Arlington County Board Approves Mixed-Use Development on Bergmann's Dry Cleaning Plant Site

Note: This release was posted on the county website Saturday December 8. 2012, but due to a technical error was issued to subscribers on Monday December 10, 2012

  • Apartments, grocery store planned for two parcels north of Lee Highway
  • 11 affordable housing units on-site
  • LEED Gold certification
  • Contribution to support future upgrades to McCoy Park
  • Improved access, safety, visibility to Custis Trail

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved a mixed residential-retail redevelopment of the Bergmann’s dry cleaning plant site that will bring a grocery store to the neighborhood and add affordable housing on-site.

The developer plans to lease much of the ground floor retail space to the County’s first Mom’s Organic Market, a specialty grocery store.

“This development will transform an eyesore into neighborhood center,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “It embodies the goals of Smart Growth by combining new homes, including affordable units, with the neighborhood’s first grocery store and other ground floor retail, all within walking distance of Courthouse Metro.”

The County Board took five votes on this project. The board voted:

  • 5 to 0 to amend the General Land Use Plan to designate the two blocks for this planned development “Low” Office-Apartment-Hotel
  • 5 to 0 to rezone the parcels at C-O-1.5, Commercial office Building, Hotel and Apartment Districts
  • 5 to 0 to approve the site plan
  • 5 to 0 to vacate an easement for public utilities and a portion of 20th St. North
  • 5 to 0 to amend the Master Transportation Plan

Two parcels to be redeveloped

Developer McCaffrey Interests proposes redeveloping two parcels – one that holds the former dry cleaning plant and another with five single-family homes – on the north side of Lee Highway, between North Veitch Street and Interstate 66, separated by North Uhle Street. The developer earned additional density for agreeing to achieve LEED Gold certification and for providing on-site affordable housing.

The proposed development would provide the first grocery store in the North Highlands Civic Association area, home to more than 3,000 residents.

A total of up to 202 apartments are planned for the two parcels. The east block will feature a 10-story apartment building with 160 rental units. The west block will consist of a two-to-three story building with 13,257-square feet of retail, including a specialty grocery store, apartments above the retail and stacked flats ringing the parking garage.

Community Benefits

The developer has agreed to provide significant community benefits, including:

  • 11 units of on-site affordable housing committed for 30 years
  • $150,000 to the Department of Parks and Recreation for improvements to neighboring McCoy Park
  • Realignment of Custis Trail intersection with Lee Highway
  • Off-site transportation improvements, including widened and landscaped medians and pedestrian refuges (small islands in between the streets for pedestrians to stop at before crossing) in Lee Highway, a contribution of $75,000 towards a new traffic light at Lee Highway and Veitch Street, and improvements to Metro bus stops on Lee Highway and ART bus stops on 21st Street North
  • Transportation Demand Management, including providing pre-loaded SmarTrip cards or subsidized car-sharing membership to residents of the apartments and employees of the retail uses and residential management company
  • Landscaping and perpetual maintenance of VDOT-right-of-way surrounding the 10-story residential building East block.
  • Clean-up of an environmentally contaminated site

Enhancing the neighborhood

The development is just a few blocks (.43 miles) from the Courthouse Metro station, bringing a specialty grocery store within walking distance of thousands of residents. The plans call for the store to also offer a café to serve the surrounding community. The apartment building planned for the eastern parcel will be surrounded by landscaped green space, with a water fountain and secure bicycle storage.

Community outreach

The site is located in the North Highlands Civic Association area. Representatives from North Highlands and the adjacent Lyon Village Citizens Associations participated in three meetings of the County’s Long Range Planning Committee and five meetings of the Planning Commission Site Plan Review Committee. The North Highlands Civic Association voted to recommend approval of the site plan at their November 2012 meeting.

Parking plan

The parking garage provides about 242 parking spaces — more than required. Around 49 parking spaces are reserved on the top level of the parking structure for the market’s customers from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Residential parking, “unbundled” from apartment rent, will be in the lower two levels of the garage. “Unbundling” allow tenants the option of paying less if they do not park a car in the garage.

To learn more about this planned project, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item 26 on the County Board Agenda to read the staff report.

Sustainable Design

As part of the County’s green building initiative, both buildings will be designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, and will commit to the new energy efficiency and energy usage reporting criteria of the recently updated Green Building Density Incentive Policy.

The proposed development is the site of the former Bergmann’s Dry Cleaning plant that has been in operation since the 1950s. The dry cleaning operations have moved out of Arlington and the site now serves only as a dry cleaning pick-up and drop-off. The block to the east is currently developed with five single-family detached homes that were rentals and are currently vacant.

The proposed site plan is consistent with the recommendations of the Special GLUP Study for a mixed-use project that has a placemaking character that can be a center of neighborhood activity for a neighborhood that currently lacks significant retail and an identifiable center.

Placemaking involves providing a vibrant space that meets the needs and desires of a community by providing for a mix of uses, a range of affordability, improved connectivity accommodating the full range of transportation options and gathering spaces.

Learn more about Arlington County’s current planning efforts.

Project at a Glance

Project Name



McCaffery Interests


Antunovich Associates


Sara Mariska, Walsh Colucci Lubeley Emrich Walsh PC

Type of Project

Residential—202 apartment units

Retail—13,257 sf


242 garage parking spaces


LEED Gold (for all buildings)


2145 & 2147 Lee Highway

Project Features

  • 10-story apartment building with 160 rental units
  • 13,257-square-feet of retail space
  • 42 apartments and one- and two- story stacked flats

Community Benefits

  • $75,000 contribution to Public Art Fund
  • LEED Gold certification
  • 11 units of on-site affordable housing
  • A minimum of $125,000 to improve McCoy Park
  • To clean up (one time only) two (2) vacant County-owned parcels of land that are parts of returned right-of-way for I-66 but are not official parkland
  • Upgrading of Custis Trail, including redesigning/rebuilding a difficult intersection of two branches of the trail.
  • Will maintain unused VDOT right-of-way around the East Building in perpetuity.
  • Utility undergrounding
  • Wider sidewalks and street trees on eight (8) street frontages.
  • Improved crosswalks around site, including the installation of nubs to reduce crossing distance
  • Transportation Demand Management
  • Secure bicycle storage
  • Off-site transportation improvements including widened medians in Lee Highway and upgraded bus stop pads

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.