Black box theater, public plaza coming to Virginia Square
Arlington's Virginia Square neighborhood is a relatively quiet counterpoint to its busier neighbors, Ballston and Clarendon. But that may soon change as a black box theater, public plaza, and new cultural space come to the area as part of 2 private developments.
Today, Virginia Square is a mix of apartment buildings and 1-story commercial strips, along with George Mason University's Law School and the former headquarters of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Virginia Square Metro station has the fewest average weekday boardings of the 5 Rosslyn-Ballston corridor Metro stations. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of an underutilized station and provide more amenities for existing residents.
Last winter, Arlington County approved a 9-story office building at 3901 Fairfax Drive, which is home to the now-demolished Arlington Funeral Home and a parking lot for a nearby Mercedes dealership. The building would have ground-floor shops, a black box theater, which the county would lease for 30 years, and a public plaza. Developer BDC Crimson LLC will seek LEED Gold certification for the building, according to an Arlington County press release.
This project will also include a public plaza located on Quincy Drive between Fairfax Drive and 10th Street. It's a departure from the rest of 10th Street, which is lined by parking lots and loading docks. By leading people to the Arlington Central LIbrary and Quincy Park, reinforcing its role as Arlington's "Central Park".
It's expected that work on the new plaza and office building will begin some time this year. While they'll be a positive addition to the neighborhood, other proposed developments have been more controversial. Neighbors aren't happy with a proposed apartment building across from the entrance to the Virginia Square Metro station on Fairfax Drive. They say the property, currently home to a bank and a building with martial arts and dance studios, should remain commercial.
Developer Penrose proposes building a 12-story, 256-unit apartment tower called the Latitude Apartments. The building would have 5,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space and another 2,000 square feet of space for cultural or educational uses. Penrose would place retail on Fairfax Drive and 10th Street, adding sidewalk activity and "eyes on the street" to both streets.
However, the site is currently zoned for commercial uses, and Penrose wants to change it to mixed-use zoning. Residents of the Monroe, a condominium building across the street, issued a statement last month saying that the Virginia Square Sector Plan specifically calls for office space at that location. They claim that apartments would upset the balance of uses in Virginia Square while exacerbating parking concerns.
It's unclear what will happen to this project for now. According to ARLnow, the county has deferred making a decision about rezoning and will likely not pick it up again until November.
This post was edited to reflect that DARPA is no longer located in Virginia Square and that the Arlington Funeral Home has been demolished.
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