The downtown Arlington landscape is changing in a big way.
This week, crews began demolishing the city’s Central Library, which has stood next to City Hall along Abram Street since 1973.
Arlington Library Director Cary Siegfried admits it’s strange looking at the building she worked in for two decades and seeing piles of rubble. But she says this is far from a sad moment.
“There’s definitely not turning back now, for sure,” she laughed. “But yes, it really does kind of bring it home and we’re so excited to be moving forward with the project.”
As the old library comes down, Siegfried and her staff are finalizing designs for a brand new, three story library that will have more space, more meeting rooms and all the modern amenities people now come to expect.
“There are just so many more places for people rather than books,” said Siegfried. “We see our usage probably doubling if not tripling.”
The new library will be located directly behind City Hall.
Construction is expected to begin this fall.
Once the old library site is clear, private developers will come in and build a five-story complex called “101 Center” on it. It will be home to a parking garage, 270 apartments, and 25,000 square feet of new retail space.
“It’s an extremely exciting time right now in downtown Arlington,” said Tony Rutigliano, President of the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation.
Rutigliano says this is exactly the kind of new energy downtown Arlington needs.
“Arlington grew up as a suburb, so we never had that urban core,” said Rutigliano. “So, what we’re trying to do is create that urban core, that sense of urban place.”
He’s hopeful that 101 Center can serve as a jumping point for even more revitalization in the future.
“I can’t tell you how excited we are to see some progress,” said Rutigliano.
In addition to the two projects, city leaders have also approved plans to give Abram Street a makeover, which will include reducing lanes, expanding sidewalks, and adding new landscaping.