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Ill-Fated ‘Goth’ Restaurant in Va. Square Torn Down

by ARLnow.com | July 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm | 6,977 views | 138 Comments

It couldn’t have looked more out of place. An old building near the Virginia Square Metro station, dressed up in black paint and Gothic-style accents.

What would have been a restaurant, bar and lounge called “Haze” is now being reduced to a pile of rubble. Arlington County purchased the property at 3540 Wilson Boulevard one year ago with the intention of tearing it down, and the demolition is finally happening today.

The property will be used to connect Maury Park and Herselle Milliken Park, two tiny swaths of recreational space located on the same block between N. Monroe and Lincoln streets. So what happened to Haze?

Last year we were told that the owner undertook renovations on the building before any county permits were issued or even requested. Obviously, a county that put the kibosh on a dog mural located next to a dog park is going to take issue with a business trying to pull a fast one with a gaudy black bar across from an apartment building. The owner finally decided to shutter the restaurant-that-never-was instead of trying to to get the building back into compliance.

At least for now, the prime Wilson Boulevard property will be used as a park.

“The entire parcel will be used as park space in the near term, although the immediate frontage on Wilson Boulevard may be reconsidered in the long term if the remaining retail/commercial parcels on the block are consolidated and redeveloped,” Arlington Park Division Chief Lisa Grandle told the Ashton Heights Civic Association last year.

H/t to Bill Colton

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  • Thes

    Hopefully, any redevelopment of this site just one block from a Metro station will include some much needed transit-accessible affordable housing.

    • Stu Pendus

      They better hurry up and advertise the rezoning hearing.

    • Ugh

      All those WWII style buildings a block down from this demolition are affordable housing, not to mention the newer apartments across the street from Brighton Gardens retirement community. How much affordable housing do we need in that area? Put some somewhere else.

      • Thes

        Only one in seven apartments in Arlington are “committed” (legally required) affordable housing. And only a small portion of those are located within 1/4 mile of our various Metro stations. In some cases, Arlington has paid well over one hundred thousand dollars per unit to build more. Arlington owns the land here, which should allow it to be done at a lower taxpayer cost.

        • Ugh

          Sweet, so my neighborhood will be taken over by low income housing. Awesome. There are already enough homeless people in that park across the street. See how I just prejudged low-income people to be criminals and derelicts? Do gooders and socialist begin your onslaught…. NOW!

          • KalashniKEV

            “Do gooders and socialist begin your onslaught…. NOW!”

            Now? It started in this area a long time ago. Keeping welfare rats nibbling on the gubbamint cheese seems to be somewhat of a coping mechanism for a certain class of 35 and older Arlingtonian…

          • samsonite

            Maybe they could build a bunker for the two of you in that location.

          • RosRes

            “gubbamint” really??

          • Maria

            I’m pretty sure the low-income housing isn’t what’s attracting the homeless people…

        • ZoningVictim

          Paying for poor people to live in one of the most expensive communities in the US is incredibly stupid. Can someone please explain to me why our money should be going toward something like that? What, exactly, is the benefit to the normal Arlington County taxpayer of paying poor people to live here?

          • Bingo

            Liberal Dem here, and I agree with you.

          • KalashniKEV

            “Can someone please explain to me why our money should be going toward something like that?”

            White Guilt.

          • samsonite

            So that our children won’t grow up like you?

          • ZoningVictim

            So they won’t grow up like me; you mean successful and self-reliant? Yeah, that would suck.

          • Guest McGuest

            Affordable housing eases traffic congestion, for one thing.

            And when you say “poor people,” you understand that a couple each earning $15/hr FT will have a difficult time finding a place to rent in Arlington, right? When housing advocates say that teachers have a hard time living here, they’re not making it up.

    • Sir Loin of Beef

      I’m all for it, as long as it has ground floor retail where you can buy guns and liquor. Maybe a check-cashing place too. Talk about metro-accessible one-stop shopping!

      • KalashniKEV

        I don’t need the check cashing, but if there was some kind of a “Dairy Barn” type drive-thru establishment that sold common calibers of ammunition, combined with a good selection of microbrews and inexpensive, quality wines… coupled with a gas station where I could fuel up my ride…. OMGosh!!!

        I would be in love.

    • anon

      You must not know the area well – the two story buildings nearby are affordable. 1100 to 1200 for a one bedroom right by the metro.

    • Civil Servant

      Why is anyone talking about “affordable housing” on this post? Doesn’t the article say it’s going to be used as a park?

      • Josh S

        Is says that is a temporary use.

  • mapchick

    So I remember this being a crepe cafe or something similar prior to it’s goth transformation, but does anyone remember what it was prior to that? Just curious.

    • VaSqJay

      You are correct, it was some sorta coffee shop / cafe prior to the Goth transformation. But for the life of me I can’t remember what it was called.

    • Araxie

      I’m pretty sure it was just a house before that. I remember people living there back before all the rebuilding in the area started.

      • Hattie McDaniel

        Wasn’t it home to a coin/stamp dealer?

        • Lou

          That goes way back, but I think the coin shop was a few doors down.

        • http://blacknell.net/dynamic MB

          Yep. A stamp/coin shop straight out of Pulp Fiction. I went in. Once.

          • YTK

            I frequented that Stamp and Coin shop — I really enjoyed doing business there.

        • VASQ

          Indeed, it was a coin shop back in the 1990s.

          • Lou

            Hmm. I always pictured that coin shop (at least in the 80′s) as having a bit of parking in front of it. Never went there, but a friend of mine was a frequent customer.

      • mapchick

        It does look like it could have just been someone’s residence, that’s what I was curious about. Thanks for everyone’s responses.

        • ArlingtonAaron

          I’m pretty sure it had a residential component during all of these phases: the door on the right side has a staircase heading to the second floor behind it. Even while Haze was being worked on there seemed to be people living upstairs.

      • samsonite

        It was definitely a coffee shop just before it was Haze, and then razed.

  • novasteve

    If this goth placed did ever open up, would they have taken all of the tattooed people from murky coffee to be their employees?

  • cj

    The Public Spaces Master Plan and Ashton Heights NC plan update include a long-term goal of expanding Maury Park, ideally to take in the entire block. The Virginia Square Sector Plan supports park expansion on most of the block with redesigned service commercial or arts-related businesses in the current commercial strip (7-11 et al). The plan also strongly endorses retaining the now-market-affordable garden apartments west of Monroe Street. You can see that here:

    http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/planning/docs/pdf/southedge.pdf

    • Thes

      Wow, not much density on those blocks just south of Wilson. Just preservation of existing structures and some open parks. Is there any other place in Arlington where so little density is planned so close to a Metro station?

      • Stu Pendus

        EFC. But they’re about the mess that up, too.

        • Montgomery Burns

          My tax dollars for the county. More money for schools. Sounds like a good plan to me. EFC will be beautiful when finished

          • Stu Pendus

            Well, the beauty of it is that VDOT owns a large swath of the area that Arlington covets. A wider 66 will happen before those renderings become real. lol.

      • cj

        Perhaps Lyon Village?

        • Thes

          Yes, that’s an interesting comparison. Here is a grab of Lyon Village’s proximity to the Clarendon Metro station. The yellow line is 700 feet from the Metro escalator and runs past what will be a brand new high-rise building full of affordable housing.

          • Thes

            And here is Ashton Heights on the identical scale. The 700 foot line here runs through the proposed park.

          • Villager

            Great idea! Knock down the Maury Arts Center and fill up that whole block with affordable housing! And while we’re at it, tear down the existing garden apartments — because they’re too old and too short — and build high-rise affordable units there too! Isn’t that what smart growth calls for — high-rises everywhere near Metro, except for the dog parks?

          • Lee-n-Glebe

            No, the dog parks are supposed to be high-rise too.

        • charlie

          i think parts of Clarendon are too low density. Especially along 10th Street going to the major new intesection at Route 50. I mean if we spend that much making the intersection better we should add cars to it. who cares about access to mETRO, it is full anyways.

  • steve85

    As long as it not a dog park I’m cool. My suggestion will be a Dunkin Donuts

    • Ugh

      How did the Dunkin’ Donuts where Pio Pio now resides ever close? And how does Pio Pio even stay open, I never see anyone in that dump. I think it must be a cover for some kind of drug or sex trafficing ring.

      • Rebecca

        I think the same thing! I walk my dog by there every evening and never see anyone.

        Arlnow… do an investigative report!

        • Tre

          The parking lot is always empty, except for the occasional mistaken Carvel/Mario’s patron who’s car is quickly towed.

        • V Dizzle

          Chicken and rice was good when I ate there, and really cheap eats.

      • CW

        While I do think that it is definitely a front for the aforementioned, part of it is that if you only are in the area in the evenings and on weekends, like I usually am, you don’t see that their main business comes during the lunch hour on weekdays. A lot of laborers and tradespeople eat there. The place still sucks though.

      • Louise

        Oh, I miss that Dunkin’ Donuts so much. It had a drive thru!

      • The Native

        Pio pio is awesome! I saw a guy there on the hottest day of the year last year in a chicken suit. Awesome. Also, for those that remember it was not one, not two, but three Dunkin Donuts that failed there. Location location location. Not only the steady stream of cops could keep it open.

  • ArlingtonAaron

    The sign has gothic lettering, but the lions on the windows and the woodwork inside always struck me as more English. And the start seems more American folky. Not to mention the fact that the symbol that the “artist who I think is now again known as Prince” used as his name for a while was also on the sign… who knows what was intended here: what a weird chapter in local real estate.

  • Webster

    Progress finally.

    The best thing about this deal is the county paid the former owner almost twice the assessed value for the property. Wait…wut?

  • Matt

    I’m always happy to see the Arlington Gestapo ensure another business stays shuttered. At least with the park expansion, the unemployed will have a bench to sleep on.

    • novasteve

      I bet they refused to hire section 8 tenants so the county denied them.

  • Rosslynite

    Is knocking it over with a backhoe what they are calling “deconstruction” these days?

    http://www.arlnow.com/2010/07/20/would-be-restaurant-will-be-torn-down-turned-into-a-park/

    “Once the building is “deconstructed” — taken apart in a way that allows for more building materials to be recycled — the entire property will be converted to a park.”

    • samsonite

      Maybe they already stripped the interior of recyclables and reusables and now they’re knocking down the main structure.

  • samsonite

    Sucks to see an old building go down though.

    • Clarendude

      I liked that little building. :(

      • ClarendonDweller

        +1 – I’m sad they tore it down!

    • We fear change

      No not really.

  • YTK

    Oh GOOD ! THANK GOD (Thank Goth?) That this will be used as PARK SPACE!!!! We NEED more bits of green around this high-rise-strewn area.

    • Stewie Griffith

      We don’t need no more green spaces. I don’t want to step in anything that I’m not suppose to step in. People need to clean up the “Green”

      • Steve85

        That is true. Please build something there. Hurry

  • YTK

    Actually I thought that was a cool looking bar, and I wish it had opened for business — I pity all those poor trendy upscale people who get offended so easily — like they were forced to staaare at it all the time????

    • SaveDaveMcKenna

      Yet another of the dwindling “weird” Arlington inventory is gone. Jackbooted brown flip-flops.

      • samsonite

        Yep.

      • Maria

        Would you have gone there? Really? I mean, I know a lot of you hate the population along Wilson/Clarendon Blvds, but what kind of “goth” population do we really have here that would have frequented this place?

      • Josh S

        Not nearly as funny here. I don’t know why.

  • Tre

    The polite thing to do would have been shipping the building to N’orleans

  • Louise

    There are myriad benefits to preserving diversity. I, personally, prefer to live in an area with people who aren’t exactly like me. And I don’t mind paying a little for that privilege. It enriches my life and my children’s lives b/c it means they are exposed to different cultures at school.

    • novasteve

      at what cost? The japanese pretty well off, and they have zero diversity. Also very low crime and violence, very high quality of life, and great economy.. Would you rather live there or a “diverse” place like Detroit, newark or camden NJ?

      • Juanita de Talmas

        There is nothing diverse about Detroit, Newark or Camden. They are about as monocultural as they come.

    • G

      In my experience, preserving diversity = more noise, loud music, more litter, empty cigarette cartons everywhere, huge, loud parties in small one bedroom apartments, threats, and the constant smell of cigarette smoke and marijuana throughout the building.

      • Caveat

        Don’t confuse racial diversity with economic diversity. The things you cited are things lower-income people do (along with douchey upper-income people). But my street in N. Arl. is racially diverse and affluent, and it’s very quiet and civil. (In fact, the few douchily uncivil folks happen to be fellow Caucasians.)

        Keep naturally occuring racial diversity, but don’t create artificial economic diversity.

        • Juanita de Talmas

          Also, don’t confuse “diversity” with “a large number of African-Americans”. That is not what the word means, although many people seem to use it that way.

        • G

          I would have to agree with your statement – though I didn’t specify racial or economic diversity in my post. The condos in my building tend to rent at affordable prices… The renters in the building make it awful for the owners. I just can’t wait for the day that I can afford a single family home around here!

      • We fear change

        G: Say it, We know who you hate. Why don’t you just say it? Say it! People that look like Denzel Washington or Lou-Diamond Philips?

    • G

      …and it also negatively impacts the rate that nearby condo and homeowners can rent out their units.

      • Larry

        I’ve found that it’s not useful to have a discussion with someone who touts diversity for it’s own sake until they have kids and start thinking about where to live in the context of the schools. They start looking at performance stats, graduation rates, and juvenile crime rates in the schools. Diversity for its own sake pretty much drops off their location selection criteria.

        • Louise

          Perhaps that is true of some people. One of the things that drew my husband and me to our neighborhood was its schools, which are quite diverse. Sorry Larry!

          • G

            Louise, I have no problem living in a diverse community or sending my kids to a diverse school, however, living in a building with a lot of economic (and subsequently, racial) diversity is very different. Even though many of these people are friendly, and civil outside of their home, they can be quite disrespectful to neighbors living in close proximity. Blasting music, having parties, allowing smoke to get into the hallways and other units, their drug dealers coming and going at all hours of the day and night, litter everywhere, roaches, the list goes on… It’s one thing to say you appreciate the diversity in your community, but unless you live with it in close proximity, I feel you don’t have a real appreciation.

          • Maria

            I saw a drug deal outside Gold’s Ballston… white drug dealer, white driver, really crappy car (therefore I make the assumption they are not “economically privileged”). As Caveat said, racial and economic diversity are two different things, not always mutually exclusive, but different nonetheless. It doesn’t really matter what color your skin is… it matters how and where you were raised. You hope people grow up to make good decisions regardless of their upbringing, but obviously that isn’t always the case (in all economic situations!).

          • G

            Yeah I think the word I should be using is “culturally” diverse!

          • MeatHead

            Steriods.

          • Maria

            If any of those people had ever seen the inside of a gym, I’d be surprised.

          • Louise

            How do you know where I have and have not lived?

          • G

            With diverse incomes and culture, these are the cultural behaviors that often-times accompany lower income groups.

          • Caveat

            That’s true. Cultural differences amplify with decreasing affluence and almost disappear the higher you go in income.

            Oh, and don’t think SFHs don’t have any such problems. All it takes is one house full of party-animal renters, or some jacktard who wants to expand his house halfway into his backyard, or lets his dog out to beturd the neighborhood streets.

          • We fear change

            We know what you mean.

        • samsonite

          Not necessarily.

          “Annandale High is overcrowded, and Fairfax officials are suggesting the school board move the Wakefield Chapel kids to W.T. Woodson High, which has mostly affluent families.

          But in a switch from the usual boundary change debate — affluent parents objecting to sending their kids to a school with a large number of low-income families — the Wakefield Chapel parents are angrily demanding that their children be allowed to stay with the poor kids.”

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/why-parents-love-a-lower-rated-school/2011/07/09/gIQAJoQo5H_blog.html

          • AHS

            I grew up in the Wakefield Chapel neighborhoods in Annandale, just outside the beltway and have to say I agree — as do most other kids from there. I had absolutely no desire to go to WT Woodson. Annandale woke us up to the real world.

    • KalashniKEV

      Funniest. Post. Ever.

      with bonus points for “Myriad.”

      You don’t mind paying a bit more to keep a few poor people as your pets? Gee, that’s nice of you!

      • samsonite

        I’ll pay for you to leave.

      • Lemme get this straight

        KEV, your icon indicates you served with the 101st and went through Ranger School. And you never served with anyone different from you?

        I ask this because you seem to mock the idea that any diversity could ever have any benefit whatsoever.

        • Guest McGuest

          Arguing with a kid who uses Kalashni- whatever as a handle is like arguing with MustardGasGary or LandmineLarry. Good luck.

          • Kalashnikev

            …and what of the people who regularly change their screenames to avoid the fact they are made the fool on a daily basis, Mehoo/samsonite/McGuest/Whatever you were a month ago?

        • Kalashnikev

          Sure did… and everyone pulled their own weight. As noted in several posts “Diversity” in Arlington doesn’t mean the same as the dictionary definition, but something very different and much more sinister.

          Also, *most* everyone I served with was Army Green… people who go around trying to promote how special and different they are from everyone else usually don’t do very well.

          • samsonite

            What exactly does “diversity” mean in Arlington, and who defined it, and why is it “sinister?”

          • samsonite

            The early 20s is when the gap between wisdom and ego is at its widest.

  • JamesE

    Conformist, ughhhh

  • Charlie

    Another example of the worse fate possible for an older building. — having Arlington county be your o owner. They tore down pt Moran and now this. If I had owned either one they would have made it historic.

  • Westover

    What a shame that they tore down another piece of Arlington’s history. I can remember when most of Arlington’s commercial real estate was in that style. Save the trees, kill our history. :(

    • Nate

      Oh give it a rest. It was an old, decrepit building that probably would have cost more to repair and get up to code than to rebuild.

      Sometimes old is just old.

      • methuselah

        That’s what she said.

      • samsonite

        Westover is right. Someday when everything is exactly the same, you’ll figure it out Nate.

        • Nate

          No, s/he is not. Keeping old, broken-down s— around for the sake of keeping it around isn’t (necessarily) “preserving history.” It’s just another form of hoarding.

      • Westover

        It was not just old , sadly with the redevelpment of the Ballston-Rosslyn cooridor, it was a pretty unique bit of our histroy having avoided the wrecking crews for so long by being off to the side. I miss the classic storefronts of Arlington.

    • We fear change

      No you can’t because it wasn’t.

  • Steve85

    How people crying over an old building. Buildings can last forever. Do u think people care about the history of that building. It was a eyesore. Get it outta here.

    • novasteve

      I thought it was interesting looking and wish they had a bar there…

      • Webster

        See, if it would have been a mini-Dremos all the fanbois on here would be crying to keep it.

    • samsonite

      It was hardly an eyesore. It was in good shape.

  • http://www.arlnow.com/2010/10/13/lyon-hall-answers-the-call-when-a-loyal-customer-pops-the-question/ Lauren

    I went into the building when it had the coffee shop – kind of fun. REALLY narrow building – if you opened the door you’d spill some’s coffee on them. Had a cute charm to it. Coffee was not any good and somewhat pricey, if I recall, so I never returned.

    Had a cute parking spot in the back too.

    Soon after I went they closed the shop. Then the odd painting/decorations sprung up and I could not figure out what they were doing. I thought it was a nightclub (a tiny cozy one).

    I agree, an unusual little building – sorry to see if go – but it did look like furry, icky creatures lived throughout it . . .

    A little park sounds great to me. I definitely love green areas, and I’m not being sarcastic.

  • Paco

    Glad to see folks raise the mystery of Pio Pio here. There’s no way that place is making money from invisible customers. Plus Pollo Rico is just a few blocks away, considered the gold standard, and is usually quite busy.

    Yes, a blockbuster journalistic investigation of Pio Pio is in order. And when you’re done with that, find out why the Safeway on Wilson Boulevard hasn’t changed since 1987, especially since they could make a mint with a facelift and a Starbucks inside.

    • Louise

      There are plans to *finally* replace that Safeway (and increase density, with apts/condos above it). I actually love that it hasn’t changed since I was a child. Nobody I know shops there, so it’s really peaceful and the lines are super short.

      • charlie

        you may have missed the notice that Arlington is putting a new ordinance in place that will require new scrutiny for any projects over 50,000 sf OR with more than 200 parking spaces. it could kill the redevelopment of that site.
        most of the discussion was focused on WalMart, but it applies to everyone.

        • Louise

          Hm. No, I didn’t know about that. We’ll have to wait and see what ends up happening. It all takes so much time, anyway. I was involved with the whole new Giant deal on Columbia Pike and that took, what, 6 years? 7?

      • ArlForester

        There are no real plans in place. Those are just pipe dreams of the local busy bodies. The owners of those locations are not involved.

    • No respect for pio pio from me

      The only time I’ve ever heard boo about this place was knowing the family from El Pollo Rico was dealing a few years back with the lost of the founder, and current owners’ father. The children whom I was close with told me that they had completely shut down El Pollo for the day in honor of the memorial service for their father as all employees wished to have time to attend. Pio Pio caught wind of this and actually sent someone over to El Pollo to tell those who approached that they were closed for a funeral service, and that Pio Pio was open to serve their customers. The family also said some folks mentioned them even referencing the family as if the stores were related… though obviously even they admitted that part was hearsay. Regardless, that they knew someone in their family (and their business founder) had passed they decided to snake over to El Pollo and steal customers who did now know that the location would be closed for the day. That’s bad business and I’d never walk into that place if it was the only place left in Arlington that sold food. :(

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    Wegman’s on Wilson?

    • charlie

      roof top dining for the asian/indian/pizza prepared foods?

  • Courthouse Yinzer

    Does this mean Dr. Dremo’s is looking for yet another new location?

  • MC

    I didn’t mind this building at all. I do mind the 7-11 next to it. Why doesn’t the County buy it and tear it down? Why doesn’t the County buy all the ugly buildings and tear them down? Marios strikes me as “gaudy.”

    • charlie

      great idea. and i’ve seen a ton of ugly townhouses and houses that I’d also like to tear down. i need a 1/4 mile wide bulldozer…

  • Louise

    LOL! They don’t just attend the rallies, they’re the Grand Wizards!

    • Joe Hoya

      You can tell they’re Arlington Kluckers by the brown flip-flops visible beneath their robes

      • Louise

        +100

  • BooHooSteve

    Too many lawyers in Arlington! Shut up.
    I loved the character of that building and can deal with convience of a 7 Eleven. If we tear down everything in Arlington, how do we remember where we came from.

  • Brandon C

    I’m trying to figure out what’s “goth” about it.

    Do you mean “gothic” style architecture, referring to medieval church designs? It ain’t that.

    Or are you trying to say it somehow evokes scenic artistry from movies like “The Crow” & “Dark City?” Ok, maybe, but not really.

    Whenever someone says, “The place looks goth,” I assume there’s a bunch of Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy and Skinny Puppy posters inside.

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  • Glenn

    I lived in the neighborhood behind it in the mid-seventies and remember it as a Coin and Stamp shop. The owner was a former Arlington Red Top Cab driver that my dad knew (he drove for Red Top also). It was a nice shop that was very welcoming to little kids and adult collectors. I understand things change (not like they were doing anything with it), but it’s a little sad to see it go.

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