It looks like Old Man Economy might have finally started taking his pills again. After gaining approval from the Arlington County Board in July of last year, the Shooshan Company's ambitious plans for Founders Square, a five-building, mega mixed-use development in Ballston, seemed about as promising as a GM-backed pension plan. But despite slippery start dates in all types of construction, Shooshan's Vice President of Development, Kelly Shooshan, tells DCmud the project is still on track for its originally scheduled 2009 groundbreaking and that the company will be seeking a general contractor before the summer is out.
"We're looking to probably be bidding the project in the middle of the summer and will probably start construction sometime in the fall or early winter," said Shooshan.
Located on 4.6-acre parcel bounded by North Randolph Street, Wilson Boulevard and North Quincy Street in Ballston, the RTKL Associates-designed development will replace the industrial and non-tax paying bus lot known simply as the WMATA site, a gas station, a recycling center and a tre chi-chi Super Pollo chicken joint. Founders Square is intended to house 26,000 square feet of retail space (8,000 of which the Shooshan Company has since farmed out to Paradigm Development), 730,000 square feet of office space in two towers, and another two worth of housing for a total of 378 residential units.
“The buses have been gone since March 27th,” said Shooshan. “When we start the project, it’ll start with demo…the site is just a one-story building, so it’s a very small portion of the construction timeline.”
“Super Pollo will be relocating to the new retail building and there are several other tenants that have expressed interest in the other two spaces in the retail building. It’s very small retail, only 8,000 square feet. The first office building is a secured office building, so it won’t have any retail in it." The secure building will, though, have enhanced security features suitable for defense-related businesses.
The development’s residential units are tentatively scheduled to hit the market as rentals and all five Founders' buildings will aim for a LEED certification. In the meantime, the developer has yet to definitively budget the project, as it is, in the words of Shooshan, “evolving over time with the present market conditions.”
"There’s such a large spread right now with construction prices decreasing every minute, it’s really hard to give a formula on the whole entire project,” she said. In 2008, Shooshan completed Liberty Center in Ballston, a 21-story, 469-unit residential building. Despite continued development, the rough and tumble Arlington 'hood has somehow managed to keep its street cred intact.