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Eco-friendly Arlington building proposal deferred from county agenda

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland

The designer of a proposed 8-story, environmentally-friendly building in Arlington has decided to remove his proposal from this month's county board meeting at the recommendation of numerous county officials and concerned residents.

Not wanting to jeopardize the "very fragile project," Michael Foster, founder of MTFA Architecture Inc., the architects of the proposed Wilson Boulevard building, said he would look at various possibilities to "break down the scale" of the proposed commercial and retail structure before presenting it to the county board in October.

"In a community like Arlington, we want to listen to everybody," Foster said. "We're really excited about this building and believe it's fully ready for prime time ... but we want to make sure we personify and exemplify Arlington's tremendous community values."

One resident who asked Foster to defer the proposal was Jim Lantelme, who represented the Lyon Village Citizens Association on the Site Plan Review Committee for the building.

Citing height and location concerns, Lantelme said he wanted to ensure the building would be the "right design and right density" for the site, near Key Elementary School and off of the Courthouse Metro stop.

Other neighboring residents have raised concerns about the building's three-story underground parking garage, as well as its day care and conference center that will be open to all community members.

Martha Moore, another member of the Site Plan Review Committee, said she was "getting heartburn" about the possibility of a day care center in the building because "day cares in commercial buildings just don't work."

Moore said she was also concerned that the nearly 95-foot building, which would neighbor a number of small, 35-foot, single-family homes in the area, was too tall. "It creates an undesirable edge" between the building and its surroundings, she said, noting that she hoped Foster would make the building two stories shorter.

"We've made our objections known," she said.

Foster said he's confident that the building, which is slated to be made using "an all-glass curtain wall of light blue with reflective and solar panels," limestone-colored precast and reflective panels to save energy, will be looked at as a "cosmopolitan, urban, futuristic and contemporary" building that's "symbolic of transparency" valued by many.

"We're introducing an important precedent that sets the bar high for future environmental-quality buildings," Foster said.

Messages were left with the county board, as well as members from the county planning commission.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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