A $200 million high-rise residential and hotel complex, made possible when homeowners seeking to cash in on a development bonanza consolidated 21 lots near the Court House Metro station, was approved yesterday by the Arlington County Board.
The vote was 4 to 1, with board member Ellen M. Bozman dissenting. Bozman said she was "worried that this is going to be a castle on the hill" because the three-building complex will tower over other high-rises and nearby single-family homes downhill from it.
"In this area, we should be doing a lot more tapering away from the Metro stations than we are," she said, referring to the county's requirement that buildings near a Metro stop decrease in height as they approach single-family residential areas.
The board's four other members said that concessions made by the developer, the Alexandria-based Robert M. Stein and Associates, persuaded them because the project will include amenities for the handicapped and families and will fall below the heights and densities approved for the site.
The complex, to be known as Arlington Place, will be on a 5.5-acre tract bounded by North Courthouse Road and North 13th, 14th, Wayne and Veitch streets.
It was the second time that a group of Arlington homeowners who united to maximize their profits from a package land deal won board approval. Collectively, they received an estimated $10 million, or double the assessments on their land and 50-year-old houses.
The windfall prompted so many other neighborhoods to try consolidations that the board put residents on notice last year that it will not approve similar requests coming from neighborhoods that have not already been targeted for high-rise development.
The project approved yesterday calls for a 15-story hotel, a 20-story residential building initially planned to be 22 stories, and a 14-story residential building originally planned for 18 stories. All the buildings would taper or scale down to lower heights as they approach the single-family neighborhood.
Tentative plans call for one of the residential buildings to be a condominium and the other a rental. There would be 6,400 square feet of retail space in one of the residential buildings and 32,435 square feet in the hotel.
In response to requests from board member Albert C. Eisenberg, Robert F. Sheridan, the developer's representative, said the firm will modify units to accommodate the handicapped and will not bar families with children.
Jeff Zinn, a former president of the Courtlands Civic Association, said the neighborhood was pleased that the developer had agreed to scale down the size of the project and meet other community concerns.
The owners of the 21 lots that the Stein firm is buying were originally part of another group of residents who united to sell their homes. Those selling to Stein held out for more money and got about $60 a square foot, or $23 more than their neighbors.
The first group sold its properties to the Courchevel Corp., and the project was approved by the County Board in January 1985. Those homeowners, many of whom had already bought new houses in anticipation of the sale, filed suit against Courchevel in February when the firm failed to settle. Construction has not begun.