Developer pushing massive Pentagon City project

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Photo - Rendering of a proposed $80 million swimming complex in Arlington, viewed from the Southwest (Courtesy of Arlington County)
Rendering of a proposed $80 million swimming complex in Arlington, viewed from the Southwest (Courtesy of Arlington County)
Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland

An Arlington County developer is pushing the County Board to approve its plans to construct five of the tallest buildings in Pentagon City despite strong opposition from neighbors who fear the massive complex would burden the area.

The board would have to lift the county's building height and density restrictions, however, since all five of the proposed buildings are planned between 12 and 22 stories tall -- way beyond the current 12-story maximum.

Speaking out
What: Arlington County Board to discuss the design and impact of the proposed PenPlace development.
When: Monday Nov. 19
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Aurora Hills Community Center
Address: 735 18th Street South.

In exchange, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, would give the county up to $20 million for the completion of the colossal aquatics center planned for Long Bridge Park and provide funding for future streetcar lines.

(See a photo gallery of renderings of the planned swimming complex)

"We're not against the pool, but you can't motivate people to support your plan by offering $20 million for a pool," resident Molly Watson said. "As it stands, it's a bad plan."

The project, called PenPlace, would add two office buildings, two secure Department of Defense buildings and a 300-room hotel to a 9-acre vacant lot one block from the Pentagon City Metro station. It also calls for the addition of 2,235 parking spots and would generate an estimated 6,800 daily car trips, county reports show.

Katie Buck, president of the neighboring Arlington Ridge Civic Association, said she fears PenPlace will take away land that could be used for medical facilities, police stations and housing that would better the community.

"They're basically just dumping a huge development into an area that will turn it into an extension of Crystal City," Buck said. "They're planning all of this office development and nothing to meet the community's needs. It will only worsen our traffic."

Aurora Highlands Civic Association President Jim Oliver said he supports the project, but that he's requested the county require the construction of an establishment -- possibly an upscale restaurant or an indoor shooting range -- that would benefit residents.

Although county officials said it was too soon to comment on the project's exact details and developer contributions, County Planner Jason Beske said they were working to ensure the project enhances Pentagon City.

Existing residential complexes in the area would contribute to PenPlace's success, Beske said, and combine to make Pentagon City "a lively, mixed-use environment" and transportation hub because of its proximity to planned streetcar lines and the Metro.

County officials are scheduled to meet Monday night to discuss the development's impact on surrounding roads and open space, as well as the buildings' overall design.

The County Board isn't expected to vote on PenPlace until early next year.

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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Taylor Holland

Staff writer
The Washington Examiner