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Trader Joe’s Will Likely Get Its Regulatory Wishlist

by ARLnow.com — October 20, 2010 at 7:47 am 1,621 34 Comments

Arlington’s long-standing policy of encouraging grocery store development in the county is helping to pave the way for Trader Joe’s to open in Clarendon.

ARLnow.com first reported last month that Trader Joe’s was prepared to sign a lease in the Clarendon Center project if it could get some regulatory issues ironed out. Among them: the retailer wanted permission to have dedicated parking, wanted to display its products outside the store, and wanted a loading dock provision modified.

“I think we managed to work through all three issues,” Arlington County Planning Division Chief Robert Brosnan told us last night. “We do have a policy for shared parking, but we also have a policy for grocery stores, and it really is in the name of encouraging a grocery store that we will modify those requirements in this case.”

Brosnan said he expects county staff to recommend the changes, and for the board to take up the issue at its November board meeting (on either Nov. 13 or Nov. 16). After that point, Trader Joe’s will likely make the final decision on whether to sign a lease.

The site plan amendment process for Trader Joe’s was “not abnormally fast,” Brosnan noted. He added that some additional steps may be required for the store to get permission to display products outside.

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  • RestonRunner86

    “He added that some additional steps may be required for the store to get permission to display products outside.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t understand why Arlington County is so stringent when it comes to allowing any sort of commercial-oriented items adorning the sidewalks. I think having display racks, tables, patio seating, etc. in front of retailers and restaurants makes for a more exciting and interesting pedestrian experience. Could you imagine how cool it would be to walk by Trader Joe’s and be offered free samples?

    • SoArlRes

      I agree. Arlington attracts folks drawn to leisurely pedestrian activities. Wouldn’t you want to encourage people to get out of the car, go for a stroll, and connect with businesses that cater to the lifestyle that we all pay so much to have? Arlington is obviously a great place to live, but wouldn’t it be even better if there was more “warmth” tucked in between the tall glass buildings?

      • YTK

        Perhaps the “commercial-oriented items adorning the sidewalks” might be an “impediment” for the joggers who run full speed down the sidewalks (ever encounter one while walking around a blind corner?) and the bicyclists who likewise pedal full speed down the sidewalks, usually passing unsuspecting pedestrians from behind, by a hair’s breadth.

    • Clarendude

      We are fortunate that so many businesses have added to the street life and the environment supports and people want to be out on the sidewalk. I agree its a good thing, and it is generally the policy to encourage such things but they try to balance the various other things that have to be accomodated on a sidewalk – like people commuting, dog walking, joggers etc. TD will get their outdoor displays, I’ll bet it is mostly making sure they won’t encroach into the walk zone – and that is smack dab in the middle of busy Clarendon. It will be great to see stuff out on display when rising up from the metro !

  • MikeyinCrystalC

    Clarendon? :P I want my oft-rumored Crystal City TJ.

  • Pete

    Great news. I wonder what the “loading dock provision” is they wish to have modified. That will probably affect locals more than anything else.

    • Clarendude

      They want extended operating hours. I think they want to be able to take deliveries in the dock from 5 or 6 AM to something like 10PM (maybe Arlnow has the actual time). It would mostly affect the apartments right above (to the right of) the docks – which are in the same building. Those windows look pretty good so I’m guessing there won’t be any disturbance. And, anyway Saul manages those apartments too and would be motivated to keep everything harmonious.

      • JohnB

        Get ready to be awakened by some early-morning beeping of the delivery trucks’ backing-up alarms!

        When my wife and I were buying a house, we made very sure to be nowhere near any businesses–for that reason. Plus, with ARlington, you never know when that tiny bakery with a wee parking lot is going to be demolished and turned into an 8-story condo with a store at the bottom.

  • PikeHoo

    I love TJ and I’m jealous that S. Arlington doesn’t have a dedicated one yet.

    I will preemptively say that Bailey’s Crossroads is in Fairfax County.

    • mlk

      Seriously. Would it kill some enterprising upscale stores to come to S. Arlington? Not everything has to go to Clarendon/Courthouse/Rosslyn.

      • PikeHoo

        No doubt. We need a nice grocery store on the Pike!

        • Jack

          maybe after we get our trolley, and grocery store will come along for the ride.

          • mlk

            Jack, I’ll be long dead before we see the trolley. I’ve been living in S. Arlington for over 10 years and all that time I’ve been hearing about the trolley. One pipe dream was that a Dean and Deluca was going in where the Hempstead Apartments are but yeah, that never happened.

          • BOB

            Dean & Deluca in South Arlington… Now THAT’S funny!!

          • shirley

            dean and deluca in South Arlington? What you people smokin? I want some.

        • Josh S

          Updated Giant, scheduled to open in 2011 – Penrose Square.

      • Ross Lyn

        Believe me, Rosslyn doesn’t get sh*t, except for lookalike office buildings.

        • mlk

          At least Rosslyn has more to offer than check cashing places.

          • Curious

            Such as?

      • Laura

        you’ve got Costco..what more could you want??

  • LP

    Come on TJ’s! Can’t wait for my neighborhood to be a zoo (seriously), but it’ll be worth it being able to walk next door.

  • SOARL SLACKER

    I wish they would put a TJ’s in CC so I do not have to drive to the one in Alex.

    • MikeyinCrystalC

      I with Slacker!

  • CW

    Question:

    I was not aware of the provision regarding a ban on “commercial items” outside a store for the purposes of avoiding “encroach[ment] into the walk zone”, but if there is one and the county is so insistent on enforcing it, then why don’t they start with Bocatto and El Chapparal?

    Between their damn patio furniture, decorations, dog watering bowls, and the nascent barbacoa-grilling sessions going on out in front, I either have to put my head down and go all james harrison on people, or go a full lane out into the middle of wilson just to avoid the mob scene.

    • Clarendude

      One difference is that those places you mention are in by-right buildings not covered by site plans. Not sure if that is significant with regard to this issue, but it is a difference. I love walking by those places though, it’s always so interesting!

      • CW

        Yeah, despite sounding intentionally sarcastic and annoyed in the previous post, I do like the idea of having things outside to attract customers.

        However, I have always wondered about those specific businesses. With the exception of Faccia Luna’s little stool that they use to serve pizza samples off of, these two places are the ONLY two that I have ever seen utilize the space on the other side of the sidewalk proper (i.e. between the tree boxes). My assumption had always been that businesses were more than likely prohibited from using this space as theirs, or more places would be using it for something.

        • Clarendude

          Yeah, Faccia Luna is a regular pre-dinner appetizer for me ! I think it’s pretty awesome.

          Maybe we will get some new businesses that are inclined to use the large, under-utilized plaza there at the Olmstead building. That place is dead and could use it.

        • shirley

          it is very complicated. the owner of the building in which Faccia LUna is located actually owns about HALF of the sidewalk. They have given the County an easement on it but retain the right to use it. Not the same story just next door at mexicali blues or lazy sundae.

    • Josh S

      All James Harrison – that’s funny. Points to you.

  • Pete

    What’s the time frame for opening assuming a lease is signed at some point.

    Are we looking at 6 months from lease signing to opening? Is that optimistic?

  • John Gustufson

    I hearing an intersting rumor from “inside the industry” that a Chili’s or TGI Friday is heading to the restuarnt slot next to “3″ in clarendon.

    • Bug

      Yuk. I”m big on Trader Joe’s, but do we need more chains coming in? Isn’t Cheesecake Factory cheesy enough?

    • Danielle

      Hopefully that’s not true – that would be awful. Isn’t that where Cava is supposed to be going?

      • Clarendude

        Cava is still saying they are coming to Clarendon

        http://dc.cavamezze.com/news/19

        And, the linked Wash BizJrnl article says the Station square project (which is next to 3). It does say they are leasing 3,900 sq ft and the entire space is listed at 5,490 sq ft which does leave some left over. Doesn’t seem to be big enough for a TGI Fridays.

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