(Updated at 2:45 p.m. Sunday) A 22-story apartment building in Ballston has been without heat all week, including today, the coldest Feb. 20 on record in D.C.
Residents in the East tower of Avalon Ballston Square, at 850 N. Randolph Street, have been forced to bundle up indoors while the building’s management has said crews are working on the issue, but no solution is in sight.
One resident, who declined to be identified, told ARLnow.com the temperature in her apartment has “hovered between 50 and 60 degrees since Tuesday morning.”
“Management has made no efforts to put us in a hotel or another apartment building with working heat,” she wrote in an email at about noon today. “Their only solution has been to pass out space heaters, which are dangerous to leave on all day or night. The D.C. area is going through record breaking cold temperatures and I cannot get a response from the management on site or corporate management.”
At least one other resident has reached out on social media about the heat, with no response from Avalon’s parent company, Ballston-based Avalon Bay.
@AvalonBay 12 degrees & no heat for 2 days at Avalon Ballston Sq. Completely unacceptable. There need to be major concessions for residents.
– Jessica Charters (@JMCharters) February 20, 2015
Avalon Bay is in the midst of a trying time as a company after a large luxury apartment complex in New Jersey went up in flames last month, causing massive damage and displacing hundreds of residents. The fire caused Avalon Bay to add more fire sprinklers and protections to its planned developments in New Jersey, and has sparked a discussion about more stringent fire code requirements at the state and local level.
When ARLnow.com spoke to a building employee, he simply said the heat was still off and they can’t say when it will be restored. The building’s management declined to comment, and a message left for Avalon Bay’s corporate public relations official has not been returned.
Below is the full text of the last email address Avalon Ballston Square has sent to its residents, according to our source, sent at 6:00 p.m. Thursday.
We wanted to keep you as updated as possible regarding the heat in the East Tower. Our maintenance team is continuing to work with several contractors on returning heat to the building as soon as we can. We are constantly monitoring all temperature levels. We will keep you updated as soon as there are any changes.
Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make you more comfortable. Thanks again for your patience.
Update Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2:15 p.m. – Power was fully restored to the East Tower at about 10:00 p.m. on Friday night, Avalon Bay spokesman Richard Wolff told ARLnow.com. One hundred units had been with “diminished” heat since Monday, out of 714 in the community, Wolff said. Avalon Bay offered on Friday to place residents in hotels.
After the jump, the full explanation Avalon Bay sent to residents Saturday morning for the origin of the heat malfunction.
The heating has been fully restored to the East Tower. Full heat was restored at approximately 10PM Friday evening and we have monitored the system throughout the night. The temperatures have stabilized where they should be for the entire building.
If your home is still cold, blowing cool or if the heat is off altogether, you should be able to simply reset your unit and get heat. The best way to fully reset your heating unit is to turn off the thermostat first, then go to your fuse box, turn off the breaker for your HVAC (they are labelled but typically it’s the double breaker switch at the bottom right), wait about 30 seconds and then turn the breaker and the thermostat back on. Our maintenance team is here and can provide assistance if needed. Please do not hesitate to stop by the office or call for assistance. If you had a space heater in your apartment, please return it to the office or call us to come pick it up.
We want to thank you for your patience and understanding while we were working to resolve this issue. Please either visit our office or call 703-243-7368 if you have any additional questions or concerns or if we can help in any way. We hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend. To start it off, please join us in the lobby this morning for a light breakfast.
In addition, this is an internal memo, sent Friday night, Avalon Bay shared with ARLnow.com explaining the problem:
We have been receiving an increased amount of heating calls since Monday afternoon. Approximately 100 apartments are getting reduced heat from the boiler system. The apartments are all in the East Tower, but are not in one tier or floor; the distribution is random throughout the tower. The North Tower is operating normally. The root of the issue is that we are not able to maintain the correct water temperature in the loop. Since Monday afternoon the maintenance team has had three different contractors on-site; none have been able to identify the cause of the loop’s low and irregular temperature. Each day since Tuesday, the loop temperature has increased to normal or close to normal levels, giving the impression of a solution, but each night the temperature drops again. We now have the original mechanic that installed the system at the property and working to find the issue/fix.
At this moment, we have made an adjustment to the balancing valve between the two towers and the loop temperature is rapidly rising to normal; higher and faster than any of the temperatures we experienced this week. We are optimistic that the issue has been resolved but are going to check in periodically and return tomorrow morning to confirm.
In the interim for residents, we notified the East Tower residents to contact us if they are affected and need assistance with temporary solutions. The team and I have been in the lobby all evening greeting these residents and offering them space heaters or stays in the Residence Inn. Most residents are choosing to stay in their homes as the apartment temperatures are 55 – 60 degrees.
Not only is the frigid weather dangerous for those spending time outdoors this week, in some cases it’s also causing problems for those trying to stay indoors.
At The Market Common apartment building in Clarendon, the cold weather is causing fire alarms to go off repeatedly, thanks to exposed sprinkler heads bursting in the parking garage.
The alarms are apparently going off in Market Common Clarendon retail stores and restaurants, as well.
The apartment’s management team sent the following email to residents last night, telling them that they probably don’t have to run outside into the cold whenever the fire alarm goes off this week.
Dear Valued Residents,
As we are sure many of you already know, in the past 48 hours the fire alarm in the building has been going off sporadically. The alarm is sounding due to the extremely low temperatures in the single digits causing exposed sprinklers heads in the parking garage to burst.
Our retail component is doing everything in their power to prevent the bursts, however, as the weather is expected to drop well below freezing there is high potential the alarms will go off again.
Please keep in mind that these alarms are testing false and they are not emergencies you need to evacuate the building for. However, per the Fire Marshall, you should prepare to evacuate the building any time a fire alarm is to sound.
Our team will be working around the clock to keep sending updates if it is a pipe burst and not an actual fire. In the event that you do see smoke or fire, please call 911.
We are actively working with our retail component to permanently fix this issue and appreciate your patience and understanding.
As always, thank you for calling The Market Common your home.
The Market Common
Police Investigating Apartment Break-In, Fire — A man has been arrested and accused of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and starting a small fire. The incident happened on the 1200 block of S. Scott Street, just off of Columbia Pike, Monday morning. [Washington Post]
Arlington Trying to Keep TSA – After losing the National Science Foundation and the Fish and Wildlife Service to Alexandria, Arlington County officials are stepping up their efforts to keep the Transportation Service Administration. The TSA currently has offices in Pentagon City, but at least one office owner is trying to lure the agency to Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
Name Chosen for New Park – The future, 8,000 square foot park next to the new Gables North Rolfe apartment complex, which is expected to be approved by the County Board this weekend, now has a name. Various community groups and county commissions have approved “Three Oaks Park” as the park’s name, in honor of the three large trees on the site. [InsideNova]
Building Over I-66 Would be Pricey – A new report has found that building office and apartment buildings over I-66 in Rosslyn would be expensive, but might eventually be worth considering. As much as 2.5 million square feet of new development could be possible by decking over open-air portions of the highway around Rosslyn. [Washington Business Journal]
‘How Arlington Are You?’ Quiz – A questionable, 10-question web quiz on the website of a Crystal City apartment building attempts to answer the question, “how Arlington are you?” Questions include “how many people do you know who work in the defense industry?” and “how often do you go to Starbucks?” [Crystal Square]
Photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk
Arlington County firefighters are on the scene of an apartment fire in the River Place condo complex in Rosslyn.
The fire broke out in the kitchen of a 12th floor unit in the River Place building at 1021 Arlington Blvd. It was quickly extinguished once firefighters were able to ascend the stairs and reach the apartment.
A second alarm was sounded but the fire was out by the time the additional units arrive. No injuries have been reported and the flames did not spread to surrounding units.
Firefighters are now working on ventilating smoke from the building.
Photo courtesy @ACFDPIO
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A new 2.17 acre apartment development is likely coming to the Courthouse area.
Gables North Rolfe Street is planned as a two building, 400,000 square feet, 395 unit apartment complex on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, in the Radnor / Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, just off of Route 50.
The tract of land on which the project will be built is steep, wooded and also includes a handful of older single family homes and small apartment complexes. Because Arlington County owns three parcels of land on the site, it has been able to work with developer Gables Residential on a number of public benefits.
Among the the benefits, to be paid for by the developer:
- A new, 8,000 square foot public park that will include a 200-year-old tree
- LEED Gold certification for the apartment complex
- Thirty-nine units of committed affordable housing
- A stand-alone, 14-unit transitional living facility, for those recovering from substance abuse. This will replace the existing Independence House facility on the site, according to Arlington Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
The project is expected be considered by the County Board at its February meeting, in two weeks.
Discussing the project at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, County Board Chair Mary Hynes said the benefits from such projects represent key Democratic values.
“Affordable housing furthers diversity, inclusivity and sustainability, all of which are values… that have driven this community,” she said.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reflected County Board Chair Mary Hynes’ remarks that the planned transitional living facility was for those who were just getting out of jail. A county spokesman says that is incorrect, and that the facility will be for substance abuse recovery.
MOM’s Organic Market — prominent family-owned and operated grocer, and leading environmental advocate — is set to open its first location in Arlington County this summer at the Verde Pointe development, located at the intersection of Lee Highway and North Veitch Street.
MOM’s Organic Market was founded by Scott Nash in 1987 in his mother’s garage, and since has grown to include 12 locations across the Mid-Atlantic. Known for stocking a higher volume of organic produce than any other grocer, MOM’s takes an active role in environmental preservation and public health initiatives in the region and beyond.
A longtime supporter of renewable energy, MOM’s has been fully wind powered since 2005. In February of 2013, MOM’s started harvesting energy from the sun with their first solar panel installation at their Waldorf, Md. location. The new Arlington MOM’s Market will maintain a free customer recycling center in which compost, commingled recyclable goods, plastic bags, household batteries, CFLs, fluorescent bulbs, shoes, corks, and cell phones are accepted. The organization also hosts recycling drives throughout the year for uncommon or hard-to-recycle goods such as electronic waste, eye glasses, denim, and holiday incandescent string lights.
“This is a great location,” shared MOM’s President and Founder, Scott Nash. “We’re excited to move in to the Arlington market.”
In line with MOM’s environmental advocacy, Verde Pointe has been designed and is being constructed to LEED Gold standards, and will have several major sustainable features such as electric car charging stations and individually remote-controlled thermostats so residents can more closely control and monitor their energy use.
The project — to be delivered in June 2015 — is led by award-winning developer McCaffery Interests in collaboration with architect Antunovich Associates, Clark Construction, and Arlington County, and with strong financial support from Cardinal Bank, Burke and Herbert Bank. It is located on the former site of Bergmann’s Dry Cleaning.
Verde Pointe will contain 162 apartment homes in a luxe residential tower as well as 36 apartment homes divided into townhome flats. The development will have close to 250 parking spaces for its residents and grocery store, will begin leasing in March of 2015 via verdepointe.com. In addition to Verde Pointe, McCaffery Interests is internationally renowned for developing environmentally conscious projects nationwide, most notably the approximately 600 acre Lakeside development on Chicago’s South Side.
For more information on MOM’s offerings, initiatives and corporate structure, please visit http://www.momsorganicmarket.com/. All information on the Verde Pointe development and up-coming plans can be found at http://www.verdepointe.com/. Development and contact information for McCaffery Interests and McCaffery Brokerage can be found at http://www.mccafferyinterests.com/.
The preceding article was sponsored by McCaffery Interests
County Board Nixes TJ Elementary Plan — The Arlington County Board voted last night to refuse to allow Arlington Public Schools to build a new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, at least for now. Libby Garvey, a former school board member, was the lone dissenting voice on the 4-1 vote. She agreed with the school system that new elementary school seats are urgently needed in South Arlington. The board majority said the school system needs to go back and study alternatives again, since the elementary school could have negative impacts on the surrounding community. “You have to be a little more crowded for awhile,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes told school officials. [Washington Post, Arlington County]
Board Approves Overnight Gas Sales at 7-Eleven — Just down the street from Thomas Jefferson Middle School, on S. Glebe Road, exists a 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station that heretofore has not been allowed to sell gas from midnight to 6:00 a.m. The condition was put in place by the County Board in 1992, due to concern about traffic, noise and other neighborhood impacts. On Saturday the Board approved, with neighborhood support, a use permit change that will allow gas to be pumped 24/7. [InsideNova]
Board Approves Pentagon City Apartment Building — Also on Saturday, the County Board approved a new 20 story, 453 unit apartment building at 400 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City. The developer of the project agreed to a nearly $10 million community benefits package and to building to LEED Gold sustainability certification standards. [InsideNova]
Jury Duty Phone Scam Returns — Once again, someone is calling Arlington residents, claiming to be a law enforcement officer and demanding payment over the phone because the call recipient supposedly failed to appear for jury duty. As it did last March, the police department is reminding residents that this is a scam. [Arlington County Police]
Octogenarian Still in the Marriage Business — Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark has a profile of Gerald Williams, who at age 82 is still performing 25-30 civil marriage ceremonies per week from a basement office in Courthouse. Williams was also profiled in a short documentary called “Arlington is for Lovers?” that was produced in 2010. [Falls Church News-Press]
Fire Victim Identified — The victim of Thursday’s fatal house fire on S. Randolph Street has been identified. Family and friends said 73-year-old Dennis Lee was a retired contractor, a longtime Dallas Cowboys fan and a member of the local American Legion post. He died from smoke inhalation. In the wake of his death, firefighters plan to canvass Lee’s neighborhood to test and distribute smoke detectors. [NBC Washington - Warning: Auto-play video]
Preserving H-B’s Walls — The walls of the H-B Woodlawn secondary program are covered with more than 2,000 inscriptions from past graduating classes. School officials are considering ways to digitally preserve the painted walls when the program moves to Rosslyn in five years. [Falls Church News-Press]
Historic Designation for Wilson School? — Despite opposition from school officials, the county’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend a local historic district designation for the Wilson School in Rosslyn. The Wilson School is the second-oldest school in Arlington and preservationists are trying to save it from being razed to make way for a larger building that will house the H-B Woodlawn program. [InsideNova]
Alexandria Has School Issues, Too — Like Arlington, neighboring Alexandria is also facing a school budget deficit and rising enrollment. Another issue facing Alexandria: competing with Arlington for teachers. Arlington’s average teacher salary is $76,892, compared to $73,612 in Alexandria. [Alexandria Times]
Arlington Named Top ‘Intelligent Community’ — For the third time, Arlington has been named one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities in the world. “It is gratifying to have the Intelligent Community Forum recognize Arlington’s commitment to economic sustainability,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said, in a statement. [Arlington Economic Development]
Destroyed N.J. Apartment Has Arlington Connection — The New Jersey apartment complex that burned to the ground, leaving hundreds homeless, is owned by Arlington-based AvalonBay Communities. The $80 million apartment complex was made from wood construction, which caused it to burn too quickly for firefighters to get it under control. [Bloomberg]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
After pushing its decision back two months, the Arlington County Board this weekend will consider a plan to redevelop a vacant office building at 400 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City into apartments.
Bethesda-based developer LCOR has proposed turning the former Department of Defense Inspector General office, also known as the “Paperclip building,” into a 200-foot tall, 20-story apartment complex with 453 residential units. County staff and the Arlington Planning Commission are recommending the Board approve the redevelopment at its meeting this Saturday.
The new apartment complex will consist of twin residential towers on a common platform.
LCOR is planning on making the north tower, with unobstructed views of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, a condominium building and making the apartments in the south tower, fronting 11th Street S., rental units.
The existing office building has three levels of underground parking beneath it, which LCOR plans to keep and build two levels of parking above ground, as part of the platform beneath the residential towers. On top of the platform, the developers is planning to have 11,000 square feet of recreational space, including a 4-foot deep pool and areas for grilling.
The redevelopment plan comes with some street changes, including removing Old South Eads Street from the street grid and turning it into a pedestrian walk. The plan also reinstates part of 11th Street S.
An adjacent county-owned “Teardrop Parcel” of land was formerly the planned site of the operations and maintenance yard for the now-cancelled Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system. This redevelopment will not affect the parcel, but it’s now being kept clear to potentially be included in future redevelopment of either this location or the recently approved PenPlace office complex, according to the staff report.
In exchange for added density, LCOR has agreed to provide the equivalent of $6.6 million in community benefits, including 15 dedicated affordable housing units in the building, $1.1 million to the Crystal City Open Space fund and $1 million to the Army Navy Drive Complete Streets project. LCOR would also donate $91,000 toward the county’s utility undergrounding project, $75,000 to the county’s Public Art Fund and contribute to improving the traffic signal at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Eads Street.
The Maxwell Apartments, the six-story apartment building at the corner of N. Glebe and Carlin Springs Road, is planning to open on Dec. 12.
Marketed by Bozzuto, the apartments are currently available for lease, an employee told ARLnow.com today. When open, the building will feature a fitness center; a lounge with shuffleboard, billiards and a bar area; a private courtyard with an outdoor fireplace, grills and a prep sink; and a business center with conference rooms, Internet and a printer.
Once named the Crimson at Glebe apartments, the Maxwell replaced the Goodyear across from the Ballston Common Mall and a block away from the Harris Teeter in Ballston. Coming to the building’s ground floor will be a Solidcore gym, which focuses on low-impact group training.
There are approximately 150 apartments ranging from studios to two-bedrooms with dens. One-bedroom apartments are currently leasing for more than $1,900, and two bedrooms are leasing starting at upwards of $2,800.
Construction on 193 new apartments — including 78 affordable units — in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood has begun, and county officials and developers celebrated today with a groundbreaking.
The project, called Union on Queen, will raze three buildings to erect a 12-story tower, which will contain 181 apartments. The two buildings that make up the Pierce Queen Apartments, built in 1942 on the 1600 block of 16th Street N., will be gutted, but preserved and renovated. They will be converted into 12 affordable units.
The project is a public-private partnership among The Bozzuto Group, nonprofit developer Wesley Housing and Arlington County, which is providing debt financing. Construction began a few weeks ago, according to Bozzuto President Toby Bozzuto, and is expected to last two years, putting the project on track for an October 2016 opening.
The process to get the apartments from proposal to site plan approval to construction was not an easy one. The project was deferred by the Arlington County Board before its March 2013 approval for design and parking concerns. It also faced issues securing affordable housing grants from both the county and the state.
The developers and public officials in attendance at this morning’s groundbreaking all noted how tough of a slog the approval process was. Wesley Properties President and CEO Shelley Murphy said the company’s founder called Pierce Queen Apartments “the project from hell” when the company acquired it in 1991.
“This is as good an example of why Arlington succeeds as anything,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “We actually follow through. Follow-through is hard. We all create plans, we all create visions, we write beautiful words, we put it on a shelf. In Arlington, we work really hard to bring the vision to life, to make the investments and the hard calls to make things work.”
Rep. Jim Moran didn’t step up to the podium — “One of the nice things about retiring is that I don’t have to stand up at any more podiums and microphones,” he joked — but said “Arlington County works, and it works because they understand that communities and their economies are a reflection of a collective decision-making on the part of thousands of families.”
Arlington approved $6.8 million in Affordable Housing Investment Fund money toward the project, which also received assistance from the Virginia Housing Development Authority. The state money wasn’t easy to secure, several of the speakers said, partly because the development’s total cost was close to being ineligible for state money. Eventually, the sides struck an arrangement and Fisette said the apartments will be up to the high standards the county has set.
“There are a lot of places that would say, ‘Dumb it down, cheaper, less efficient. It’s affordable housing in there’,” Fisette said. “But that’s not the way this community works. We want every building to be indistinguishable from the next.”
Update on 11/6/14 – Board consideration of this apartment building has been delayed until December.
The Arlington County Board is slated to consider a 453-unit apartment building that’s proposed to replace a vacant Pentagon City office building this month.
on Nov. 15 is scheduled to vote on a site plan for a new apartment complex at 400 Army Navy Drive. Bethesda-based developer LCOR has proposed a 20-story building with two towers on one, three-story platform, located east of the planned PenPlace development and west of the Crystal City DoubleTree hotel.
County staff have suggested a number of community benefits from the developer, in exchange for the extra zoning density needed for the project. Among them: affordable housing, public art, park and utility fund contributions; streetscape improvements; and LEED Gold certification. Also, Arlington is considering using of a county-owned parcel in front of the property for a streetcar operations and maintenance facility, but would like the developer to spruce it up in the interim.
The apartment building will replace an aging office building that was formerly home to the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office.
An apartment building that bills its units as “boutique luxury” apartments says it’s a month away from leasing,
The Hyde, at 3119 9th Road N., is an 18-unit “exquisite rental residence,” according to developer Clark Realty Capital, that is still under construction but is expected to begin taking tenants next month. The apartments range from one to three bedrooms averaging 1,400 square feet each. When construction began, the project was referred to as 9th Road Residences when construction began a year ago.
The apartment building includes 33 parking spaces and ” a dog wash facility, automated package delivery, on-site electric vehicle charging stations, and wifi-enabled Nest temperature programs” as amenities, according to a Clark spokesman.
The rents have not yet been determined, but Clark developer Michael Jiang said they will be comparable to “similar new product in the area,” by square foot. For comparison, a 1,003-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom in the new Beacon Clarendon building cost almost $3,500 a month, according to that building’s website.
The building, at 1720 S. Eads Street, is being developed by Kettler and will be called m.flats, the same name of a recently opened Kettler apartment building on K Street NW in D.C.
The development, which was approved by the Arlington County Board last February, will be 11 stories tall with 198 units, comprised almost entirely of one- and two-bedroom apartments. There will be 176 spaces of underground parking, a “gaming area, fitness center, street entry bike room, and an all-season landscaped courtyard with fire and water features.”
“Our m.flats apartments are meeting a growing demand for living spaces within walking distance of work, shops and entertainment,” Robert C. Kettler, chairman and CEO of Kettler, said in a press release. “The thought process around m.flats recognizes the fact that many young people are forming families later in life. As a result, they not only want to enjoy the vibrancy of city life, but live in an apartment that has many conveniences and amenities.”
The construction is expected to be complete in October 2016. There’s no firm date yet on when construction will begin, according to a Kettler official, but the company is “pushing to begin work by the end of the month.”
The building was the first approved under the Crystal City Sector Plan, and Kettler agreed to keep 16 units at affordable rates and achieve a LEED Silver rating. The other 182 units will be marketed as “smaller, luxury units catering to single renters, young professionals and couples looking to share an apartment,” according to Kettler’s press release.
Kettler is currently in construction on the 411-unit Acadia building in the Metropolitan Park complex in Pentagon City.
Image courtesy Kettler
The concierge at a Courthouse apartment building has been arrested and charged with stealing booze from residents’ apartments.
The alleged theft happened at the Meridian at Courthouse Commons apartment complex, at 1401 N. Taft Street. Police say the front desk concierge, 27-year-old Brooke Chrzan of Bethesda, admitted to breaking in to numerous apartments and drinking residents’ liquor.
Chrzan was arrested Monday morning after she was allegedly caught on a home security camera using a master key to enter an apartment and have a swig of alcohol inside. The residents of the apartment had purchased and set up the camera after they noticed “quite a bit” of liquor missing when coming home from work one day.
Residents of other apartments had also been complaining about a potential booze thief.
“There were numerous bottles that were mysteriously getting lower and lower in their level of alcohol,” said Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “[Chrzan] admitted to police to entering multiple residences over a period of time.”
Chrzan has been charged with burglary and released on bond.
It was about a year ago that the Meridian building was in the news for another series of break-ins. In September 2013, a man broke into at least three apartments and rubbed the arms of women at they slept.