Arlington County Board Approves Transformative Vision for PenPlace

  • County transferring density to achieve additional community open space, recreation, amenities in Pentagon City and at Long Bridge Park
  • $15 million to help build Long Bridge Park
  • Planned streetcar station directly across from development
  • One of Arlington County's most transit-accessible sites

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today approved PenPlace, a mixed-use, phased development site plan that will bring nearly two million square feet of offices, ground floor retail businesses, a hotel and the option of up to 300 residential units to the largest parcel of undeveloped land in Pentagon City.

PenPlace, bounded by Army Navy Drive, South Fern Street, South Eads and 12th Streets, lies just north of the Metropolitan Park phased-development site plan, a 16-acre, mixed-use project that is in its fifth phase of construction. The PenPlace phased development, as proposed by Vornado/Charles E. Smith for the 10.2 acre site, would occur over many years with future development proposals going through the final site plan approval process and requiring public review and approval by the County Board.

“We are reinventing Pentagon City,” said Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada, “PenPlace is key to helping us transform this critical area of the County into a more transit-oriented, walkable, vibrant urban village. We believe that this project, coupled with other planned developments, the planned streetcar and other transportation improvements will help keep Pentagon City one of the most desirable areas in the nation to live, work and play.”

Phased Development Site Plan

The County Board took five votes on this project. The Board voted 5 to 0 to adopt and amend the ordinance to the Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP). The votes will enable the Board to consider a future secure building through the site plan review process.

The amendments allow:

  • Up to 1,809,000 square feet of office, 300 hotel units, an option for 300 residential units (in lieu of equivalent office density) and 50,000 square feet of retail.
  • Transfer of density and development rights totaling 610,951 square feet from five County-owned properties located along Long Bridge Drive; and transfer of density and development rights from the ‘Teardrop Parcel' for an additional, approximately 60,000 square feet on the Pen Place site.
  • Establishment of design guidelines for future site plans.
  • Recognition of the strategic location of the Pen Place PDSP for the possible future development of a secure facility.

The Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the phased development site plan. To read the staff reports and other documents related to this project, visit the County website. Scroll down to Item No. 58 on the Agenda for the September 21, 2013 Regular County Board Meeting.

New open space network, streets

The development will include a series of connected open spaces built in the middle as the central green area, and contiguous open space linking with the Metropolitan Park project that is approximately 1.5 and 2 acres. To keep an active presence on the site, a future community facility of up to 20,000 square feet is planned. The facility will be located on the ground floor and within steps from the central green area.

The existing superblocks between the two sites will be broken up with planned new streets and sidewalks, creating a lively, pedestrian-friendly environment. Two new east and west streets, 11th Street South and 10th Street South, and Elm Street, a new north and south street, will run through the Pen Place site.

The 12th Street South between Fern Street and Eads Street will be completed by the developer. This new roadway will become the main connection between Pentagon City and Crystal City, and will accommodate the future streetcar station. Considered the “Primary Transit” street, 12th Street South has dedicated high- frequency transit service between Pentagon City and Potomac Yards and between Columbia Pike and Pentagon City.

$15 million for Long Bridge Park

The developer is receiving additional density transferred from the development rights of County-owned Long Bridge properties. In return for the additional density, the developer is contributing $15 million to the County that will be used to help build the Long Bridge Park.

Well-served by transportation networks

Pen Place, located within the Pentagon City Metro Station Area and within walking distance of the Crystal City Metro Station, is well-served by transportation networks, including Metro; Virginia Rail Express (VRE); local and regional buses; and the I-395 HOV lanes.

A streetcar line will run directly in front of Pen Place, with a station planned for 12th Street South. The Columbia Pike streetcar line, which follows Columbia Pike to Skyline, will connect Pen Place with office, retail, and residential west of Pentagon City. The Crystal City/Potomac Yards line will connect Pen Place with Crystal City, Potomac Yards, and the Braddock Road Metro.

Maximum number of parking spaces set

The phased site plan will be the first for Arlington County stipulating maximum parking standard for commercial official space. The standard allows the developer to build fewer parking spaces; to ensure that excessive parking is not build.

A maximum of 1 space per 1,200 square feet of office/retail development is required. This would limit the potential number of spaces to a maximum of 2,000 spaces for the site, in underground parking garages. Considering that the development will be build out over a period of 15-20 years, parking demand will shift over time as more people will be using mass transit, walking or biking.

Community process

The site plan was evaluated at 25 community meetings. The Planning Commission's Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) discussed the proposal at 17 of its public meetings, starting in February 2012. The Planning Commission's Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) previously reviewed the site plan at five public meetings. The general public had additional opportunities to review the site plan at one neighborhood transportation meeting, multiple civic association meetings attended by County officials and one open house event.

Sustainable design
As part of the County's green building initiative, the developer is committed to achieving LEED Gold certification for the office buildings and LEED Silver for the hotel and residential uses. To learn more about this planned project, visit the County website; scroll down to Item 58 on the County Board Agenda to read the staff report.

The Pen Place site plan is guided by Pen Place Urban Design Guidelines and the Pentagon City Phased-Development Site Plan (PDSP), an approved framework for the redevelopment of 116 acres of obsolete industrial uses to medium-density, mixed-use developments with an abundance of retail and access to open space.

With the approved amendment of the Pentagon City (PDSP), future final site plans for each of the proposed buildings will be considered based on the current plan for coordinated mixed-use development consisting of office, residential, hotel and retail uses.

The development is consistent with the County's goal of encouraging smart growth and sustainable, walkable development within the metro corridors.

Learn more about Arlington County's current planning efforts.

Project at a Glance

Project Name

  • Pen Place


  • Vornado/Charles E. Smith




Mitch Bonanno, Vornado/Charles E. Smith

Type of Project

  • 1,809,000 square feet of office, 300 hotel units, an option for 300 residential units in lieu of equivalent office density and 50,000 square feet of retail


  • Up to 2,000 parking spaces in underground garages


  • LEED Gold for the office buildings
  • LEED Silver for the hotel


  • The site is generally bounded by Army Navy Drive to the north, S. Eads Street to the east, Metropolitan Park and the future extension of 12th Street S. to the south and S. Fern Street to the west.

Project Features

  • Three new public plazas – between 1.5 and 2 acres of contiguous open space linked with Met Park
  • Complete 12th Street with two-sided retail
  • New internal road grid to break up the superblock
  • Improved balance of uses in Pentagon City
  • Potential for secure building
  • District Energy and LEED commitments
  • Community facility within the site

Community Benefits

  • Complete 12th Street and convey to County
  • Acquire TDR's from Long Bridge Park to help fund the Improvements at Long Bridge Park
  • Convey teardrop parcel and Eads Street ROW to County for future County use
  • Provide additional Eads Street ROW for bicycle lane facilities and build new sidewalk on Eads Street
  • Engage in additional public design process for the public open space and community facility space
  • Additional community benefits and contributions that will be determined at future final site plans for each building

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.