Rosslyn’s ‘gas station church’ is in for big redevelopment

Although the gas station under the church is now a Sunoco, it was originally an Exxon gas station, and picked up the nickname Our Lady of Exxon from Rosslyn office workers decades ago. (Google Street View)

The Arlington County Board has approved plans to redevelop part of a block on Fort Myer Drive in Rosslyn that includes the Arlington Temple United Methodist Church, which is built over a gas station, a well-known oddity in the area.

Snell Properties plans to build two new residential high-rises at 1820 and 1830 Fort Myer Drive. The property is a triangular site containing the Ames Center office building, along with the church and Sunoco gas station.

The office building was home to the former Art Institute of Washington, which closed in 2018.

The plans approved by the county include rebuilding both the church and the gas station at the same location, although the original application more than a year ago did call for preserving the existing structure.

The mixed-use development will include retail, along with 740 new residential units, including on-site affordable housing. It will be the first large-scale project in Rosslyn to include affordable housing.

Snell Properties plans to build two new residential high-rises at 1820 and 1830 Fort Myer Drive. The property is a triangular site containing the Ames Center office building, along with a church and Sunoco gas station. (Courtesy Snell Properties)

Fairfax, Virginia-based Snell Properties will also contribute $2.4 million to Arlington County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $5 million for transportation improvements in Rosslyn, including the removal of elevated skywalks and the completion of a portion of the 18th Street corridor.

As part of the developer’s goal of U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver certification, 2% of on-site parking spaces will have electric vehicle charging stations.

Snell Properties has not announced a formal timeline for demolition and construction.

The project fits in with Arlington County’s Rosslyn Sector Plan, adopted in 2015 as a 25-year outline for future development in Rosslyn. It calls for making the neighborhood a more walkable urban center with better building design, a better balance of residential and commercial development, and more parks and open spaces.

Although the church gas station is now a Sunoco, it was originally an Exxon gas station, and picked up the nickname Our Lady of Exxon from Rosslyn office workers decades ago.

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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