Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Uninspired at Arlington Gateway - No Metro for Now

Residents and commuters in Ballston should probably stop holding their breath for a new metro entrance - it will be a while. Almost four years ago, JBG announced the Spire: a 23-story, 237-unit condominium on the site of the INS building at the corner of N. Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street (4420 Fairfax Drive), and with it a new western entrance to the Ballston Metro station. But Arlington County officials confirmed that development is probably 5 or 10 years off, and likely the metro entrance with it.

The last piece of JBG's Arlington Gateway project, the Spire condominium project was put on hold more than 3 years ago, providing temporary respite to the comparatively diminutive office building. But county officials still held out hope for some type of development that would provide the Metro entrance as an amenity, until now.

According to Karen Vasquez, Public Relations Manager for Arlington Economic Development, her office spoke with JBG last week about the project and discovered that redevelopment plans were still very much on hold. In the meantime, says Vasquez, "[JBG is] now working on re-leasing it," adding that the site "will likely remain an office building in its current form for the next 5 - 10 years."

Located above the Ballston-Marymount University Metro station, the condominium project was supposed to include an $11 million contribution towards the $50 million Metro entrance construction project as part of JBG's community benefit package. The new Metro entrance would have been the westernmost entrance in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, making Metro more accessible to neighborhoods west of Ballston, particularly Bluemont.

But alas, barring any drastic change of events, Vasquez says the "western entrance will not be constructed in the near term, at least as part of this project." Leaving one to wonder if WMATA and the county might have other sites in mind.


Anonymous said...

That sucks. Who knows what will happen in 5-10 years, hopefully something will get done sooner rather than later.

Paul on Dec 17, 2009, 12:32:00 PM said...

This project has a pathetic history; there was controversy aroused by a small-minded board of directors at The Continental in Ballston, the neighboring high-rise condominium building. Basically, you had a bunch of aggressive corporate/law firm types acting like true Virginia suburbanites, and they fought any such development passionately so that they could preserve their balcony views of: Ballston. They also panicked about traffic flows increased by a western Metrorail entrance.

Had those frat-club-ish types not started the costly years-long war, the new condominium would have been constructed during the height of the real estate boom and we would have had a western Metrorail entrance at Ballston.

Great job, northern Virginia.

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