In Pentagon City, developers, landowners and the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority continue to eye the same piece of land. An amended site plan for that plot filed late last month could decide whether South Arlington residents will see big buildings or a big ballpark rising in their midst.
A site plan amendment request filed with the county zoning office Thursday, May 29, seeks to extend previous plans for “One Metropolitan Park,” a project that could be one of the largest, densest developments in county history. The request asks for additional office density up to 400,000 square feet and for flexibility to assign density within the block where the developer sees fit.
The success or failure of the “One Metropolitan Park” plans has increasingly become the center of debate over a possible Arlington stadium. “It’s healthy that the alternative plans are taking shape, because people need to understand what the either/or is,” said Brian Hannigan, a spokesperson for the Stadium Authority.
Tom Brooke, co-chair of the Arlington Baseball Coalition, says that choice is simple, “stadium or tall buildings.”
Developers are standing by their proposal. “We’re hoping that this will be a world-class project, one of the finest in the country,” said Barnes Lawson, an attorney for the developer, Vienna-based KSI Services, Inc.
KSI submitted site plans showing “One Metropolitan Park” as an eight-stage redevelopment of the block defined by 15th Street South, South Fern Street, South Eads Street, and a proposed extension of 12th Street South. The first building would be an 18-story, 488-unit tower. By the end of the project, the block could hold about 3,000 rental units.
Land for the project is part of a tract of land owned primarily by the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation. Part of that land has been identified as one of five possible locations for a major league baseball stadium.
An attorney for the landowners said last month that his clients were assuming that no stadium would be built on the plot, and would oppose efforts to buy the land for a stadium site.
IN ADDITION TO being sought after for a stadium, the property is one of three locations under consideration by county staff for a high-tech conference center. Both KSI and the Stadium Authority have made offers to cooperate with the county in constructing the facility.
Lawson drafted the May 29 amendment request, which states that “The Applicant believes that this parcel specifically, and Pentagon City, generally, is the most ideal location for the conference center.” Stadium authority officials have also approached the county with plans for a conference center built adjacent to a possible stadium.
With a private developer now actively seeking zoning that would allow construction of the center, along with supporting hotels, county officials have all but ruled out coupling the center with a stadium.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s not factoring into our plans with a convention center at all,” said Adam Wasserman, director of Arlington Economic Development.
After talking with consultants, Wasserman says he concluded a partnership with a stadium would be “fraught with complications. You wouldn’t want to do it if you didn’t have to do it,” he said.
The fate of the conference center is still undecided. Even if board members decide to approve the May 29 amendment request, details of a financing plan, architecture and construction would have to be worked out with KSI.
“We’re not even sure if we can build our project,” said Wasserman. County officials estimate a convention center would cost between $80 million and $120 million.