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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | December 1, 2011 at 8:39 am | 3,285 views | 98 Comments

Ballston BID to Support Mall Redevelopment — The head of the newly-formed Ballston Business Improvement District says one of her first goals will be “redeveloping” Ballston Common Mall. The BID is trying to get people to think of Ballston as a science and technology hub, rather than a place best known for its “down-on-its-heels” mall. [Connection Newspapers]

‘Winter Wonderland’ Coming to Clarendon — On Saturday, Dec. 10, a family-friendly ‘Winter Wonderland’ event will be held at the Market Common Clarendon shopping center. Santa Claus is expected to arrive at the event by hitching a ride on a fire truck, according to an event flyer. [Market Common Clarendon]

County Announces Human Right Award Winners — From a press release: “A community group and three outstanding individuals are Arlington’s 2011 James B. Hunter Human Rights Award winners.” [Arlington County]

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  • Thes

    That mall could use some improvement. It looks like it was planned by County staff.

    • Grognak

      I do not understand this comment. Is there another analogous planning example in Arlington where they have mucked things up as bad as Ballston Mall? I was not aware that they had such a reputation for poor design such as found at the mall. Would love to hear the examples that led to this comment.

      Also, the design of the mall is probably not the problem, more likely it is the roster of stores.

      • TGEoA

        Artisphere for staters

        • Thes

          Indeed, Artisphere is a good example of what I’m talking about, where County staff, claiming to be “experts,” and working mostly in isolation, planned and programmed a facility. Ballston Mall has similarly uninspired planning and programming (in the case of Ballston Mall, I’m not aware that anyone is claiming that the physical design is problematic). Other examples of staff being uninspired when they are working on their own? The much-criticized County logo design, the boring new names of the County’s conference rooms come immediately to mind. Staff are good at implementing the vision of others, but they are not good at providing vision.

          I will fully concede that I can point to no examples of County staff’s poor planning of a shopping mall in particular, but if they did, I would expect it to be like the Ballston Mall.

      • JoeBallston

        Streetcar to nowhere?

        • South Arlington

          How is Columbia Pike nowhere?

          • Aaron

            If it was somewhere it would have a Metro.

          • Cash McMogulson

            Metro is for poors. Just look at Ballston.

          • Josh S

            I imagine the “poors” sit next to the “olds” on that streetcar.

  • CrystalMikey

    Good luck with that whole mall thing.

  • JamesE

    Another accident on 66W causing major delays, this is getting out of control. They need to fine these people the combined sum of wasted gas their accident causes, or public executions. Or both.

    • Fred

      I was headed eastbound on 66 this morning, and the backup on 66 west and Fairfax Dr. looked every bit as bad as yesterday. Whenever I hear anyone extoll the virtues of a reverse commute, I just think of 66 and cringe.

      • JamesE

        I don’t even take 66 but it takes me forever just to get from my place on Fairfax to the side streets because of the back up these accidents are causing. Also doesn’t help that the extra lane is taking 15 years to build, they are building an entire metro rail faster than a single lane.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Very true, Fred, unless a person is on 66 West early. I get on 66 West to drive to my office around 6:30 a.m. and haven’t had a backup at that time…..yet.

    • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

      Or they could construct the throughput lanes required to handle an accident without creating the whole region to gridlock.

      • drax

        How would an extra lane help?

        • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

          The same way a larger diameter downspout would help keep your gutters from flowing over with water in a heavy rainstorm. It can take more flow. Plus, going west, I66 widens allowing for the additional traffic flow to continue moving.

          How would additional capacity not help throughput?

          • JohnB

            Cars and people don’t flow like water.

          • Grognak

            Bruce Lee would argue with you on half of that.

          • jack

            Bruce Lee isn’t doing much of anything anymore.

          • drax

            Depends on what’s ahead of the flow.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            Yeah, well if a leaf and a twig have a crash and clog up a portion of a smaller downspout the gutter overflows. With a bigger downspout, the leaf and twig are rendered to the side and it still takes a lot of flow allowing everybody to get to work on time…I mean, water to flow off of the roof.

            Water flows at greater volume through a larger pipe.
            Electricity flows at higher voltages through a thicker wire.
            Cars pass at a higher capacity on an appropriately sized road.

          • drax

            Until they hit the bridge at the end.

          • JohnB

            Water and electricity do not flow like cars and people. A larger diameter downspout does not cause it to rain more. Additional highway lanes do cause more people to drive on them.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            drax, going west there is no bridge. Only a highway that is wider.

            JohnB, lack of a properly sized highway causes local community roads to be overly congested. You are saying “built it and they will come”. While that may be true, it is an issue for the politicians and the builders rather than the folks who are already stuck in daily gridlock. Build the road, and then don’t approve tons of addional density. Look at the Arlington population headed west to Tysons to work every day. When I66 was built, there was not this density in Arlington (or out west for that matter).

          • JohnB

            Simply pointing out that your analogy of water to cars is flawed. I’m glad that we agree that transportation infrastructure planning and land use planning are only effective if they are coordinated and have a 25-30 year planning horizon.

          • Always Right

            Overgrown, you are totally correct. Don’t waste your time trying to educate people who think like downspouts.

          • Zimmerman’s Hat

            I think it was a very good analogy actually.

    • ArlingtonChick

      I, unfortunately, have been rear-ended on 66E on a Friday afternoon commute. That sucked (totaled my car, because the guy hit the gas instead of the breaks). But what sucked more was the cursing from the angry drivers as they drove by. So, while I’m all for public beatings, the screaming from the drivers all but make up for their inability to beat the crap out of the drivers who get into accidents. :)

      • Southeast Jerome

        That is very unfortunate you got hit. It is a shock to me how there are ever accidents on a highway…….. I mean, really? The road goes straight for the most part. Cant people just drive straight? There are no lights, no stop signs, no blind turns, no pedestrians….. I’d love to hear the demographic of the person who hit you.

      • Josh S

        Same thing happened to me when getting involved in a fender-bender on George Mason Blvd during the evening rush. Couldn’t decide whether the accident or the yelling motorists made me angrier.

        I wonder if any of them were named steve……?

      • JamesE

        Public execution only for those at fault.

    • OX4

      They’re accidents, relax. No one ever intends to crash their car.

  • UnlimitedCustoms

    Wasn’t that hotel a Marriott?

  • Arlington Native

    First steps for improving the Ballston Mall:

    Require Macy’s to gut and renovate their store (compared to the Pentagon City Macy’s, the Ballston location is shabby, outdated, smells like mold and carries the lowest-end merchandise possible.)

    Get rid of the Macy’s Furniture and put in a real department store…or better yet….a small scale Target or BB & Beyond.

    With better anchor stores, perhaps the mall would then attract more desirable retailers. If the redevelopment plan calls for continuing with the shopping mall concept, then they desperately needs good apparel stores. There are currently THREE women’s clothing shops in the mall (Rainbow, Wet Seal and 4Her) and all of them cater to teenage hoochies and not professional women.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Totally agree, Arlington Native.

    • drax

      Ballston Mall has been trying to get a new second anchor since JC Penney left 10+ years ago. Easier said than done.

      • Carol

        Oh my, how do things like this get posted on the internet?

        When Macy’s company bought the mall from Hecht’s, sometime around 2005 I think, they hardly would have had any incentive to open up a competing department store at the other end. That is a key reason the lousy furniture store has held on.

        • drax

          Hecht’s was there a long time before that. That furniture store probably doesn’t pull in nearly as many shoppers as a second anchor would – which is why they call them anchors. If they could find a new one, you can bet they’d bounce Macy’s furniture the minute their lease expired.

        • AllenB

          They have a lot of incentives for competition. A larger choice of stores brings more foot traffic overall. Just ask a manager of a Crate and Barrel furniture store; they love being near a Pottery Barn or other type of store as people then come to view it as a hub for furniture and go there to shop. Better yet, don’t bother asking… I already have.

    • LuvDusty

      We have had extensive discussions about options for improving the Ballston mall several times on ARLNOW. Several years ago I suggested that the Macy’s furniture store be closed and a Target and Bed Bath & Beyond be opened as new anchor stores and that alone would boost the mall.

      Particularly Target—see what adding a Target did to Columbia Heights..and considering there is no Target accessible to Metro, Bikes or walking in N. Arlington—it’s a clear win-win all around.

      There were also extensive discussions about re-doing the entire parking lot at the mall, as it really is not conducive to quick entry/exit.

      Again–all this takes $$$$. I suggest the county try to strike a deal w/Target and get them to pay for some of the renovations to improve the store space and make it more attractive for shoppers.

      Target would be foolish not to take them up on it—as there are now thousands of residents living in the rentals/condos within a 1-2 mile radius of that location that would fill their store 24/7.

      • Arlington Native

        LuvDusty, I 100% agree with you about the Target idea. I live a few blocks away from the Ballston Mall and I would much prefer to walk to a Target when I need something instead of getting into my car and driving to Seven Corners or Potomac Yard.

        With all the “car-free” living that Arlington is trying to promote, it would make sense to provide incentives for this type of retailer to open a business in a high density area such as Ballson.

      • BlueLoom

        It is solely b/c of the poorly designed parking lot that I never go to the Ballston Mall. I’d go to Tysons (Metro & HOT lanes construction be damned) rather than brave the parking structure at Ballston.

        Tear the whole thing down. Start over.

  • Paco

    Put the Chik-fil-A upstairs in the old JC Penneys. Lots of room for tables. Seems to be the only outlet (besides Kettler, the bars and movie house) that draws folks to the Mall that Time Forgot.

    In fact, close the entire dreary food court and make it another public ice rink since the elevators to Kettler are so slow anyway.

    • Andy

      And add a Taco Bell where Chik-fil-A is now. Yummmmm. Seems like a Hooters would be quite popular in the Ballston area, too.

  • PotentialSlacker

    Whats with the unrelated picture…AGAIN!

    • Elizabeth

      Yeah, the random pic always confuses me.

      • drax

        It’s a pretty picture to look at. Like on a calendar or whatever.

    • OX4

      Do you guys really get confused by this? They’re just pics of Arlington pulled from the Flickr pool. Why do they have to relate to the headline roundup?

      • PotentialSlacker

        Duh, stories are more fun when they have pictures in them! I don’t think it’s too much of a challenge to put a relevant picture up. It’s also why I usually don’t read the “older posts” anymore.

        • OX4

          I’d respond but I assume you’ve lost interest in this because I have no relevant picture to show.

  • native too

    Although it never was Pentagon City or Tysons, I do remember when Ballston had SOME stores that people actually wanted to shop in… the problem is the mall built its retail up before the cityscape around it was built up in “hopes” of the incoming metro, etc. Once the clientelle wasn’t there (and Tysons and Pentagon were all within 15 minutes given no traffic from either end of Arlington) the stores left and it will take convincing and guts to get them back.

    A few lead stores (department or as mentioned a small scale like Target) need to be the new marketing anchor and really team with the property. Perhaps if the mall could offer a discount on the space lease or the percentage of sales that EVERY company/store gives to mall on top of their rent each month as an incentive to help promote the anchor stores in order to bring in other major retailers (a New York & Company for inexpensive but professional attire for women, or an H&M; an apple store, yes there’s clarendon but the Ballston-EFC crowd would shop there, I’m sure; etc.). I think now as Arlington’s built up so fully and walking has built a new fan club (and traffic to both Tysons and Pentagon just gets worse) it could really succeed… the hard part is that start and getting those stores to partner with the property management folks. It will a) be a lot of work and b) require whomever the property management folks are to think outside the greedy mall box that is only a sheet of numbers and cost and no risk… that’s how they charged high mall rent prices as every mall did and then lost any few good stores left.

    And yes, whoever said the Macy’s there is pathetic, it is… but that’s mostly because it’s a Hechts Macy’s and not an original Macy’s… When they bought the company they kept the locations and merchandise in many stores because they believed it allowed for variety in their price ranges, etc. But what it really did is put their name on a store that was WAY below their original standard of quality. People when in expecting Macy’s and got Hechts and never went back. :-/

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Agree, Native Too. Way back when I was growing up in Arlington, Ballston “Mess” was Parkington. There was a better variety of stores, it was much busier and had a wide variety of clientele. The old Hechts had a much better stock, personnel, etc. than the current Macy’s. Hechts also had a furniture store that was much better than the sorry Macy’s there now. I can walk to Ballston Common in 20 minutes and would be glad to do so if there were any places there worth patronizing. I work near Tysons I and II and I go there on my lunch hour if I need to shop. For years, I’ve only use Ballston Common’s parking garage to park my car if I have to catch the Orange Line into D.C.

    • drax

      Pentagon City is doing great, but it’s just a mall next to Metro too.

      • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

        Green Line, thank you.

        • South Arlington

          The Green Line doesn’t go there.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            Sorry. I should have been more clear. Ghetto traffic from the Green Line via L”Enfant and Yellow Line, thank you.

          • South Arlington

            Seems to me there are as many ghetto crimes at the Ballston mall on the crime reports, compounded with how many more homeless people are hanging out a block away at the Ballston metro. Looks like the “ghetto traffic” has figured out how to use the poo-poo Orange Line. Have you even looked around the Ballston Mall, it’s the pits. It’s Landmark Mall/Springfield Mall located in Arlington. Pentagon City at least has upscale stores like Nordstroms, J Crew and others to attract a much better crowd. Ballston has a barstool store and a weird shaver store.

          • Pentagon employee

            Worked at Pentagon City for 10 years… though they are clearly doing much better than Ballston and even though have more upscale stores they have PLENTY of room for improvement. The biggest problem with PC is that it’s general target clientelle is not only those who may shop at Tysons but reaching out more towards Tysons II aka – it’s still missing stores for the every man. The problem with crime and the metro attached to that is that a good percentage of the “customers” that come off the metro are not shopping in those high end stores. They may be walking out with merchandise, but they are not shopping. Trust me loss prevention numbers at a store in Pentagon City compared to it’s counterpart in Tysons is HUGE.

            The good news for Ballston there is that there is still a search for the middle stores… as mentioned above New York & Company and H&M where you don’t pay $50-$100 for a shirt you pay $20-$50… it’s not Rainbow and Wet Seal in the “cheap” department but you can afford not to have to save up to buy a couple nice new work outfits. And with the cost of living for the people that want to be “in” and live in Ballston but are saving pennies to do so, those are the types of stores they need. Tysons 1 has many of theses stores, but PC does not (yes, it may have SOME, but not many).

          • drax

            You do realize that one of those ghetto dwellers (to use your code word) can get anywhere on the Metro system from the Green Line, right?

  • Tabby

    Commute from Columbia Pike this morning was AWFUL.

    There were no 16Ys. Loads of us waiting and waiting and getting colder and colder. I finally gave up and took a bus to Pentagon City. The driver said “yeah, something is going on downtown. Lots of people are complaining.”

    WMATA.com is useless! There are never current bus condition alerts. I am so effing tired of this useless system. No news on WTOP or the Gridlock guy either.

    • South Arlington

      Did you not use Nextbus on your phone? I saw the delays before I left the house and found alternate routes.

  • KalashniKEV

    “The BID is trying to get people to think of Ballston as a science and technology hub, rather than a place best known for its “down-on-its-heels” mall.”

    LOL. Maybe they can invent a cloaking device for all the Bums.

    • jack

      Where are all these “Bums” you keep talking about? Are you using it as slang for something?

      • drax

        I always hear him saying “Juden” when he says bums, but that’s just me.

        • KalashniKEV

          That’s because you’re insane.

          • drax

            Was immer du sagst.

      • Always Right

        Are your eyes open? “Where are the BUMS”?? Wake up Jack.

    • Michael H.

      The National Science Foundation is still in Ballston. There are also other tech-related companies in the neighborhood.

      They should convert more of the mall into office space or something along the lines of the ice rink or the Sport & Health. Then clear out the discount stores.

  • novasteve

    Human rights awards?Jesus H. Christ. These liberals here have WAY too much free time on their hands to waste my tax dollars.

    • drax

      Don’t worry, steve, you have no chance of winning.

    • Josh S

      Is it ironic that steve appeals to arguably the greatest promoter of human rights ever in a post complaining about a human rights award?

      • drax

        Good observation.

        Now I know what the H stands for – Human Rights. Shouldn’t it be Jesus H.R. Christ though?

    • Always Right

      Is the Community Group, ACORN?

  • Tre

    Ballston really isn’t as bad as people make it out to be, although it’s fun to make fun of it. Honestly, the restaurant selection in Ballston is much better than Courthouse or Rosslyn (IMO). Plus with the Founders Square development right across from the Ballston Mall, it may entice more “brand-names” into the mall.

    http://www.asaretail.com/media/properties/Founders%20Square%20Flier.pdf

    • ArlingtonChick

      You must love overpriced chains and being treated like poo by waitstaff. Because that’s the Ballston restaurant scene. Minus Ihop. They rock. Because they are what they are. (And yes, I go to better dinners, but sometimes there’s just nothing better than an Ihop).

      • JamesE

        Rustico, BRGR, First down, Car Pool are such chains!!

        • JamesE

          I forgot Willow as well, also a chain restaurant

        • Josh S

          There’s a BRGR in Ballston? Awesome, I’ll have to check that one out.

          • JamesE

            not to be confused with BGR

          • ArlingtonChick

            Sorry, I’ll revise. “chains AND/OR being treated like poo. I stopped going to Willow because I couldn’t stand the waitstaff. They are horrible. Rustico is a chain (there’s another one in Alexandria, and it’s chainy like the Caryle Grand is chainy–it’s a part of a larger restaurant group that shares food, etc). Also, who goes to car pool? Seriously.

          • JamesE

            Car Pool is the best bar in Arlington, unpretentious, only 10-15% flip flops at a time.

          • jack

            Sounds like it’s less of a problem with options not being there and more with you having a problem with all of them for one reason or another.

            (And I don’t consider Rustico a chain.)

          • South Arlington

            Carpool is the uber flip flop bar. Have you gone on Sundays? There are more Virginia Tech fist pumpers there crushing Miller Lites than anywhere else (Mr. Days might be tied).

          • JamesE

            I went to VT so I see no problem with that, but Sunday it is filled with redskins fans not VT, Hard Times and Baileys are where you get 100% VT fans

      • Tre

        If a store has 3 branches does it become a chain? How many locations must a restaurant have before it loses its appeal?. Should I stop going to Five Guys now that it went from Arlington to Nationwide? and the “Overpriced” thing is merely a function of an expensive area (High median income area has expensive food…GREAT SCOTT!!)

        Anyways… some of my faves in Ballston are Vapianos (global German chain eeek!!!), Big Buns, IHOP and Arby’s.

  • DLGlenCarlyn

    I am curious as to how the KKK reference in the Connection article (2nd to last paragraph) is relevant to redevelopment of Ballston Commons Mall???

    • JamesE

      I associate Clarendon with the neo nazis

    • drax

      Don’t know, but it fits this thread with its bum and ghetto haters.

      • South Arlington

        Are there bum and ghetto lovers?

        • drax

          Oh, yeah.

        • Jesus H.R. Christ

          I love the bums and the ghetto dwellers, all.

          • Jesus H.R. Christ

            but I sure wish I didn’t have to pay to house them all year round here. Maybe they could do the Me-ian thing and move back to PG County.

          • Always Right

            Wishful thinking. They are searching for new territory to destroy.

  • LuvDusty

    Don’t forget Vapiano’s and Ted’s Montana Grill around the corner. Panera is not bad (in the mall), and Rustico has decent outdoor seating. There’s also a new place right next to it, forgot the name, which ain’t bad either.

    It’s not fantastic, but still better than it was 10 years ago and it will only improve, since Ballston is still close enough to DC for commuters, but still way cheaper than Clarendon.

    Someone was talkin smack about Courthouse and I don’t find it to be that bad options wise..there’s Me Jana (Lebanese), Fireworks (good pizza and a huge beer selection) and several other places that are not bad. Arlington Rooftop Bar? Deli Dhaba..lots of options really…even if sleepier than Clarendon.

  • NoVapologist

    Ballston Mall is the perfect location for the long-awaited Arlington Wal-Mart.

    • Zimmerman’s Hat

      They did that some years ago over at the crappy Skyline mall. Instead of a crappy mall, it is now Target.

  • MC

    I love how many gentleman planning experts we have in our fine County, offering their professional-quality planning advice for free, while people who actually get paid to make developments successful keep screwing up. True testimony to how our citizens are indeed the best educated, and how hard it is get hired competent help these days.

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