The Arlington County Board today approved a plan to add 819 new housing units, two new public parks and a small amount of ground floor retail space to Crystal City’s 17-acre Crystal Houses site. The developer will convey a part of the site to the County that can provide at least 105,000 square feet of gross floor area for affordable housing.
Developer Roseland Residential’s Crystal Houses project will add four new apartment buildings and three rows of townhouses along the edges of the two-block site at 1900 S. Eads St., which already includes two 12-story apartment buildings.
“This redevelopment gives us a unique opportunity to increase Arlington’s inventory of affordable housing by deeding to the County valuable real estate in the heart of transit-accessible Crystal City,” Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey said. “The combination of affordable and market-rate housing, much-needed parkland and greater walkability along S. Eads Street that this redevelopment will provide will enhance the urban fabric of this neighborhood in a manner consistent with the Crystal City Sector Plan.”
The Board voted unanimously to adopt a rezoning, a site plan amendment and a new site plan for the site. To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 42 on the agenda for the Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019 Regular County Board Meeting.
To justify their request for additional density sought under the sector plan, and in lieu of providing on-site committed affordable housing units, the developer is conveying a portion of their site, along with their approval to build a seven-story building on it, to the County for affordable housing purposes. The conveyance will allow for significantly more affordable housing to be built on the site than called for in the Crystal City Sector Plan. The developer also will contribute nearly $1.65 million to the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.
The new buildings will achieve Gold Certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system.
New public parks
The public park space is more than what is recommended in the sector plan for the site. One .8-acre public park will be located at the intersection of S. Eads Street and 20th Street N. The park was largely planned during an earlier site plan review process for the site and will contain a multi-use lawn; play area; games; pathways; seating and planting areas. A .6-acre park, at the corner of 22nd Street S. and S. Fern Street will include casual use space, a dog run and a small area of fruit-bearing trees.
The developer will plant 359 new trees to mitigate the loss of 230 existing trees on the site. Street trees will be added on nearly all the project frontages.
Buildings tapering to neighborhood
The new buildings will taper down in height and scale westward toward the Aurora Highlands neighborhood. The developer will build a protected bike lane on the S. Eads Street frontage, and another off-site protected bike lane on S. Eads Street between 18th Street S. and 15th Street S. The site will have 62 surface parking spaces between buildings or along internal driveways, not visible from public streets and open spaces.
The existing Crystal Houses buildings were developed in 1961.
Reviewed at four Site Plan Review Committee meetings. It was also reviewed by the Transportation, Housing and Planning Commissions. The County’s Park and Recreation Commission participated in the SPRC process.