Arlington County Board Approves Converting Crystal City Vacant Office Building to Innovative Community-Centered Apartments

Note: The quote from County Board Chair Jay Fisette was updated in this release as of of 9:55pm, 7/19/14.

  • Building's interim conversion offers unique new living option
  • Advances efforts to revitalize Crystal City as tech hub
  • New ground floor retail, improved public open space

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved a plan by developer Vornado to convert a 1960s vacant office building in Crystal City to innovative residential apartments that will offer shared amenities and a unique floor-by-floor “neighborhood” culture.

The former office building, known as Crystal Plaza 6, is part of the six-building Crystal Plaza Development. Its last federal tenant left this spring.

Vornado is creating the project in partnership with WeWork, a national company with co-working offices in major metropolitan areas across the country. The company currently has three offices in the Washington, D.C. area that provide co-working office space, benefits and support.

The Crystal City project will be WeWork's first residential building, bringing the same benefits of co-working – shared amenities, a sense of community and opportunities for collaboration – to a residential building. The project will offer an entirely new type of apartment living within walking distance of the Crystal City Metro Station, several bus stops and Capital Bikeshare stations, and will serve as a model for adaptive reuse of an outdated building until redevelopment can occur.

“This temporary conversion of an aging, vacant office building into an innovative live-work space is an example of how we continue to reinvent Crystal City as a more attractive, vibrant place that will attract more entrepreneurs and tech workers,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette.

The County Board vote 4 to 0 to approve the major site plan amendment for 2221 S. Clark Street, also known as Crystal Plaza 6, changing the use from office to residential.

Many units 360 square feet or less

The 12-story building will have 252 units, many of them 360 square feet or less, and several shared two-story “neighborhoods” with expansive common areas. The neighborhoods will be connected by staircases and feature commercial-grade kitchens, dining areas and shared community spaces.

Interim solution for long-term Crystal City Sector Plan redevelopment

WeWork has a 20-year lease on the building, which is eventually slated to be redeveloped by 2050 as part of the Crystal City Sector Plan, with realignment of S. Clark/Bell Street.

The building, built in 1965 and now obsolete by modern office standards, will be gutted. The exterior will remain largely intact, although it will have an experiential exterior color application that changes as one moves around the building. The project will include streetscaping, sidewalk improvements on 23rd Street, and outdoor areas including, play and lounge zones and a community garden.

The building has 154 parking spaces and 86 interior and 8 exterior bike parking spaces.

The WeWork project joins other innovative initiatives, such as the Crystal Tech Fund, TechShop, and Crystal City Design Lab, that are transforming Crystal City into a community for growth tech companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Community process

The site plan amendment was reviewed at the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meeting on May 12, 2014, by the Transportation Commission at its hearing on June 30, 2014, and by the Planning Commission on July 7, 2014.


Crystal Plaza 6 is one of eight buildings which together comprise the mixed-use, multiple building Crystal Plaza site plan, which falls under the Crystal City Sector Plan. The site plan was approved in 1963, and most of the buildings were constructed in the 1960s. Today, the site plan has approximately 785,572 square feet of site area and is developed with 989,707 square feet of office, 196,610 square feet of retail, and 1,143,326 square feet of residential. Plaze 6 is approximately 157,670 square feet.

The County Board adopted the Crystal City Sector Plan in 2010. The 50-year long-range plan is the result of extensive work with the community, including more than 90 public meetings over a four year period. The plan embodies the community's vision to transform the Crystal City area by encouraging new development through density and other incentives, improving the streets, sidewalks and other public infrastructure, upgrading open space and increasing transit options.

To read the full staff report on this item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item #47 on the July 19 Regular County Board Meeting Agenda.

Project at a Glance


  • Crystal Plaza 6: 2221 S. Clark Street
  • Change of use from office to residential for a 12-story building with 157,670 square feet of space with 252 units
  • 154 parking spaces, 94 bike parking spaces
  • Street-level improvements and landscaping

Developer: Vornado

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.