The owner of the Arlington Towers apartments is seeking permission to convert one of the four buildings there into a hotel, a move a spokesman said is an alternative to changing it to condominium ownership.

The owner, a New York investment group, is also planning to upgrade apartments in the 1,612-unit complex.

A representative of the group, Arlington Towers Associates, said that a site plan amendment is being sought from Arlington County to convert the complex's 330-unit Washington building into a hotel. The complex is located along Arlington Boulevard near Rosslyn.

He said that many of the apartments now are occupied by short-term renters, who will be given preference when apartments become available in other buildings. The annnual turnover of units at the complex is about 40 percent, he said.

The rejuvenation of 25-year-old Arlington Towers, which was one of the first major apartment projects in the Rosslyn area, would involve millions of dollars, a spokesman for Arlington Towers Associates said. The New York investment group, headed by investor Harry Helmsley, has owned Arlington Towers since 1968.

The group plans to make the complex's Jefferson building available for short-term renters and to continue longer-term leasing at the Tyler and Madison buildings.

"This plan is an alternative to converting to condominium ownership," a move that would "make the project economically viable in this market of declining income on apartment rental buildings," a spokesman for the investors said. Minimum displacement and additional security are goals of the renovation plan, he said.