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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bailey's Gateway project canceled

5600 Columbia Pike
Foulger-Pratt has dropped plans to develop a 433-unit apartment building on the site of a vacant office building at 5600 Columbia Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads after the company failed to reach an agreement on purchasing the property from Government Properties Income Trust.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors had approved an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan in March to allow residential uses, as well as offices, on that site. The announcement to cancel the project was made just before the Planning Commission had been scheduled to consider a rezoning proposal on July 15.

The project, known as Bailey’s Gateway, was at the Columbia Pike/Carlin Springs Road intersection and had been hailed by county planners as critical to sparking revitalization of the aging commercial center in Bailey’s Crossroads.

Mason Supervisor Penny Gross told the Washington Business Journal she is disappointed that the parties couldn’t come to an agreement.

Foulger-Pratt had already spent about $45,000 on fees associated with the rezoning process and much more on design, planning, and other costs. Company officials had in the past claimed that Arlington County’s rejection of the proposed Columbia Pike streetcar line was not an obstacle to the project.

The 169,000-square foot building has been vacant since the federal Defense Information Systems Agency was relocated to Fort Meade in 2011 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Government Properties Income Trust has hired a broker to find another buyer.


  1. welcome back. Great report on another MD folly

  2. Greedy Commercial Landords7/23/15, 9:00 AM

    It seems that we have a lot of greedy commercial landlords in Mason District who are severely overvaluing their properties, to the detriment of actual residents.

  3. I'm sure it had nothing to do with greedy landlords and everything to do with cancellation of the Columbia Pike
    streetcar. Rendered the project much less viable.

    1. Greedy Commercial Landlords7/23/15, 2:25 PM

      The streetcar was cancelled last November. BS that it had anything to do with cancelling this project. Commercial landlords are letting their properties sit for pie-in-the-sky rental or sales prices.

    2. Guess you've done a lot of commercial deals yourself since you such an expert. Typically these things take a few years to negotiate and close, but hey, don't let facts get in the way of your biases. Of course, the landlord wants to keep the property vacant for another 4 or 5 years so he can rape some unsuspecting borrower. He's making so much money off of the empty property.

    3. I love to read the comment section of this blog for its reasoned and factual debates. I know, let's blame Penny Gross, because Duh!

    4. Greedy Commercial Landlords7/24/15, 10:17 AM

      I was involved in my last company's office lease from a large REIT - the entire deal, from searching for a space, signing a lease, and building to suit, took less than a year, and that particular REIT was wonderful to work with. That was a different deal than this one, but when a commercial property owner is pricing properties fairly and at market rate, they will find a suitable buyer/renter.

    5. @Anonymous 4:39 - Penny Gross has enough issues on her plate that she should take ownership of I will let her out of this one. Most issues in Mason District are her doing.

  4. The streetcar was going to be the biggest waste of taxpayer money in quite a while. What most people do not realize is that the streetcar was not going to have a dedicated track. The streetcar tracks were going into the current car lanes on Columbia Pike, would be mixed with the cars and buses, and would have had to follow the traffic signals just like a car or bus. Please explain to me how this would have eased traffic. It would be doing essentially what buses do now, except with a much more expensive price tag, plus with automobiles rattling along the tracks in the road. I cannot even imagine the outrage, when after enduring an enormous price tag and the months of construction nightmares, people realized that it was no different than a bus. There is a reason that they got rid of the original Columbia Pike streetcar. Had the streetcar run on a dedicated lane removed from the current street traffic, it could have been a benefit, but as it was planned, it was a totally folly.

    1. Streetcars have a certain cache that buses do not have. I think people like seeing trolleys tooling around town.

    2. Brand new streetcars certainly look and ride better than many of the old worn out Metro buses that run up and down Columbia Pike.

      Especially on the sections of Columbia Pike in Arlington that have not been repaved in several years, which cause the Metro buses to shake and rattle and an observant rider can see screws coming loose.

      Most potential renters willing to shell out a couple of thousand $ a month for a brand-new apartment are not going to choose an apartment that is going to require them to get on a crowded old Metro bus for a half-hour ride (because of all the stops) to get to and from the Pentagon.

      The commenter above who states the streetcar would have been a waste of money totally fails to take into account the streetcar would have had fewer stops, carried more people, and would have taken less time to transport riders to the Pentagon (or Pentagon City) than the current lousy old buses.

      I have concluded the vast majority of the critics of the streetcar don't ride the Columbia Pike Metro buses and base their views on incomplete information.

      In short, stupid shortsighted decisions made by stupid shortsighted people are preventing the rebirth of a vibrant Mason District.

      But let's blame Penny Gross, it's so much easier, though intellectually lame.

    3. I don't believe that you have ridden any Columbia Pike busses. The ones I have ridden recently are brand new and perfectly air conditioned. The streetcar provided no added utility at all. A Billion dollars is a lot of public money for fluff. I'm glad that common sense prevailed over the streetcar.

    4. I have ridden Columbia Pike buses. I am certain you haven't.

      If you have, please share how long the ride takes from where you get on the bus to where you get off - how many stops there are (one every couple of blocks in Arlington) and how many people have to stand on the bus - especially during rush hours to and from work. I think you are full of baloney.

      You claim the street car would cost a BILLION $ and would just be FLUFF - is evidence of the stupidity and shortsightedness that is holding Mason District back.

      I am glad time and effort is now being placed on what can be done to improve transit within Fairfax County along Route 7. If it can be done with the active cooperation of Falls Church City and Alexandria City, Great. But if not, Fairfax County Government must be prepared to implement a plan that relies solely on Fairfax County.

      To the commenter below who thinks Penny Gross and Bulova could have done more to support the Columbia Pike Streetcar from the angry wrath of Arlington County taxpayers who did not want to be part of a massive infrastructure project because it did not directly benefit them - that thinking is beyond laughable.

      The Arlington County taxpayers rose up in revolt against their own (previously all Democratic Party) elected officials (before Libby Garvey left the party and then Vihstadt won a Special and then General election. It is beyond Thunderdome crazy to think an elected official outside of Arlington would have been able to impact the Arlington County voters.

      And when Arlington County Board Member Mary Hayes reversed her previous unalterable support for the streetcar after Vihstadt's General Election win - without advance notice - Arlington County Government demonstrated it's an unreliable partner.

  5. Who would want to invest here: bad transportation options, white vans, pain in the butt NIMBYs and enough Section 8 apartments to occupy a small state. Good luck w finding someone to develop that place.

    Fairfax should have taken a stronger position on the streetcar, instead they let Arlington take all the risk, do the dirty work and take the heat. Don't let anyone fool you, the developer bailed because the only draw was the streetcar. The developer probably moved their investment dollars to DC's H Street corridor, where the City's leadership is an active partner w smart growth development.

    1. Totally agree with your post. Penny was fighting mad when Arlington pulled out of the streetcar. But in all the meetings I attended for more than a year, I never ever saw Supervisor Gross there trying to promote the streetcar. She was the head manager for the Fairfax County streetcar. And what happened to all the money that was dedicated to the streetcar, not the Federal money, but the county money. I've asked both Bulova and Penny but never received an answer. I think it's time they use those funds for transit in Mason District. We are driving on 50 year old roads. It's time to get what other districts have gotten.