(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) The future plans for the Ballston Common Mall include demolishing the Macy’s Furniture Store and parts of the current mall to build a 29-story residential tower and an open-air town center along Wilson Blvd, officials announced Monday night.
The 393-unit apartment building, at the corner of Wilson and N. Randolph Street, is projected to be completed by 2017, Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone revealed at the BID’s annual meeting last night. Leone said the redevelopment — including a revamp of the retail mix at the mall — will be crucial for the branding of Ballston, which is often closely associated with the increasingly run-down mall.
“The mall hasn’t quite been able to serve our public,” Leone said, noting the mall’s future is the main question she gets asked about the future of Ballston development. “The mall is going to ‘de-mall’ itself. The roof is coming off.”
The mall is owned and operated by Forest City, which purchased the Macy’s Furniture Store last September. Forest City spokesman Gary McManus told ARLnow.com at the time that the mall had planned retail space with more street access in Macy’s place, and those plans now include the residential tower.
The building is expected to have four floors of underground parking and two floors of retail space below the studio, one- and two-bedroom rental apartments. The apartment building and attached parking will have a separate entrance from the restaurants and remaining mall.
Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the main Macy’s store — which will fold in the furniture store on its ground floor — the Sport&Health Club and the Regal Cinemas will all remain in the closed-air section of the mall, which is being rebranded as “Ballston Center.”
Along Wilson Blvd, parts of the mall — which originally opened as the Parkington Shopping Center in 1951 before it was rebuilt and reopened as Ballston Common Mall in 1986 — will be torn down and replaced with an open-air, town center-like plaza. Demolition is expected to begin by late 2015.
“[Forest City] thought about what was going to have the highest impact,” Leone told ARLnow.com, saying the Ballston BID has been “on a very high level” helping to form plans for the mall’s redevelopment. “To make it a town center, this is life-altering for the people who live and work here.”
McManus said that the pedestrian bridge from the mall to the current National Science Foundation headquarters across the street is tentatively slated to be torn down — private conversations between Forest City and Arlington County Board members led the mall owner to remove it from the plans — but an agreement needs to be reached with the NSF building’s property owner before that can happen.
McManus also said that the retail mix in the mall will change, to become more restaurant and entertainment-oriented. It will be aimed at serving the immediate area, not as a mall that brings in most of its shoppers from other areas, despite the fact that it will have “some destination retail, too.”
“We don’t want to compete with Tysons or Pentagon City,” McManus said. “We’ve started this project before, but this time it’s got all the momentum behind it.”
In addition to the four-level, 580,000 square foot mall’s redevelopment, Leone announced plans for changes to public spaces expected this fall, like public art projects, Ballston-branded signs lining the streets and the new Fairfax Drive landscaping ARLnow.com reported on earlier this month.
Among the proposed projects is a redesigned Metro plaza, which Leone said she hopes will include an “interactive light installation” under the Metro canopy. The light installation is being designed in Amsterdam — it will track pedestrians’ movements underneath and project light based on that movement. The Metro plaza is also planned to include an small amphitheater and redesigned bus parking to remove some buses from N. Stuart Street. (more…)
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) The Bailey’s Pub and Grille in Ballston Common Mall at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street has closed, but it may not be gone for long.
A Bailey’s employee who was cleaning out the space told ARLnow.com that the restaurant is “under contract” to take over the former Union Jack’s space along N. Glebe Road, but couldn’t say for sure that the move was imminent. ARLnow.com reported the move was possible in December.
Two of the mall interior doors at Bailey’s have signs saying Bailey’s closed due to “a maintenance issue.” It’s unclear if the restaurant will actually reopen in the new space.
An ARLnow.com tipster said employees were instructed to close out their tabs yesterday and the restaurant closed abruptly during the lunch hour. Another tipster said that the restaurant is closed for good and will not be opening back up.
There are plans, however, for it to move to a new location.
According to a Bailey’s employee, the bar is planning to stay in the Ballston Common Mall, but move into the old Union Jack’s space. The employee was not able to provide any further details about reasons for the move, but confirmed that the Ballston Bailey’s will remain open and will be the only one in the D.C. area.
Right now, the plan is reportedly for Bailey’s to move into the new space this spring, possibly in April. A representative from parent company Fox and Hound could not be reached for comment.
Sponsored by the Ballston Business Improvement District, the shop will be in the Ballston BID Launchpad space, next to the mall entrance at 4238 Wilson Blvd, in the old Chevy’s Restaurant space.
The shop is being set up for the second annual Arlington Small Business Day, to be held between the major Christmas shopping days, Black Friday (Nov. 29) and Cyber Monday (Dec. 2).
The pop-up shop will be Arlington residents’ chance to meet the owners of some of their favorite local home businesses, or learn about some new ones. Among the businesses listed on ASBD’s website are Happy Doh Lucky, Bee Hive Design and Sweets for my Sweet.
There are participating small businesses all over Arlington, in Clarendon, Ballston Rosslyn/Courthouse, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, Shirlington, Cherrydale, Westover, Pentagon City, Lee Harrison and Lee Heights.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The restaurant will be the second Arlington location of Tandoor, owned by noted Indian chef Jack Katyal. Compared to original location at 237 N. Glebe Road, the food court location will be more “fast food” style, Katyal said, and the dishes will all be $10 and under.
“We will probably have the best food available in any food court at this moment,” Katyal said.
Katyal once owned eight different Tandoor restaurants, but health complications forced him to sell all but his location on Glebe Road in Ashton Heights. Now, feeling better, he said if the Ballston Mall Tandoor location is a success, he anticipates once again expanding to more locations.
Katyal has appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s old talk show and cooked for Chelsea Clinton, claiming to be the one to introduce Americans to Tandoori cooking. A Tandoor is a clay oven that can produce more than 250 different kinds of traditional Indian recipes, Katyal said.
Tandoor passed inspection today and Katyal expects the health inspectors to approve the restaurant early next week, setting up for an opening in the first week of October.
A milestone has been reached on the planned revamp of Ballston Common Mall, and the makeover can now move forward. Forest City, the mall’s owner/developer/manager, has purchased the Macy’s Furniture Store.
The purchase has been in the works for months and just recently was finalized. Forest City spokesman Gary McManus said Macy’s never resisted the offer to purchase, but both sides had to devise and agree upon terms for the deal.
“Macy’s is a very big company and this had to go through all of their channels,” McManus said. “They saw the opportunity to consolidate the store, to make the operation more streamlined and get everything in one location.”
The existing Macy’s anchor store will remain, and the furniture portion will relocate into the lower level of the main store. The redevelopment plan, which was announced in February, involves tearing down the furniture store structure to rebuild it as new retail space with residences above.
McManus explained that the furniture store structure would need to be rebuilt and reinforced because currently it is not strong enough to support the addition of residences above. Should Forest City not receive approval to add the residences, the furniture store might not need to be completely demolished, but instead renovated for other retail options.
The whole mall complex will be rebranded as “Ballston Center.” In addition to all of the interior renovations, the idea is to have more stores with street entrances.
“What we’re trying to do is open it up onto the street. We’re seeing more malls with restaurants and stores and such that have entrances to the outside,” McManus said. “It’s a big trend in malls.”
Forest City is now moving forward with presenting the plans to the county. The County Board must approve the multi-phase development before construction can begin. So far, there is no timeline for approval and the beginning of construction.
Ballston Common Mall is moving closer to beginning its major renovation project.
Mall owner Forest City Enterprises is “close to finalizing a deal with Macy’s” to allow the process to move forward and the company to begin applying for permits from the county, according to Forest City spokesman Gary McManus. Securing a deal with Macy’s, one of the mall’s “anchor tenants,” was one of the last impediments to the long-awaited redevelopment.
Forest City is planning to recast the mall as Ballston Center, building more than 300 apartments on top of a renovated shopping center and adding office space. As part of the redevelopment, Forest City is negotiating with Macy’s to take over some of the department store’s space. The negotiations were initially expected to take a few weeks after the announcement of the proposed renovations, in February.
“The deal with Macy’s has taken longer than anticipated,” McManus said in an email.
He said the negotiations are close to being finalized and should be done “within the next few weeks.” Inside the mall, the changes could include a new mix of stores and restaurants.
“The tenant mix of not only the food court but the rest of the mall will be open to revision, expansion and enhancement,” said McManus.
Police have arrested a man accused of several recent peeping incidents, and they’re asking other potential victims to come forward.
On Sunday afternoon, 48-year-old Michael Tomlin allegedly hid in a stall of a women’s restroom in a movie theater and was caught looking over the stall at a juvenile victim. Tomlin reportedly fled when the girl’s father confronted him. The father immediately contacted authorities with a description of the suspect, and the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit found Tomlin yesterday in the 4300 block of N. Carlin Springs Road.
Tomlin has been arrested and charged with Trespassing and Peeping Tom. He is being held at the Arlington County Detention Facility on a $5,000 secured bond.
Tomlin has a history of criminal behavior and has served jail time for peeping tom incidents. He was released from jail in May, and has been tied to three peeping incidents since then, including one at Ballston Common Mall last month and the Clarendon Barnes and Noble in May. Police believe he may be responsible for other peeping incidents and they’re asking other victims to come forward.
Anyone who recognizes Tomlin from his recent booking photo (above left) or previous booking photo (above right) and may have information about him or additional crimes he may be involved with is asked to call Detective Jamey Trainer at 703-228-4185 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can also be reported anonymously by contacting the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS.
Union Jack’s in Ballston got the go ahead to reopen tonight, following a forced closure by the county health department on Monday due to a lack of hot water. However, the establishment will close its doors for good next week.
According to a Union Jack’s employee, the pub’s last day in business will be on Monday, July 1. It has been in the Ballston Common Mall for about four and a half years.
The employee said a series of events led to the owners deciding to close the pub, including several pieces of equipment breaking down. The overall issue, however, is that the restaurant “just hasn’t been doing as well” as the chain’s other locations. All of the other locations will remain open, we’re told.
Although no formal farewell party has been announced, staff is considering the last few days in business an unofficial farewell. The Union Jack’s employee who confirmed the closure added that there will be decent specials over the next few days because the restaurant will be “getting rid of a lot of stuff.”
Police are on the lookout for a man seen peeking under a women’s bathroom stall at Ballston Common Mall.
The incident happened just before 6:00 p.m. on Monday. The crime and the suspect description is strikingly similar to that of another peeping tom incident at the Clarendon Barnes and Noble bookstore on May 24.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
PEEPING TOM, 06/10/13, 4200 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At 5:50 pm on June 10, a male subject was caught looking at a female under the bathroom stall in the women’s restroom. The suspect fled the scene and is described as a white male in his early forties, approximately 5’7” tall with a medium build. He had shaggy brown hair and was wearing a brown t-shirt and khaki pants.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
If the store looks familiar to passersby, it’s because the Bazaar is one of Ballston’s inaugural stores when the mall was opened in 1986. While the store boasts artifacts from around the world with interesting back stories, it is possible that none of them have a story as interesting as the store’s owner, Vinod Goel.
Since emigrating to the United States in 1961 from India, Goel has worn many hats in his five decades: founding president of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, media mogul, international marketing professor, and an unofficial advisor to the India desk of the Peace Corps.
“We call him the professor around here,” says George Wong, owner of American Formal Wear, located three doors down. “He’s a mentor for the people around the mall and in the local area. He helps people find higher education and opportunities, especially for foreigners.”
“If I were to say one word about him, the word would be ‘visionary,’” said his daughter Nita Goel Popli. “He really helped to establish this community when he came here.”
Goel was a master’s student and a respected photojournalist from the Indian state of Rajasthan when he was intrigued by a travelling exhibit that came to his college entitled “Life in America.” With the advice of a noted visiting economist, Goel came over to the United States in 1961. He was 27 years old.
While an MBA student at the University of Maryland a year later, Goel was one of a number of international students invited to the White House. With just thirty seconds to make his mark on President Kennedy, Goel used his time to encourage him to put India on his agenda.
If so, Chick-fil-A has just the event for you.
Chick-fil-A’s Ballston mall and Crystal City locations, along with the chain’s 49 other D.C. area restaurants, are hosting a “Date Knight” for mothers and sons from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 6.
“During this special medieval-themed evening, moms and their sons are encouraged to spend some time together while they enjoy dinner, great conversation and several special activities,” the company said in a press release. “Every Mother-Son pair will also receive a place mat with fun questions and topics to get the conversation started, and a take-home booklet that provides ideas for future dates and questions that both moms and their sons can ask each other.”
The “special activities” are free, but diners still have to pay for the food.
“One of Chick-fil-A’s goals is to promote community connections and enrich the lives of everyone we come in contact with,” Erik Amick, a Chick-fil-A franchise operator, said in a statement. “We understand the importance of mother-son relationships and want to encourage area moms to come to Chick-fil-A, enjoy their son’s company over a meal and have fun!”
Interested customers can make “Date Knight” reservations online. Currently, the Ballston Chick-fil-A has 53 reservations available, while Crystal City has 49 reservations remaining.
(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia Square (3811 Fairfax Drive) only has been open for about seven months, but owner Marcus Barnett is already expanding. He will soon open a new location in the Ballston Common Mall.
“We wanted to branch off and we were tipped off about the upcoming mall renovations,” said Barnett. “An opportunity presented itself and we wanted to be a part of that.”
The mall location will be in the food court and won’t yet feature the full menu offered at the Virginia Square location. The focus will be on smoothies, salads, breakfast and energy bars, but wraps and sandwiches will not yet be offered. Barnett said the plan is to eventually expand to a full menu, probably after the mall renovations are completed.
Although the two locations will be close in proximity, Barnett anticipates a totally different clientele.
“All those businesses in the area [Ballston], they don’t really come down to us. Even though it’s so close, just five minutes away, they don’t really come over here,” he said. “There’s a lot of new people and businesses in that area and we want to give them a healthier option.”
Tropical Smoothie Cafe should open sometime in May in the space previously occupied by Crêpe Paris.
Pentagon City Mall Renovations — Coming on the heels of the news that Ballston Common Mall will be getting a revamp, the owners of Fashion Centre at Pentagon City announced plans to renovate that mall as well. Although no formal plan has been revealed, changes could include adding office space or apartments. Renovations for the 24-year-old mall would be paid for out of a pot of about $1 billion that Simon Property Group Inc. has set aside for updating its properties. [Washington Business Journal]
Fire Hydrant Color Meaning — Arlington doesn’t have one standard color for fire hydrants; instead, the county adopted a coloring system in the 1990s indicating the flow of water at each particular hydrant. Blue hydrants have water flow above 1,500 gallons per minute (gpm), green is between 1,000 and 1,500 gpm, orange is 500 to 1,000 gpm and red is below 500 gpm. The color scheme allows firefighters to quickly determine if one hydrant will be enough to fight a fire, or if a water relay system is necessary. [Washington Post]
More Signs Requested for Westover Market — Organizers of the Westover Market believe a drop in attendance occurred for the new winter market because of the county’s sign restrictions. There has been a drop of up to 90 percent, according to organizers, and they believe the attendance would be greater if they were allowed to post more signs advertising the market. The County Board asked County Manager Barbara Donnellan to investigate the issue. [Sun Gazette]
Library Hosts Croatian Ambassador — The Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) will host a celebration of Croatia tonight featuring music, food, cultural displays and a visit from Croatian Ambassador Joško Paro. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. [Arlington Public Library]
Hybrid Tax Petition — Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Scott Surovell launched a petition to get Gov. Bob McDonnell to eliminate the so-called hybrid tax in the newly passed transportation bill. Under the bill, drivers of hybrid vehicles would have to pay a $100 fee each year. McDonnell said he’d review that portion of the bill. [NBC 4]
Mall owner Forest City Enterprises has been in the planning stages for major renovations to the 26-year-old, 580,000 square foot facility since at least 2010. Today (Wednesday) the Washington Business Journal reported that that the company revealed preliminary plans and renderings for the renovations at an industry conference in National Harbor.
“The rebranded Ballston Center at 4238 Wilson Blvd. would include more than 300 apartment units, three levels of office space and a significantly reconfigured retail space,” WBJ reported.
Tina Leone, CEO of the recently-formed Ballston Business Improvement District, said her organization is looking forward to the positive changes the redevelopment could bring to the area.
“It is very exciting and we are so pleased to be working with Forest City to further improve our wonderful neighborhood,” Leone said. “The design calls for an exterior renovation that will complement the recent developments that have occurred here, such as Shooshan Company’s Founders Square and JBG’s gorgeous 800 N. Glebe building. This change, along with the BID’s plans to beautify Wilson Boulevard, will make for a much improved, more inviting streetscape to our main street of Ballston.”
Forest City has not yet submitted its plans to Arlington County for approval.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser