After neighborhood residents raised concern about having college students among them, George Washington University has decided not to use an Arlington, Va., apartment building for student housing.
While an article in The Washington Post attributed this decision to lack of student interest in The Gallery building, University spokesman Bob Ludwig said this was not the case.
Ludwig said GW had interest in The Gallery, located in Arlington’s Rosslyn section, but after researching the project decided not to pursue it for “a number of reasons,” of which he said he was not aware.
Pete Gartlan, president of development at Donohoe Development, which developed the building, said he was also unaware of why GW decided against housing students there.
Ludwig believes that GW was going to purchase the apartment building and rent the apartments to upperclassmen. Current residents of the building would have been given the option to stay.
“I understand the apartments are beautiful,” Ludwig said. He described the building as having a “beautiful lobby” and a swimming pool. Although GW does not currently have other housing options like this, he said, “I think we are always exploring opportunities. If an opportunity presents itself, we’ll look into it.”
The university’s exploration into suburban housing was sparked by a D.C. zoning order which requires 70 percent of GW undergraduates to live on campus or out of Foggy Bottom by this fall.
Some Rosslyn residents, like Foggy Bottom residents, have expressed concerns about a large influx of students, according to Ken Marcus, president of the North Rosslyn Civic Association.
“[The Gallery apartment building] has been controversial since the early planning stages,” Marcus said.
According to him, citizens were concerned about the issues of noise, traffic, parking, overcrowding and neighborhood density due to the new 19 story building.
Marcus said much of the controversy was due to the building being much taller and denser than the structures already in the neighborhood.
“GW was going to take the building over just as they were putting the last touches on the building,” Marcus said. “All provisions had been heavily contested and negotiated over a period of time.”
Marcus estimates that planning for the building began during the 1998-99 school year and construction took place from about 2000 to 2002.
“It was like salt in a wound that was still fairly fresh when people found out that GW wanted to take the building over for a college dorm,” Marcus said.
Marcus said people felt they had been misled into thinking The Gallery would be a luxury apartment building instead of a college residence. With more people living in each room than would normally live in a luxury apartment, the need for parking spaces would be greater.
“The GW Web site indicated that there could be up to four students per room,” Marcus said.
Area residents were concerned that students might resort to parking on neighborhood streets. Marcus said that parking problems have been an issue for local organizations that have been trying to get area government to crack down.
“GW indicated that they were going to comply with all the rules,” Marcus said, “but the rules were put into effect thinking that it would be luxury housing.”
While parking and traffic were “by far the biggest issues,” Marcus said that some Rosslyn residents were concerned about students being noisier or keeping later hours than the rest of the neighborhood.
The people most upset about the students moving in, according to Marcus, were those that had “devoted the most time to the original controversy of the building.”
Bozzuto and Associates, the building managers, could not be reached for comment by press time.