No wrecking ball yet — but Arlington Co. begins boarding up vacant Key Bridge Marriott

Arlington Co. begins boarding up vacant Key Bridge Marriott

Several weeks after Arlington County declared the former Key Bridge Marriot “a public nuisance” due to its unsafe and unsanitary conditions, county public safety personnel began to board up and seal the multi-story building on Friday.

Aaron Miller, deputy county manager for public safety, said the project will take some time.

The building has no working elevators and plywood will need to be hauled up to the 14th floor penthouse, where several windows were busted. He told WTOP before that happens, all the rooms, closets and storage areas need to be checked and cleared to make sure no one is living inside.

Miller said up to140 public safety personnel were taking part in Friday’s operation including from Arlington County police, the fire department and the county’s emergency management agency.

The building, on the Virginia side of the Key Bridge, has sat vacant since 2021, when redevelopment plans by its current owners, California-based Woodridge Capital Partners, were sidelined.

In March 2023, the county condemned the more than 580-room property and cleared dozens of homeless people and squatters who were living in the former hotel.

Since that time, Miller said the current owner provided inadequate private security and there have been calls from Arlington residents and others reporting trespassing, vandalism and a fire. In November 2023, a teenager who had entered the property was shot by a security guard.

As of Friday morning, Miller said, officials hadn’t found any new or returning squatters in the structure. However, he added: “We continue to see signs of illegal entry and trespass. We’ve spent the last two weeks conducting extensive outreach to individuals that we see coming onto the property and in the area, letting them know that it is not safe. There is no electricity, there is no running water, there is extensive mold growth and a number of other safety hazards present in the building.”

He said the county has been connecting people seeking shelter with housing resources.

Miller said the property owner was given 90 days from issuing the new notice of violation in May to provide a plan to demolish the building. Miller said if the company fails to do so, the county may exercise its legal authority “up to and including beginning the demolition process ourselves.”

In the meantime, the county will be implementing a number of measures to keep the area safe, including 24-hour security and perimeter fencing.

It’s still unclear what will become of the building after its demolition. Miller said only the county will continue working through the legal process.

Several people strolling in the bike and walk path alongside the structure told WTOP they’d like the site to be turned into residential units or retail.

The Key Bridge Marriott opened in 1959. Until its closing, it was Marriott International’s longest continuously operating hotel.

WTOP has reached out to Woodridge Capital Partners, LLC.

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Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin joined WTOP in 2021 as an anchor/reporter covering breaking news in the D.C. region. She has loved radio since she was a child and is thrilled to now be part of Washington’s top radio news station.

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