Cary Siegfried has worked at the Central Arlington Library for more than two decades and says she’s never been more excited to be in downtown Arlington than right now.
“In the 23 years that I’ve worked here, not a whole lot of change happened for about the first 20 years,” said Siegfried, who is the Director of Libraries for the city of Arlington. “These last several years, you’ve just seen the development.”
Levitt Pavilion opened in 2008 and now brings more than 120,000 people annually to Abram Street. Since 2008, multiple restaurants have opened up shop in the downtown area and continue to thrive. Earlier this year, city leaders approved plans to reduce Abram Street from five to three lanes, so they can expand sidewalks and make the downtown area more friendly to pedestrians.
Now, the focus shifts to the library, which is part of a multi-million dollar plan that will dramatically change the landscape in downtown Arlington.
The city is in the process of designing a new $25 million library that will be built directly behind City Hall, where a parking lot currently sits. The existing library is more than 40 years old.
Siefried said it doesn’t have the technology or the infrastructure to support the needs of a modern day library.
“I’m really looking forward to the future and how we’re going to be able to serve Arlington through that new facility,” said Siegfried.
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Once they move out of their old building, private developers will move in, demolish it and replace it with a five-story, $36.4 million mixed-use development. City Center, as it’s being called, will be home to 270 apartment units, 25,000 square feet of retail / restaurant space and a large parking garage that will be shared with the city.
The city still needs to approve a site plan and issue developers a building permit before construction can begin.
“It is a really huge project for us in terms of creating that vibrant destination we’ve all been talking about for so long,” said Tony Rutigliano, President and CEO of the Downtown Arlington Management Corporation.
Rutigliano believes the lack of downtown residential space has hurt their ability to promote the area to visitors and businesses – and says this project was "needed."
Between City Center, the new library, improvements to Abram Street and a handful of other projects that will soon be getting underway, he said this is the most he’s ever seen invested into the downtown area. And he believes it will pay off.
“We’re talking about something in the order of $125 million being invested in the downtown area in the next five years,” said Rutigliano. “This is a renaissance period for us and we’re so excited about what the future holds for downtown.”
Construction is expected to begin on both City Center and the new library within the next year.
The current library will close permanently on Dec. 23. While the new library is under construction, a temporary location will open along North Cooper Street.