The Rosslyn reinvention continues on into 2009, as Dr. George Contis plans to scrap the current headquarters of his own health services company, the Medical Service Corporation International (MSCI) at 1716 Wilson Boulevard, in order to make way for a new 134,000 square foot mixed-use development. In a counter-intuitive twist, the project will receive a county subsidy for not building density near the Metro-centered project.
The 5-story, RTKL-designed project will include 108,000 square feet of office space, coupled with 27,996 square feet of ground floor retail that is intended to wrap around three sides of the building and possibly include a small grocer as well as a restaurant or two (at least until local banks throw money at them to take the space), though the adjacent 1800 Wilson has vacant retail space remaining, two years after the project's completion, which must give them pause. The development will sit atop a 231-space underground parking garage and include an extension of Quinn Street between Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards, in order to provide a new connection to the adjoining Colonial Village Shopping Center. According to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, Contis has also contemplated constructing a “small pedestrian plaza” at the site that will serve bikers from the nearby Arlington Boulevard, Key Boulevard and Curtis Parkway Trails.
In keeping with the wishes of the Arlington County Planning Commission (ACPC), the project will also include a public arts component by artist Christian Moeller, funded by a donation from the Lincoln Property Company. The developer intends an appeal to greenies with a LEED silver certification. The pediatric cardiologist-cum-developer owns all office-converted residences at the site; the Arlington Motor Cars, the Medical Services building and a small clothing retailer will be demolished in the coming months to make way for the new development. Once completed, MSCI will continue to use 1716 Wilson as a base of operations for their continuing health services programs in various developing countries.
The Arlington County Housing Commission’s Bricks & Mortar Subcommittee ruled in September 2007 that the development will be eligible for upwards for $400,000 in county affordable housing contributions, despite the lack of a residential component within the project. This is due to a complex system of exemptions within Arlington County zoning and density statutes that reward achieving particularly low-density at a site zoned as “’Medium’ Office-Apartment-Hotel.” The project was approved by the ACPC the following month.
Most developers are still opting for size over subsidy, however, and will add to the "gateway into the downtown Courthouse" such projects as DRI’s expansion of the National Science Teachers Association headquarters at 1840 Wilson Boulevard, Elm Street Development’s sort-of-under-construction development at 2000 Wilson and Donohoe’s residential WRIT-Rosslyn Center at 1650 Wilson.
Correction: Due to a misinterpretation of Arlington County documents, we erroneously stated that the $400,000 affordable housing contribution mentioned above would be going towards the project. In truth, it is the other way around; according to David Cristeal of the Arlington County Housing Division, “This would be a contribution TO the affordable housing fund…[it] should be clear that funds would be coming from the development to the County/Affordable Housing Fund."