The Arlington County Board cleared the way yesterday for the redevelopment of the 38-year-old Shirlington Shopping Center into a $250 million complex of shops, offices, residences and a hotel to be built by the Oliver T. Carr Co., Washington's largest developer.
The board unanimously approved the phased development of the 25-acre South Arlington site just off I-395 near the Alexandria line. The development is expected to take about a decade. The property is divided into five parcels, the development of each of which must be separately approved by the board.
Although there were concerns expressed by citizens about traffic congestion, the Carr proposal has been enthusiastically welcomed by area residents who have long awaited the revitalization of the aging shopping center located in the midst of an area that has been rapidly transforming into an upwardly mobile, affluent community of luxury town houses and condominiums.
It is this market that the Carr Co. hopes to attract to the new shopping center, dubbed "The Village at Shirlington," with its planned 490 residential units, county and company officials have said. The residential buildings, bordering S. Randolph Street which will be moved slightly, could be either condominiums or rental apartments ranging from eight to 16 stories.
The Shirlington plan also calls for a 14-story, 300-room hotel at the intersection of Arlington Mill Drive and S. Quincy Street; 570,000 square feet of office space in buildings that could range from eight to 10 stories; 428,000 square feet of retail space, most of it along S. 28th Street in the heart of the project; and 2,970 parking spaces.
"This is not going to be a Tysons Corner or a Landmark," Martin D. Walsh, the attorney representing the Carr Co., told the board. "The space is simply not big enough. This is going to be a local shopping center and that's what we've designed the uses for."
Carr reinforced that intention, telling the board that he wants to encourage a proposed bike trail through the area, keep the existing post office and allow for such neighborhood-oriented facilities as grocery and drug stores.
Carr, who is involved in two other planned developments in Arlington, one at the Western Pocahontas tract off Washington Boulevard and Glebe Road and the other at Parkington at Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard, said the retail stores will be the first refurbished.
"We expect the first phase to generate new interest in the [Shirlington] center because of the difference in quality," Carr said outside the board room yesterday. "We're anticipating no problems whatsoever and we expect no delays [securing] money."
The Best Products Co., now the center's largest store, would remain as the anchor store, and some of the existing retail stores may also stay. New convenience stores along Arlington Mill Drive, in back of the stores fronting S. 28th Street, also are expected.