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 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.”