Alamo Drafthouse coming to Crystal City as part of redevelopment project

WASHINGTON — In Virginia, the Arlington County Board approved the first phases of a major redevelopment of Crystal City’s central business district, that will include an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater and a yet-unnamed grocery store.

Developer JBG Smith’s Crystal Square project will initially include 100,000 square feet of retail on Crystal Drive, and the renovation of an existing building to new Class A office space.

The development will include a new retail building at the northwest corner of Crystal Drive and 18th Street South that will be built above a new east entrance to the Crystal City Metro station, along with a public park.

Crystal City is considered a strong contender in Amazon’s search for a second headquarters, and while neither Arlington County or JBG Smith has cited the possibility of landing the Amazon headquarters for the ongoing reboot of Crystal City, Crystal Square will be a shot in the arm for the area’s redevelopment.

A rendering of the redevelopment plan’s second phase, including the renovation of existing building, and new public space. (Courtesy JBG Smith)

“This project will enliven Crystal Drive with street-level retail,” said Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol.

“It is another step toward realizing the Crystal City Sector Plan’s vision of a Crystal City that is more vibrant, has a greater sense of place, and provides residents and the people who work there with more civic, cultural, community and recreational amenities,” Cristol said.

Crystal Square is a 15-acre, mixed-use redevelopment between 15th Street South, 18th Street South, Crystal Drive and U.S. Route 1. It includes 1.3 million square feet of office space and 155,000 square feet of retail space, most of it in the Crystal City Underground, and about 400 apartments originally developed in the late 1970s.

JBG Smith will begin Phase One of the Crystal Square redevelopment with the three-story movie theater and grocery store by the end of 2018.

Phase Two will be called “Metro Market Square” and will include the renovation of an existing, vacant office building at 1750/1770 Crystal Drive, as well as setting land aside for a future public park, to be built and maintained by Arlington County.

Arlington County’s Crystal City Sector Plan was developed in response to BRAC relocations that elevated Crystal City’s office vacancy rate. It won the American Planning Association’s Planning Achievement Award in 2013.

The Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse has existing theaters in the Virginia communities of Ashburn and Woodbridge. In addition to its new Crystal City theater, another is in the works for D.C. near the Rhode Island Metro station.

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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