Arlington County makes offer to keep WETA TV station in Shirlington

WASHINGTON — Public television station WETA, which has been actively looking throughout the D.C. area for a new location for its studio and headquarters, has signed a letter of intent with Arlington County that would keep WETA in Shirlington in exchange for county incentives.

If ultimately executed, the deal would allow the county to buy WETA’s current studio location at 3620 27th South Street for as much as $8 million for the future expansion of Jennie Dean Park in Four Mile Run Valley.

WETA’s current headquarters is at 3939 Campbell Ave. in Shirlington Village.

Under the terms, WETA will begin design and construction feasibility studies for relocating the studio next to its current headquarters. The letter of intent does not guarantee WETA will stay in Shirlington.

If the WETA board of trustees approves the plan, WETA would move forward with selling the studio location to the county within the next two years.

The county would make urban design improvements up to $500,000 in the area near the WETA headquarters and would provide WETA with an Economic Development Incentive performance-based grant of up to $150,000 a year for a predetermined period based on job growth and square footage targets.

WETA has been based in Arlington since 1961.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with WETA, one of our most valuable community partners,” said Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz. “This agreement allows WETA to move forward with envisioning their ideal television studio and headquarters as we move forward with planning for Jennie Dean Park’s future.”

If WETA moves forward with the county’s offer, Arlington County would also lease back its studio space to WETA during construction of its new studios.

Should WETA determine the Shirlington consolidation of its studio and headquarters is not feasible, it may still sell the 27th Street South property to Arlington County, though the county said the timing of the purchase would be unclear.

WETA has 290 employees and occupies 89,000 square feet of office space in Shirlington Village and 31,000 square feet at its studio location.

The expansion of Jennie Dean Park is part of Arlington County’s much larger development plans for the Four Mile Run Valley planning initiative.

Details of Arlington County’s proposal to buy WETA’s current studio real estate and incentives to consolidate its headquarters are outlined in detail in the letter of intent.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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