Civic Association Newsletter

April/May 1997 - Volume 20, No. 6


The Arlington County Board Meeting Agenda for Saturday, April 26, 1997, lists under Item 8, Request to Advertise, a request to advertise a zoning ordinance amendment to Section 25A. "COA" for public hearing at the Planning Commission meeting of May 27, 1997 and at the County Board meeting of June 7, 1997.

Although the County Manager Recommendation was not available at the time of publication of this Newsletter, the Association obtained from staff a memorandum on the intent of the proposed change. Staff has advised that the information in this memorandum is expected to change for the County advertisement.



March 20, 1997

TO: Zoning Ordinance Review Committee

FROM: Terry Russell, Planning Commission Coordinator

SUBJECT: Ballston "C-O-A" District, Zoning Ordinance Amendment to Treat Hotel Use the Same as Residential Use.

Property owners and developers in the Ballston "C-O-A" District have recently asked whether the County Board will take a look at changing the way hotel use is regulated in "C-O-A". I would like to take a few minutes at the March 27, 1997 Zoning Ordinance Review Subcommittee meeting to discuss a Zoning Ordinance Amendment which may respond to this issue. The following is some background information on this topic and potential amended language.

The Ballston Sector Plan, adopted by the County Board in May 1980, established Central Ballston as the high density, high rise core of the Ballston Station Area. The area bounded by Wilson Boulevard, North Glebe Road, Fairfax Drive and North Quincy Street was designated the "Coordinated Mixed Use Development District" on the General Land Use Plan. A new zoning district "C-O-A" was created to facilitate the redevelopment and the area was rezoned to "C-O-A". The Zoning Ordinance SECTION 25A."C-O-A" COMMERCIAL, OFFICE AND APARTMENT DISTRICT provided that the County Board may approve Site Plans for mixed use office, retail, hotel and residential developments up to a maximum density of 6.0 FAR (Floor Area Ratio). In order to ensure that Central Ballston would have a mix of uses that would include an appropriate amount of apartments, "C-O-A" allows office, retail, and hotel use up to a maximum of 3.0 FAR plus an additional 3.0 for apartments for a total maximum density of 6.0 FAR. Site Plans which are 90 percent committed to apartment use may receive an additional one-half (0.5) FAR which may be used for apartment, commercial or office use.

Since 1980, much of Central Ballston has been developed into high rise mixed use developments. The goals for office and apartment development have been met. Approximately 2.9 million square feet of office space and 2500 apartments have been developed. One hotel has been developed with a total of 210 rooms.

The development community has recently expressed an interest in developing hotels in Ballston in mixed used developments with office and retail uses but no apartment component.

A study of hotel resources throughout the County has shown that Ballston is under served. Major firms have expressed concern over the lack of availability of hotel rooms. NSF and LCI estimate that they each generate in excess of 15,000 room nights per year or roughly 25% of the weekday capacity for all existing hotels in the area. The development community sees the continued lack of hotel construction as a drawback to attracting additional office users to the area.

Currently, the economics of hotel development cap the cost of hotel land in Ballston at around $17.00 per FAR foot. This compares favorably with the $11 to $13 per square foot cost of recent high rise residential land sales in the Corridor. However, with office commercial land prices have been approximately $25.00 per square foot. It is difficult for hotel use to compete with office development with this difference in value. Representatives of the development community have suggested that treating hotel as a residential use in "C-O-A" would offer the necessary incentive to develop hotels. It has been noted that there is relatively little property in the "C-O-A" district left to develop, therefore a change would not effect many develop sites.


The purpose of the "C-O-A" District classification is to encourage a coordinated mixed-use development of office, apartment and hotel use in the vicinity of metro-rail stations. To be eligible for the classification, a site, or a major portion of a site, shall be located within an area designated for "coordinated mixed use development" on the general land use plan. Determination as to the actual types and densities of uses to be allowed will be based on the characteristics of individual sites and on the need for community facilities, open space and landscaped areas, circulation and utilities.

The following regulations shall apply in the "C-O-A" District:*

*Note--For supplemental regulations, see Section 31.

A. Uses Permitted.

1. All uses as permitted and regulated in the "C-2" District, except that the following shall not be permitted:

a. Automotive painting, upholstering, rebuilding, reconditioning, body and fender work, truck repairing and overhauling and the like.

b. Car wash.

c. Motor vehicle sales or storage lots.

d. Plumbing or sheet metal shops.

e. Public garage.

f. Drive-in restaurant.

B. Special Exceptions.

1. By site plan approval: Office, apartment, hotel and commercial development at the following densities: (This section under construction.) a. On sites with more area than five thousand (5,000) square feet and less area than twenty thousand (20,000) square feet which do not have the precise number of square feet shown on the chart above, the F.A.R. shall be the F.A.R. allowed for the next smaller site as shown on the chart plus .0001 maximum total F.A.R. for each additional square foot of site area. The maximum office, and commercial F.A.R. to be added for each square foot shall be .00005. On sites with more than twenty thousand (20,000) square feet and less area than eighty thousand (80,000) square feet which do not have the precise number of square feet shown on the chart above, the F.A.R. shall be the F.A.R. allowed for the next smaller site shown on the chart plus .00005 maximum total F.A.R. for each additional square foot of site area. The maximum office, and commercial F.A.R. to be added for each square foot shall be .000025.

b. To encourage the development of apartments and hotels, an additional one-half (1/2) F.A.R. may be approved within any project that is at least ninety (90) percent committed to apartment or hotel use. The additional one-half (1/2) F.A.R. may be used for apartment, hotel, commercial or office use.

c. Height Limit: No building, nor the enlargement of any building, including penthouse height and/or height of parapet walls, shall be hereafter erected to exceed the following height: (This section under construction.)

(1) an apartment structure shall be any building with a minimum of thirty (30) percent of the gross floor area in apartment use.

d. Landscaping: A minimum of ten (10) percent of the total site area is required to be landscaped open space in accordance with the requirements of Section 32A, "Landscaping."

e. Automobile parking and loading space.

(1) One (1) off-street parking space shall be provided for each dwelling unit.

(2) One (1) parking space for each five hundred thirty (530) square feet of commercial or office space, provided that one (1) parking space for each five hundred eighty (580) square feet of commercial or office space shall be required in projects with associated apartment use.

(3) One (1) parking space for each hotel unit.

(4) Off-street loading spaces for all permitted uses shall be provided as specified in Section 33.

f. Signs as regulated in Section 34, subsection C.1.a. and C.2.a.

g. Site plans are required to be approved as provided for in Section 36, subsection H, except that under no circumstances shall the height of any building exceed the height limits established in paragraph B.1.c. by more than thirty (30) feet.

2. The boundaries of this district shall be fixed by amendment of the zoning map at such time in the future as the district is applied to specific properties in the county.

3. Apartment uses approved by the County Board prior to May 17, 1997 shall not be converted to hotel use.

The Association has invited Terry Russell, Planning Commission Coordinator for Arlington County, to make a presentation on the proposed zoning ordinance amendment for "COA" at our Wednesday, April 30, 1997, Membership Meeting, at the Arlington Hotel, 2nd Floor Conference Rooms, above the Ballston Metro Station. If you have any questions or comments about this proposed change, we invite you to bring them to our Membership Meeting. This item is scheduled for presentation from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

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