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Marymount University's Blue Goose to be Demolished, Redeveloped

The Arlington County Board has approved plans that will allow the Catholic university to expand its Ballston presence.

The Arlington County Board has approved plans that will allow Marymount University to expand its Ballston presence. Rendering courtesy Arlington County
The Arlington County Board has approved plans that will allow Marymount University to expand its Ballston presence. Rendering courtesy Arlington County

Say good-bye to the Blue Goose, Ballston.

Plans are underway to redevelop Marymount University at Ballston Center, perhaps better known as the "Blue Goose" at 1000 N. Glebe Road, and replace the distinctive, eight-story 1960s-era structure with a nine-story office building and a 15-story residential building and move Arlington County closer to realizing a planned western entrance to the Ballston Metro Station.

The Arlington County Board gave the necessary approval to move the redevelopment plans forward over the weekend.

"Marymount University is an important institution in Arlington, and it is great to see it expanding its presence in Ballston," Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in a statement. "The new buildings will be attractive and energy efficient, and will come with many benefits for our community, including affordable housing, a public plaza, and a significant contribution to building a western entrance to Ballston Metro."

Designed by architect John M. Walton and built by the locally prominent M.T. Broyhill and Sons in 1963, the Blue Goose got its nickname from the geometric, blue metal panels on its exterior. Marymount University bought the building in the early 1990s, and it houses the School of Business Administration, Center for Global Education, the departments of Physical Therapy, Forensic Psychology, and Counseling, the Verizon Information Security Lab, and the graduate admissions office.

Old and New

Redevelopment will allow the Catholic university to expand its presence. Demolition of the Blue Goose will pave the way for the Shooshan Co., in partnership with Marymount University, to construct an office building along Fairfax Drive and a residential building on North Glebe Road.

The corner of Fairfax Drive and North Glebe will feature a 7,600-square-foot public plaza that will anchor the two buildings, and a public walkway will run east-west through the site and an interior courtyard, according to a county news release.

Each new building will sit atop a three-story parking garage, with 317 spaces planned for the office building and 265 spaces planned for the residential building. Both will be Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, or LEED, Gold certified.

The redevelopment design retains some flavor of the Blue Goose — the public plaza will have blue seating and blue lighting, for instance. Benches will have panels depicting the history of the building made from the panels on the existing structure.

The office building also will use a blue panel design at its base and feature a horizontal spandrel glass band at the top of its second story, a news release states.

Marymount University initially plans to use the first six floors of the office building, but eventually will use all of it.

The 267-unit residential building will include ground-floor retail and 11 apartments that are committed to be affordable for low- to moderate-income families for the next 30 years.

The public will have access to nearly 6,200-square-feet of auditorium and auxiliary space in the office building.

New Ballston Metro Entrance Planned

In exchange for the additional urban density granted by Arlington County, the developers will pay a little more than $5.7 million toward the county's long-term goal of adding a new western entrance to the Ballston-MU Metro Station, improvements at the Ballston Pond and extending the Custis Trail immediately west of the site, a news release states.

The new entrance would be at the intersection of North Fairfax Drive and North Vermont Street and feature two street-level elevators and escalators connecting to an underground passage and new mezzanine that would have stairs and elevators to the train platform, according to a county staff report

Construction of the new Metro entrance could cost upward of $72 million; at this point, the county has only partially funded the project.

Developer Contributions

The Shooshan Co. has agreed to build a two-way, 10-foot-wide bicycle track on the north side of Fairfax Drive and to widen the sidewalk there, a news release states.

The developer also will contribute $257,565 to the county's Affordable Housing Investment Fund; $105,615 to a fund for underground utilities; $75,000 toward a public art fund; and about $570,000 to help reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle trips to and from the site, to help promote a car-free lifestyle and to encourage travel to and from the site without an automobile.

The development's Transportation Management Plan, as it is called, includes providing $65 SmarTrip cards to office tenants, retail employees and university students, displaying and distributing transit information and continuing shuttle service between the Ballston Center and Marymount's main campus at 2807 N. Glebe Road.

Marymount University was founded in 1950. It enrolls nearly 3,700 students annually.

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