- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Falls Church City Council last week approved plans to build a large retail, office and condominium complex on South Maple Avenue in the city’s downtown.

The “500 Maple” project, to be developed by Atlantic Realty of Vienna, Va., will feature 75,000 square feet of office space, 22,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, 230 condominiums and underground parking. In addition, Atlantic agreed to set aside 3,000 square feet for use by local artists and performance groups, at the request of the council and residents.

Approval — by a vote of 4-0, with two abstentions — came despite vocal opposition by a group of residents who argued the residential portion would create congestion and strain area schools. More than 400 people signed a petition opposing the plan.

The petition was written by Lou Mauro, a retired lawyer and city activist who made an unsuccessful bid for a City Council seat in May, and who in 2002 failed in an effort to create a referendum to curb downtown development.

Council members approved the plan only after Atlantic agreed to remove some condominiums for more office and retail space, so that a smaller percentage of the city’s tax revenue would come directly from residents.

“Our collaborative effort with the community provided important feedback that helped us to improve upon our plans,” said David A. Ross, a partner with Atlantic Realty.

Some of Atlantic’s previous proposals contained 5 percent office space, which the city’s Economic Development Authority said would not provide as much tax revenue as a more commercial-oriented project. Officials said they expect $680,000 in annual tax revenue from the project, and that it could yield as much as $1 million.

Move to One Metro

The White & Case law firm has grown so large that it is moving its Washington offices — one block north.

The firm, now at 601 13th St. NW, signed a 15-year lease for 117,764 square feet at 701 13th St. NW, commonly known as One Metro Center.

Real estate services company Spaulding & Slye Colliers negotiated the lease with Tishman Speyer, the building’s owner, and will manage construction of the new office space.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources in the industry said space in One Metro Center has leased for between $30 and $36 per square foot per year since construction on the building was completed in October.

White & Case’s lease includes clauses that will allow the firm to grow and place signs prominently on the building.

One Metro Center is quickly becoming a popular spot for the District’s law firms. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips announced in May that it would relocate to 25,500 square feet there, and the Ropes & Gray law firm leased space in the building before it was built.

In other news …

• Republic Properties Corp. broke ground on Republic Square, an office project totaling 587,000 square feet adjacent to Union Station.

• The JBG Cos. paid Acacia Mutual Life Insurance about $123 million for the Acacia Building, a 205,580-square-foot office building at 51 Louisiana Ave. NW, one of the biggest sales of the year.

Property Lines runs Fridays. Tim Lemke can be reached at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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