The Charles E. Smith Building Corporation, which opened the first Crystal City high rise in 1964, is considering an expansion of the complex along Rt. 1 in South Arlington. The development is sometimes referred to as Airport City.
The expansion would be undertaken with Metro in mind.
The Smith Corporation has tenative plans to build 12 more high-rise towers east of the current Crystal City development, which is between 15th and 23rd streets in Arlington.
"This is just a maybe; it's at least three years away," said Robert H. Smith, president of the Smith Building Corp. "We are negotiating 50 acres of land with the RF and P Railroad."
That development would be built on land owned by the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, just east of Crystal City and west of the Potomac River.
Airport City would contain much more hotel and convention space and would focus on the needs of private business, Smith said.
"Any new development would take advantage of National Airport and Metro being close by," he said. "With hotel and convention space we could hold such things as merchandise marts and other events geared to private business."
With Metro, there would be fewer parking facilities needed; all the new buildings would be connected to Metro by underground tunnels, as the Crystal City buildings on the east side of Rt. 1 are now.
John J. Newbauer, RF and P railroad vice president, said: "There have only been discussions on and off for a number of years about Airport City. There are a number of complications keeping that (the railroad) property in limbo.
"We have enjoyed good relations with the Smith Corporation. We would hope something could be worked out to both companies' benefit."
Newbauer said the uncertain status of expanding a portion of Rt. 1 in front of Crystal City into 1-595, the "extreme expenditure of relocating the railroad tracks further east toward the river" and an ongoing conflict over the value of the railroad yard are among complications that have kept Smith's expansion plans in the discussion stage.
Newbauer said the Virginia State Corporation Commission has assessed the 50-acre railroad lot being considered for Smith expansion at about $350,000 an acre. He said the railroad believes its value to be "not more than 25 per cent of that."
"Things are still only being discussed," Newbauer said. "But certainly Metro makes Crystal City more feasible for mor development."
In addition to Airport City, Smith plans to build thee more high rises on property the corporation owns on the west side of Rt. 1 near the Crytal Houses and Crystal Towers apartment buildings.