Work Gets Underway on $118M Suburban D.C. Mixed-Use Project

Construction has kicked off on Clarendon Center, a 471,000-square-foot mixed-use complex less than four miles from Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Va.’s Clarendon submarket. The project, a Saul Centers Inc. endeavor, carries a development price tag of $118 million. Designed by the architectural firm of Torti Gallas & Partners Inc., Clarendon Center will occupy nearly two entire city blocks just a stone’s throw from a Metro station. The south block of the project will encompass a nine-story structure with 85,000 square feet of office space, 244 apartment residences within a 12-story, 240,000-square-foot building, 34,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, as well as four levels of below-grade parking accommodations. The north block will bring an additional 98,000 square feet of office space in a six-story structure, 14,000 square feet of ground-level retail, and three levels of below-grade parking. The office market in Arlington, and in Clarendon, in particular, is hungry for space. “If you look at all five counties in Northern Virginia–Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William–Arlington is the healthiest of the five,” Tonya Ginter, research and marketing director with real estate services firm GVA Advantis, told CPN today. We’ve seen vacancies increase across the board in the counties, but Arlington is the only one to have a slight decrease in the first quarter.” The average vacancy rate is 8.5 percent in Arlington, and just 6 percent in the Clarendon submarket. Rental rates have played more than a small role in keeping vacancies low. “We’re seeing more and more firms that are located in the District, because rental rates are so high there, moving to Arlington,” Ginter said. “Arlington is still very, very close to Washington, D.C., but the rates are much lower.” The average asking rate for office space is $36.07 in the Clarendon submarket, and $46.18 in Washington, D.C.’s Central Business District, according to a first quarter report by GVA Advantis. “They aren’t low but, in comparison to D.C., there is a significant difference and you still get to be within the Beltway.” Clarendon Center’s multi-family offerings will undoubtedly find an audience, too. The vacancy rate at high-rise apartment properties in the Clarendon submarket is a very low 2.4 percent, as per a first quarter report by commercial real estate research firm Delta Associates. Bethesda, Md.-based Clark Construction Group L.L.C. is overseeing Clarendon Center’s construction, which is on target to reach substantial completion in fall 2010.