(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.”
A fight inside a hotel led to gunfire and a police investigation early this morning in Pentagon City.
The incident reportedly happened at the DoubleTree hotel at 300 Army Navy Drive around 2:30 a.m. Monday.
“Upon arrival, it was determined a group of four male subjects had been involved in a fight inside a hotel,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The subjects left the scene prior to the arrival of officers. Responding officers canvassed the area and recovered evidence confirming a shot had been fired outside the building and located damage to the exterior ceiling. No injuries were reported.”
A resident of an apartment building next door said that the commotion woke people up in the middle of the night.
“There was something crazy going on near Lenox Club apartment complex,” an anonymous tipster told ARLnow this morning. “Woke us and people up all over the building and at the DoubleTree… Sounded like screaming and maybe gunshots or someone taking a baseball
bat to the walls.”
“The investigation is ongoing,” ACPD said.
A 36-story, 331-room “state of the art” Hilton hotel is coming to Rosslyn.
The hospitality giant this morning announced the signing of an agreement to operate the high-rise hotel on the former Holiday Inn site. With rooms overlooking D.C. and the Potomac River, the hotel will also feature a rooftop event space and 28,000 square feet of meeting space.
More from a press release:
Today, Hilton announces the signing of Hilton at The Key, Arlington-Rosslyn, providing even more options to travelers looking for a state of the art, full-service hotel just minutes from Washington, D.C. Located at the foot of the Potomac River’s historic Francis Scott Key Bridge in Arlington, Virginia, the 36-story, 331-room property is surrounded by numerous corporate headquarters based in Rosslyn’s business district and minutes from the 11-acre riverfront Fort Bennett Park and Palisades Trail.
The modern hotel is under development as part of The Key, a project that includes a destination restaurant, street-level retail, and 517 luxury apartments with panoramas of the water and the nation’s capital. Once completed, Hilton at The Key will feature approximately 28,000 square feet of flexible and modern meeting spaces, including an event space on the 36th floor with sweeping 360-degree views of the Washington, D.C., skyline, the Potomac River and Arlington, Virginia.
“Dittmar Company is proud to partner with Hilton as we bring a true destination meeting and event facility to Arlington, Virginia, and the surrounding DMV area,” said Greg Raines, an executive at Dittmar Company.
The 18-story, 50-year-old Holiday Inn was imploded two years ago to make way for the massive new development, which has since been dubbed The Key. A construction update last month noted that crews were preparing to pour concrete for the tenth floor of the building.
The development’s 500+ unit rental apartment building has been christened “Rosslyn Towers.”
“Rosslyn Towers is the latest in the Dittmar Company portfolio of Arlington Luxury Multi-Family deliveries,” says The Key’s website. “The residences will have first class finishes to rival the unmatched location and views present at this iconic location.”
The apartment’s “uplifting live/work/play environment” will feature “an amenity package that is second to none.”
In the shadow of Amazon’s HQ2, the Americana Hotel stands vacant and ready for redevelopment.
The hotel at 1400 Richmond Highway, which JBG Smith purchased in late 2020, is in a prime location. Met Park, the first phase of Amazon’s headquarters, is across the street. PenPlace, the project’s second phase, is down the road. The Crystal City Metro station is a block south.
But the prospect of building apartments and retail right next to a global tech company’s second headquarters came with two issues: physical problems with the land and questions about when, and how, neighboring properties and Route 1 would change.
The Americana property slopes down significantly. It abuts an elevated portion of Route 1 that the Virginia Department of Transportation proposes lowering. The building is surrounded by apartment buildings, a hotel and a VDOT-owned patch of grass, all of which could be redeveloped or reconfigured in the future.
JBG Smith representatives say the proposal, filed in April and accepted by the county this month, accounts for these conditions and questions. They say it meets a county zoning requirement that towers be separated by 60 feet and a recommendation in the Crystal City Sector Plan that podiums be separated by 40 feet.
“We have designed the building around trying to maintain the maximum flexibility for that future development, but there is nothing in the current plan that is in any way not compliant or fully in accordance with the sector plan and zoning ordinance,” land use attorney Kedrick Whitmore told members of the Long Range Planning Committee this summer.
The aging Americana Hotel — which was once featured in a Russell Crowe movie — would be replaced with a 644-unit, 19-story tall building with 3,674 square feet of ground floor retail, according to the application materials. A below-grade parking garage would provide 191 on-site parking spaces and an existing garage at the Bartlett Apartments (520 12th Street S.) would provide an additional 206 off-site spaces.
The developer aims to achieve LEED Gold certification.
“The building includes work-from-home, fitness, and other amenity spaces, as well as outdoor access to balconies and two rooftop terraces with unobstructed views of the surrounding landmarks,” Whitmore wrote in a letter included in JBG Smith’s application.
And the developer aims to break ground before VDOT gets started on rebuilding Route 1 at-grade. VDOT plans to wrap up a second study phase of the proposed changes early next year.
“We do acknowledge that’s an issue we have to discuss with county staff and VDOT,” Jack Kelly, a Vice President with JBG Smith, told the LRPC. “We made high-level assumptions on setbacks, based on what we know about the future alignment of Route 1.”
The developer also had to do “a lot of guesswork” to design around potential redevelopment projects for the adjacent Embassy Suites by Hilton Crystal City National Airport, The Paramount apartments and the VDOT parcel, said Malcolm Williams, an associate with JBG Smith, in the same meeting.
Bye, Bye Bank Building — “A new residential development is on the boards for Columbia Pike. Marcus Partners filed plans late last week with Arlington County for a new 250-unit residential development at the site of the Bank of America office building at 3401 Columbia Pike. The six-story building will have ground floor retail, a central courtyard and 287 parking spaces on 2.5 below grade levels.” [UrbanTurf]
It’s Official: No Caucus — From Blue Virginia: “The @arlingtondems announce that their School Board Endorsement Vote process is canceled, as there is only one candidate (Bethany Zecher Sutton) left after the other withdrew.” [Twitter]
Rents Still Rising — “The median Arlington apartment rent in April was up 16.8 percent from a year before, the third highest growth rate among the nation’s 100 large urban areas, according to new data. The median monthly rental for an apartment in the county last month was $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,420 for two bedrooms, according to data reported by Apartment List.” [Sun Gazette]
Truck Crash Caught on Camera — From Dave Statter: “Just happened. 3rd crash in as many days on I-395S at Exit 8C/Rt 1. It appears the red car didn’t stop & no other cars struck. @VSPPIO has all lanes open.” [Twitter]
Protest Outside DEA HQ in Pentagon City — “I’m outside DEA headquarters in Arlington, where protests have gathered to draw attention to terminally ill patients’ rights to try experimental drugs like psilocybin.” [Twitter, The Hill]
WaPo Reporter Rappels Down Hotel — “On Thursday and Friday, about 80 people, including two local elected officials, a Washington Post reporter, and a member of the D.C. Divas women’s football team, dressed in full pads and uniform, rappelled down the side of the Crystal City Hilton to raise funds and awareness for New Hope Housing.” [Washington Post]
Boeing HQ May Draw More Companies — “Even without a sizable addition of jobs or expansion, Northern Virginia landing another major corporate headquarters has strategic ‘marketing value,’ Terry Clower, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis, said in an interview. The presence of a headquarters attracts the attention of other corporations, as well as site-selection consultants who advise companies where to locate new facilities. ‘Nothing draws a crowd like a lot of people,’ Clower said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Metro: Ridership Rebounding — “Metro ridership is outpacing projections through the first three quarters of fiscal year 2022 by nearly 40 percent. Through March, ridership has exceeded the initial forecast by 28 million passenger trips as more people chose bus and rail for travel throughout the region. Metrobus leads the way, accounting for 60 percent of overall Metro ridership, compared to about 40 percent for rail.” [WMATA]
It’s Tuesday — Clear throughout the day. High of 68 and low of 48. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:11 pm. [Weather.gov]
Marymount University is seeking Arlington County Board approval to convert some of its student housing in Ballston into hotel rooms permanently.
The conversions would occur at “The Rixey,” an apartment building Marymount owns and operates at 1008 N. Glebe Road as graduate student housing. Marymount intends to repurpose 133 of the 267 units into hotel rooms to give students studying hotellery practical experience.
“The addition of hotel units to the Rixey building will be used to support and enhance Marymount University’s Hospitality Innovation Master of Business Administration (MBA) program by providing students with hands-on experience in the hotel industry,” a county report said.
This request follows several other recent proposals to temporarily convert apartment units into hotels during the initial leasing of these buildings, the report said.
For example, to recuperate revenue losses from pandemic-era vacancies, Dittmar asked the Arlington County Board last summer to allow three- to 30-day stays in 75 furnished units that are typically used for longer residential stays.
Some worried these conversions would harm rental housing affordability, but the County Board ultimately approved Dittmar’s request. County planners intend to study these conversions “in the next few years” to inform a potential hotel conversion policy, according to the report.
Staff say Marymount’s proposal, however, is “distinctly different” because the conversions would be permanent, would figure into a hands-on learning program and would add hotel rooms the county needs.
“The proposed conversion would also establish a concentration of new hotel rooms to help counterbalance the loss of 1,600 hotel rooms in Arlington over the past two years and would allow Marymount University to broaden its offerings as an anchor institution in Ballston,” the report said.
Marymount purchased “The Rixey” for $95 million in 2019 after it had purchased the land underneath in order to lease it to local real estate developer The Shooshan Company, which built the apartments. Marymount also owns the Ballston Center office building next door, using some floors for office and educational space and leasing other floors.
The Board is slated to review the proposal this Saturday.
Mask Optional Bill Heads to Governor — “As had their state Senate colleagues the preceding week, members of Arlington’s delegation to the House of Delegates were unanimous in their opposition to legislation ending mask mandates on students in Virginia’s public-education system. But the opposition did nothing to stop the bill’s momentum – the measure on Feb. 14 won final passage in the House of Delegates and is on its way to Gov. Youngkin.” [Sun Gazette]
More on Roosevelt Bridge Work — “The Roosevelt Bridge connecting Arlington and D.C. got a close-up inspection Monday after transportation officials ordered emergency road work to the bridge over the weekend. D.C. Department of Transportation Director Everett Lott said the bridge, which is 58 years old, was given a ‘poor’ rating during an inspection in 2018 and a “fair” rating in 2016. Lanes will be shut down on the bridge for as long as six months due to a rusted beam.” [NBC 4]
Homeless Shelter Moved Everyone to Motel — “Staffers at Arlington County’s largest homeless shelter for adults have spent the better part of the past two years trying to keep the coronavirus in check. They tested everyone regularly, moved any person who caught the virus into isolation. They had strict protocols, high vaccination rates among the nearly 100 homeless residents who use the facility and required that face masks be worn indoors… But then came omicron.” [Washington Post]
Preservation Bill Dead for 2022 — “Advocates of historic-preservation legislation patroned by two Northern Virginia lawmakers will have to wait until 2023 to try and win enactment. The House of Delegates Committee on Counties, Cities and Towns voted Feb. 11 to delay final consideration of legislation patroned by Del. Hope (D-Arlington) to next year.” [Sun Gazette]
Towing Accountability Bill Fails — “A measure its patron said would provide more teeth to Virginia’s statutes regulating the towing industry died a perhaps predictable death in the House of Delegates. Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington-Fairfax) had patroned legislation that would have made violations of state and local towing rules subject to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. It also would have provided ‘meaningful civil penalties’ for towing malfeasance, the patron said in comments to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation.” [Sun Gazette]
Small House Fire in N. Arlington — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “This morning at approx. 0920 crews were dispatched for a reported structure fire in the 3600 BLK of N. Vermont St. Crews found a small fire with minimal extension. No injuries were reported.” [Twitter]
W-L Track Wins Championship — “For what is officially supposed to be an indoor sport, the Washington-Liberty Generals improvised quite well and won a Liberty District boys track and field championship as a result. The Generals finished first with 128 points, with the Yorktown Patriots second with 88.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Tuesday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 40. Sunrise at 6:58 a.m. and sunset at 5:46 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny and breezy, with a high near 54. [Weather.gov]
Plans and a possible construction timeline for the proposed Silver Diner redevelopment in Clarendon are crystallizing.
Late last month, property owner TCS Realty Associates and developer Donohoe Cos. filed their application materials for the “Bingham Center” project on a triangular parcel of land bounded by Wilson Blvd, 10th Street N. and N. Irving Street, across from Northside Social.
One half of the project would replace the Silver Diner and a retail building (3240 Wilson Blvd) with a 224-room hotel, featuring a rooftop bar, gym and terrace. The other half would see a 286-unit residential building with 16,000 square feet of retail replacing The Lot, two brick structures called “The Doctors Building,” an auto repair facility and surface parking.
The review process for the project could take upward of seven months, TCS Realty Associates President Tom Shooltz tells ARLnow. Construction, which Donohoe will oversee as general contractor, could start in the first or second quarter of 2023 and wrap up about two years later.
“We’re getting to the goal line now,” he said.
The filings come as revisions to the Clarendon Sector Plan are set to be finalized in the next four months. In response to a bevy of expected near-term projects in Clarendon, Arlington County embarked on a review of the 2006 plan last year.
This includes the Silver Diner/The Lot site on Clarendon Circle, as well as the Joyce Motors and Wells Fargo/Verizon sites and redevelopment projects by St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, the YMCA and George Mason University.
“Currently, staff is preparing the draft Clarendon Sector Plan Update document,” Arlington County Planner Brett Wallace told ARLnow in a statement. “Staff posted materials online in early December that include draft recommendations, updated sector plan text and maps, and potential land use scenarios for the 10th Street County-owned properties.”
Staff will next meet with the Zoning Committee in two weeks to review proposed zoning amendments before Planning Commission and County Board public hearing dates are set.
Progress on the Silver Diner redevelopment project hinged on sector plan revisions.
“The Clarendon Sector Plan is very important to the whole development of Clarendon,” Shooltz said. “There are a few other projects in the pipeline for that immediate part of Clarendon, so it only made sense that the county and stakeholders stepped back to make sure the Sector Plan reflects what we want to see for Clarendon.”
Despite COVID-19 delays and a timeline dictated by the sector plan, Shooltz says getting to this point has been smooth.
“We’ve got a very sophisticated citizen group who has been through this process many times,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure to work with them and Clarendon is going to be a beneficiary of the review process.” Read More
Dems to Discuss School Board Caucus — “Unsurprisingly, perhaps, into this climate of culture war skirmishes surrounding public education comes opposition to the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s long-standing caucus process and even opposition to Democratic endorsement of candidates for school boards seats… At its February meeting, Arlington Democrats will debate the issues raised by its critics and vote on whether and how to change its caucus and endorsement process.” [Blue Virginia]
Winter Outdoor Dining Guide — “Before the pandemic, we never imagined that al fresco dining season in Northern Virginia would stretch into the teeth of winter. And while the wave of the latest Omicron cases seems to have peaked (fingers crossed!), those who are cautious about Covid but still want to support local businesses might choose to eat outside in the fresh air. Here are 11 restaurants cranking up the heat on outdoor dining spaces, and adding fun elements like fire pits or tented igloos.” [Arlington Magazine]
Steep HQ2 Energy Offset Costs — “The cost for Amazon.com Inc. to offset carbon emissions at its PenPlace development and meet Arlington County’s energy expectations will run upward of $5 million, according to a study by the company’s Seattle consultant.” [Washington Business Journal]
Beyer Calls for Long Covid Data — “A pair of Democratic House members asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a letter Tuesday to release data on the number of Americans who suffer lingering symptoms of coronavirus infection, including breakdowns along race, gender and age… Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who has sponsored legislation to fund studies of long covid, co-signed the letter with Pressley.” [Washington Post, U.S. House of Representatives]
More on Pentagon City Apartment Upgrades — “An existing 12-year-old apartment high-rise adjacent to what will be Amazon’s massive HQ2 campus, Metropolitan Park, in Arlington County, Virginia, has been acquired… and the investors plan a multimillion makeover fitting for HQ2’s panache. ‘We are going to make these apartments the coolest and most desirable homes on the park,’ said Steve Schwat, UIP founding principal.” [WTOP]
Two Crystal City Hotels Sold — “An Atlanta real estate investment manager has acquired a pair of Crystal City hotels a little more than a month after their former owner primed them for future redevelopment. Affiliates of Noble Investment Group paid a combined $64.3 million in mid-December for the 162-room Hampton Inn & Suites Reagan National Airport and the 248-room Hilton Garden Inn, according to Arlington County land records… There do not appear to be immediate changes planned for the hotels themselves, except for their names.” [Washington Business Journal]
It’s Wednesday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 30. Sunrise at 7:18 a.m. and sunset at 5:23 p.m. Tomorrow will be sunny, with a high near 33. [Weather.gov]
Arlington County is set to receive more than $3 million to entice tourists to visit Arlington and help the hard-hit tourism industry recover from the pandemic.
The county’s tourism division, Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS), would use the $3.25 million grant for advertising, media outreach, marketing research, promotional events and tourism development to support the travel and hospitality industry, according to a county report.
The Arlington County Board is set to consider the grant during its meeting this Saturday. The Virginia Tourism Corporation awarded ACVS the money through the American Rescue Plan Act Tourism Recovery program, but the County Board must approve the funding.
In November, the Board cited this grant as the reason it did not consider direct financial support to hotels in its allocation of about $9 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds, which went toward housing assistance, expanding critical behavioral health services, meal distribution for senior citizens and more affordable child care options, among other initiatives.
Board members said the ACVS grant will instead help hospitality workers through training and job search support.
“Unfortunately, unlike the ARPA funds Arlington County received earlier from the Commonwealth, [the ACVS] funds can’t be used for grants or other direct financial support to our hotels, which is what we continue to hear would be the most impactful for their recovery and for maintaining sustainable, predictable compensation for their employees,” Arlington Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kate Bates told ARLnow.
In Arlington Economic Development’s survey of local hotels, employee pay and benefits was the top spending priority across hotels of all sizes, Bates said.
“Moreover, employment data show that Arlington has lost about half of its hotel workforce during the pandemic,” she said.
ACVS has gathered input on how to use the grant funding from representatives of Arlington hotels, the Chamber of Commerce, local Business Improvement Districts, the Clarendon, Columbia Pike and Langston Boulevard neighborhood partnerships, Arlington Economic Development and the Department of Parks and Recreation, the report said.
The conversations are expected to continue over the 30 months the grant will be distributed.
“The funds are designated specifically for marketing Arlington as a destination to generate visitor spending, and I’m confident that Emily Cassell and the great team at ACVS will develop a plan to successfully do that, with continued feedback from the hotels along the way,” Bates said.
Militia members brought “firearms, ammunition, and related items” to the hotel in advance of Jan. 6, federal prosecutors say. Some details of the hotel’s unwitting role in the insurrection were previously reported. Surveillance photos from the hotel show large gun cases being wheeled in on luggage carts.
Indictments against militia members for “seditious conspiracy,” unsealed last week, outline how some militia members stayed outside of D.C. that day, awaiting orders to transport weapons to the city. They used encrypted chat apps and ham radios to communicate, federal prosecutors said.
“While certain Oath Keepers members and affiliates breached the Capitol grounds and building, others remained stationed just outside of the city in quick reaction force (QRF) teams,” said a Justice Department press release. “According to the indictment, the QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”
In one indictment, the Comfort Inn, located along N. Glebe Road near the entrance to I-66, is referred to by militia members as the “QRF hotel.” It was apparently not the only one. The indictment also shows militia members discussing “several well equipped QRFs outside DC.”
Oath Keeper member and Phoenix resident Edward Vallejo, who is among those charged with seditious conspiracy, was one of the people who stayed behind in Ballston while violence at the Capitol raged, prosecutors say. From the indictment:
Vallejo and others were on standby at the Comfort Inn Ballston, monitoring communications from the co-conspirators on the ground inside Washington, D.C., and awaiting a call to bring the weapons to the co-conspirators.[…]
At 2:38 p.m., Vallejo messaged the Leadership Signal Chat, “QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word…”
That night, as Congress resumed its counting of the electoral votes, Vallejo and other militia members “met at a restaurant in Vienna, Virginia to celebrate their attack on the Capitol and discuss next steps,” according to federal prosecutors. There’s no indication that the weapons ever left the hotel that day.
There is also no word in Justice Department filings about potential militia activities elsewhere in Arlington. ARLnow previously reported on a group of 8 to 10 men who gathered at the Iwo Jima memorial with communication equipment while the Capitol was attacked, but there is no indication that any of them has been accused of a crime.
Vallejo is being held in custody pending a detention hearing this week, the Washington Post reported.
Photo via Google Maps