A proposal by the Oliver Carr Co. to build a hotel, office building and garage on part of its Village at Shirlington development in Arlington has come under fire from nearby residents who want the developer to promise that a grocery store will be included in the project.
The Carr Co. proposal, which redraws part of the firm's original plan for this section of the development, was approved unanimously last week by the Planning Commission. The commission decided to ask the company to make good-faith efforts to find a grocery store willing to locate in the development but did not make the grocery store a requirement.
The commission's actions are advisory. The plan comes before the county board Saturday.
Originally, there were no plans for an office building on the site, bounded by Arlington Mill Drive, S. Quincy Street, S. 28th Street, and Shirlington Road and I-395. The company now proposes to put a six-story office building there with a 299-unit hotel and a parking garage connecting the two buildings.
In return, the firm proposes to reduce the size of the office buildings proposed for an adjoining parcel of land. All the parcels of land are within the Village at Shirlington development near the Alexandria border.
A grocery store had been planned for this part of the Village at Shirlington and representatives of neighborhood groups in the area want the county to require a store.
Jim J. Goetz, president of the tenants association at the nearby 437-unit Shirlington House apartments, said a grocery store in the development would be a particular boon to many of the elderly residents in his apartment complex. "We have people who cannot drive," said Goetz in a telephone interview.
Presentations by the Carr Co. led residents to believe "that there was definitely going to be a food market down there," Goetz said. In correspondence with the county and in testimony before the Planning Commission, representatives of the Carr Co. said the firm is committed to providing a grocery store but has had difficulty in finding a tenant.
One grocery signed a lease but then backed out. The firm has offered rental rates below what it charges other types of stores, development manager Michael Dzaman said in a letter to the commission.
Dzaman also said several grocery markets already are in the immediate Shirlington area.
Nearby residents also expressed concerns that the plan's design would create traffic problems. Edward R. Hilz, chairman of the Fairlington-Shirlington Neighborhood Conservation Committee, said an exit off Shirlington Road would add to congestion and be dangerous. The commission voted to allow the exit but suggested it be closed if it poses a danger.