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Groundbreaking for ‘Verde Pointe’ on Lee Highway

by ARLnow.com | March 21, 2014 at 11:15 am | 2,875 views | No Comments

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A groundbreaking was held Thursday for Verde Pointe, the new residential and retail development on the former Bergmann’s Dry Cleaning site.

The ceremony was held at the site, at Lee Highway and N. Veitch Street, and featured Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette and representatives from the developer and other companies involved in the $80 million project.

Verde Pointe, which was approved by the County Board in December 2012, will feature 177 apartments in a 10-story building, 23 townhomes, a 14,000 square foot Mom’s Organic Market and other retail spaces.

Construction is expected to wrap up in the spring or summer of 2015, according to a spokeswoman. The full press release about the groundbreaking, after the jump.

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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 21, 2014 at 9:05 am | 3,045 views | No Comments

Inside Ben's Chili Bowl (Flickr pool photo by Christaki)

School Board Nixes Controversial Proposed Cuts — The Arlington School Board on Thursday took three key cuts proposed by superintendent Patrick Murphy off the table. The nixed proposals are: combining the Langston-Brown High School Continuation Program with Arlington Mill High School, reducing day classes offered to students over the age of 22, and eliminating elementary school library aides. The cuts would have saved at least $2.7 million. The Board is also “asking for more information about” a proposal that would outfit every second and sixth grader with an iPad or Chromebook at a reported annual cost of $200,000. [InsideNoVa]

WHS Video for Happiness Day — The Wakefield Asian Club at Wakefield High School created a musical video from Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” in honor of International Day of Happiness on Thursday. [YouTube]

Girl Scout Troop Orders Too Many Cookies — A new Girl Scout troop from Arlington’s Nottingham Elementary School misread an order form and accidentally ordered 12 times as many cases of Girl Scout cookies to sell as intended. Luckily, other local Girl Scout troops rallied and helped the troop sell the 1,440 excess boxes of Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, etc. [Washington Post]

Bennington Apartments Sell for $101.1 Million — The Bennington apartment building at 1201 S. Eads Street in Pentagon City has traded hands for $101.1 million. The 348-unit building was purchased by New York-based Pantzer Properties, which plans to rebrand the building as “The Point at Pentagon City.” [Washington Business Journal]

SPRC to Meet on Key Blvd Apartment Plan — The county’s Site Plan Review Committee will meet Monday to discuss a plan to demolish and redevelop the Key Boulevard Apartments near Rosslyn. The group Preservation Arlington has expressed concern about the proposal. “Built in 1943, Key Boulevard Apartments are a nearly perfect garden apartment complex with all the right details and scaling,” the group wrote on its blog. [Preservation Arlington]

Road Closures for Nottingham 5K – Several streets will be closed Saturday morning for the Nottingham Elementary 5K race. The closures will be in place on parts of Williamsburg Blvd, Little Falls Road and N. Ohio Street from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

UPDATED: Apartment Fire Near Rosslyn Started By Hot Embers

by ARLnow.com | January 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm | 3,850 views | No Comments

Arlington County firefighters responded to an apartment fire near Rosslyn Tuesday night.

Units on the scene reported flames coming from a third story apartment at the Rosslyn Heights apartment building on the 1800 block of N. Quinn Street.

A fire on the exterior balcony had extended to the interior of an apartment, according to the fire department Twitter account. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported.

The residents of three apartments were displaced due to fire, smoke and water damage.

Update at 4:15 p.m. on 1/22/14 — In a press release, the Arlington County Fire Dept. says this fire started due to improper disposal of hot embers.

Last night, Arlington firefighters responded to a fire that started on the balcony and quickly spread to the inside of the apartment. Fortunately, no one was injured and the fire was reported early, keeping damage to an estimated $20,000. The fire was caused when occupants extinguished a fire in their fireplace with water and placed the logs outside on the deck. The occupants knew that it was dangerous to leave a fireplace unattended, but did not know how to properly dispose of hot ashes and embers.

It is a common misconception that the ashes are safe once the fire is extinguished; however, ashes and embers can smolder for hours. Ashes must be disposed of properly to prevent these types of fires from occurring. Once the fire is extinguished, place the ashes in a metal container with a lid. Never place ashes directly into a trash can or paper bag. Move the metal container outside and away from all combustibles, including decks, garages, and leaves. Soak the ashes with water and re-cover.

The Arlington County Fire Department recommends you follow these safety tips when using a fireplace:

  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional.
  • Always use a metal or heat-tempered glass screen to prevent sparks from flying into the room.
  • Use only newspaper and kindling wood or fire starters to start a fire, never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Only burn dry, seasoned wood.
  • Never leave the fireplace unattended.
  • Allow ashes to cool completely before disposing.
  • Place ashes in a metal container with a lid. Move the container at least 10 feet from the building and saturate the ashes with water.

More information at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/home_fire_prev/heating/fireplace.shtm

Photo courtesy @hilary1121

Apartments Could Replace Vacant Pentagon City Office Building

by Ethan Rothstein | January 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm | 2,097 views | No Comments

A rendering of the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive apartment buildingsA vacant office building in Pentagon City could be in line for a transformation into a two-tower high-rise apartment building.

The former Department of Defense Inspector General office at 400 Army Navy Drive has submitted a site plan for a 20-story building with two towers — on one, three-story platform — that would have 491,588 square feet of ground floor space and 453 residential units.

The building, also called the “Paperclip Building,” was acquired by Bethesda-based developer LCOR in 2012, according to City Biz List, with the plan to convert it into housing. The site plan is now under consideration with the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) and is slated to go before the Planning Commission and the Arlington County Board no earlier than April for approval, we’re told.

The 1.6-acre plot of land is bounded by Army Navy Drive to the north, 11th Street S. to the south, S. Eads Street to the west and the Doubletree hotel to the east. The site is across S. Eads Street from the recently-approved PenPlace commercial development, which calls for four office buildings and a 300-room hotel on 10.2 acres; more than 4 million square feet of floor space.

A rendering of the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive apartment buildingsPenPlace was approved despite heavy opposition from the Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA) and other neighborhood groups, who objected to the height of the buildings (16-21 stories) and the additional traffic expected to be generated.

At the initial SPRC meeting, commissioners expressed concern that the traffic study the developer performed in June, when putting together its site plan, did not include the impact from PenPlace. In addition, a proposed operations and maintenance facility for the Crystal City streetcar line is directly adjacent to the planned apartment site.

“I don’t see how the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive project can be successfully developed if the County proceeds with its plan to build a streetcar operations and maintenance facility a few feet from its front door on the ‘tear drop’ in the middle of Eads Street,” Arthur Fox, who’s representing ARCA on the SPRC for the project, told ARLnow.com.

“Indeed, an O&M facility in that location will likely be the rotten apple that will spoil the barrel the County is seeking to develop across Eads on PenPlace,” Fox continued. “Unfortunately, the county failed to seriously consider a number of alternative sites that would be far better suited for an O&M facility. It needs to take a step backward and reopen that process.”

ACFD: Oxygen Tanks Helped Fuel Apartment Fire

by ARLnow.com | January 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 749 views | No Comments

Apartment fire on S. Greenbrier Street (photo courtesy @itsjustmejona)Home oxygen tanks helped fuel Sunday morning’s three-alarm apartment fire near Columbia Pike, the Arlington County Fire Department said today.

The fire broke out around 9:15 a.m. in an apartment at 850 S. Greenbrier Street. Firefighters from Arlington and Fairfax County arrived minutes after a 911 call was placed, and found heavy smoke coming from a second-floor apartment.

Firefighters rescued 20 trapped residents using ladders, and rescued an unconscious man from a smoke-filled hallway. He was transported to Medstar Washington Hospital Center in critical condition, ACFD said.

More than 80 fire personnel helped to extinguish the flames, which extended to the third and fourth floors and caused some $50,000 worth of damage. Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management set up a temporary shelter for 120 displaced residents in the nearby Greenbrier Baptist Church. The American Red Cross also helped to provide food, water and other essentials.

The cause is still under investigation, but the fire department says medical oxygen tanks “contribute[d] to the rapid fire spread.”

Photo courtesy @itsjustmejona

Several Rescued During Three-Alarm Apartment Fire

by ARLnow.com | January 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 3,327 views | No Comments

(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) One person is in serious condition after a three-alarm apartment fire on Columbia Pike this morning.

The fire broke out just before 9:30 a.m. at 850 S. Greenbrier Street, a seven-story brick apartment building near Columbia Pike. The fire broke out in a second story apartment , then extended to the third floor, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton.

Several people were rescued by firefighters using ladders, while several others jumped from their second and third-floor apartments. One person was rescued and transported to Washington Hospital Center with life-threatening smoke inhalation injuries. Three others were transported to the hospital for non-fire-related medical conditions.

Residents of the apartment building are being sheltered in a nearby church and another apartment building, according to Shelton. All residents but those on the second floor and in two fire-damaged apartments are expected to be allowed back later tonight. They were originally expected to be allowed back around 4:00 but “plumbing issues” forced a delay.

Jonathan, a Twitter user contacted by ARLnow.com, said he and his family were in a third floor apartment and were among those who had to jump.

“I woke up to the fire alarm, didn’t think it was nothing then I heard an explosion and my people where telling us to get out,” he said via Twitter. “I opened the door to check and it was filled with smoke we had to jump out of the window.”

Jonathan said he, his mother, father, and brother all jumped out the window, taking their pet bird with them. For now they’re staying at a friend’s house.

Shelton said oxygen tanks were found in the second floor apartment where the fire started. Raime, another Twitter user, said the fire started in his mother’s apartment.

“My mom tried to plug her phone in the wall to charge it and it sparked a fire and she had oxygen tanks in the room and they exploded,” he said. So far fire officials have not been able to confirm his account.

Photos courtesy @itsjustmejona

New 750-Unit Apartment Complex Proposed for Park Shirlington

by Ethan Rothstein | December 13, 2013 at 10:45 am | 1,520 views | No Comments

The owners of the Park Shirlington apartments (4510 31st Street S.) are looking for county approval to bulldoze the current, low-rise buildings and replace them with 750 low- to mid-rise apartments.

On Nov. 15, Home Properties filed a preliminary site plan application, which is currently under staff review at the Arlington County Zoning Office. The plan calls for five residential buildings between three and five stories each, encompassing about 712,000 square feet of gross floor area on 15 acres surrounding 31st Street S.

The current buildings have 293 units occupied by 271 households. They will be replaced by a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with more than 50 percent of the 750 units expected to be one-bedroom.

As opposed to the current street and surface parking, Home Properties proposes building an 827-space garage in the new complex and having only 76 surface spaces.

The proposal would need special exception approval since it’s above the county’s planned density for the area. The owner offered to have affordable housing included, as well as to contribute to an improved streetscape and other transportation improvements, but did not specify in the application how many units it would make affordable.

Photo via Google Maps

Avery Row Apartments Now Leasing

by Katie Pyzyk | December 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm | 1,157 views | No Comments

Avery Row Apartments (photo via Avery Row Apartments website(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) The leasing center at the new Avery Row (1200 N. Rolfe Street) apartment complex opened for business yesterday (December 9).

Potential residents can now tour the four story, 67-unit building in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood. The “boutique apartment community” features one and two bedroom apartments, balconies, rooftop terraces and an outdoor dining area.

“We give you a lot of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, a lot of outdoor areas to appreciate nature,” said Shelley Brooks, Regional Portfolio Manager for Bozzuto Management Company. “It’s a very special community. It’s modern, yet elegant. I think they’ll go very quickly.”

The complex had previously been known as “Grayson Flats” and was intended to be marketed as apartment rentals. But Reston-based Silverwood Companies announced its purchase of the property in April and repositioned it as a condominium building, while also changing the name to “The Avery.” The property was recently repositioned again as the Avery Row apartments; it is still owned by Silverwood and Bozzuto Management Company currently oversees the property.

Brooks explained that The Avery opened for condo sales in early June and interest rates increased less than three weeks later, stopping interest in the condos. Silverwood reassessed the market and determined apartments were a better option, especially given what it calls a lack of large, luxury units in the area.

The apartments are ready for immediate move-in. So far, one apartment has been leased and there are 66 others available. Monthly rental prices range from $2,345 for a one bedroom to more than $3,430 for a two bedroom with den.

Morning Notes

by Katie Pyzyk | November 20, 2013 at 9:00 am | 1,033 views | No Comments

Ginkgo leaves in north Arlington

Rosslyn Apartment Building to Sell for $220 Million — The JBG Cos. has reached a deal to sell its new Sedona Slate apartments in Rosslyn for $220 million. The company spent about $150 million to develop the two-building apartment project, which had a ribbon cutting ceremony in June. [Washington Business Journal]

APS Competition to Reduce Dropout Rate — Arlington Public Schools (APS) announced a competition for data analysts to help the school system prevent students from dropping out. Analysts will help APS identify trends and hopefully will find ways to flag students who could use more one-on-one time with counselors. Assistant Superintendent for Information Services Raj Adusumilli told ARLnow.com the winning team of analysts likely will be announced by the end of this winter. Although no firm date is in place for finishing the data analysis, the school system anticipates being able to use the gathered information by about February 2014 in order to help students make class choices for next year. [Washington PostArlington Public Schools]

Opera Singer Wins Talent Competition — Opera singer Garrick Jordan won first place in the second annual “Arlington’s Got Talent” competition. Jordan beat out six other competitors on Sunday (November 18) at Clarendon Ballroom. [Sun Gazette]

Board Approves New Va. Square Apartments

by ARLnow.com | November 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm | 1,851 views | No Comments

Latitude Apartments renderingThe Arlington County Board approved a new apartment development in Virginia Square at its Saturday meeting.

The Latitude Apartments will be a 12-story apartment building with 265 residential units and 262 underground parking spaces, on the 3600 block of Fairfax Drive. It will feature a 2,800 square foot “cultural and educational space,” 3,100 square feet of retail space, a public plaza and pedestrian walkway, outdoor seating and a water feature.

Other community benefits include LEED Gold sustainability certification, 14 committed affordable units, a $75,000 public art contribution and funding of utility and transportation improvements.

The project received mixed feedback during the public comment period, with some residents speaking out for it and some against it. Those who opposed it said an office building, not an apartment building, should be built on the site, in keeping with the county’s original land use vision set forth in the 2002 Virginia Square Sector Plan.

Many on the opposition side were residents of nearby condominium buildings, who wore matching badges expressing their opposition. Concerns included added noise, traffic and pedestrian congestion, crowding at the Virginia Square Metro station, visitors parking in residential neighborhoods and other “quality of life issues.”

“My view is that an office building would be the better use,” said resident Anita Wallgren. “I live across the street. By taking action today in a decisive way to deny the applications, you would affirm the sector plan and improve the integrity of the county’s planning process.”

Those supporting the project said the developer, Penrose Group, has been responsive to residents. The development, supporters said, will be a net positive for the neighborhood.

“I love the design of the project from the renderings I’ve seen,” said Judd Ryan, a member of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association. ”Throughout this process I’ve struggled to understand the opposition to this project. The [office] vacancy rate is the highest I’ve seen since living in this market. No developer would build office here without a significant pre-lease.”

County staff spent time refuting claims that the apartment building will have a significant impact on crowding at the Virginia Square station. The station is one of the most under-utilized stations in Arlington, staff said, and the new building will only add about one additional passenger per inbound train during the morning rush hour. In keeping with rates seen at similar apartment buildings, about half of residents will end up driving to work, staff estimated.

The Arlington transportation and planning commissions sided with those opposed to the project, recommending against changing zoning for the site. The Arlington Chamber of Commerce weighed in with a letter, supporting the project and the principals of transit-oriented development. In the end, the Board voted 3-2 for the project, with Chris Zimmerman and Mary Hynes casting the dissenting votes.

Zimmerman said the project is attractive on its own, but that’s not justification enough for “throwing overboard a sector plan.”

“Do we disregard long-term plans because of the appeal of an individual project?” he asked. “That for me is the fundamental problem.”

Jay Fisette stated that he doesn’t “want to send a message that the sector plan isn’t important,” but said the county may have to reexamine its expectations for commercial office development given the current high vacancy rate and market changes like the Silver Line to Tysons and the increasing number of employees who work from home or in co-working environments.

“Conditions in the market are changing,” Fisette said. “Adjustments might be necessary in sector plans.”

Libby Garvey said a sector plan is a guiding document but isn’t dogma.

“The plan is a tool but it’s not something that tells us absolutely what to do,” she said. “Otherwise you wouldn’t need a [County] Board.”

Garvey dismissed concerns about noise — “I assume the people in that building are not going to make any more noise than you all in your building” she said — and crowding at the Virginia Square station — “one of the least-used Metro sites.” She said adding additional housing in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor will help keep housing costs down.

“One of the reasons housing is so expensive here is because there’s not enough of it, there’s unmet demand,” she said.

County Staff Recommends Approval for Latitude Apartments

by Katie Pyzyk | November 13, 2013 at 11:00 am | 1,123 views | No Comments

Rendering of proposed Latitude Apartments building in Virginia SquareThe Latitude Apartments project has received a thumbs up from county staff members, fresh off of last week’s Arlington Planning Commission recommendation to defer consideration of the proposal. County staff recommends the County Board approves the plan during its meeting on Saturday, November 16.

Both the Planning Commission and the County Board deferred the issue during their July meetings in order to examine more information regarding complaints about the plan. The largest concern has been about changing the site’s status from commercial, as designated in the Virginia Square Sector Plan, to mixed-use residential.

In addition to rezoning the site, the proposal includes demolishing the existing one- and two-story buildings on the property to construct a 12-story, 265 unit residential building, with 14 affordable units. The building would have more than 3,100 square feet of ground floor retail space and around 2,800 square feet of ground floor space dedicated to cultural and educational uses. The plan includes a 12,000 square foot public plaza at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Monroe Street, which would have a pedestrian connection to Quincy Park.

County staff members note that the immediate area has changed since the sector plan was created, and recent expansion there makes it unnecessary to preserve additional commercial space at this time. The staff report reads, in part:

“Office uses, which were encouraged to increase the daytime population, maintain the existing medical office presence, and facilitate shared parking, have increased by over 700,000 square feet since the plan was adopted, albeit not at the same pace as residential development. However, institutional growth has significantly increased in Virginia Square, including George Mason University, which also contributes to the desired daytime activity in this area. Further, GLUP-based estimates of additional development capacity within Virginia Square indicate there is remaining development potential on blocks slated for either office or mixed land uses, which would help further sector plan goals for additional office growth… Staff finds that the proposed site plan, while not meeting all of the indicated uses of the sector plan, is generally consistent with Virginia Square Sector Plan guidance for the site and the GLUP… Therefore, staff recommends that the County Board adopt the attached resolution to rezone the subject property from ‘C-2′ to ‘C-O’. Staff further recommends that the County Board adopt the attached ordinance to approve the subject site plan, subject to the conditions of the ordinance.”

Two other issues that arose regarding the project are that the building height would exceed the sector plan’s recommendation by three feet and that the parking ratio would be 0.9 spaces per residential unit instead of the standard 1.0 space per unit. County staff did not consider either of these substantial enough to recommend against approving the proposal.

Coming Soon: New Apartment Building in Lyon Park

by ARLnow.com | October 29, 2013 at 10:45 am | 2,834 views | No Comments

Neighborhood meeting about the 9th Road Residences development Neighborhood meeting about the 9th Road Residences development

Three houses are being torn down to make way for a new apartment building in the Lyon Park neighborhood.

Developer Clark Realty expects to begin demolition on the vacant houses, on 9th Road N. behind Jay’s Saloon, within the next week. Construction on the new building, which will feature 18 one-to-three bedroom apartments and 33 parking spaces, is expected to take about a year.

The building, dubbed 9th Road Residences, is being built “by right,” meaning County Board approval is not needed. The new structure will be adjacent to another Clark-built apartment building on 9th Road. Both are about the same in scale: 3 stories high with a half-sunken ground floor.

Clark is planning to rent the apartments, but they’re being built with “condo-level finishes” so that the building can be converted to condominiums if market conditions dictate.

The project is adjacent to but separate from Clark’s “10th Street Flats” development, which will eventually result in the closure and demolition of Jay’s Saloon (3114 10th Street N.) and several other small businesses. That development must first go through Arlington’s site plan process.

At an informal neighborhood meeting with the developer last night, Lyon Park residents expressed little objection to the 9th Road project, but raised some concern about traffic that might eventually come from 10th Street Flats.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | October 10, 2013 at 8:55 am | 978 views | No Comments

View of Key School from a nearby office building

Arlington’s Feuding Bike Donation Charities – “Arlington, surprisingly, is home to not one but two nonprofits that donate bicycles to the underprivileged in Africa and elsewhere,” writes Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark. “Our 26-square-mile county, however, may not be big enough for both – the two groups do not ride alongside each other smoothly.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Pike Apartment Ad from the ’60s – The Columbia Pike apartment complex now known as the Wellington is seen in a 1960s-era advertisement uncovered by Ghosts of DC. The then-new “Executive Apartments” were “designed to meet the requirements of successful executives who can command the finest in luxury air-conditioned apartment living,” the ad says. Rent for a one bedroom was $135 per month. [Ghosts of DC]

Library Reminds Feds to Return Books — Furloughed federal employees might not have access to their government email accounts, and thus might miss reminder emails from the library about overdue items. Arlington Public Library is reminding feds that they can keep track of their account through the library website. [Arlington Public Library]

New Nauck Civic Association Website — The Nauck Civic Association recently unveiled a new website, which includes a history of the neighborhood. Also known as Green Valley, the neighborhood was settled by a freed slave in 1844. [Nauck Civic Association]

Apartment Fire in Columbia Heights West

by ARLnow.com | October 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm | 515 views | No Comments

Arlington County fire truck(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Arlington firefighters are on the scene of a reported kitchen fire in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood.

The fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. in an apartment on the 700 block of S. Florida Street. According to initial reports, the fire started on the stove of one of the apartments and spread to the cabinets.

Firefighters have managed to extinguish the flames. No injuries have been reported.

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