The Arlington County Board delayed action yesterday on a massive office-residential complex planned in the heart of Ballston, agreeing to combine a review of that project with consideration of a similar proposal nearby because both would have enormous impact on the area.
At issue yesterday was a plan for the $200 million Stafford Place complex of four 13-story office-retail buildings and two 23-story residential buildings in a two-block area bounded by Wilson Boulevard, North Stuart, North Ninth and North Randolph streets. It is being developed by Ballston Square Associates, a local consortium headed by Paul V. Cali.
One block to the north, Giuseppe Cecchi's International Developers Inc. plans a $75 million complex on top of the Ballston Metro stop that would consist of a 27-story hotel-residential building and a 13-story office building.
That block is bordered by Fairfax Drive and North Stuart, North Stafford and North Ninth streets.
"We'd really be missing an opportunity if we didn't take a look at this project with the project next door," said board member Ellen M. Bozman, who requested a delay on the Cali project until the board's Jan. 4 meeting, when Cecchi's project is scheduled for action.
"We're better served getting the answers to questions about both plans rather than . . . ending up with something we'll regret 20 years later," said board member Albert C. Eisenberg, noting that the plans "will alter the face of Ballston."
Each project would be built under zoning created to encourage the revitalization of the Ballston Metro stop area.
The zoning requires that at least half the building space be residential and gives the board the option of granting extra density if developers include facilities to benefit the public.
Cali has proposed upper-story, covered pedestrian bridges linking his Stafford Place project with Cecchi's and with the Ballston Common shopping center under construction across Wilson Boulevard at the other end of Stafford Place. In return, he seeks an extra 60,000 square feet of building space in his 1.5 million-square-foot project.
Martin D. Walsh, Cali's attorney, said he assumed that the board would not require the bridges if it does not grant the extra density.
Board members said they want to study proposals for more public open space in the project and the potential widening of Wilson Boulevard from six to seven lanes in the area, with landscaping to give the street a "boulevard" effect.
Kathy Freshley, a Ballston resident who said she considered the project "very handsome," suggested that Cali and Cecchi be required to pay for a 1.5-acre park in a block straddling their sites in return for any extra building density. Other speakers yesterday supported that proposal, which would cost an estimated $6 million.
Board members generally praised both projects yesterday. "In my view," said Chairman John G. Milliken, "this is a great project and will be a very positive part of the new Arlington downtown."