Plans were unveiled this week for a 13-story office building at Duke Street and Shirley Highway in Alexandria on land now occupied by the Thrift Family Inn.
The Skypointe building will include 360,000 square feet of office space and 30,000 square feet of retail space, three stories of underground parking for 800 cars and 100 parking spaces at grade level, according to Fairfax County developer James Burch. Burch will be developing the project in partnership with GAF Cos. of Atlanta.
The Skypointe site is considered ripe for redevelopment because it is near other commercial property and is inside the Beltway. The site is across Breckinridge Street from Virginia Plaza Shopping Center, which includes Marshall's Inc. and the Hecht Co. warehouse sale center, across Shirley Highway from Landmark Shopping Center and close to the Fairfax-Alexandria border.
Because the site is near Duke Street, Little River Turnpike and Shirley Highway, developers said it is one of the prime remaining close-in office areas. "Travel time to the Pentagon, National Airport, Crystal City, Alexandria, Arlington, downtown Washington and the Capital Beltway is only a matter of minutes," Burch said.
The building, which will have a skin of reflective glass, will be 150 feet high. "It will have three peaks in the roof line to break up the mass," Burch said. Those peaks will be lighted at night to increase the drama of the building, he said, adding that he is considering installing laser beams in some of the notches in the building facade to highlight the building's appearance at night.
Skypointe will have a single three-story lobby, but each wing will have smaller lobbies. Burch said that will allow major corporate tenants to have their own lobbies leading to their operations.
Kim Kristoff of Pace Group, a McLean-based architectural firm, designed the building.
Plans also call for a large fountain as the centerpiece of a triangular-shaped plaza on the Shirley Highway side of the project, Burch said.
The site is zoned C-2, with an allowable floor area ratio (FAR) of 3.0, which would permit construction of 388,324 square feet of office space -- more than Burch and GAF plan for Skypointe. FAR refers to the amount of space that can be constructed based on the square footage of the land area. Although a 3.0 FAR is considered low in the District, it is virtually unheard of in Fairfax County, where developers struggle to get approval for FAR levels above 1.0.