance preservation and redevelopment with an emphasis on affordable housing, historic buildings, open space, significant trees and neighborhood scale,” the county says in a virtual walking tour of the site. “The building façade will be comprised of brick and metal panels with stone and pre-cast concrete accents.”
Wakefield Manor and Courthouse Manor were later preserved from future development through a transfer of development rights involving the old Wendy’s site in Courthouse.
“Courthouse Manor (1940) and Wakefield Manor (1943) were designed by notable architect, Mihran Mesrobian,” according to the county. “Both buildings are known for blending Art Deco and Moderne styles with traditional Classical Revival characteristics. They are recognized as unique garden-apartment buildings and identified as ‘Essential’ properties on the Historic Resources Inventory.”
A pedestrian bridge in the Rosslyn area is closed after inspectors founds something worrisome.
The bridge over Route 50, connecting N. Fairfax Drive and Fort Myer Drive in the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, was found to have deteriorating concrete in sections, according to Arlington County. The span is closed while crews work on repairs.
More from a county press release:
Engineers are closing the pedestrian bridge connecting North Fairfax Drive to Fort Myer Drive over Arlington Boulevard, effective immediately, as a result of a bridge inspection today, Thursday, December 8, out of an abundance of caution.
Pedestrian access over Arlington Boulevard will be maintained on the Rhodes Street bridge to the west and North Meade Street to the east.
The restrictions will stay in place until further notice. The Arlington Boulevard multi-use trail will remain open on the north side of the bridge.
Crews had been conducting maintenance work on the bridge’s surface. An inspection revealed deterioration of the concrete in some sections of the bridge. The bridge will be temporarily closed while crews work on these repairs.
(Updated 4 p.m. on 10/28/22) JBG Smith is under contract to sell The Inn of Rosslyn, which it purchased nearly two years ago, according to permits filed with Arlington County.
Now, a new developer — “MR 1601 Fairfax Drive Property LLC,” an affiliate of Monument Realty — is proposing to redevelop the site with an apartment building, according to an ownership disclosure statement.
Although designated as an “important” property on the Arlington Historic Resources Inventory list, the property will be demolished. Iconic features of the 65-year-old building in the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhood will live on in embellishments to the apartment building.
In December 2020, developer JBG Smith purchased the Rosslyn area motel, the Americana Hotel in Crystal City and two apartment buildings, one of which is adjacent to the Inn of Rosslyn. These four buildings were owned by a local family for about 60 years, but surviving members decided to sell after hotel profits stagnated during the pandemic.
And now, the developer is reselling the property.
The plans for 1601 Fairfax Drive, about a half-mile from the Courthouse Metro station, are taking shape as plans for the Americana Hotel have already started moving through Arlington’s review processes. The developer proposes to demolish the motel and construct an 8-story, nearly 80-foot-tall apartment building with 141 units and 87 below-grade parking spaces.
Monument Realty is foregoing retail on the site because of the site’s sloping topography, and “lack of sufficient pedestrian traffic to support retail uses,” writes Nicholas Cumings, the developer’s land use attorney for the project. (Coincidentally, sloping topography is posing logistical challenges for the developer at the Americana Hotel site.)
Despite the “important” historic designation, a 14-year-old redevelopment plan for the area recommends redeveloping the property with a building up to 12 stories and 125 feet tall, with optional retail and a main entrance on Fairfax Drive and loading and parking off N. Queen Street, per the filing.
The hotel site “could accommodate additional density and height, because this area is adjacent to high volume Arlington Boulevard and the sloping topography will minimize the appearance and impact of greater heights,” according to the 2008 Fort Myer Heights North Plan.
The plan additionally calls for redesigning Fairfax Drive as a “complete street” serving pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and drivers, while stipulating that new development should have architecture that mimics the existing neighborhood.
“The architecture of the proposed building will complement and draw from the architecture of the existing building and the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood,” the plan says. “The Applicant’s proposed building design is partly influenced by the building’s distinctive features, which are honored through the façade cantilevers, recreation of the existing ’50’ sign and balcony railings mimicking the zig-zag design of the existing railings.”
Construction of a mid-rise condo building near Rosslyn and Courthouse could be finished this winter.
Dubbed the Avant, the multifamily structure is located at 1201 N. Quinn Street, south of Arlington Blvd, in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood. Housing nearby is mostly comprised of other mid-rise multifamily buildings.
Once completed, the development from Arlington-based Atlas Development Partners, will be four stories with 12 units and a garage. There are two 1-bedroom, seven 2-bedroom and three 3-bedroom condos.
Two of the units have been purchased already, said a spokesperson for The Centurion Group, a division of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, which is marketing the project.
“We expect to list units for sale in November,” he said.
Construction began three years ago and was anticipated to last 30 months, he said.
But one observer told ARLnow that work has progressed in fits and starts, wondering whether it will ever be finished. It’s nearly completed, and the reason behind the delays are Covid- and supply chain-related, we’re told.
“There were significant delays and material price increases during Covid,” the spokesman said. “Some materials and appliances were on back order for a year.”
Pricing begins at $485,000 for a 1-bedroom, $765,000 for a 2-bedroom and $975,000 for a 3-bedroom unit, according to the website.
The website says the neighborhood “provides a quiet and private corner separated from the county center.”
Still, situated near Metro stations on the Orange Line, the neighborhood offers “convenient car-free commuting options as well as convenient and walkable access to upscale urban amenities ranging from dining, shopping, bars, nightclubs, theaters, parks, and more,” the website adds.