Arlington Approves Joyce Motors Redevelopment

On  February 18, 2023, the Arlington County Board approved Orr Partners’ 4.1 site plan providing for the redevelopment of the aging 0.74-acre Joyce Motors building and property in central Clarendon. The site contains a surface parking lot and the circa 1950 Joyce Motors building, which is considered a prime example of the “Streamline Moderne” architectural style popular in the 1940s and 1950s.

Following on the heels of the County Board’s adoption of the updated Clarendon Sector Plan, the proposed redevelopment includes a mixed-use residential building containing up to 241 residential units, a maximum of 186,254 square feet of residential GFA, and a maximum of 3,825 square feet of ground floor retail GFA.

A key component of the project is the incorporation of the most historic and salvageable portions of the Joyce Motors building façade into the new building’s architecture, in accordance with the Sector Plan’s recommendations.

For more than a year prior to the submission of the site plan application, the development team worked with the County’s Historic Preservation Program staff to determine the most pragmatic preservation approach, recognizing the reality of the condition of the building and its materials.

As a result, the building’s exterior enamel panels will be removed and sent to a historic preservation lab for restoration to their original condition. They will subsequently be reinstalled at the most visually-prominent corner of the site, where the reconstructed façade will serve as the architectural focus of the new building and provide the public direct access to this resource. The project also includes a $25,000 contribution towards tan onsite interpretive commemoration of the Joyce Motors building.

Another historic preservation aspect of the project includes the permanent preservation of the circa 1939 Clarendon Barbershop Building, located at 1407 N. Garfield Street through the use of the County’s Transfer of Development Rights program. Preservation of this resource is specifically recommended under the Sector Plan, and the transfer of density to the Joyce Motors site will require the recordation of a historic preservation easement over the Barbershop Building.

The proposed building will be designed at the LEED Gold level and, while the project is subject to the previous version of the County’s Green Building Incentive Policy, Orr Partners is committed to achieving many of the baseline prerequisites of the current Green Building policy to align with the goals and objectives of the Community Energy Plan. In response to SPRC and community comments, enhanced landscaping will also be provided at the street level along N. Irving Street, as well as in a second-level courtyard and on a 10th-floor terrace.

In terms of transportation, the project will provide significant sidewalk upgrades around the site, bicycle facilities, and curb extensions for safer pedestrian crossings. It will also provide segments of two new streets contemplated under the Sector Plan’s grid network, including a portion of the planned 10th Road North. The project will additionally make a $400,000 contribution towards offsite transportation improvements, which may be allocated towards enhanced bicycle facilities along 10th Street N.

Housing affordability figured prominently into the project, and the project will provide nine onsite Committed Affordable Units as well as an affordable housing contribution. Importantly, Orr Partners recognized the County’s need for large affordable units and has subsequently agreed to provide two three-bedroom apartments as part of their none onsite affordable units. The project will also provide a $557,143 contribution towards public open spaces in the vicinity of the project.

The proposed project will honor the Joyce Motor’s building’s heritage, enhance Clarendon’s neighborhood character, and achieve the Clarendon Sector Plan’s land use, density, height, and housing diversity goals.

Walsh Colucci shareholders Andrew Painter and Nicholas Cumings assisted Orr Partners throughout the process, with Andrew providing the presentation at the County Board.

Arlington County Board Approves Missing Middle Amendments

After extensive analysis, public testimony, and Board deliberation, the Arlington County Board unanimously voted Wednesday evening to approve a series of amendments to the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance and General Land Use Plan (“GLUP”).

These “Expanded Housing Option” (“EHO”) amendments came as a result of the multiyear Missing Middle Housing Study. The EHO amendments allow for by-right development of townhomes and other attached housing types in areas of the County currently zoned only for single-family detached housing.

The Board approved 12 amendments to the Zoning Ordinance, affecting the R-5 through R-20 zoning districts. These amendments will take effect on July 1, 2023. The staff report, which summarizes the changes and includes the specific Zoning Ordinance amendment language, may be found here.

The Board also adopted a series of “options,” which are summarized below:

• Option 1A (Number of Units): Allows for EHO development to extend up to six attached units.

Option 2D (Site Area/Height): Requires a minimum site and lot area in the applicable R zoning district, but limits development on lots less than 7,000 square feet to four units or fewer. EHO developments will be subject to the setback, height, and other standards applicable within the underlying zoning district.

• Option 4B (Lot Coverage): Single-family detached homes are eligible for a five percent increase in lot coverage in order to add a garage. Option 4B allows the reallocation of this five percent increase into the footprint of an EHO unit. EHO developments, therefore, have a slightly higher maximum lot coverage but are not eligible for an increase in floor area in order to add a garage.

• Options 5C and 5E (Parking): Reflecting the County’s desire to reduce automobile traffic, EHO developments will be required to provide 0.5 parking spaces per unit on sites located within three-quarters of a mile of a Metrorail station, and this requirement is eliminated on any site in which providing parking spaces for EHO units would eliminate an equal number of on-street parking spaces due to curb cuts.

• Option 6A (Tree Canopy): EHO developments with two-to-four dwelling units are required to provide four trees, and developments with five-to-six units are required to provide eight trees.

• Option 7C (Limitation Cap): Limits EHO developments to 58 developments per year for the first five years (until 2028), with such a cap allocated according to the zoning district. Sixty-six percent of the permits will be allotted to the R-6 zoning district; another 9 percent to the R-5 zoning district; and the balance of 25 percent to the R-8, R-10, and R-20 zoning districts.

• Option 8A (SFU Conversion): Single-family homes may be converted into a multi-unit EHO development as a matter of right. This option comes largely in response to enable seniors who wish to “age in place” through downsizing by converting their home into an EHO development, rather than relocating to another neighborhood.

• Option 9B (Definitions): Makes a minor definition change for a duplex.

• Option 10A (Special Planning Areas): Prohibits EHOs within special planning districts/areas identified on the GLUP, which often have more specific guidance through their respective planning document. This limits the number of otherwise eligible properties, primarily located within Columbia Pike and Cherrydale Special Revitalization Districts.

• Option 11 Hybrid (Maximum GFA): Establishes the maximum gross floor area for an EHO development based upon the style of housing and number of units, with the lowest maximum density assigned to duplexes and the highest maximum density allotted to five- and six-plexes.

• Option 12B (Accessory Dwelling Units): Prohibits accessory dwellings in areas eligible for EHO.

Additional amendments to the Zoning Ordinance may be forthcoming.

The Board simultaneously approved an amendment to the GLUP that adds language to Section 5.4 emphasizing the need for increased housing supply, adds language to the GLUP map to include accessory dwelling units, and EHO uses in areas planned for “Low” Residential uses.

With these changes, Arlington joins a handful of other jurisdictions across the country which have sought to broaden the types of permitted residential arrangements in zoning districts which solely permit single-family homes.


Arlington County Moves Forward With Pentagon City Planning Study

Brimming with shops, restaurants, housing, and hotels, and proximate to a heavily-used Metrorail station that bears its name, Arlington County’s Pentagon City neighborhood exists today as one of the region’s foremost examples of transit-oriented development. While much of the community was developed between the 1960s and early 2000s, Pentagon City has experienced renewed development interest in recent years, particularly following the November 2018 announcement that Amazon had selected nearby National Landing as its preferred location for its second headquarters.

Anticipating these changes, the Arlington County Board in April 2019 embarked upon a comprehensive review of the 1976 Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP) and planning guidance for nearby properties. Following retention of a consulting team to assist staff, as well as several months of public engagement, the County released a draft of its newest Sector Plan to the public on November 24, 2021. Known as the “Pentagon City Sector Plan,” the document sets forth an updated vision for Pentagon City, as well as expectations for urban design, public spaces, and conditions under which additional density may be appropriate.

A number of important policy recommendations are included within the draft plan. For example, it calls for a general increase in density throughout the Pentagon City neighborhood and corresponding changes to the General Land Use Plan (GLUP) designations for the area. Approximately 10 million square feet of new development is anticipated under the draft plan, which is nearly double the amount of square feet contemplated by the decades-old Pentagon City PDSP.

Like other areas of the County, density above what is permitted today would be “earned” by providing community benefits which may include, but not be limited to:

  • Achievement of new publicly-accessible green pathways and plazas;
  • Multimodal improvements within the study area;
  • Contributions to on-site affordable housing. To that end, the draft Sector Plan establishes a goal of a minimum of 10 percent of new residential density be designated for on-site Committed Affordable Units; and
  • Improvements to the existing pedestrian passageway though the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

To allow increased flexibility for landowners, the draft plan places few restraints on preferred land use mixes. Instead, the draft plan generally emphasizes the importance of new residential development – somewhat similar to the 2010 Crystal City Sector Plan and the 2015 Rosslyn Sector Plan. For multiple office building developments, the draft plan recommends that a minimum of one additional building with a significant residential, hotel, or weekend/evening destination uses should already exist or be proposed.

In terms of green infrastructure, the draft plan sets forth a series of new public open spaces, as well as an approximately three-mile network of pedestrian pathways throughout the planning area, which it calls “Green Ribbons.” While the plan builds in limited flexibility in the location of specific pathways, the Green Ribbons network is intended to result in approximately five acres of connected parks and plazas. Where proposed Green Ribbons traverse private property, the draft Sector Plan anticipates that private developers would grant public easements over these spaces, as well as develop and maintain them as part of their respective community benefits package with each redevelopment.

LEED Gold is anticipated as the minimum for all building sites, and exceptional green building performance could be considered as a community benefit. Additionally, new developments must satisfy a series of tree canopy coverage, planted surface area, and other vegetative requirements.

In terms of height, the draft plan recommends that the tallest buildings be located in the northern portion of the planning area, and that no building should exceed 330 feet in height. Height variation, upper floor setbacks, sculpting, other measures are recommended to mitigate the impact of additional height and density.

County staff is currently preparing a final draft of the Sector Plan for consideration by the Planning Commission and the County Board for final adoption in February. Concurrent with adoption of the new Sector Plan, the County Board will consider corresponding amendments to the GLUP, Master Transportation Plan, and Zoning Ordinance. Additional follow-on items may include studying transportation performance standards, developing a master plan for Virginia Highlands Park, and identifying potential locations for a new school and fire station within the planning area.

For questions about this article, please contact land use attorneys Andrew Painter and Nicholas Cumings.

Arlington County Board Approves 819 New Units at Crystal Houses

At its December 14 public hearing, the Arlington County Board approved Roseland Residential Trust’s proposal for six new residential buildings containing 819 new residential units at the Crystal Houses property in Arlington. The applications were shepherded through the zoning review and approval process through a team effort by managing shareholder and land use attorney Nan Walsh and land use attorney Nicholas Cumings.

Led by Nicholas Cumings, the hearing was positive and complimentary, with County Board members remarking that the project delivered a number of important community benefits, including some much-needed additional housing units in a quality development, and sizable new parks. The proposal includes six new multi-family buildings on the Crystal Houses block, adding additional buildings on the property’s frontage as infill development complementing the existing remaining 828 apartments in Crystal Houses I and II. These new buildings include Crystal House III, an eleven story building with 432 units located on S. Eads Street, Crystal House IV, another eleven story building with 222 units located at the corner of 22nd Street and Eads Street, Crystal House V, a seven story, 81 unit building located on the site of the existing commuter lot just to the south of the property, Crystal House VII, a five story, 63 unit building located on 18th street, and Crystal Houses VII and VIII, which are townhouse-style multifamily units located on Fern Street. The project redevelops the entire frontage of the property, upgrading it to the urban design standards in the Crystal City Sector Plan and transforming it into a modern, walkable, pedestrian, and cyclist oriented community.

In his presentation to the County Board, Nicholas noted that the project both meets and exceeds Sector Plan goals, particularly by creating 54,000 square feet of new public parks, just over twice called for in the Sector Plan, and by installing protected bike lanes along the project’s Eads Street frontage and on the block to the north, providing a contiguous corridor of protected bike lanes to the new Metropolitan Park office development. He noted that the project includes a remarkably unique affordable housing plan; Roseland committed to conveying the Crystal House 5 parcel, as approved, to Arlington County for its development as affordable housing. County Board members complimented the creativity and ingenuity of this plan, and voted unanimously to approve the project.

All Images Courtesy of LESSARD DESIGN INC.

Arlington County Board Approves the Redevelopment of the Former “Iwo Jima” Best Western Hotel Property

On April 23, 2019, the Arlington County Board approved a site plan amendment and General Land Use Plan amendment to permit the redevelopment of the former “Iwo Jima” Best Western hotel property and the neighboring parcel which currently contains the Ellis Arms Apartments located on the southern edge of Rosslyn. Both the existing hotel and multi-family building will be demolished and replaced with a new 12 story, 160 room hotel and a 10 story, 48 unit residential tower.

Led by Nicholas Cumings, a land use attorney with Walsh Colucci, the development team worked with Arlington County Staff to address the County’s priority goals for the property including green building measures, affordable housing, underground parking, and neighborhood park improvements. The 1.88 acre property is located southwest of the Belvedere Condominiums, which were extremely active in the zoning review process. The result of the site plan review process were recommendations for approval by both the Planning Staff and the Planning Commission, with unanimous approval by the County Board.

Mr. Cumings with Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh summarized the application in his remarks to the County Board: “The Witness Group is a family-based company that has over 30 years of experience with hotel investment, development, and management. They have owned this property since 2011. They are a preferred developer and operator with all of the major hotel brand companies including Hilton, Marriott and International Hotel Group, and currently own and operate 30 hotels with 9 hotels in the development and construction pipeline. They will own and operate the proposed hotel and are looking forward to continuing to be a part of the neighborhood for many years.” In closing, he noted, “The process was successful and the resulting project is an excellent one that will be a substantial improvement for this neighborhood, replacing 1950s and 1980s era development with modern buildings including a myriad of benefits for the surrounding community.”

Kathryn R. Taylor Joins Walsh Colucci

Kathy Taylor joins the firm as a zoning associate in the Arlington office. Prior to joining Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh, she worked as an associate for ShounBach, where she gained substantial experience in family law serving clients in Northern Virginia. She represented clients on all issues surrounding divorce, such as division of marital property, custody, child support, and alimony as well as cases relating to protective orders, modifications, and show cause. Kathy is a graduate of George Mason University School of Law, where she was a member of the Civil Rights Law Journal. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Virginia. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, running, as well as exploring new places and restaurants. Welcome, Kathy!

2400 Columbia Pike Approved for Development

Graphic representation of 2400 Columbia Pike
Source: WHA Architecture and Planning

On June 18, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to approve a special exception use permit for a new mixed-use building at 2400 Columbia Pike, pursuant to the Columbia Pike Commercial Centers Form Based Code.

Located at the corner of Columbia Pike and South Barton Street, the site of the approved building is currently home to Rappahannock Coffee and other neighborhood retailers. Under the Form Based Code, the existing buildings on the site are designated as “historic façades.” Cathy Puskar assisted the firm’s client and its design team with developing a plan that incorporated the historic façades into the new building envelope and securing approval of the preservation plan by the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board.

The new six-story building will contain 105 market-rate residential units, approximately 14,700 square feet of ground floor retail, and two levels of below-grade parking. The unique architectural design of the building is specifically intended to accentuate the historic façades, which will be preserved, and to create a welcoming pedestrian environment. In combination with the Penrose Square and Siena Park developments across the street, the new building at 2400 Columbia Pike will contribute to a greatly enhanced walkable, mixed-use, urban corridor on the eastern end of Columbia Pike.

Cathy is currently representing additional Commercial Centers and Neighborhoods Form Based Code developments along Columbia Pike.



AHC to Redevelop and Increase Affordable Housing at The Berkeley Apartments

Graphic representation of project
Source: Courtesy of AHC

On May 17, the Arlington County Board approved nonprofit affordable housing developer AHC’s redevelopment proposal to replace the two existing residential buildings, which would otherwise require massive infrastructure and structural improvements, with two new buildings containing a total of 257 units.

Shareholders Evan Pritchard and Art Walsh worked closely with AHC and County Staff to develop a site plan amendment proposal that achieves many of the goals for the property set forth in the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan. Examples include orienting the new buildings toward the stream with ground-floor unit doorways, expanding the adjacent Four Mile Run Trail, and incorporating low-impact development techniques and native plants to greatly reduce the amount of runoff from the site into the nearby stream. The buildings will also adhere to the green building guidelines of the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan and the County’s green building policy by achieving EarthCraft Gold certification.

Landscape Drawing
Source: Courtesy of AHC

A major topic of discussion throughout the public process and at the County Board hearing was the new fence proposed to be installed between the project and the Four Mile Run Trail. The Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan recommends that such fences be used sparingly and that other, more natural barriers be used where possible. Current Berkeley residents, with whom AHC will work closely during relocation to transition into new units, however, testified that the existing fence on the property provides a sense of security and safety that must be retained. After studying a number of design alternatives, the applicant team proposed a compromise solution with a fence that will undulate along the property line so that only portions will directly abut the trail. The remainder of the fence will be pulled away toward the residential buildings to create several areas along the trail that will be planted with trees and landscaping. AHC further agreed to remove the fence no later than 2036, provided that the surrounding area has had a chance to redevelop with new residential and commercial projects. This compromise approach was embraced by the County Board, which unanimously approved the project.

Arlington County Proposes Changes to Site Plan Process and Conditions

Generic Graphic of Plans
Source: Susan Lynch

In response to increasing competition for private investment from neighboring jurisdictions such as Tysons and the District of Columbia, Arlington County is undertaking a number of initiatives to make its development process more business friendly.

As part of this effort, key changes to the County’s standard site plan conditions are currently being proposed. Changes are also proposed to Administrative Regulation 4.1, the regulatory document that guides the site plan submission and review process in Arlington.

Site Plan Conditions

The proposed changes to the site plan conditions are primarily intended to be technical rather than substantive in nature. Examples include eliminating unnecessary language and outdated standards, reorganizing the order of some conditions, and deleting references to plan submission requirements that should be handled at an administrative level.

At some point in the future, the County hopes to make further changes to remove many of the more technical standards and requirements identified in the conditions. Such requirements frequently change and would therefore be more appropriately addressed in a separate public facilities manual or administrative regulation.

Administrative Regulation 4.1

Many of the changes proposed to Administrative Regulation 4.1 are intended to make the site plan process more efficient and less costly for applicants. A prominent example is having the director of the Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development, rather than the County Manager, accept applications. This would decrease the wait time between filing an application and commencement of the public review process. Another example is reducing the number of plan sets required for submission from 20 full-size sets to eight. This would significantly reduce an applicant’s printing costs, which can accrue rather quickly in Arlington.

Perhaps the biggest change to Administrative Regulation 4.1 is the creation of an optional conceptual site plan review process. This process is intended to give early feedback to applicants on threshold issues such as required streetscape dimensions, building placement, massing, and density before significant design costs are incurred. It would also identify key issues in a development proposal that could be rectified or addressed prior to commencement of the public review process, thereby avoiding potential opposition and costly design changes.

County Staff hopes to have the new conditions and Administrative Regulation 4.1 document implemented in the coming weeks.