Image: MTFA Architecture Incorporation via Arlington County
A proposal to alter an approved but old site plan on Wilson Blvd. was deeply criticized and postponed by county board members Tuesday night. The applicant, Otter Wilson Boulevard, LLC, was a bit stymied Tuesday night during the county’s recessed board meeting Oct. 24.
“We are asking for guidance and help on where to go with this,” said Jonathan C. Kinney, the applicant’s attorney. “We think we are close but we want to know where you are.”
The proposed eight-story, Clean Technology Center building next to Lyon Village and adjacent to the Key Elementary school seeks to alter designs to a site plan approved in 1989 but never built.
The original and approved site plan called for a seven story office building but the current plan modifies many of the former plan’s features. Most noticeably and the source of much of the criticism are alterations to the building’s height, 23 feet taller than the original.
To appease critics, the architects designed the north side of the building to taper from the highest stories along Wilson Blvd. to the lowest walls facing the single-family homes in Lyon Village. This is to make the building less intrusive looking and overbearing to the residential zones.
Arlington County Board Chairman Mary Hynes said that the design of the building needs to be more than aesthetically appealing and should reflect on the feelings of the people who live around it.
Board member Walter Tejada suggested that instead of having the building go up, why not go out into the park more.
“Extending the building into open space is not favorable,” said Board Member Jay Fisette. Others on the board agreed with him.
The developer is asking for bonus density on the building and is offering community benefits to compensate. Density is the measure of how much floor space is available for occupation on a parcel of land. The higher the building’s density, the larger the building can be built. Sometimes bonus density is awarded to a particular site, but the county then asks for the developer to build amenities, such as parks, or to pay into the Affordable Housing Investment Fund.
The newly proposed building doubles the amount of space for a child care center in the original design, has a conference center for public and business use and is LEED certified for environmental and energy construction. Also, the applicant will contribute money to Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund should the site gain approval.