County Board authorizes offer to purchase Shirlington Road properties

Published on October 24, 2017

  • Would meet current and future ART bus parking needs

  • Decision follows exhaustive search for appropriate property

  • Authorizes acquisition by eminent domain if necessary

  • Properties appraised at $20.5 million

The Arlington County Board authorized a bona fide offer to purchase the land and improvements at 2629 and 2633 Shirlington Road and an outlot, RPC No. 31-034-045, jointly owned by NOBE I, LLC and SHCII, LLC, for public transit facilities and related uses.

If the effort to purchase the properties is unsuccessful, the Board's action also authorizes acquisition for public purposes by eminent domain. An appraisal commissioned by the County indicates a current market value of these properties is $20.5 million.

"The County is ready to purchase this property at its fair market value to meet both the needs we have right now for ART bus parking, and the needs we anticipate over the next 25 years," County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. "As everyone knows, industrially-zoned property in Arlington is very scarce. We already are leasing part of this property for ART bus parking, and we have determined, after an extensive search, that this property is best suited to our needs."

The Board voted 4 to 1 to authorize the bona fide offer to purchase and, if it is unsuccessful,  to authorize the County Manager to acquire the properties for public purposes by eminent domain. Board Member John Vihstadt voted no.

The County has for years searched for industrially-zoned land to meet Arlington Transit's (ART) current and long-term needs. In August 2016 the County leased 2629 Shirlington Road (2.52-acres) for seven years as an interim solution for ART bus storage and dispatch.

Meeting County's public transit system needs for next quarter century

If purchased, the Shirlington properties would be used for ART bus needs reflected in both the approved Capital Improvement Plan and Transit Development Plan. The Shirlington properties, together with the recently opened Eads Street ART light maintenance facility in Arlington, and acquisition of the Electronic Drive heavy maintenance facility site in Fairfax County authorized by the County Board on Dec. 13, 2016, would establish the facilities base required for Arlington County's public transit system for the next quarter century.

Reading a prepared statement before the Board's vote Tuesday night, Fisette said that "the planned interim and permanent funding for the acquisition requires use of the property for public transit purposes only. The Board, therefore, cannot and will not entertain consideration of additional uses of the property in conjunction with the planned transit uses. This does not mean that such additional uses are forever foreclosed. There may be opportunities where additional uses make good sense and could be considered. If these opportunities do present themselves in the future, the Board, in consultation with the necessary grant funding agencies, will engage the public in the Board's consideration of potential additional uses of the property."

In November 2016, the County Board and the Arlington County School Board created the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) to provide input to both Boards on capital facilities needs and long-range facility planning. Earlier this year, the JFAC was charged with identifying potential site locations for essential County services, including bus parking.

After months of public engagement and scenario planning, the JFAC heard significant community concern regarding bus placement at both the Buck and Carlin Springs properties and suggested purchasing the Shirlington Road site for that purpose. The Four Mile Run Valley Working Group strongly supported the County acquiring the properties for storage and servicing of buses and other large County vehicles, with some caveats and recommendations. Read the group's letter to the Board on the County website, Item No. 35 on the Agenda for the Saturday, Oct. 21 Regular County Board Meeting.