Those in and around the retail industry say the recent trends toward mixed-use, urbanized development and the growth of “milennials” among consumers in the post-recession years add up nicely for Arlington.
Bruce Leonard, a managing principal at Streetsense, a real estate, retail and marketing firm, gave a lecture at George Mason University’s Arlington campus last month called “the changing face of retail.” He contended that the retail market is catching up to the real estate market in seeking urban, walkable centers.
Downtown areas were the dominant retail markets at the turn of the century, he said, until “construction of the interstates it moved away from the cities.”
“Now, ironically, we’re coming back to more urban- and downtown-focused retail,” Leonard said. “So for the [Rosslyn-Ballston] corridor, that’s really a good thing because it’s really urban. It’s relevant to the consumer in that it has the ability to provide an immersive and engaging environment… which is what [the consumers] are looking for.”
Kevin Shooshan, who oversees the leasing for The Shooshan Company in Ballston, said that’s why Arlington will still have an advantage over Tysons Corner when the Silver Line opens.
“I think specifically in the Courthouse-Clarendon-Ballston area, it’s more that it’s a walkable area, even more than Tysons,” he told ARLnow.com yesterday. “In Ballston, in Courthouse, in Clarendon, you can go on a leisurely four-block, five-block walk, passing ground floor retail with every step, with options to grab a paper, grab coffee, meeting with someone. It’s not just a walk down a Metro access corridor. I do see that as a huge asset.”
As the D.C. area apartment rental market continues to surge, that retail market can be key for attracting tenants. Most of the new buildings have fitness centers, pools, computer lounges and other amenities, but the shops in the neighborhood are every bit as much of the pitch to a tenant these days.
“Retail, in these markets, is really becoming an amenity,” Leonard said. “We’re seeing the conversation is ‘what kind of retail will I get that will match the demands of my tenant?’ Co-tenancy is going both horizontal and vertical, and that’s a really new trend.”
Billy Buck, the vice president of Buck & Associates, said the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor sells itself.
“In a 10-minute conversation, it’s mentioned in the first minute or two by the client before we have to bring it up,” Buck said. ”It’s not something you have to sell. The client or the purchaser or the tenant, they get to us because they’ve already realized that all those things are super important to their use.”
Lastly, the top trend Leonard said the retail market will see, both locally and nationall, is continued downsizing of big retailers. With online shopping and a shift in consumer behavior, chains that had giant, big box stores are looking for spaces sometimes half the size as before.
Most national retailers have square-footage requirements for any space they are looking for, Buck said, but that never prevents them from squeezing themselves in Arlington.
“These retailers are smart enough to realize that it may not fit their corporate mold, they know better than to skip Arlington,” he said. “You’re not going to just pass on Arlington in general, it’s just a bad business decision.”
The IHOP in Ballston (935 N. Stafford Street) is far more crowded than usual today for National Pancake Day.
The restaurant chain’s location is the only one in Arlington, and it’s offering a free short stack of pancakes to all its customers today while collecting donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma society, according to an IHOP employee.
The employee said the wait is about a half hour for parties of four and 15 minutes for parties of two at about 12:15 p.m. today. The promotion lasts all day, and the store is open 24 hours.
File photo by Tim Kelley
More than a hundred people gathered in Quincy Park in Virginia Square yesterday afternoon to participate in the Battle at Ballston snowball fight.
Snowball fight organizer Danny Douglass set up a game area and held four dodgeball-style games, with more than 90 people participating in some of the matches.
Douglass said he was drinking at Wilson Tavern (2403 Wilson Blvd) Saturday night with some friends when he had the idea. Sunday night, he launched a website, created a Facebook event and got a sponsor — Wilson Tavern, naturally — and a charity for which to collection donations: Research Down Syndrome.
“We were just talking about it and thought it would be fun,” Douglass told ARLnow.com between games, for which he served as referee. “I had no idea so many people would show up. I was expecting no more than 25 or 30, just my D.C. street hockey friends. But very few people here are friends of ours.”
Douglass got help organizing — and refereeing — from his friend Robert Heintz and Wilson Tavern bar manager Conor Mattil. Mattil said he went around other Courthouse-area bars and recruited people to participate Sunday night.
“Once the charity got involved, it was more than just drunken fun,” Mattil said. “Hopefully we do this every time it snows and it will keep picking up.”
The event generated well over $100 for the charity.
Friends Manuel Cordoves and Van Dang were among the participants who heard about the snowball fight from word of mouth. Each have lived in the area for at least two years and this was the first snowball fight in which they had participated.
“It’s been a while since there was enough snow,” Dang said. “It was much more fun, and more organized, than I expected.”
“I was expecting more of a free-for-all,” Cordoves added. “It was great that so many people came out and it was so organized.”
(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.
Arlington County, via a complicated real estate transaction, is seeking to acquire the sprawling Ballston Park apartments on the 300 block of N. Glebe Road.
The 20-acre, 52-building complex has 513 apartments, 233 of which are committed affordable to those making 60 percent or less of the area median income. If the county’s purchase were to go through, the county would increase the number of units committed as affordable and keep them affordable for another 75 years.
The complex is expected to sell for around $100 million, but the net cost to the Arlington — from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund — is not expected to exceed $16 million. That’s because the county already has a partial stake in the apartments, and because the county is only providing 25 percent of the sale price. The rest is being supplied by affordable housing nonprofit AHC Inc., through loans.
The terms of the proposed sale specify that the county will own the title to the apartment complex, but will grant AHC a 75-year ground lease and will help provide AHC with partial financing. Barring the sale, the existing affordable units would expire in 2027 and become market rate units.
“The County is taking this action in order to preserve the Ballston Park community – an important affordable housing asset,” said Arlington County Housing Director David Cristeal. “We believe that through this transaction, the County can preserve long term affordability and acquire a historically valuable asset for less than an estimated $70,000 per unit.”
“This transaction offers the opportunity to not only to extend the duration of current affordable units but to increase the number of affordable units within the property, obtain greater control over the long-term future use and development of the property and receive residual income in the form of lease payments for 75 years,” Cristeal continued.
The sale was quietly approved by the County Board at the end of its Tuesday, Jan. 28 meeting. The item was not originally on the Board’s public agenda. The sale agreement provided by the Board caps the total sale price at no more than $105 million.
Photo via Google Maps
The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. on the 900 block of N. Stuart Street, about a block away from Ballston Common Mall.
The suspect — Zachary DeWulf, 22, of Springfield, Va. — allegedly pushed a 65-year-old man down while he was trying to withdraw money from an ATM and stole the man’s two wallets. According to police, that’s when two witnesses took action.
“Two patrons of an adjacent shop witnessed the robbery and immediately chased the suspect on foot,” according to a police press release. “During the chase, one of the witnesses was able to flag down an Arlington County officer, who joined the chase and apprehended the suspect shortly after in a parking lot in the 4200 block of Fairfax Drive.”
The victim was not hurt. Dewulf was charged with robbery. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County Detention Facility after his bond was denied.
Another Dem Enters Congressional Race — Derek Hyra, an associate professor in Virginia’s Tech’s Urban Affairs and Planning program, has thrown his hat into the ring for the June 10th Democratic primary to replace Rep. Jim Moran in Congress. Hyra is also a member of the Alexandria Planning Commission. [NBC Washington]
Young Dems Hold Meet and Greet – Arlington Young Democrats will hold a meet and greet with some of the Democratic congressional candidates tonight. The event is taking place at 7:00 p.m. at Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 N. Wilson Blvd). [Facebook]
Cost of Police Reports May Rise — County officials are considering raising the price of accident reports and criminal checks from $3-5 to $10 apiece. The increase in fees could bring in an additional $32,000, which would offset the police department’s cost of supplying the reports. [Sun Gazette]
Marymount Signs Ballston Lease — Marymount University has signed a lease for 87,000 square feet of space in the office building at 4040 N. Fairfax Drive. The building was renovated last year after it sole tenant, the Dept. of Defense, moved out due to the Base Realignment and Closure Act. [Federal Capital Partners]
Registration Open for Fairlington 5K — Registration is now open for the Fairlington 5K Run and Walk. The non-competitive event will take place at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 5. It will benefit Abingdon Elementary School and Ellie McGinn, an Abingdon student who’s battling a degenerative mitochondrial disease for which there is no known cure. [Fairlington 5K]
Flickr pool photo by lifeinthedistrict
Va. Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional — A federal judge has overturned Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, in what the New York Times describes as “the strongest legal reversal yet of restrictive marriage amendments that exist throughout the South.” The judge stayed the ruling, pending an appeal, meaning that gay couples will still not be able to get married in Virginia for the time being. [New York Times, Blue Virginia]
Blue Goose Redevelopment a Year or More Away — A groundbreaking on the redevelopment of Marymount’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is not likely to take place until next winter at the earliest. [Sun Gazette]
Behind Arlington’s Snow Decisions — There’s a reason why Arlington County typically makes a decision on whether to open, open on a delay or close for the day at 5:00 a.m., well after some other jurisdictions. Arlington and Alexandria both usually wait until after a 3:00 a.m. Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments conference call, in which various governments and agencies discuss street conditions and their go or no-go decisions. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
A walk down the streets of Ballston in the immediate aftermath of the biggest snowstorm in years reveals a consistent trend: most businesses — like banks, barbers, and many restaurants — are closed, but bars are open.
Even in Ballston Common Mall, the Starbucks was closed, although the Panera Bread and Noodles & Company were open and filled with customers during the lunch hour. One of the busiest businesses in the area was First Down Sports Bar (4213 N. Fairfax Drive), which was crowded enough that the one bartender scheduled wouldn’t suffice; owner Ramesh Chopra had to come in and help.
“We’re always open. We were open during Snowmaggedon,” he told ARLnow.com at about 1:30 this afternoon. “I expected it to be busy later, around 3:00, but people were calling us early making sure were going to be open.”
At the Front Page Arlington (4201 Wilson Blvd), owner George Marinakos decided to open, but he had to pick up one of his employees and drive them to the restaurant to work. Other employees at his and other businesses walked to work or took the Metro.
“Everybody wanted us to open,” he said. “I did, employees did, customers did.”
Most offices were shut down — along with schools and county and federal government offices — but Blake Gilley and two coworkers had to come in. By noon, they had left, and an hour later they were enjoying drinks in First Down.
“Literally no one else was there,” he said of his office. “All of our other offices along the East Coast were shut down. I haven’t received an email in three hours.”
Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road were drivable, but covered in slush. The streets were far from empty, however, as most residents seemed to be enjoying their snow days. A few impromptu snowball fights even broke out.
Rock Bottom Brewery (4238 Wilson Blvd) manager Avery Minor expects that later in the day, much of the outdoor merriment will continue in bars like his.
“Bars and grocery stores are the places that have to stay open,” Minor said. ”People will always need food and drinks. What else are you gonna do?”
(In Virginia, alcohol-centric establishments — which we refer to above as bars — must serve food and are technically considered restaurants.)
The incident happened around 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12. Arlington County police say a fight between two men led to one man stabbing and/or slashing the other with a broken beer bottle.
“The victim sustained lacerations to the face and neck,” according to the police report. “He was transported to GW Hospital.”
“The suspect fled the scene, but was later located and taken into custody,” police said. “Mohammad Islam, 33, of Leesburg, VA, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding.”
Interior construction on the restaurant, at the Liberty Center South development (4000 Wilson Blvd), is scheduled to start this month, we’re told.
Construction is expected to take about three months, shortly after which the restaurant will open.
Photo via Facebook
The incident was reported at 7:25 a.m. on Friday. According to Arlington County police, an 18-year-old woman said she saw a man pleasuring himself next to a fence on the 1100 block of N. Stafford Street, which is about two blocks away from the Ballston Metro station and one block away from Washington-Lee High School.
“The suspect is described as a white male, 20-30 years of age, and approximately 6’0”,” according to the ACPD crime report. “At the time of the incident he was wearing a blue skull cap, a dark blue jacket, and red plaid pajama pants.”
(Updated at 2:15) The U.S. Air Force is planning to move the Air Force Office of Scientific Research from Arlington to Ohio, and Arlington’s representatives in Congress are fighting to keep it here.
The office employs 170 people at 875 N. Randolph Street in Ballston and focuses on improving the Air Force’s technological capabilities. If the move were to become official, the AFOSR would follow the National Science Foundation and federal Fish and Wildlife Service as another federal entity leaving Ballston for more affordable space. In this case, the Air Force would move the AFOSR to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.
“There are major advantages to being located in Arlington’s hub of innovation,” Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) told ARLnow.com. “Much of this human and technological infrastructure would be forfeited in a move to Ohio. I hope the Air Force realizes what it could lose if they decide to relocate the Office of Scientific Research.”
Moran joined with Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine in sending a letter to Air Force Commander Janet C. Wolfenbarger asking the military branch to reconsider its plans.
“Northern Virginia offers a unique and valuable ‘critical mass’ of military resources, technology infrastructure, world class universities and cutting-edge talent,” Warner said in a press release. “We strongly urge the Air Force to reconsider these compelling benefits before moving the Office of Scientific Research to Ohio.”
The Air Force has issued a Request for Information on moving the office to Ohio, according to a congressional source.
“A move like this requires several levels of decision-making once the RFI is complete,” the source told ARLnow.com. “No decision is expected until FY 2016″
After the jump, the full text of the letter the congressmen sent to Wolfenbarger.
Gen Janet C. Wolfenbarger
Commander, Air Force Materiel Command
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433
Dear Gen Wolfenbarger:
We write to you today to express our concern over the possibility of a relocation of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research from its current site in Arlington to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
As you know, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) has a long and proud tradition of basic research in collaboration with the world’s leading academic institutions. AFOSR has invested in wide-ranging academic efforts, from radiochemistry and superconductivity in the 1950s to environmental technologies and advancements in the treatment of battlefield injuries in the present day. This organization has funded everything from spacecraft to lasers to flat screen television sets, all in collaboration with academia. Critical to this partnership has been its proximity to the vibrant research community in Arlington and neighboring communities.
The growing research presence in Arlington boasts academic institutions such as Virginia Tech and George Washington University, as well as government agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation. Finally, Northern Virginia and neighboring Maryland are home to some of the world’s leading defense companies. Together these institutions provide fertile ground for the cultivation of collaborative research, the benefits of which AFOSR has been reaping for decades. We believe the research synergies achieved here cannot be replicated at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. We fear the impact that such a move would have on current and future research efforts, not just for the Air Force but for the wider academic and defense communities.
We understand the Air Force’s impulse to seek potential savings by consolidating some of its facilities within the fold of the Air Force Research Laboratory. Such efforts are commendable in the current fiscal environment, with declining defense budgets. However, given the undeniable benefits of maintaining its location in what has become a global hub of science and technology, we ask that the Air Force promptly provide any information regarding current plans to relocate AFOSR to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, to include the projected timeline and costs associated with such a move, expected savings, and the anticipated impact on the current AFOSR workforce.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from the Air Force on this matter.
A car crashed into the front of the ground floor office of Westwood College in Ballston tonight.
The incident happened just before 8:30 p.m. at 4420 Fairfax Drive. A man driving a sedan suffered an apparent seizure, lost control of the car and crashed it into the front of the building, according to Arlington Deputy Fire Marshal Brian McGraw.
“A car hit [the] building and looked split up the middle of the engine compartment,” one passerby told ARLnow.com via email. “The driver had been removed from the car by the time I got there and was lying on the ground nearby, very dazed.”
The man suffered minor injuries and was transported to the hospital, McGraw said. No one inside the building was hurt.
Photos courtesy Betsy Frantz, John R. and @LemurFestival
The distinctive “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is heading for the proverbial wrecking ball after the Arlington County Board approved replacing it with an office and a residential building.
The Board unanimously voted to redevelop the 1963 building, allowing the developer The Shooshan Company, in partnership with Marymount University, to build a nine-story office building and a 15-story, 267-unit residential building with 11 dedicated units of affordable housing.
The entire site will sit on three levels of underground parking, with 317 office spaces and 264 residential spaces. There will also be 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.
Marymount University will occupy the first six stories of the office building with plans to expand into the final three floors in the future. The office building will front on Fairfax Drive while the residential building will sit on the corner of Fairfax and N. Glebe Road.
In additional to the affordable housing — which includes a $275,000 donation to the Arlington Housing Investment Fund — the Shooshan Company also agreed to contribute more than $4.5 million toward the construction of a west entrance to the Ballston Metro Station and $1.15 million for improvements to the Ballston beaver pond restoration project and Custis Trail. The buildings are expected to be built to a LEED Gold environmental standard.
The developer will also build a 7,600-square-foot public plaza and an east-west pedestrian walkway between the two buildings, a 10-foot-wide cycle track on Fairfax Drive and allow public access to the planned auditorium inside the office building. The “Blue Goose” is considered a model of the 1960s-era “Modern Movement” architecture, and some of its distinctive panels will be preserved and displayed in the new buildings, as well as distributed to local museums.
“The plaza will have blue seating, blue lighting and benches with panels that will depict the history of the building, re-using blue and white panels from the existing building,” according to a press release. “The office building will incorporate a blue panel design at its base that will be reminiscent of the ‘Blue Goose,’ and a horizontal blue spandrel glass band at the top of the second story.”
“Marymount University is an important institution in Arlington, and it is great to see it expanding its presence in Ballston,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in the press release. “The new buildings will be attractive and energy efficient, and will come with many benefits for our community, including affordable housing, a public plaza, and a significant contribution to building a western entrance to Ballston Metro.”