The Oliver Carr Co.'s plans to build three eight-story office buildings near the 14th Street bridge, stalled after 10 months of fruitless talks between the developer and Arlington planners, will not be considered by the County Board before November, board members agreed yesterday.
The board's move was the latest in a series of delays for the proposed project, which would be built on the 7.1-acre site formerly occupied by the Twin Bridges Marriott hotel.
Board members put off consideration of the proposal to allow more talks between Carr representatives, county planners and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The state agency is involved because the project could require a new interchange off Interstate 395.
Arlington also is conducting a study of development and transportation along the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor, and board members want to see some of the results before deciding on the Carr plan.
The Carr proposal has raised so many concerns involving land use, roads and airport noise and safety that some county officials and staff members say they are beginning to wonder whether any development is suitable for the tract at Old Jefferson Davis Highway and Boundary Channel Drive.
"There are a lot of problems with this site," said Arlington planner Thomas H. Miller. "From a professional planning standpoint, sometimes it can be hard to justify anything being there."
The county's development guidelines call for the land, which is about 800 feet from the north end of National Airport's main runway, to be used for residential or hotel purposes, or possibly for projects that would mix office space with retail stores. combination of office space and retail store projects. But Carr attorney Art Walsh, who calls the tract "the noisiest in the county," has argued that the land is unsuitable for much of anything beyond office space.
"Realistically, no one's going to go down there to shop, and we can't get financing for any kind of residential use there," Walsh said.
County planners, who fear that changing development guidelines to allow the Carr project would encourage other apartment and hotel owners with buildings in National's flight path to build more office space, say they want a higher percentage of retail than Carr has proposed.
The Carr plan would include about 450,000 square feet of office space and 8,800 square feet of retail space.
"The developer is trying to use the noise issue as an excuse to change the land use plan," said Mary Dabinett, president of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association. "I don't think that's justifiable."
Although the Federal Aviation Administration and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority are not opposed to the Carr plan, the Air Line Pilots Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association say the project could add to safety problems in an already difficult flight corridor. The project "would constitute a genuine hazard to air navigation," Douglas C. Macnair of the aircraft owners group said in a letter to the County Board.
"This project has a lot of hurdles to hop over," said County Board Chairman Albert C. Eisenberg, who said he also has begun to wonder whether anything should be built on the tract.