Arlington County’s planning commission on Monday unanimously approved rezoning plans for Amazon’s latest development and most ambitious development for its second headquarters.
The Pentagon City development in Virginia will feature the Helix, a 350-foot spiraling glass building with walkable landscapes that circle it all the way to the top.
“It will have uninterrupted views to the north, above the highway toward the Pentagon, the Potomac and Washington D.C.,” John Savo, the lead architect on the project, told the commission.
The block, known as PenPlace, is about 12.5 acres on Army-Navy Drive near the Pentagon. Besides the Helix, it would also feature three additional 22-story office buildings and three retail pavilions.
Designers said they’ve spent the last year making the additional three office buildings more distinguished, as well as focusing on green space.
“There were some big changes, but we’ve got it done,” landscape architect Kate Orff told the commission Monday. “And the plan is the better for it. The result is a greener, more pedestrian-friendly plan.”
Some changes include green space in the “Central Green,” a portion of the Green Ribbon trail and a “forest” on the north side of the lot intended for “relaxation and respite.”
“Overall SPRC (Site Plan Review Committee) members were very pleased with this project,” said planning commission member Tenley Peterson. “There was a feeling that the project should be held to a very high standard, considering the owner of the project is such a successful, high-profile business like Amazon. They should provide a project that will both impress the community as well as be a standard that future projects can be measured against.”
The inclusion of the Arlington Community High School drew special praise. The alternative school, which is part of Arlington Public Schools, will be located in the base of one of the office buildings for 30 years, rent-free.
“Giving it 30 years of a new wonderful facility right in the sort of the heart of one of our new downtown, given the type of students that go there, this is a home run for that school and for APS,” said planning commission member James Lantelme. “It’s well deserved; it’s needed and it gives this facility the respect that it very much deserves.”
But some speakers who live nearby were not as thrilled with the project.
“We’re very concerned about this level of density,” Alyssa Marlow, who lives in a nearby condo building, told the commission. “I keep hearing friends with single-family homes complain about their prices going through the roof and complaining about their taxes. People in condos who can literally see and hear the noise didn’t benefit from that. And actually our quality of life is being reduced.”
The plans will now go to the Arlington County Board for a final vote on April 23.
Amazon hopes to begin construction later this year and complete the development by 2025.
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