County Board Approves Changes to Ames Center Development in Rosslyn

The north tower over the Arlington Temple United Methodist Church and Sunoco gas station at 1820 N. Fort Myer Drive (via Arlington County)

The Arlington County Board approved changes at its Tuesday meeting to an already approved project for two residential towers in Rosslyn.

And the changes — including larger apartment sizes and a work-from-home space — reflect a trend toward larger layouts and more remote-work amenities in new projects in Arlington. Analysts and area developers attribute these kinds of tweaks to changing preferences during the pandemic.

Arlington-based Snell Properties is working on two towers at 1820 N. Fort Myer Drive that would replace the Ames Center office building across from the Rosslyn Metro station. A south tower will abut the Hyatt Centric hotel and a north tower will surround, and preserve, the existing Arlington Temple United Methodist Church and Sunoco gas station, dubbed “Our Lady of Exxon.”

The Board’s vote allows to convert about 3,000 square feet of “flex” commercial office space into residential space. Snell can also move forward with a plan to cut eight apartment units, from 740 to 732, and eight parking spots, from 574 to 566, and some design revisions.

The Board unanimously approved the changes — citing support from neighboring civic associations and apartment buildings — despite a plea from a lawyer representing the Hyatt Centric hotel.

“We are worried about the deterioration of the intersection with Wilson Blvd, but most significantly, we are worried about the digging at the foundation of the Hyatt,” said Gifford Hampshire, of Blankingship & Keith, who represents the owner of the Hyatt.

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District supported the changes, the report said.

“The proposed second-floor residential amenity space and various interior/exterior design enhancements are aligned with the Rosslyn Sector Plan’s guidance and reflective of the community’s feedback,” it said.

Snell will contribute 24 units and $2.5 million in cash toward affordable housing. Additionally, it will contribute $5 million to the Fort Myer Drive tunnel project, which includes plans to convert the road into a two-way street, remove the tunnel, widen sidewalks and add protected bike lanes.

A cement plaza will separate the two towers and form one segment of a planned pedestrian pathway. This street-level walkway will replace the existing, elevated passages. Mid-block crosswalks will join the plaza to 18th Street N.

The towers will share four levels of below-grade parking and the south tower will have four levels of above-grade parking.

The south building will be built in phase one, along with an interim open space and other streetscape improvements. The north tower, the plaza and remaining streetscape improvements will be built in the second phase.

A layout of the pedestrian plaza and corridor at 1820 N. Fort Myer Drive (via Arlington County)