WETA-TV and WETA-FM, whose television and radio operations are scattered throughout the metropolitan area, plan to consolidate most of their operations in Arlington, station officials said yesterday.
Ward Chamberlin, president of Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association, Inc., which operates the two public, nonprofit stations, said that the consolidation will depend upon the county's approval of a $2 million industrial revenue bond for the purchase and renovation of a warehouse in South Arlington.
County Board Chairman Ellen M. Bozman said she believes the board will authorize the county's industrial development authority to sell the tax-free bonds when the board meets on Saturday.
"There are obvious advantages for them, and obvious advantages to Arlington, to have WETA in Arlington," she said, explaining that WETA "is a nonprofit organization which has to watch its dollars and raise money from the community. Without this bond issue , it might make it more difficult for them to move to Arlington."
Chamberlin said that, while WETA would have preferred to place all of its operations and 225 employes in the District, "we were unable to find a proposition that was financially feasible.
"The rent is higher in Washington and the relocation costs would have been enormous," he said, estimating that consolidating all operations in the District would have cost up to $5 million.
WETA's board of trustees voted in February to move its 55-to-60-member administrative offices, located in L'Enfant Plaza in the District, and its WETA-FM radio station at North 19th Road in Arlington, to one central area with its TV studios, located at 3620 S. 27th Street in Shirlington.
A warehouse in Shirlington, adjacent to the TVstudios, was selected. The station currently rents about 8,000 square feet of space in the 26,000-square-foot warehouse and has a lease for its television studios that runs until 1995.
"In the last month or so, after our board of trustees made the decision that we should move into Shirlington, the District government got very interested in this situation," Chamberlin said. "Frankly, we hadn't been able to find much interest in the District in the past four or five years...So we're going ahead with Shirlington."
The broadcast corporation will maintain an office with a staff of eight to 10 persons at Dupont Circle in Washington for downtown meetings, Chamberlin said.
He said that Shirlington will be convenient for the Washington officials who appear on "The MacNeil-Lehrer Report," produced by WETA, "since the studios will be a straight shot across the 14th Street bridge from Capitol Hill."
The Shirlington area, off Shirley Highway (I-395) in South Arlington, is the site of a proposed $250 million renovation by the Oliver T. Carr Co.
"We've been following the development plan with great interest, since we'll be a property owner there, and are enthusiastic about" it, Chamberlin said.