Nan Walsh, with assistance from Elizabeth McKeeby, led Crimson Partners though the approval process for a major site plan amendment for 3901 Fairfax Drive, notorious as the Arlington Funeral site. After two previous site plan approvals in 2004 and 2007 for residential development, also represented by Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, Emrich & Walsh, PC, the 2012 approval secures zoning entitlement for a mixed-use project that includes a LEED Gold Certified, class ‘A’ office building, community black-box theater and a public plaza. Development of this relatively small site was made challenging by detailed guidance in the Virginia Square Sector Plan. The Plan included recommendations to remove the funeral home use from this site, provide a community black-box theatre, a public plaza with a minimum size of 12,000 SF, provide a special treatment of adjacent 10th Street and numerous other design constraints, all while serving as a signature gateway building into the Virginia Square neighborhood.
The review process included three SPRC meetings (7.5 long hours of review!) as well as an extensive amount of outreach to and coordination with the neighboring residents, County Staff and Planning Commission members, the larger Arlington Arts community and County Economic Development office. Main discussion points at the Planning Commission and County Board hearings was relative to the black-box theatre, design of the plaza and policy relative to parking reductions. The County Board finally approved the project on January 21, 2012. Following the Board’s motion of approval, Board Member Jay Fissette commented that “this was a winner of a project and it will really enhance the community around it.” Post-approval, the site will undergo an intense, two-day community design workshop to refine the design for the plaza and 10th Street.