- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2003

Development around Metro stations is chic, but cars are still a big consideration when new office and retail is built.
Throughout the region, development projects have included plans for thousands of square feet of retail and office space, hundreds of new homes and massive parking garages.
When Arlington County officials got serious last year about the redevelopment of Columbia Pike, the major question heard by residents was, "Where will I park my car?" Parking was extra-important because only the Pike's extreme east end is close to a Metro stop, and residents complained that visitors to the area would snag spots in residential areas. Also, business insisted they not be handcuffed by minimum parking requirements, and planners wanted to create an environment where people could park their car once and complete several errands.
The result: a strategy to create extensive shared parking in garages and surface lots along the Pike, funded from the county and contributions by developers to a general parking fund. Plans for such parking are expected to be finalized by the spring.
Richard Tucker, coordinator of Arlington County's Columbia Pike Initiative, said the county will discuss parking with developers as soon as they submit a proposal to build. And Chris Zimmerman, a county board member who has led efforts to revitalize the Pike, said a hefty supply of parking will help spur the growth of business.
"We now actually have the tools to use parking as something that will promote development," Mr. Zimmerman said.
Parking has been a key component to several developments in the District as well, especially given D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' plan to attract 100,000 new residents to the city. Each new residential unit requires an average of 1.2 parking spots, according to city estimates. Plans to refurbish areas of Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest include a shared parking plan similar to that of Columbia Pike, and plans for larger developments have included parking garages.
Matt Klein, president of the D.C.-based developer Akridge Cos., said parking is a necessity for complexes with a heavy retail component. Mr. Klein's company is a lead developer of Gallery Place, a mixed-use complex that includes a four-story, 700-space garage.
"Retail parking in downtown Washington is in desperate supply," Mr. Klein said. "For retail to be successful, parking needs to be free or able to be discounted or validated in some way."
Other new projects in the District with hefty amounts of parking planned or requested include 1625 I St., with 5 levels of underground parking and the Southwest waterfront, with at least three garages and significant on-street parking.
In some instances, availability of parking is a driver for development. The area around Union Station, for instance, has been named as a candidate for redevelopment in part due to an availability of parking spots in the Union Station garage. Also, the Department of Homeland Security's decision to place its new headquarters on Nebraska Avenue in the District came partially because the site satisfied the department's request for 1,000 parking spaces.
In other cases, parking is not as much of an issue. Construction of the new Washington Convention Center downtown calls for 120 parking spots for employees only; planners say there are nearly 5,000 parking spots for visitors within a 10-minute walk to the site.
In other news
Government contractor Sytex Inc. signed a lease with Rocks Tyson LLC for 16,785 square feet at 8027 Leesburg Pike, a 120,000-square-foot, six-story office building.
Tim Lemke can be reached at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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