The Arlington Newsletter, Volume 11, Number 1
January 31, 2012
THE ARLINGTON NEWSLETTER: County Board Approves Penzance Cos.' Office-Retail Project in Clarendon
The Arlington County Board on January 24th unanimously approved Penzance Cos.' major mixed-use redevelopment project that will bring two new office buildings with ground- floor retail to a key commercial block in Clarendon.
The project, known as "3001 Washington Boulevard," also features a substantial historic preservation component and involves a transfer of density from two sites on Wilson Boulevard.
"This development accomplishes many of the community's goals for Clarendon," said new Board Chair Mary Hynes. "It provides balance to Clarendon's use mix by providing two new mixed-use buildings with offices built above ground-floor retail."
"And it honors our past by fully preserving two key historic buildings and the frontage of a third." Hynes said.
In addition, CNA, a not-for-profit research and analysis firm, has signed a pre-lease agreement with Penzance for 175,000-square feet of office space in the new project. CNA will be relocating to the building from its current offices in Alexandria.
Reasons cited by CNA CEO Robert Murray for the move: "Access to Metro, excellent sponsorship, architectural excellence, and the ability to grow within the project all contributed to our decision."
The 306,492-square foot redevelopment project is slated for a 1.13-acre, C-1 zoned site — a six parcel, full-block assemblage — bounded by 11th Street North, North Garfield Street, Washington Boulevard and North Highland Street in the Clarendon Revitalization Area. The D.C.-based company will construct two LEED Silver certified office buildings, totaling 284,012 square feet, and 22,479 square feet of ground-floor retail on the block.
"We are really excited to have our application approved and with the great collaborative process working with the various agencies and the community," says Thomas J Ikeler, Penzance's managing director of Capital Markets. He says to keep the project on schedule for delivery in January 2014, the company plans to break ground in April. Construction of the entire project, including the four stories of below-grade parking and the two buildings — at 3001 and 3003 Washington Boulevard — will be developed as a single project, Ikeler says.
The two buildings, designed by Noritake Associates, will include a ten-story, 197,984-square foot "North" building, and an eight-story, 86,027-square foot "South" building, with 11,479 square feet of ground-floor retail and 10,999 square feet of ground-floor retail, respectively.
The buildings will share a four-level underground parking garage with 395 direct-access parking spaces and 48 shared parking spaces. The North Building is designed for typical large-scale "Class A" tenants; the South building is designed for smaller "office condominium" types of tenants, according to Rae Noritake during his presentation at the board hearing.
Presenting an overview of the site plan (SP #418) to the board, Aaron Shriber, with the county's Department of Community Planning, Housing & Development, outlined a number of community benefits included in the project: introduction of office space in Clarendon that will provide more customers for retail and restaurant establishments while bringing office workers to the area in a reverse commuting pattern; 100- percent commercial uses; shared parking for use by the public on weeknights and weekends (with reduced rates for the first three years); and significant streetscape improvements.
Historic Preservation and Density Transfers. Attorney Jonathan Kinney (Bean, Kinney & Korman, PC), representing Penzance at the January 24th hearing on the site plan application, pointed out that the adopted Clarendon Sector Plan established standards for increases in density on three key sites in return for preservation of historic sites, affordable housing, and other community benefits.
"Basically what the county did is take the density that allowed sites to go up to 4.0 FAR...reduced that to a 3.0, and said `here is what we want to do with the difference: we want to target that for historic preservation," Kinney explained to the board. He said there were 10 sites targeted for preservation, adding that five — including the Post Office and Dan Kain's Trophy sites — have been preserved either voluntarily or through a site plan process.
Of the five remaining sites, two of the largest — the Walgreens/Kenyon Peck building at 2825 Wilson Boulevard, and the Boulevard Woodgrill/Faccia Luna building, at 2901 Wilson Boulevard — will be preserved as part of Penzance's project, Kinney said. A total of 144,211-square feet of commercial space is being transferred from the two sites to the project.
The preservation sites under the sector plan are seen as "sending" sites for density transfers, and three sites — including 3001 Washington Boulevard — were identified as "receiving" sites primarily dedicated to high-density office development. Under the county's transfer of density rights (FDR) program, FAR from the two historic building sites will be transferred to the project, allowing the applicant extra density and building height.
Kinney pointed out to the board that the site is planned for office development, and office uses will help balance the transportation issues in the Clarendon area, in which residential and retail are the predominate uses.
McQuinn's/ABC Facade Preservation. A unique piece of the development is Penzance's commitment to preserve the building facades of the former McQuinn's Sporting Goods and ABC liquor stores at the corner of 11th Street and North Highland.
Chairman Chris Wilson of the county's Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) explained to the board at the hearing that even though the buildings were not "monumental, they contribute to the significance of that area." He went on to say, "Placemaking preservation is important, and the HLRB was very interested in making sure these buildings were left in their original location." Further, the sector plan encouraged keeping a sense of old Clarendon as a new Clarendon is shaped, Wilson said.
And Planning Commissioner Nancy Iacomini, speaking in favor of the project, gave the board some background about the property.
"McQuinn was a hometown boy who made good in the major baseball league, playing for the [New York] Yankees," Iacomini said.
In the spirit of full disclosure: George McQuinn was the father of the publisher of The Arlington Newsletter.
She told the board that an article in the Washington Post in 1948 stated that McQuinn was able to get his Yankee teammates to come to the store to sign autographs for its formal opening. "So here we can indeed many the story of person with a building, and that is really pretty exciting."
McQuinn, born in Arlington in 1910 and a Washington & Lee High School graduate, was a six-time American League All Star first baseman who played with the St. Louis Browns, the Philadelphia Athletics, and the New York Yankees, including the Browns' 1944 and Yankees' 1947 World Series' teams. He was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.
To make way for the redevelopment, existing retail uses on the block, including a BB&T branch, the 11 Street Lounge (in the former McQuinn's store), Potomac Crossfit (in the former ABC space), the T.A. Sullivan & Son monument shop, Atlantic Motors, and a vacant automobile-oriented establishment, will be demolished, and the rebuilt facades of the McQuinn's/ABC stores then incorporated into the project at their current location.
After approving a series of complex motions related to the density transfers, the site plan, and related conditions of development, board members paused to praise the project.
"This is an extraordinary evening when we achieved some extraordinary benefits that were envisioned by the community six or seven years ago when they did the Clarendon Sector Plan," Hynes said. "We're preserving fully two buildings and the frontages of two more — and the applicant isn't just preserving them in their current state, but returning them to the state they were in many, many years ago."
Chris Zimmerman noted that no housing units are being lost with this development, and the developer is contributing over $1 million toward the county's efforts to preserve affordable housing. He also commented on the CNA move to the new "North" building. "I believe that attracting CNA here is really a good step in what has been part of an overall effort by the county in developing a particular sector.
"It's more than a niche — it's actually a big chunk now of our economic activity," Zimmerman said. "That is, we have a real presence of research and science and intellectual enterprise from DARPA, the National Science Foundation, Virginia Tech Center, 0 & R...and a couple of universities, and CNA really fits into that....I think it is a real coup to bring them here."
'Welcome to Arlington, and you are going to love it," Board member Jay Fisette said to the CNA employees present at the hearing. "And thanks to Penzance; we look forward to working with you again”
Office Project that Includes a Theater and Plaza Approved by Board
The latest version of a project to redevelop the Arlington Funeral Home site, which was once given up for dead after a previous applicant filed for bankruptcy, was resurrected and approved by the Arlington County Board on January 21st.
The project will redevelop the Virginia Square funeral home site with a nine-story mixed-use commercial building that will include office and ground-floor retail, a public plaza, and a black box theater. The applicant is Herndon-based Crimson Partners.
"This is a winner of a project," Board Member Jay Fisette said at the hearing. "It's not just a building It has a lot going on that's enlivening the community."
The one-acre site, at 3901 North Fairfax Drive, is part of the block bounded by 10th Street North, North Pollard Street, Fairfax Drive and North Quincy Street.
In 2004, the board approved a previous project for the site, and then, in 2007, approved an amended version of the project, which was called "The Club on Quincy." The previously approved mixed-use development would have included a multi-family residential building with ground floor retail, a new funeral home building, and a black box theater.
However, the site has been dormant since the previous owner, Bonita Springs, FL-based WCI, filed for bankruptcy in 2008 before it broke ground. WCI has since sold the site and funeral home to Crimson Partners.
"Hopefully, this time is the charm," Board member Walter Tejada said at the hearing.
Under the new proposal, Crimson applied for a site plan amendment to allow construction of a nine-story building with 178,131 square feet of office space, 3,200 square feet of ground-floor retail, a 12,985 square foot theater, and a public plaza. The project is consistent with the existing C-0-2.5 zoning designation and the General Land Use Plan's recommendation for "Medium Office-Apartment- Hotel" uses on the property.
The site will include three levels of parking with 250 parking spaces for the office building, and shared public use of the spaces on weekends and evenings. Another six spaces would be provided for retail parking, and 17 spaces for the theater.
The applicant agreed to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S Green Building Council for the mixed-use commercial building. The applicant also agreed to contribute $1 million to the county's Affordable Housing Investment Fund, and $1 million to nearby Quincy Park (or other open space improvements and park amenities).
In exchange for these and other community benefit contributions, the county approved the applicant's request for bonus density of 69,621 square feet for the project.
Larger Theater and Plaza Planned. Under the approved plan, the applicant will lease the black box theater to the county for 30 years for a dollar a year. At 12,985 square feet, the new theater is 1,904 feet larger than the one approved in the 2007 site plan. It will seat 150 – twice as many as the original proposed theater – and add a rehearsal room to the original design. County staff said they will work with the Arlington Commission for the Arts, among others, to develop a business plan for theater operations.
The new plaza will be 12,325 square feet — slightly larger than the 12,082 square-foot plaza approved in 2007 — and run along North Quincy Street. In addition, part of 10th Street North will be redone with a paving and asphalt color pattern so that it will function as an extension of the plaza.
Both the plaza and the theater will be designed through a county-organized workshop that will include participants from the community and stakeholders.
At the board's January 21St meeting, board members spent some time discussing the details of the project, such as the leasing arrangement of the theater. In the end, all agreed with Board Chair Mary Hynes that the project would bring an "incredible increase in community benefits."
"The public plaza will enliven
Virginia Square, and the black box theater will add a significant cultural
destination to this part of the Metro corridor," Hynes said
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