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Up close, personal where Symmes once was

Arlington 360 rendering of Symmes project

Onsite with Jake Upton, the son of Upton + Partners' chief, "Budge," we don hard hats and yellow vests for a look at Arlington 360 construction. The sun is fading Wednesday, May 15. Showers are moving in, and we have to hustle.

We meet at the office of NEI, the builder, a place that will be moving this summer to one of the completed units, to make way for debris displaced for a park.

Much has taken place since our last tour, in December.

Then, the project's highest points were elevator shafts and an antenna, long the apex.

Now the housing itself is taking shape, throwing its Colonial-red protective cover around the shafts. Once the site's electricity is connected underground this summer, the antenna, a lightning rod for neighborhood objection some years ago, will come down.

We walk from the newly named Symmes Road to Symmes Circle. Trucks rumble past. A high crane arches. As many as 250 workers toil.

Units in various stages of completion will have two and three bedrooms, depending on location. Contractors are shooting for September completion.

The Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG), the Virginia based company that is developing the site of the former hospital with the Upton, expects to announce rental rates in the summer.

Condo rentals rise over three floors, each flooded with light via Jeld-Wen windows.

The tour included the emerging Arlington 360 management office and community space. The latter will have a fireplace, game room, open bar and function room as well as a fitness center. The location overlooks a large swimming pool.

In a spacious unit at the garage level, we walked through a first-floor living room with generous bedrooms on the second. Shapes of the rooms varied from place to place.

"So you don't feel like you're living in widgets," Upton said.

He called "the level of detail and quality paramount," citing numerous specific suggestions made by Ed Tsoi, a member of the Redevelopment Board who retired in 2010 after 36 years.

Upton also pointed to other town leaders and open-space advocates who have made sure the plan includes parks and the preservation of trees on the 18-acre site.

Occupancy of the condo rentals is targeted for the end of October.

Traffic alert: In four to six weeks, sewer work is expected to occur at Summer and Grove streets, so a new line can hook up with the town's aging spaghetti of pipes.

Landscaping work among the housing units is expected between Sept. 15 and Oct. 1.

We stood above a steep incline. In the distance was Peirce Field and Arlington High School. Immediately below us, as many as 100 workers moved on the foundation and superstructure going up for Brightview, the 90-unit assisted-living facility.

Work on Arlington 360 is expected to be completed well before Brightview, which is looking at completion next February.

"We're hoping for closer," he said of finish dates for both projects. Brightview got a later start after agreements were reached last October. Accords for 360 were reached last summer. 

This story was published Monday, May 20, 2013.

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