Friday, December 26, 2008

Arlington Courthouse Apartments to Replace Old Executive Office Building


Arlington's Courthouse District will be losing a prominent eyesore in the New Year, if Erkiletian Real Estate Services has their way at 2009 14th Street. A proposal pending before the Arlington Planning Commisision calls for the demolition of the 45-year-old Executive Building and adjoining parking garage (pictured) to make way for two projects that will add new condos, retail and even an entertainment venue to one of Arlington's most desirable neighborhoods.

With all the effete charm of a suburban dentist’s office, the 7-story, glass-plated bastion of Northern Virginia office architecture currently houses the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the ominous sounding Allen Etiquette Institute and a gaggle of law firms. An amenable Planning Board staff has labeled the building “physically out of context with the neighborhood” and believes that it “obstructs the existing view” of the much revitalized Courthouse area – a judgment that would seem to work in favor of Erkiletian.

With design from the Lessard Group, the Alexandria-based developer plans to replace the Executive Building with two dissimilarly-scaled projects. The more prominent would be a 16-story, 239,000 square foot residential high-rise that would sport 247 rental units. The unnamed tower would occupy the bulk of the parcel’s southern half and front 14th Street North – just two blocks from the Courthouse Metro. In exchange for environmentally advanced LEED Gold certification, Erkiletian hopes to receive a “bonus” of .35 FAR (buildable square footage) on top of the 4.8 FAR residential density approved for the site.

Meanwhile, the project’s secondary component aims to replace a small piece of the Executive Building’s lost office potential - with a 2-story, 13,765 square foot office building that would include 2,148 s.f. of ground floor retail. The square-shaped “cube” would front North Taft Street and also serve as an entranceway to a new 1/3 acre private plaza that would divide the dueling developments.

In addition to providing a reflecting pool and off-street outpost for resident smokers, the plaza would also benefit the greater Courthouse community with a publicly accessible amphitheater that would host four to six concerts or events yearly. Erkiletian intends to include a public art component in the plaza, pending an agreement with Arlington Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources.

In stark contrast to the Executive Building’s 60s-style motif, the development team intends to clad both buildings in “terracotta/beige brick” with metal, concrete and granite accents. The neighboring projects will both sit atop a three-level, 270-space parking garage – one level of which will creep above grade along Taft Street and provide direct access to ground floor retailers and a proposed fitness center.

Erkiletian is currently projecting a third quarter 2009 start date for the project - shortly after work on their 200 unit residential project in neighboring Alexandria is scheduled to get underway.

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