The Victory Center has sat empty and untouched for a decade, but after a controversy over the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) potential move to the site, developers are working to make the complex more appealing.
At the Planning Commission meeting on July 7, the commission voted to approve changes that would add three new structures around the building. The plans include retail in front of the main building, in hopes that the city can change the isolated structure into a more community-connected site.
In April the General Services Administration announced that the controversy over the move to the Victory Center would push the TSA’s date back to 2020 while the agency went through a new bidding process for its headquarters, meaning the building will have to wait a few more years before there’s even a chance that it will host the new tenant.
As it stands now, the Victory Center is a monolithic structure in the middle of a large parking lot. The site improvements would add a proposed annex building on one side and a large parking structure on the other. The annex would be a two- to four-story secure conference facility with office space connected to the main building by a skyway. The parking structure would be set on the eastern side of the building, outside the secure area. A one-story structure in front of the building would have amenity retail and would be open to the public, part of an effort to make the area more community and metro friendly.
“It’s been a herculean lift to get this application to move forward in order to respond to the TSA request for more space at the site,” said Kenneth Wire, an attorney representing applicants, but said that the site’s remote location made it ideal for growth. “This is the only site I’ve worked on in 10 years that had plenty of floor area, plenty of setback, plenty of parking and plenty of height.”
But the project still came with a number of potential challenges. As the project was being discussed, Commissioner David Brown looked at the scale drawing of the site and realized that the dividing line between the parcels on the site would run right through the middle of the new parking garage.
“I don’t understand why it would make any sense to divide a lot through the middle of the building,” said Brown. Staff said the lines of the parcels would be looked into.
For members of the Planning Commission, the improvements to the Victory Center would depend on how well the site would be able to include the broader Eisenhower community.
“I’ve watch the West End mature over 18 years,” said Commissioner Mindy Lyle. “You don’t want retail to go in and then have it disappear because they can’t make end’s meet. We’ve lost a lot of retail on the West End because you couldn’t get to it.”
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the proposed changes to the site.