The Oliver T. Carr Co., one of this area's largest developers, has withdrawn from plans to build a nine-story office building as part of the $100 million redevelopment of the the aging Parkington Shopping Center in Arlington.
John D. Moore, vice president for development of May Centers Inc., which owns the 14-acre mall site, said that redevelopment plans for the project have been revamped to include a third department store in addition to more than 100 retail shops. A Hecht Co. store, owned by the May Centers, is currently at the mall and will remain an anchor store there.
The project, which will be known as "Ballston Common," will be built along Wilson Boulevard between North Randolph Street and Glebe Road, a block from the Ballston Metro stop.
"We're very supportive of the project," Stephen Bralower, Carr's vice president for marketing, said. " But this was all subject to our working out all the details of our relationship and we weren't successful."
Ballston, an area of older homes and small, struggling businesses in the center of Arlington, is a focus of the county's plans for massive redevelopment. The revitalization of the 32-year-old Parkington Center, the first shopping center in Northern Virginia, is viewed as a major effort to regain retail opportunities that have been lost over the years to malls farther out in the suburbs.
Moore said he expects to announce at a news conference today that a national development firm will be a new partner with May Centers in the construction of the shopping mall and a 12-story office building. He said that negotiations are continuing with another prospective partner, who would take over the Parkington building project abandoned by Carr.
Moore said there are no agreements yet for construction of a planned third office building. Plans for development of a parcel of land on the southeastern part of the tract also will be unveiled today, he said.
Bralower said last week that the Carr company intends to meet its other building commitments in both in the District and in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
The company's Virginia commitments include mixed office-residential-retail projects such as the $250 million renovation of the 31-acre Shirlington Shopping Center off I-395 and the $150 million development of the 9.8-acre Pocahontas tract at Glebe Road and Washington Boulevard, both in Arlington, and construction of a $52 million office-retail building opposite the King Street Metro stop in Alexandria.
In Maryland, Carr is developing the Clark Building at Old Georgetown Road and Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. In Washington, which is experiencing the most acute glut of office space in the area, Carr has just finished the Metropolitan Square office building on 14th Street between F and G streets NW and is in the midst of building the West End office building at 1255 23rd St. NW. Next week, the city's urban renewal agency is expected to approve the firm as the major developer of the Metro Center urban renewal project in downtown Washington. Carr also has plans to refurbish the Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Any developer who has so many projects going in an area at once, especially with the office market in the District as it is, would think twice," said Diana Wahl of Arlington's economic development office.
Carr "has to pick and choose among his priorities--especially when you consider he's got one project right across the street at the Pocahontas tract. Since he's planning to move ahead with it, it probably would be self-defeating to compete" with another Carr project a half-mile away at Parkington, she said..
Anton S. Gardner, the county's budget chief, who has been negotiating for the county with May, said the firm "has been going through some redesigning efforts and have configured the project somewhat differently than before.
"From our point of view, this is very positive and includes some of the changes we've been encouraging them to make for some period of time . . . . Things will still be on track. But this is better and more exciting from our point of view and the commitment from the company is even stronger."
The county has not yet sold a $25 million in bonds to pay its share of the Parkington renovation and for expansion of a parking garage there, Gardner said.