Wakefield Falls in Semifinals — The Wakefield High School boys basketball team lost in the 5A state tournament semifinals Saturday. Wakefield lost to Henrico 63-55, ending their season. [Sun Gazette]
Contract Loss Could Cost 165 Jobs in Arlington — Some 165 Lockheed Martin employees in Arlington are set to lose their jobs after the company lost a contract with the U.S. Army for information technology work. The contract was instead awarded to General Dynamics. [Washington Business Journal]
Construction Contract Awarded for New School – The Arlington School Board voted last week to award a $32.3 million contract for the construction of a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus. The school “is anticipated to be the first Net Zero Energy School on the East Coast,” thanks to a large solar array on the roof. With design, contingencies and “soft costs” factored in, the total cost of the school is projected at $43.8 million, down from the original $46.5 million cost estimate. [Arlington Public Schools]
W-L Falls to Yorktown in Shootout — Yorktown high school hockey club defeated Washington-Lee 3-2 in a four-round shootout Saturday night at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. It was the last game of the season for both teams.
Big Lines for Car Washes — With spring-like temperatures on Saturday came spring-like lines at local car washes. Motorists lined up to get the salt residue and winter grime washed off their cars. The line for Mr. Wash on N. Glebe Road extended all the way to Route 50 at one point. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
The Arlington County Board approved a $6.6 million contract yesterday to renovate two floors of a Courthouse office building to turn it into the long-planned and controversial Homeless Services Center at 2020 14th Street N.
The Board approved the contract 3-0 — Mary Hynes was absent with an illness and former Board Member Chris Zimmerman’s seat is vacant pending a special election — clearing what appears to be the final hurdle, other than the construction itself, before the homeless shelter is expected to open in early 2015.
The shelter will have 50 year-round beds, 25 winter beds and five medical beds. The construction will include building a separate entrance and elevator to separate the shelter from the rest of the tenants in the building, including the two ground-floor restaurants, which will remain open during construction.
The total cost estimate for the shelter project is $8.9 million, which includes $1.5 million in design, administration and county staff costs. The contract also includes a $1.1 million contingency, and the contract adds on to the county’s 2011 purchase of the building for $27.1 million. The shelter will be operated by the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN) and will replace the Emergency Winter Shelter, just two blocks away.
When the plan to build the shelter was approved last spring, residents of the adjacent Woodbury Heights Condominiums expressed concern that the facility would be a security hazard. Last night, no neighbors spoke against the item, and only one speaker voiced opposition: former Green party County Board candidate Audrey Clement.
“I’m not opposed to a year-round homeless shelter,” Clement said. “What I’m objecting to is the county’s propensity to undertake projects without doing the cost-benefit analyses needed to get the best value for dollar spent.”
Board Chairman Jay Fisette said the shelter is an accomplishment for the community and will be something to take pride in.
“This should be a time for rejoicing, not complaining,” he said from the dais. “This is a terrific project. It has been in the works for, one might say, decades as this community came to terms with our responsibility to the homeless. We’ve always done a good job, and now we’re going to do an outstanding job.”
Arlington County received two bids on the construction of a new “Homeless Services Center” at 2020 14th Street N., across from Arlington police headquarters. KBE Building Corporation bid $5.7 million and Miller Brothers Inc. bid $5.2 million for the project, which will involve interior alterations on two floors of the county-owned office building and the enclosure of an open parking area on the ground floor. The figures do not include project contingencies and some material costs.
“The total amount is within budget,” Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com on Monday. The Arlington County Board is expected to award a construction contract at its meeting later this month.
The Homeless Services Center will be a year-round facility, replacing the county’s aging, part-time Emergency Winter Shelter, located two blocks away. The total cost of the project — including last year’s purchase of the building, tenant relocations and the two-floor build-out — is projected at just over $38 million. The building purchase alone cost the county $27.1 million.
Other floors of the building are expected to eventually be used for county offices, displacing the private tenants there now. That may happen when the county’s below-market lease on office space at Vornado-owned Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd) expires, insiders tell ARLnow.com.
A timeframe for construction will not be available until the county staff report is issued on Feb. 14, Curtius said. Last year officials were hoping to have the new homeless shelter built and ready to open by fall 2014.
The decision to build the new homeless shelter attracted considerable controversy last year as nearby condo residents told County Board members they were fearful for their safety and property values. As a compromise measure, the Board agreed to require a security guard at the center from 4:00 p.m. to midnight..
Developer JBG expects to begin construction on the first of two planned towers of its Central Place development by early spring, the company says. The 31-story, 355 foot tall building will house 377 “impeccably-designed residences” along with 25,000 square feet of retail space. There will also be a 15,000 square foot public plaza built with the development.
“Central Place will be a striking addition to the Virginia skyline and offer some of the most spectacular views available of the nation’s capital,” JBG said in a press release. “It will be the tallest building in JBG’s development portfolio.”
The building will also be one of the tallest, if not the tallest, residential building in the Washington, D.C. metro area. No word yet on whether the building will consist of rental apartments or condominiums.
The development will require the closure and demolition of an existing, stand-alone McDonald’s restaurant and a small existing public plaza. The site is on the same block as the new entrance to the Rosslyn Metro station.
Chevy Chase-based JBG, which is partnering with the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio to finance the development, told Rosslyn stakeholders that construction will begin soon and the McDonald’s demolition will be underway by May.
“Beginning next Monday, February 10th, Clark Construction will mobilize and construction will begin with the installation and relocation of utility lines on North Lynn Street,” the company said. “Demolition of the existing McDonalds building and excavation activities will begin in approximately 3 months.”
Last year JBG completed then sold the Sedona and Slate apartment development, located at 1510 Clarendon Blvd in Rosslyn. The company is planning to eventually build a matching Central Pace office tower, to the south of the residential tower.
A new playground is coming to Glencarlyn Park, pending Arlington County Board approval on Saturday.
The playground, for children 5-12 years old, will complement an existing tot playground at the park for 2-5 year olds. It will feature a “treehouse” log play structure, a swing set, seesaw, a dry creek bed adjacent to a sand/boulder play area, benches, interpretive signage and cattail spinners.
The lowest construction bid for the project was $441,000, with a $44,000 contingency, for a total contract authorization of $485,000. County staff is recommending that the Board approve the contract, even though it’s considerably higher than expected.
Combining the construction contract with other expenses associated with the project, the total cost is expected to be well above half a million dollars.
“The original cost estimate for Glencarlyn Park of $485,000 has increased due to higher construction bids, bringing the total project cost to $579,255,” according to the staff report. “The additional amount of $94,175 can be funded from savings of other [Neighborhood Conservation] projects that were completed under budget.”
Construction on the Pentagon City Multimodal Project on S. Hayes Street is expected to wrap up this spring, county officials say.
The project has been under construction since the summer of 2012. It’s expected to bring numerous streetscape improvements to the stretch of Hayes Street between 15th Street and Army Navy Drive. The stretch includes entrances to the Pentagon City Metro station and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.
Some residents have been asking ARLnow.com when the project and its associated lane and sidewalk closures would end. Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman says the end is near.
“Crews are currently working on traffic signal installation and landscaping in the median, which includes plantings, bioretention areas to manage stormwater runoff, and installation of porous pavement,” she said via email. “We expect construction to conclude by spring 2014.”
That’s within the project’s expected two-year timetable.
The $9 million project was approved by the County Board in April 2012. The features planned as part of the project include:
- Upgraded traffic signals with improved timing at each intersection
- Clearly designated mid-block crossing areas
- New, upgraded street furniture
- New street lighting and accent lighting
- New sidewalks, crosswalks and lane markings
- New ADA ramps and pedestrian crossing equipment at all intersections
- Bioretention and rain garden landscape features to manage stormwater runoff
- Improved landscaping including street trees and ground cover throughout the project area
- Improved amenities for bicyclists, transit riders, pedestrians and visitors to the Pentagon City area
(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Two workers have been taken to the hospital after falling 20 feet at a construction site in Ballston.
The incident happened around 9:30 a.m. at an apartment construction site at 650 N. Glebe Road, across from the mall at the intersection of N. Carlin Springs Road.
Two workers were standing at a wall at the construction site when they somehow fell 20 feet into the construction pit, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton. One worker was able to walk out and seek medical attention on his own power, while the other had to be lifted out of the site with a crane.
Both workers were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries, Shelton said.
A new temporary staircase and accessible path has been built near Potomac Yard.
The path leads from Potomac Avenue, behind the Eclipse condominium building, to the Four Mile Run trail.
The access way is a “long-term detour” that was installed as part of the Four Mile Run Restoration Project and a bridge demolition project, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman.
In a letter to the editor of the Sun Gazette last week, Arlington resident Karen Lamb said that construction noise has gotten worse in Arlington in recent years.
“I moved here in 1994, and it was relatively tranquil,” she wrote. “Now, there is new construction going on all over, trees are being leveled, hilltops razed and the sound of construction equipment is everywhere, with the incessant beeping of bulldozers backing up… no longer can I have breakfast or lunch in the gazebo, and forget sleeping past 7 a.m.”
The noise is “unbearable ” and the county has refused to do anything about it, Lamb continued.
The north entrance to the station — the side that includes the skybridge escalator — will also be closed while WMATA starts Phase 1 of its renovation of the Rosslyn station.
“The bridges themselves are going to stay open, but the access to the escalator will be closed off,” said WMATA’s site supervisor, who declined to give his name.
One alternate way to reach the skybridges is via a staircase between N. Moore and Lynn Street, next to the new Rosslyn Metro elevator entrance.
The renovations are expected to take until April to complete. During that time the two up-and-down escalators will be replaced with staircase. Also, a connection to the new skyscraper next door, 1812 N. Moore Street, will be built, the official said.
The escalator removal is taking place despite earlier objections from the North Rosslyn Civic Association, which called the escalators “the only assistance provided to residents in negotiating the tremendous change in elevation between the center of Rosslyn and the adjacent community to the West.”
The removal of the escalators is necessary to make way for a new Arlington Commuter Store.
After Phase 1 is finished, the north side of the station will reopen and the south side will close for construction, the supervisor said. Phase 3 will be renovations to the N. Ft. Myer Drive entrance.
This weekend, the sidewalk that runs along the 1812 N. Moore project, north of the station, will reopen, and the temporary pedestrian walkway that juts into the street will close.
(Updated at 9:45 p.m.) The long-stalled plan to build a western entrance to the Ballston Metro station is taking a small step forward thanks to new transportation funding.
On Tuesday, the Arlington County Board approved a funding plan for the county’s share of revenue generated by Virginia’s new transportation legislation. The plan, which will be submitted to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), calls for $500,000 to be allocated to planning for the new Metro entrance during the current fiscal year.
The entrance is already partially designed. As proposed, it will be located at the intersection of N. Fairfax and Vermont Streets, allowing easier access to the new developments along Glebe Road in Ballston, the Bluemont neighborhood and other points west. The station will feature two street-level elevators and escalators, connecting to an underground passageway and mezzanine (with an attended kiosk) that will lead to the train platform.
“The County’s goal with the new funding is to advance the design of the West Entrance and proceed to construction,” said Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Laura G. Smith. “In the next few months, the County will assemble [stakeholders] and reexamine the previous preliminary design.”
In another set of funding priorities submitted to NVTA, for fiscal years 2015-2017, the Board requested $56 million over those three years to cover 75 percent of the estimated $75 million cost of constructing the new entrance. Additional funds for the project are expected to come in the form of a $11 million developer contribution — tied to an approved but thus far unbuilt redevelopment project — and from other local and state sources.
The funding request would suggest that the entrance could be built by 2018, but the construction timeline does not appear to be set in stone.
“The Ballston Metro West Entrance Project has a lot of moving parts,” Smith noted.
Also included in the FY 2015-2017 priority list is $10 million for the planned realignment of the eastern end of Columbia Pike, between the Air Force Memorial and the Pentagon. Arlington is hoping to reach an agreement with the military on the realignment plan and a related land exchange “within the next six months,” said Smith.
Four Arlington transportation projects were approved by NVTA this summer. Other transportation funding requests made by the County Board on Tuesday include:
- Clarendon Circle pedestrian safety improvements ($2 million)
- Crystal City street improvements ($2 million)
- New Arlington Transit bus maintenance facility ($2.25 million)
- Streetcar project management ($2.5 million)
- New traffic cameras and signals ($1 million)
- Design of improvements to Glebe Road ($2 million)
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.
Food and retail options at Reagan National Airport will soon take on a new look. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has launched a wide ranging food and retail development program for DCA and Dulles International Airport.
MWAA plans to redevelop about 95 percent of DCA’s concessions over a 30 month period. The revamp will occur in five phases, with construction on the first kicking off in the next few weeks. Customers can expect to see changes both before and after passing through security checkpoints.
“This allows us to take advantage of broader trends and designs in the industry to provide enhanced offerings for our passengers,” said MWAA spokesman Chris Paolino. “This is something that’s been in the works for quite some time.”
During the planning process, Paolino said MWAA researched airports around to the world to determine the best practices in the concessions industry, noting what works well at an airport and what does not. It also took into consideration feedback about what existing concessions customers like and what they would like to see added in the future.
As mentioned yesterday, well-known restaurants and stores such as Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Sea Foods, Pinkberry and Spanx will be added. Those phase one additions will be joined by others such as Brighton Collectibles, Lacoste and Vineyard Vines. Some existing restaurants and stores, such as Five Guys and Brooks Brothers, will remodel and/or expand. The 34 phase one offerings at DCA are expected to open sometime in the spring of 2014.
The redevelopment plan released today estimates each restaurant will be under construction for about four months and stores will take a little more than two months. MWAA will do its best to stagger construction so not all of the food and retail will be under construction at the same time.
“We want to maintain as many dining and shopping opportunities as possible for passengers while this is being done,” Paolino said. “We’ll try to limit the inconvenience as much as possible.”
MWAA plans to put out regular updates about which concessions are under construction and which will open soon. Customers can get updates on the Reagan Food and Shops website or via the DCA Twitter feed.
Update at 4:30 p.m. — Police say the 35-year-old man who fell at the construction site has been pronounced dead at Virginia Hospital Center. Police remain on the scene as part of the investigation. OSHA is on the way to the scene to conduct its own investigation.
Earlier: Medics are performing CPR on a construction worker who fell two stories at a construction site on Columbia Pike.
The worker fell about 20 feet at the Rosenthal development site at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road. He is reported to be unconscious and bleeding from the ears, according to scanner traffic.
A technical rescue team has been dispatched from the scene and is discussing using a crane to extricate the worker from the site.
Police have shut down all southbound lanes of Glebe Road at Columbia Pike due to the emergency response. Arlington County detectives and state occupational safety investigators are en route to the scene.
The new $32.6 million facility, on the opposite side of N. Moore Street from the current entrance, will feature three high-speed, high-capacity elevators.
The entrance will be able to serve up to 2,000 riders per hour, according to Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. Officials have said that they hope the entrance will help keep pace with the station’s soaring ridership, which has increased 23 percent in the past decade and is expected to increase even more with new office and residential development in the area.
Arlington County will be holding a grand opening ceremony for the new entrance — at 1811 N. Moore Street — on Monday, Oct. 7 at 9:30 a.m. The event will feature members of the County Board and will be open to the public.
In addition to the elevators, the station improvements include an emergency evacuation stairwell, a mezzanine passageway, a new station manager kiosk and new fare collection equipment. The Rosslyn Metrorail station is the busiest in Virginia, servicing more than 36,000 passengers per day, according to DES.