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New renderings from JBG Smith envision Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard as a lush urban core with glassy high-rises and connected by a surface-level Route 1, along with Metro and commuter rail.

When all of the developer’s projects are delivered, that is.

JBG Smith released an investor relations video explaining its plans for the area — known collectively as National Landing — which include building a number of new apartment and office buildings and partnering with local and state governments to improve transit and technological infrastructure.

“We’ve been incredibly busy during the pandemic, teeing up growth opportunities, delivering new assets, we have a lot of exciting growth in the next 18 months,” JBG Smith CEO Matt Kelly said in the video.

He said about 15 million square feet are under development in National Landing, two-thirds of which are multifamily residential — apartment buildings, mostly. Other big projects include the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2, which the video said is on track to be done in 2023, and the second phase, which includes the proposed Helix building.

“All of these developments are on vacant land or replacing out-of-service buildings,” said Chief Development Officer Kai Reynolds.

One of those is the former Americana Hotel, which JBG Smith purchased in December for more than $27 million, Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development Kristi Smith said.

JBG Smith views this site, planned for an apartment building, “as one of the best development opportunities in National Landing,” given its proximity to HQ2 and its visibility from Route 1, she said.

The video provided updates on the following residential developments, which collectively would add thousands of new apartments to the area:

Construction started on 1900 Crystal Drive in late March and could be completed in 2024, according to the video. Meanwhile, the earliest start date for 2000 and 2001 S. Bell Street, which received County Board approval last month, is later this year.

Both 2250 Crystal Drive and 223 23rd Street S. have a potential start date of 2023, the video said.

The developer also plans to build 750,000 square feet of office space at 2525 Crystal Drive in the form of two V-shaped towers, according to the video.

Reynolds highlighted the pending changes to Route 1, which could result in lowering the highway to grade and transforming it into more of an urban boulevard. The changes are part of an incentive agreement between Amazon and Virginia to invest $5 billion in important infrastructure improvements, he said.

“Amongst the most critical was the lowering of the elevated sections of Route 1, which currently runs north-south within National Landing,” he said. “The new road will feature a modern cross-section that will be pedestrian-friendly to improve walkability within the submarket.”

As for other transit improvements, Reynolds said the second Crystal City Metro station entrance, a public-private partnership between Arlington County and JBG Smith, could be completed between 2023 and 2024.

Meanwhile, progress could move forward on a new Virginia Railway Express station in National Landing, as the state recently finalized a $3.7 billion plan with CSX, Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express.

The new station will be built on land owned by JBG Smith. It will also serve as a connection point for the planned pedestrian bridge to Reagan National Airport, renderings of which are seen in the video.

The Bethesda-based developer also has plans for increasing technological connectivity, too.

Adam Rashid, the Senior Vice President and Co-Head of Smart Cities for JBG Smith, said the company aims to deploy “ubiquitous 5G in National Landing, with the goal of making National Landing the U.S.’s first 5G Smart City at-scale.”

Photos via JBG Smith/Vimeo

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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) After months of public review, a proposal for two mixed-use towers in Crystal City from JBG Smith is slated for County Board approval this Saturday.

The 2.4-acre site is located at the intersection of Richmond Highway and 20th Street S., just north of the Crystal Plaza Apartments. As part of the project, initially filed in 2019, the Bethesda-based developer proposes demolishing an existing office building and surface parking lot, and shifting S. Clark Street to the east to create a new S. Clark-Bell Street.

It its place will be two towers with more than 750 residential units.

JBG Smith has made some changes in response to criticism from members of the Crystal City Civic Association, as well as a few transportation and pedestrian commission members.

In January, some criticized the width between the two buildings, separated by the new S. Clark-Bell Street, for being narrower than the width called for in the Crystal City Sector Plan. Residents also said a proposed — mostly cement — pedestrian plaza should include more “trees, gardens and benches,” and worried that a proposed underground garage would have interfered with a network of tunnels known as the “Underground.”

Some plans have changed since then.

The pedestrian plaza “took a great step in the right direction to become something much more green, much more biophilic,” said principal planner Adam Watson during a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month.

As for the “Underground,” JBG Smith is now proposing a “fully enclosed, fully undergrounded, climate-controlled connection” from 12th Street S. to 23rd Street S., Watson said. A previous iteration had the tunnel open up when it connected with the garage.

The final proposals for the above-ground plaza and underground tunnel “evolved over the course of the public community engagement process,” Watson said.

The space between the two buildings, separated by the new S. Clark-Bell Street, still falls a few feet short of the Crystal City Sector Plan but the county is giving this deviation a pass.

“Staff finds the proposed street segment will provide sufficient functionality to support all modes of transportation,” according to the county.

JBG Smith is proposing a space of 76.5 feet between the two buildings, compared to the sector plan’s recommendation of 80 feet. Although 3.5 feet narrower, the street will accommodate two travel lanes southbound, one travel lane northbound, and a buffered bicycle lane in each direction.

S. Clark Street would shift east and — south of the buildings — tie into the existing S. Clark Street, according to the county report.

“The northern end will align with S. Bell Street, north of 20th Street S. and create a new four-way signal-controlled intersection and remove the existing intersection with 20th Street S.,” the report said.

The density of the towers has also decreased slightly. While they are the same height, both have less ground-floor retail space and fewer residential units.

The West tower (2000 S. Bell Street) now has the following specifications:

  • 367,040 sq. ft.
  • 338 units
  • 12,244 square feet of commercial or retail space
  • 250 feet tall

The East tower (2001 S. Bell Street) now has the following specifications:

  • 334,061 sq. ft.
  • 420 units
  • 10,006 square feet of commercial or retail space
  • 200 feet tall

There will be 247 parking spaces for residents and 10 visitor spaces, along with 45 spaces for retail users. Additional parking will be available in existing garages.

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The soon-to-be-revamped Crystal City Water Park is set to become Arlington’s third “sip and stroll” destination.

The privately-owned, 1.5 acre park at 1601 Crystal Drive has long hosted a small food and drink vendor. Thanks to a pending “Commercial Lifestyle Center” permit from Virginia ABC, that vendor — Peruvian Brothers — will soon be able to offer park-goers alcoholic beverages that can be consumed anywhere in the park.

“The overall goal is to cultivate an inviting setting where local residents, office workers and visitors are encouraged to hang out, relax and interact,” said JBG Smith Vice President Taylor Lawch, in a statement. The company owns the park and numerous nearby buildings, including those housing Amazon’s growing HQ2 workforce.

The Arlington County Board recently approved a plan to add five new vendor kiosks, a performance stage, and a bar to the park, in addition to planned upgrades to its water features.

“There will be places for parents to sip on a glass of wine while their kids go for ice cream nearby; a couple to meet for a date where they can hear live music and grab a beer at intermission; or coworkers to gather for an informal outdoor happy hour right outside their office,” Lawch said.

The initial sipping and strolling will take place this spring and summer, before the park is temporarily closed during the cooler months for construction. It is expected to reopen in the spring of 2022.

The park will join a pair of Arlington retail centers — the Village at Shirlington and Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) — in allowing legal, on-the-go outdoor alcohol consumption on privately-owned property.

“The creation of a Commercial Lifestyle Center is in keeping with JBG SMITH’s vision for National Landing as a vibrant 18-hour environment where people want to live, work and visit,” a company PR rep said. “This licensure enables JBG SMITH to take great existing and planned areas of the National Landing neighborhood and make them even better.”

Additional JBG-owned property in National Landing — the collective term for Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard — may eventually be added to the permit.

“JBG SMITH is looking on a case-by-case basis to identify other areas within National Landing for future activations,” the rep tells ARLnow. “As of right now, they are focusing on this initial designation at Water Park.”

Making the Water Park into a more active destination for hanging out is part of the neighborhood’s evolution away from being known as a sleepy, concrete-filled office corridor.

“National Landing continues to evolve into an exciting destination complete with diverse dining options and growing entertainment venues,” National Landing Business Improvement District President Tracy Sayegh Gabriel said in a statement. “Enhancing and activating our outdoor public spaces for community use is more important than ever, and we are thrilled that National Landing has been approved as a Commercial Lifestyle Center. JBG SMITH’s initial activation at Water Park will create a desirable new way for area residents, workers and visitors to gather and support our local businesses in a safe environment.”

The Water Park will continue to host BID-organized events, she added. The BID obtained temporary Virginia ABC permits to allow alcohol consumption at the park for previous events.

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Construction has started on two residential towers at 1900 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, according to developer JBG Smith.

The announcement came nearly one year to the day after the County Board approved the project, which involved tearing down an aging office building.

The new development at 1900 Crystal Drive will have 808 multifamily rental units and about 40,000 square feet of street-level retail across the two towers, each to be LEED Silver certified and approximately 300 feet tall, according to the developer.

A 27-story southern tower will feature 471 apartments, while a 26-story northern tower will incorporate 337 apartments.

Through a spokesperson, JBG Smith declined to comment on when the towers are expected to be completed. Last year, however, when the County Board met and approved the project, a company rep said construction could take 2-3 years.

“The start of construction on 1900 Crystal Drive marks yet another major milestone in National Landing’s ongoing transformation,” said Anthony Greenberg, Executive Vice President of Development at JBG Smith. “The introduction of new residences, restaurants and shops at 1900 Crystal Drive, combined with our recently delivered retail and entertainment district just about a block away will more than double the concentration of street-facing retail amenities on Crystal Drive.”

Residents will have access to private rooftops and green spaces. At the street-level, JBG Smith is planning a pedestrian-friendly street that will connect 18th and 20th Streets S. as well as open park space. JBG Smith will provide a number of community benefits, including enhanced streetscapes, a grand staircase connecting to public open space and bicycle facilities.

JBG Smith, the developer, leasing agent and property manager for the Amazon HQ2 project, anticipates that with Amazon’s arrival, National Landing’s daytime population will increase from 50,000 people to 90,000 in the near future.

The housing and amenities at 1900 Crystal Drive and neighboring developments will be a “thriving, mixed-use environment [that] will allow people to easily walk from their home or office to their favorite restaurants and amenities — cementing National Landing as a destination both day and night,” Greenberg said.

Neighbors and visitors can expect sidewalk closures during construction.

“This exciting project may create changes for our everyday pedestrian routines,” according to an announcement on the National Landing Business Improvement District website. The changes include:

  • The southern sidewalk along 18th Street will be closed; pedestrians should use the north side of 18th Street S. to access Crystal Drive and S. Clark Street.
  • The western sidewalk along Crystal Drive will be closed; pedestrians should use the jersey barrier, protected lane to travel north and south along Crystal Drive.
  • The northern sidewalk along 20th Street S. will be closed; pedestrians should use the jersey barrier, protected lane to access Crystal Drive and S. Clark Street.

Photo (middle) via Arlington County and (below) via National Landing BID

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The County Board has unanimously approved plans to improve walking and cycling connections and add amenities to the Crystal City Water Park.

Water features and a food stand currently activate the privately-owned Crystal City Water Park at 1601 Crystal Drive. It also provides connections to the Mount Vernon Trail and Reagan National Airport, as well as the proposed Virginia Railway Express north entrance.

Park owner JBG Smith initially came to the board in January with plans to modify the Crystal City Connector path — which cuts through the site — and renovate the park. Members deferred the proposal over predictions that the developer’s plans for the pathway would lead to unsafe pedestrian and cyclist interactions.

On Saturday, County Board members signed off on revision to the project. The Crystal City Connector path will be turned into two paths accessing the Mount Vernon Trail and the new VRE entrance: one for pedestrians and the other focused on bicyclists.

JBG Smith will be “adding retail shops, cafes, and restaurants along the edges of the park, upgrading the existing water wall… adding a new water feature, [and] adding public art and an outdoor bar,” the county announced on Monday.

The additions include “nine (9) 300 square-foot retail structures positioned along Crystal Drive, a 1,415 square-foot retail structure along the northern edge, a 760 square-foot bar with a 2,069 square-foot terrace atop the water wall, a 409 square-foot performance platform to be used for the event lawn, and a 747 square-foot trailhead restroom facility,” per a county staff report.

“We’re proud to say that this project has evolved in response to the comments and we think gotten to a place that is better than we were a couple of months ago,” said Kedrick Whitmore, an attorney representing JBG Smith.

The staff report said the plan has been redesigned to minimize conflicts and support increasing number of pedestrians and bicyclists accessing the trail and the VRE station. Potential users testified in January that the initial proposed design, below, would lead to conflicts at the exit from the Mount Vernon Trail access tunnel, where visibility is low.

JBG Smith’s new plan removes the stairway that linked the pathways to the water park, located near a series of tunnels. It does not, however, remove an adjacent path between the Crystal City Connector path and the connection to the proposed VRE station, although some community members predicted it too would be unsafe.

“We think this is a really important area to maintain a connection,” Whitmore said. “Despite keeping the connection in place, we did hear loud and clear that there were safety concerns, and the use of paint, mirrors, signage and paving will help.”

The developer will also widen the sidewalk along Crystal Drive from eight to 10 feet and use landscaping, signage, striping and paving treatments near the tunnels and the connection to Crystal Drive to increase visibility and heighten awareness for all users, the report said.

Board members told County Manager Mark Schwartz that the county needs to increase the level of public engagement for similar projects going forward. Board members agreed with some speakers that more scrutiny from county commissions could have uncovered the safety concerns sooner and prevented the project’s deferral from earlier this year.

“Let’s not do this again,” said Pedestrian Advisory Committee secretary Pamela Van Hine, suggesting a smaller-scale version of the site plan review process for large projects. “We can help you but you have to ask us to help you.”

While the county classifies this project as a minor site plan amendment, Board member Katie Cristol said such amendments “may have a major impact on how people experience the site.”

Photos via Arlington County

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(Updated at 9:35 p.m.) A new CVS Pharmacy is open at the revamped Central District Retail shopping plaza, also known as “Crystal Square,” in Crystal City.

The store opened on Sunday, Feb. 28, a JBG Smith spokesperson confirmed. It is part of a major redevelopment that the property owner has planned for a block of Crystal Drive between 15th and 18th streets.

In 2018, the County Board approved the project, which JBG says will blend retail, public spaces and transit services.

Signage appears to now be up for two more occupants: Mah-Ze-Dahr, a bakery said to have some of New York City’s best doughnuts, as well as a yet-unnamed specialty grocery store. The first D.C. outpost of the NYC bakery opened in Navy Yard in the fall.

JBG once more declined to comment on which grocer will be filling the space. Permits indicate that the store will offer prepared foods like packaged salads, sandwiches, entrees and soups, as well as various beverages. The permits further specify that the store will have “self app check-out.”

A spokesperson previously confirmed that the specialty grocer will sell produce, meats and poultry, frozen foods and baked goods. Taken as a whole, the concept sounds similar to that of Amazon Fresh stores, a new bricks-and-mortar retail offering of the tech giant, which is currently constructing its HQ2 up the street.

The store will be built in the existing office building at 1550 Crystal Drive, according to the county. The new one-story retail area will replace a 1990s-era strip and will link the grocery store to a planned Alamo Drafthouse movie theater at 1750 Crystal Drive.

The theater chain recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but a company spokesman tells ARLnow the planned Crystal City location is owned by a franchisee “which has not filed for bankruptcy.”

“There are no changes to its development plans at 1750 Crystal Drive,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, outposts of New York City taco chain Tacombi and the boutique fitness gym Solidcore — which has existing locations in Courthouse and Ballston — are still on track to open in the area.

A spokeswoman for Solidcore confirmed that the gym is slated to open this summer.

“Central District Retail will enhance the street-level experience with new dining, shopping and entertainment options on Crystal Drive,” Amy Rice, senior vice president of Retail Leasing at JBG Smith, previously told ARLnow in a statement. “It will serve as the retail heart of National Landing and a vibrant destination for people throughout the region.”

Photo (2) courtesy Car-Free#HQ2/Twitter

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Local business development leaders say Arlington can compete with the emerging tech hubs of Austin and Miami.

Those cities are attracting some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and companies in search of a lower cost of living and doing business. Last year, Austin made deals with 39 companies, and Miami saw an influx of venture capital dollars and firms.

But local cheerleaders of Arlington in general — and National Landing in particular — say the area is on par with these hubs because it has an educated workforce, plenty of office space, Amazon’s HQ2, continuous 5G service, and recruiting opportunities from area universities.

“I would love for our government leaders to be talking more aggressively about this,” said Ken Biberaj, a managing director of commercial real estate company Savills, during a recent panel discussion about National Landing, hosted by Arlington Economic Development. “I think they should be on TV every single day talking about why they should be coming here.”

The suggestion is that Arlington needs someone like charismatic Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who is leading a campaign to attract businesses and support tech entrepreneurs. Suarez is noted for regularly speaking with CEOs who have chosen Miami.

So, does Arlington and National Landing compare to those two buzzy, sunny locales? Aside from the weather, some real estate analysts say yes.

“I think definitely the pieces are there and having Amazon as an asset is a really great thing,” said Eric Maribojoc, the Director of the Center for Real Estate Entrepreneurship at the George Mason University School of Business.

Like Austin, Arlington also has the “urban-like” amenities that could attract companies, he added.

With its talent base and focus on regulatory tech and cybersecurity companies, Northern Virginia as a whole has already achieved parity, said Phil Ryan, the Director of Research at commercial real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

“You need to grow more in the ‘flashier’ tech, for lack of a better word,” he said of the region. “I think National Landing is trying to get [better] at the visibility. People think Austin is techy because they’re louder about it.”

Although Arlington’s key tech sectorscloud, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence — are not as consumer-facing as a Facebook or a Tesla, those sectors could drive tech growth in the region as JLL predicts they will flourish under President Joe Biden.

Ryan cautioned against seeing the reports of migration to Austin, Miami and elsewhere as proof that Silicon Valley is experiencing a brain drain. Although some tech workers may want a lifestyle change and to avoid higher California income taxes, most are staying in the Bay Area while back-office operations and executive suites are relocated.

Although Northern Virginia checks companies’ boxes for talent, education systems and transit connectivity, it has been “sold short,” Ryan said. Despite being a business-friendly state with relatively moderate taxes , Virginia has to compete with Texas and Florida’s lack of income tax while vying for corporate relocations against — rather than in cooperation with — D.C. and Maryland.

“For years, [it] was considered a big problem that there wasn’t one unified agency to get people into the area,” Ryan said.

Still, Arlington is nabbing and retaining businesses, making 24 deals in 2020, Arlington Economic Development reports.

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Programming for the 2021 National Cherry Blossom Festival is crossing the Potomac River into National Landing.

The festival, scheduled to run from March 20 through April 11, is springing back this year after it had to cancel or modify most of its events last year due to the coronavirus.

Dozens of cherry trees will be planted in National Landing this spring and the area will feature two “Art in Bloom” sculptures and pink pop-up installations. Some restaurants in the business district are included in the annual “Cherry Picks” restaurant program while residents and local businesses will participate in the “Porch Parade and Petal Procession” — a new addition to the festival.

The inclusion of Pentagon City, Crystal City and Potomac Yard is made possible through a new partnership among the festival, Amazon, the National Landing Business Improvement District and developer JBG Smith.

In November, Amazon was announced to be the new lead sponsor of the 2021 festival, supplanting Japanese airline ANA, which held the position for four years, Washington Business Journal reported. JBG Smith and the BID will be credited as Sakura Circle supporters.

Bringing parts of the festival to National Landing increases visibility for the growing urban center and positions it to be a signature partner of the festival for years to come, said Tracy Sayegh Gabriel, head of the National Landing BID.

“The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a perfect complement to our work to create a vibrant destination for generations to come that celebrates such rich culture, joy and history,” she said in a statement.

Executive Vice President of JBG Smith Andy Van Horn said he particularly looks forward to the installation of an “Art in Bloom” sculpture at the Crystal City Water Park (1601 Crystal Drive), where it can be enjoyed throughout the festival before planned improvements on the park begin. Working with Amazon and the BID to support the festival in 2021 was a natural fit, he added.

“The partnership highlights the hard work and progress underway to transform National Landing into a vibrant, 18-hour neighborhood brimming with culture, excitement, and unmatched potential,” he said. Another sculpture is planned along the Long Bridge Park Esplanade.

Brooke Oberwetter, Head of External Affairs for Amazon in Arlington, said the company — which is in the midst of building its permanent HQ2 in Pentagon City — looks forward to kicking off its partnership with the festival, JBG Smith and the BID this year, and “building on it in years to come.”

“We could not be more pleased to help bring some of the excitement of the National Cherry Blossom Festival to National Landing,” Oberwetter said in a statement.

This year, the National Parks Service is projecting the blossoms to peak in early April.

Due to the coronavirus, some experiences, including the Opening Ceremony, will be virtual or a hybrid of in-person and online.

File photo

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A new co-working and flexible office space has opened in Crystal City.

Hana, a subsidiary of the real estate company CBRE Group, announced on Thursday that it has opened a new location at 2451 Crystal Drive — a stone’s throw away from two of Amazon’s temporary office spaces for HQ2 employees.

The opening announcement comes one year after it was first reported that property owner JBG Smith would be partnering with Hana.

With the National Landing spot, Hana makes its debut on the East Coast and establishes its third location in the U.S.

CBRE has established other flexible working spaces in Dallas and Irvine, Calif. Three other locations are expected to open in the first quarter of 2021: New York City, Philadelphia and Berkeley Heights, NJ.

Hana has initially opened one floor totaling more than 39,000 square feet. The floor includes private office suites and conference and events spaces, in addition to a traditional co-working spce.

“JBG Smith has worked with Hana to deliver a flex solution that meets the unique needs of the building and National Landing area by providing plug-and-play workspaces, on-demand meeting rooms and overflow accommodations,” said Hana CEO Andrew Kupiec in a statement.

In a statement, JBG executive David Ritchey said Hana’s approach, and its abundance of amenities, complements the other co-working spots in Crystal City while addressing “the need for flexible, ‘on-demand’ office space solutions in a post-COVID-19 business environment.”

The opening also comes amid the announcement that co-working rival WeWork will be closing its Crystal City location, which is just a block or two away.

Other existing co-working spaces in Crystal City include Accelspace and Eastern Foundry.

Images via Hana

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(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Arlington County has asked JBG Smith to go back to the drawing board after reviewing its plans to upgrade the Crystal City Water Park.

The privately-owned park at 1601 Crystal Drive currently includes water features, trees, and a food stand. It has frequently been used for local events and gatherings.

The project to upgrade it will be deferred two months so that JBG Smith can address pedestrian and cyclist safety concerns raised by Arlington County Board members and community members during the Board’s Tuesday night meeting.

“This is not a fully baked plan yet,” Board member Christian Dorsey said. 

The Bethesda-based real estate company is proposing a new performance area, more outdoor seating, preserving and updating the existing water fountain, and incorporating a new water feature in the center of the site. The proposal also includes a number of retail structures: small kiosks, a bar, and a trailhead restroom facility.

Most of the discussion was devoted to two paths — one ADA-accessible — that JBG Smith proposed to build to connect people to the nearby VRE station and the Mount Vernon Trail. A small pathway linked the two connections.

Community members and County Board members said these paths, as proposed, would create conflicts between pedestrians and bicyclists. People would have to cross the Mount Vernon Trail connector to get to the rest of the park and cyclists would be battling a grade change while avoiding pedestrians.

“We thought we were being helpful, but we’re hearing loudly and clearly that this is scaring people, and we should reconsider it,” said Robin Mosle, a consultant on the project.

The Bethesda-based real estate company opted out of a public design process — something that drew the frustration of some Board members, including Takis Karantonis.

“This would be a conversation that we would have had in the Park and Recreation Commission in advance of the meeting,” Karantonis said. 

The County Board is now expected to see the project again when it meets in March.  

News of a plan to invigorate the park with new retail dates back at least to 2017, when ARLnow reported that the concession stand in the park had closed. A few months later, The Stand opened in its place, hosting many pop-up eateries. In April, D.C. food truck Peruvian Brothers took it over.

Photos via Arlington County

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JBG Smith is proposing to replace the Crystal Plaza One office building with two multifamily towers in Crystal City.

As part of the project, the Bethesda-based developer will be shifting S. Clark Street to the east to create a new S. Clark-Bell Street and “create greater connectivity” in the area, according to a recent JBG Smith presentation.

After a public comment period closed yesterday (Monday), the project is in the home stretch, with only a few meetings to go before an expected review by the County Board later this year.

JBG Smith proposes 786 units across two LEED Silver-certified buildings bisected by a new S. Clark-Bell Street. A pedestrian pathway would form the eastern border of the East tower.

The towers would replace an aging office building at 2001 Richmond Highway, along with a surface parking lot previously used for some public events.

The West tower (2000 S. Bell St.) has the following specifications:

  • 250 feet tall
  • 365 units
  • 18,510 square feet of ground-floor retail
  • 180 parking spaces

The East tower (2001 S. Bell St.) has these specifications:

  • 200 feet tall
  • 421 units
  • 11,060 square feet of ground-floor retail
  • 167 parking spaces

The new S. Clark-Bell Street would shift S. Clark Street east and, south of the buildings, tie into the existing S. Clark Street, according to a county report. The northern end of the road would line up with S. Bell Street north of 20th Street S.

In response to the proposal, members of the Crystal City Civic Association, as well as a few transportation and pedestrian commission, have pointed out the project fails to meet some basic requirements of the Crystal City Sector Plan.

In a letter provided to ARLnow, the civic association said the planning process “failed to meaningfully address long-range planning issues implicated by the proposed site plan.”

Transportation Commission member and Aurora Highlands resident Darren Buck said efforts to expand cycling options in the area will be hampered by the buildings, which are eight feet closer to their property lines than the Crystal City Sector Plan calls for.

Buck wrote that the project is part of a trend in which “the strict terms of the [Crystal City Sector Plan] are used to justify refusing or ignoring minor deviations from the plan sought by members of the public (particularly in regards to non-motorized transportation), while substantial deviations are advanced when they originate from an applicant.”

Meanwhile, the Crystal City Civic Association said the sector plan calls for “trees, gardens and benches” for the space where JBG Smith proposes a cement pedestrian plaza. The association characterizes the plaza as “an afterthought,” and Pedestrian Advisory Committee member Pamela Van Hine said it should be a pocket or linear park, not a hardscape.

The civic association also expressed concerns about the future of the network of tunnels in Crystal City, known by locals as the “Underground.” JBG Smith proposes an underground garage, which the civic association said would interfere with the tunnels.

The association credited JBG Smith for changing its plan so the new garage and existing tunnels link up and said it supports the developer’s commitment to “a holistic approach to revitalizing the entire Underground.”

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