- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 3, 2004

Crystal City is finally starting to make sense.The dense section of Arlington, long criticized for being a mass of confusing signs and one-way streets, will experience the first step of a major face-lift Monday when 18 office buildings get new addresses more logically linked to the streets the buildings sit on.

The changes affect buildings located in the “clusters” known as Crystal Plaza, Crystal Square, Crystal Gateway and Crystal Mall. Most of the buildings in those clusters currently have addresses referencing Jefferson Davis Highway, even though their front doors face other streets like Crystal Drive or 20th Street.

Creating new addresses is a symbolic, yet practical step in turning Crystal City into a pedestrian-friendly destination, redevelopment supporters said. And it is the first of several key steps this month to make Crystal City easier to navigate. On June 26, one-way streets in Crystal City will become two-way, and new directional signs will be installed.

“Thirty to 35 years ago, [Crystal City] was a visionary mixed-use complex, and back then it was really innovative,” said Mitchell Schear, president of Charles E. Smith Commercial Realty, which is spearheading the redevelopment. “We’re really re-imagining Crystal City for today.”

The “re-imagination” process includes moving Crystal City’s once-chic underground shops and office space to street-level, thus creating an environment that would lure visitors in the evenings and on weekends. More than 200,000 square feet of new office and retail space is planned or under construction along the west side of Crystal Drive from South 18th Street to South 23rd Street.

Crystal City attracts more than 60,000 workers each weekday, but is generally quiet at night, unlike newer mixed-use complexes in Arlington.

“We think we are creating a destination point, whereas our goal before was to service the people who work here,” Mr. Schear said. “It’s not like we’ve been competing with anybody in the evening.”

Construction on some new restaurants and shops is nearly finished, with at least seven businesses opening by the fall, including seafood restaurant McCormick and Schmick’s and Spanish tapas bar Jaleo.

Once those businesses are installed, Charles E. Smith is expected to turn its attention to attracting tenants for the 18 buildings to be vacated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is consolidating its headquarters in Alexandria.

In other news …

• Leasing began on 365 luxury apartments at Alexan Reston Town Center. The apartments, which range in size from one to three bedrooms, cost between $1,449 and $3,125 per month.

• Roosevelt Land sold 1215 19th St. NW to Tag Corporation for $4.8 million, or $480 per square foot. Built in 1885, the 10,000-square-foot office building was the former home of Theodore Roosevelt, and was renovated in 1984. Transwestern Commercial Services brokered the sale.

• Engineering firm Greenhorne & O’Mara, Inc. will relocate its corporate headquarters to a planned 64,900 square feet at the Konterra at Sweitzer Lane development in Laurel. Ground is expected to break in the fall, and the company will begin occupying the building in December 2005.

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

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