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JBG Smith Changes Course on Residential Conversion in Crystal City

by Nena Perry-Brown

JBG Smith Changes Course on Residential Conversion in Crystal City: Figure 1
Previous rendering of 1770 Crystal Drive after residential conversion. Click to enlarge.

Last year, as part of the multi-building Central District development in Crystal City, JBG Smith applied to convert the office building at 1750 Crystal Drive (map) into a residential development. Now, the plan to deliver 365 apartments above 5,167 square feet of commercial space is being deferred.

In August, the firm set aside the application to rezone the site and retrofit the building as residential, opting instead to tweak previously-approved plans to renovate the office building and retain its use. 

"We want to move forward with the retail now and see how that impacts the marketplace," Andy Van Horn, executive vice president at JBG Smith, explained to UrbanTurf. 

And although Amazon's second headquarters has been the talk of the region for over a year now, particularly for Crystal City, JBG Smith doesn't seem to be factoring that into their decision.

"We are certainly not planning on Amazon," Van Horn said. "We are executing our base plan of making Crystal a really dramatically improved place by doing this defining kind of retail work, and if we're so lucky, we'll figure that out, but that has little to do with this decision, if nothing at all." 

JBG Smith Changes Course on Residential Conversion in Crystal City: Figure 2
A rendering of the Crystal City Central District.

As approved in December 2015, then-owner Vornado (later absorbed by JBG) planned to re-skin the existing 12-story building, reconfigure the retail and streetscape, improve the penthouse, and add 10,000 square feet of commercial space. That approval remains valid until July 2020. JBG Smith's new site plan amendment application would apply the proposed streetscape improvements in their residential conversion plan to the 2015 site plan.

The mega-block encompassing the Central District will eventually deliver a new Metro station entrance with a pedestrian plaza and over 130,000 square feet of retail (including a boutique grocer and an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema).

The Site Plan Review Committee of the Arlington County Planning Commission is scheduled to review the new application on September 17th; the County Board will consider the application October 20th.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/jbg-smith-nixes-residential-conversion-for-crystal-city-office/14432

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