- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Arlington County community of Clarendon is undergoing a real estate makeover that will speed its evolution as a workplace in addition to being a place to live and shop.

Clarendon sits in the middle of a Virginia suburban corridor that runs from Rosslyn to Ballston. Rising rents in downtown Washington have made new office projects in the suburbs attractive to developers.

“Both ends of that corridor have seen a lot of development,” said Steve Cohen, real estate director for development company Opus East. “First Rosslyn, then Ballston. Clarendon has an opportunity just like those other two.”

Last month, the Arlington County Board adopted the final phase of a development plan for Clarendon that is based on the Urban Village theme.

More recently, planners for Arlington Economic Development released a market report that calls for 1.1 million square feet of new office space.

The office space would be mixed with projects that combine residential and retail space with broad open areas.

Unlike Rosslyn and Ballston, the plan proposed by Arlington economic planners would avoid high-rise office towers. Instead, it would strive for more low-rise and midrise buildings.

“The Clarendon sector plan is not predicated on allowing the highest and best use of each parcel,” the report says. “It imposes some development constraints in order to promote a broader public vision of Clarendon.”

Several projects already approved or under construction in Arlington fit the model county officials seek for Clarendon.

Among them is Clarendon Center, which consists of two office buildings, one conventional and a second one with 70,000 square feet for offices surrounded by residences.

Another one is Station Square at Clarendon, which offers about 86,000 square feet of office and retail condominium space as part of a bigger mixed-use project.

A third example is the Phoenix at Clarendon Metro, a mixed-use project with 75,000 square feet of office condominium space in a tower being built over a new postal facility.

In other news …

• Maryland would protect businesses displaced during eminent domain proceedings under a bill pending in the General Assembly.

Maryland Senate Bill 3 would allow local governments to condemn property used for businesses only after determining there was no way to incorporate the businesses into the economic-development plan. Even then, the governments would need to provide the businesses with suitable alternative sites and compensate them for their losses, including damage to their “good will,” which generally means their ability to attract and retain customers.

Opponents of the bill warn that compensation for good will could result in widespread abuse by property owners.

• J Street Development is expanding beyond its traditional office building projects in downtown Washington with its agreement this week to acquire real estate firm Randall Hagner Ltd.

Randall Hagner is a full-service Washington firm that offers property management, commercial, residential and mortgage services throughout the Washington area.

Although the residential market is new to J Street Development, “It’s big part of what we expect to grow,” said Bruce Baschuk, the company’s chief executive officer. “At J Street, we felt we were too tightly confined and focused on one business segment, one geographical area and one product.”

c Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tram stack@washingtontimes.com.

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