Arlington County Board Approves Lease to Consolidate Human Services at Sequoia Plaza

  • New lease enhances integration of human services
  • Moves services closer to where many DHS clients live
  • Opens up strategic land use possibilities at current sites

ARLINGTON – The Arlington County Board today approved a lease agreement that will consolidate its Department of Human Services (DHS) programs at the Sequoia Plaza complex at 2100 Washington Blvd. DHS offices currently are spread among several sites across the County.

About 60 percent of the department moved to Sequoia Plaza I from Clarendon in 2010. The planned consolidation will place DHS offices in the Sequoia Plaza II and III buildings as well, moving many of DHS's remaining services there. The consolidation is expected to be completed by fall 2015. The Board voted 4 to 0 to approve the lease agreement.

“This move is in keeping with Arlington's forward-thinking approach to human services,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “Back in the 1960s, Arlington's decision to bring its social services program in-house led to a half-century of outstanding human services for our community. Consolidating our services on a single campus further integrates human services and enhances the safety net for our most vulnerable residents.”

The DHS offices slated to move to Sequoia Plaza are:

  • Public Health offices currently at Fenwick Center (800 S. Walter Reed Dr., adjacent to Career Center). Most Public Health functions are already at Sequoia Plaza; the move would bring over Public Health administrative offices, Community Health Protection Bureau, and laboratory.
  • Behavioral Healthcare offices currently along N. George Mason Dr. and N. Edison St., (three buildings, including Drewry Center, at Edison Complex next to Virginia Hospital Center). Several mental health and substance abuse teams are already based at Sequoia; the move would bring over the remaining teams, administrative offices, and other programs.
  • Clarendon House (3141 10th St. N in Clarendon), a day program for people with serious mental illness.

The Edison Complex facilities are aging, with several past their useful lives and two already closed. Significant capital expenditures would be required for DHS to remain in the existing facilities, thus, the move to Sequoia is avoiding an estimated $7 million in capital improvements that would have been required for the five facilities to continue operations through 2018.

Integrating services, enhancing access

Providing most DHS programs and services in one place will be more efficient and offer greater convenience to DHS clients. Currently, clients who need services that are provided in different locations must commute between the locations

Sequoia Plaza, located in the 22204 zip code, is close to the areas where many DHS clients live. As of June 2014, about 45 percent of DHS's 41,300 clients live in the 22204 zip code. The location is supported by robust public transportation; with the ART 42, 45 and 77 bus lines all stopping there.

Potential land uses at former sites

The County will explore all options for future use of the DHS sites that will be vacated, and is committed to working with the community to identify the best path forward.

The Fenwick Center building was built by the County but, because the property is owned by Arlington Public Schools, future use would likely be for educational purposes.

Future use of the land occupied by Clarendon House also will be determined through a public process that will take into consideration the Clarendon Sector Plan and the fire station location study.

The Edison Complex comprises Drewry Center, George Mason Center, 1800 and 1810 Edison, and a laboratory building. In May of 2014, the Edison Complex was identified for consideration for affordable housing development within the next 10 years as part of the County's Public Land for Public Good initiative. The decision of whether affordable housing will be recommended for the site will be informed by additional analysis and the community engagement process.

All of these potential future uses would require significant planning and public processes; none has yet been identified or started. The County will initiate a community planning process for the sites at a date to be determined. We are committed to working with all stakeholders.

Lease Details:

The County will lease 72,742 square feet of new space in Sequoia Plaza, in addition to the144,740 square feet that it currently occupies there. The initial base rent for the new space will be around $2.2 million per year. The County will spend an estimated $11.6 million to improve the new space for County purposes, but the landlord will reimburse the County for $5.2 million of the cost. The lease will expire in 2030, subject to a County extension option for either five or ten years. The County will have an option to purchase the entire Sequoia Plaza complex in 2023.

To read the staff report on this item, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item #50 on the Agenda for the Recessed July County Board meeting.

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.