This year will be one of change for Colonial Village, the 45-year-old garden apartment complex on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington.

Gregory Friess, vice president of Colonial Village, Inc., a Mobil subsidiary, says he hopes condominium conversion will start later this year, almost two years after the Arlington County Board approved the rezoning that cleared the way for Colonial Village's development plans. Construction of high-rise office buildings is scheduled tentatively to begin in the first half of 1982.

Plans call for 212 of the 1,095 units in the complex to be converted into condominiums, which will look the same from the outside as they do now, and for 760,000 square feet of office space to be built. The remaining units will be kept as rental units, with the possibility of them also being converted in the next several years.

Cindy Flood, assistant to the vice president of marketing for Colonial Village Inc., estimates the cost of the completed condominiums will be $50,000 for a one-bedroom and $70,000 for a two-bedroom. Currently, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the complex is $265 per month.

The development "obviously will reduce the number of rentals" available, Flood said.

To help ease the loss of moderate rental apartments, Colonial Village Inc. has offered the Arlington Housing Corp. 75 rental units and the Colonial Village Tenant Association 74 units for purchase, Friess said, to "keep moderate housing available" in Arlington.

Colonial Village will maintain for five years 585 units (more than half the total number of units in the complex) as moderate-cost housing for those who cannot buy into the development. One hundred of those units will be kept for rental an additional 10 years. The starting date on these time allotments was Dec. 12, 1979, the day the rezoning was approved.

"We shall never displace anyone who lived here on the day that the rezoning was approved," Friess claimed.

Colonial Village was purchased by Mobil in October 1977 from its original owner, Gustave Ring.

The complex, built in 1935 and located near the Courthouse stop on Metro's orange line, was the first garden apartment complex to be federally insured and was also a forerunner of planned residential communities with off-street buildings and sidewalks.

Last December, it was given historic designation by the Interior Department.