Arlington board to vote on record-setting tower

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland
Proposed construction site: 1851 S. Bell St.

Construction of the tallest building in Crystal City is expected to get the go-ahead from the Arlington County Board despite concerns from neighbors.

With a vote about the proposed 24-story office building scheduled for Saturday, some nearby residents say they're worried their neighborhoods will be overshadowed by the "monster" building, the first to be designed under the new Crystal City Sector Plan.

"This will dwarf our building, which is only 11 stories, and cast a shadow directly onto us," said Christer Ahl, who lives in the Crystal Park condominium building across the street from the proposed construction site, 1851 S. Bell St.

At 297 feet tall, the building would be three feet shy of the county's height limit, set in place to protect aircraft flying over Arlington County.

Michael Dowell, a member of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association who lives a half-mile from the proposed building site, said he's heard many concerns about the "monster" building, ranging from its height to the possibility that its office space won't be filled.

A major concern for Ahl was that the outside of the building will be made predominately of glass, which he feared would "act like an enormous magnifying glass" on his condominium. After working with developers, Ahl said a less reflective type of glass would be used.

Next, Ahl said he plans to voice concerns about the increased number of cars the building will bring.

"We already have trouble getting in and out of our complex," Ahl said. "There's going to be a massive overload of cars and people on Crystal Drive now."

To combat the possibility of more traffic, Aaron Shriber, a planner with the Arlington Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, said the developer, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, was finalizing plans to include one-time, preloaded, $65 Metro cards for the office's tenants.

Construction of the building, which would require demolishing the existing 11-story office building at the site, will set the standard for Crystal City growth, Shriber said.

Officials from the county, as well as the building's architects and developers, did not release the price of the building because design changes are still being made.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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