County Board Approves Crystal Gateway Mixed-Use Development

Published on November 14, 2020

The Arlington County Board today approved JBG Smith's plan to develop Crystal Gateway, a nine-story office building with ground-floor retail,  at 101 12th Street S. in Crystal City. Community benefits associated with the project include the developer conveying 54,500 sq. ft. of land for Gateway Park, which will connect Long Bridge Park to Crystal City; contributing  $300,000 for the County to plan the park; committing to sustainability in construction and operation of the building and constructing a connector road on the site.

Crystal Gateway rendering

"This project brings us another step closer to fulfilling the Crystal City Sector Plan's vision of a more vibrant, sustainable urban village with a better mix of offices, retail businesses, homes, and public open space," Board Chair Libby Garvey said. "It comes with significant community benefits, particularly land for Gateway Park that will connect Crystal City to Long Bridge Park. But it also will improve our transportation network by adding a street connecting 10th Street S. to 12th Street S. and will be built to high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability."

The developer will construct a road mid-block on the site that will connect 10th Street S. to 12th Street S, as recommended in the Crystal City Sector Plan. The new building will achieve a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) version 4 "Gold" certification for energy efficiency and sustainable materials and will have a roof-top solar array, green roofs, and bird-friendly glass on its eastern façade. The project is one of three site plan projects that comprise the Crystal City Phased Development Site Plan approved by the County Board in March 2020. The PDSP set the density that the project could achieve, and the community benefits required to achieve the allowed density.

The Board voted unanimously to approve the development. To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 34 on the agenda for the Saturday, November 14, 2020, Regular County Board Meeting.

In other actions at its November 14 Regular Meeting, the Board:

Approved a redevelopment plan that that will add affordable housing on Columbia Pike. The Merion Pike West project, at the northeast intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Greenbrier Street, will replace 14 of the existing 18 low-rise Greenbrier Apartment buildings constructed in 1949 with two six-story apartment buildings. The new buildings will replace 117 units with a total of 400 units, and increase the number of affordable units.

"This Form Based Code redevelopment realizes the goals of the FBC, and of the County," County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. "With its mix of committed affordable and market-rate units, it both preserves affordable housing along the Pike and provides more housing for middle-income renters. The project also adds density in an area where we are improving transit to better serve our Pike residents and make it easier for people to live with fewer cars."

The project, on the northern portion of the nearly five-acre site, is the first phase of a planned two-phase redevelopment.

Rendering of Merion Pike West

Under the  Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Form Based Code, developer Merion Pike West LLC has two options for meeting the code's affordable housing requirements. They can provide 93 Committed Affordable Units (CAFs) on-site that would all be affordable to low-income tenants earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or provide 124 CAFs, 62 of which would be affordable to low-income tenants earning up to 60 percent of the AMI and 62 of which would be affordable to tenants earning up to 80 percent of AMI. Under either option, the CAFs would include family-sized two-or three-bedroom units, and all CAFs would be contractually committed to remain affordable for 30 years.

The building will achieve LEED Silver certification. Eligible tenants who must relocate during construction will receive one-time moving cost payments, assistance in finding housing in the area, and temporary rent payments to afford higher rents.

The Board voted unanimously to approve the redevelopment. To read the staff report,  scroll to Item No. 35 on the agenda for the November 14 Regular County Board Meeting.

Approved an agreement with APS to enhance APS internet access for students. The Board approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools to enhance and extend the APS network access for students by providing broadband internet services through ConnectArlington, the County's closed, secure network. The agreement comes as the County and APS continue to enhance internet access during the coronavirus pandemic that has moved most K-12 education online. Covering all public schools with outdoor network access, and students living near Arlington Mill and Randolph Elementary and concentrations of students around the Arlington Mill and Randolph Elementary school will cost an estimated $1.216 million. Funding for the effort will come from federal and state COVID-19 relief funding. The Board voted unanimously to approve the agreement. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 21 on the APS agenda for the November 14, 2020, Regular Meeting.

Held a public hearing on Arlington's 2021 General Assembly Legislative Priorities. The Board took public testimony on the County's proposed legislative priorities. Proposed priorities include critical funding items, including securing more unallocated state funding for localities to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic; seeking more funding and legislative authority to enable distance learning for all students during the pandemic and after; more funding for the Housing Trust Fund and more funding and programming to prevent evictions; support for jail diversion efforts for mental health and substance-abusing persons who become involved with the criminal justice system. The Board will consider and vote on the package at its December Meeting.  The 2021 General Assembly will begin January 13 and run 46 days. The session is expected to focus on the state's budget and the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. To view the entire proposed legislative package,  scroll to Item No. 37 on the agenda for the November 14 Regular County Board Meeting.

Approved a construction contract for a playground at Rosslyn Highlands Park. The Board approved a $1.46 million contract with The Donahoe Companies, Inc. to build a new playground for Rosslyn Highlands Park, 1615 18th St. N.

rendering of Rosslyn Highlands Park playground

The playground is a component of the larger Rosslyn Highlands Park+Coordinated Open Space Plan adopted by the Board in September 2016. Built on the site of the Queen's Court Residence apartment building being built now by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, it will serve as an amenity for Queen's Court families, the neighborhood, and the larger community.

The playground's design was developed through extensive public engagement, including a series of community workshops, an online survey, and was reviewed by the Park and Recreation Commission and Urban Forestry Commission.  It will offer two play areas — one equipped for pre-school children and the other for grade-school kids. It also will have abundant seating, native plantings, and stormwater management planters. The project will be funded through voter-approved bonds and a contribution from the developer.  Construction is expected to begin by January 2021. The Board voted unanimously to approve the contract. to read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 24 on the agenda for the November 14 Regular County Board Meeting.

Approved Dominion Energy's expansion plan for its Crystal City substation. The Board approved Dominion's expansion and upgrading of its substation at 1720 South Fern Street to an adjacent county-owned parcel on South Hayes Street. In return, Dominion will convey to the County its 10,000 sq. ft. property near Virginia Highlands Park, at the intersection of South Ives Street and 18th Street South. The County's Public Spaces Master Plan recommended acquiring this property to expand Virginia Highlands Park.

The expanded substation will serve the future needs of Crystal City, Pentagon City, and the surrounding neighborhoods with a new substation, upgraded equipment, and new resiliency infrastructure. Green space accessible to the public will be enlarged on the site, and Dominion will redevelop it with a grassy lawn, new trees, and landscaping, a walkway, seating, and public art. The Board voted unanimously to approve the expansion plan and land exchange. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 36 on the agenda for the November 14 Regular County Board Meeting.