Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Arlington's Block Busting Year

One of Arlington's most stubbornly static development sites - a superblock of three stagnant development parcels at the Courthouse Metro station - is finally ready to start construction in what could be a fraternity of development initiatives. Developers of the 1800, 1900 and 2000 blocks of Wilson Boulevard, all located on the same block, have been working separately for years to build large, mixed-use projects on their respective sites, and now the latter two say they will start construction this year for vast amounts of retail, housing, and office space, broken up with a new street between them.

Elm Street Development plans to start its construction on 2000 Wilson Boulevard (formerly the Taco Bell and Dr. Dremo's site), known now as 2001 Clarendon, with 30,000 s.f. of retail space and 154 residential units, while USAA, which purchased the 1900 block of Wilson Boulevard late last year, plans to start work this fall on a mixed-use, predominantly residential project. Working out approvable developments on both sites required land swapping and an endowment of land to Arlington to extend Troy Street, connecting Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards. Meanwhile, developers at the eastern end of the superblock on Rhodes Street are still vying to get financing to double the size of the office space and integrate retail.

2000 Wilson

The stuttering progression at 2001 Clarendon was initially planned to begin in late 2007 as a condominium, but in 2008 switched to apartments (in theory), shooting for a 2010 completion. In early 2010 Elm Street VP Jim Mobley said the team was again "looking at" the concept of condos, "financing dependent." With financing now in place (underwritten as apartments), construction is near, with the likely chance of condo conversion down the road. Retail space will front 3 streets, subdivided into small storefronts. Because of Elm Street's rejiggering of the plans, at Arlington's suggestion, no permits have been issued, but sources for the project say work is expected to commence late this year.

George Dove, Managing Principal at WDG Architecture, which designed the 6 story "extremely contemporary" building, notes the challenges facing the climbing site. "From a zoning standpoint, between Courthouse and Rosslyn, you have a sequence of height limits, and you have elevation changes, so it has a series of levels that drop-off as you move down the street, like stair-steps. This had alot to do with driving the design." Besides shooting for basic LEED certification, an Arlington requirement, 2001 Clarendon will incorporate a series of green roofs. "This is the antitheses of the high-rise, urban, compact residential project. It stretches out over a much larger floorplate. That gives alot of rooftop areas at different levels, it is definitely not a boring facade," said Dove.

1900 Wilson
Across the (not yet built) street, USAA has purchased 1900 Wilson Boulevard, along with its plans for a 5-story mixed-use residential building. USAA bought the Hollywood Video site from Zom, Inc., which had already birddogged plans to construct residences through Arlington's approval process. USAA will retain Zom as a fee developer to build out the project. Torti Gallas designed the more urban seeming structures with large retail spaces along Clarendon Boulevard and live/work spaces along Wilson Boulevard.

Sources involved in the development say no dates have been set, but that work is "on target" to materialize this year, and Hailey Ghalib of USAA says the the developer expects to build in the third quarter of this year and is working with Harkins Builders on pre-construction issues, but has not yet signed a construction contract nor obtained construction permits. Construction is expected to last 22 months.

1800 Wilson
The lone holdout at this point is the eastern end of the block, slated to demolish Rhodeside Grill and Il Radicchio to more than double the office space used by the National Science Teachers Association. The NSTA has teamed with developer DRI to expand their Arlington headquarters at 1840 Wilson, with an approved site plan in hand. NSTA hopes to build a 107,000 s.f. office building with 10,000 s.f. of retail, taking up an adjacent surface parking lot. The site plan was initially approved in November 2005, amendments were approved in July 2008 and November 2008 to resolve fa├žade and parking issues, but the project is on hold pending financing, which the team is "working very hard" to secure, of course. The NSTA has already contracted Davis Carter Scott as the architect and DPR Construction Company as the general contractor, if and when the bankers come to the rescue.

As if that weren't enough, work is now underway next door in the 1700 block of Wilson Boulevard, where Skanska is building a 5 story office building. Get ready for a loud but productive year, and lots of cranes.

Arlington Virginia real estate development news


Nick J. said...

It's unfortunate that NSTA is going to tear down the Rhodeside Grill building. I know it's nothing necessarily historic or unique but it adds character to the neighborhood. The NSTA building looks like just another bland office block. If they can figure out how to incorporate the Rhodeside styling, kudos to them!

Scott said...

Great update, thanks for keeping us informed on the progress of these developments.

Anonymous said...

I hereby vote for the return of Taco Bell to North Arlington. It once sat on this site and brought happiness to all.

Vik Scoggins said...

I sort of wish that the side of the development facing Clarendon Blvd. were a bit taller, but I think it's a good development nevertheless.

Does anyone know whether that parking lot between the jail and the court where the farmer's market is located is developable? I think that would be a good location for a park.

Anonymous said...

Bad news indeed that Il Radicchio will be taken down. Good news though that these empty lots will finally see some construction. Developers are so eager to tear down existing structures and trees and let a scar of unused land sit for years.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Dr. Dreamo's could have been in business for at least 2 extra years. :-(

Anonymous said...

Lord I really hope there's a decent grocery store. The bunko safeway and the overpriced Wholefoods just don't cut it.

Jacob on Feb 24, 2011, 12:09:00 AM said...

Still sounds like Rhodeside Grill and Il Radichio are holding out, or am I reading this wrong?

Unknown on Feb 25, 2011, 2:04:00 PM said...

Can Arlington stop building condos and apartments and replace that awful safeway in rosslyn!? that's the only grocery store option for the whole neighborhood and it's horrible.

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