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Developer Breaks Ground on Rosslyn Skyscraper

by Ethan Rothstein | April 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 1,262 views | No Comments

Arlington officials and real estate developer JBG Companies broke ground this morning on the 31-story residential skyscraper at 1823 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn called Central Place.

The development, which is expected to be complete in 2017, will have two floors of retail, a 17,00-square-foot public plaza and six levels of parking — three below ground and three above. Once the residential tower, which will be one of, if not the tallest, residential building the D.C. area, is complete, JBG will begin construction on an accompanying office space next door, between N. Lynn and Moore Streets.

“Rosslyn is going to continue to benefit from this type of development,” Rep. Jim Moran (D) said from the podium. “The first time I visited Rosslyn close to 50 years ago, it was a place for pawn shops and prostitutes. Today, it’s a dynamic community. It’s going to be the place where people are going to want to work, live and play.”

Although Wednesday morning marked the official groundbreaking ceremony, construction has been ongoing for months on the project. It’s closed several lanes of N. Lynn Street at different times, causing major backups, as well as the McDonald’s that stood in the spot the apartments will soon be. JBG also removed the skywalks over both streets as part of its agreement with the county to bring foot traffic back to street level.

“I think I was here when we knocked down the Orleans House,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said of the demolition of the restaurant at 1213 Wilson Blvd nearby. “I can’t say which I’m more excited about. It was a landmark and had its place in our history, and the McDonald’s does too, but it’s time to move on.”

The groundbreaking was another in a slew of recent landmarks for Rosslyn after the framework for the Rosslyn Sector Plan Update was approved by the County Board earlier this month. The plan would extend 18th Street through central Rosslyn — including between the two Central Place buildings — and connect Arlington’s core developments with the surrounding parks.

“A project like Central Place really changes the neighborhood,” Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick said. “I can tell you, this is what our community wants. We really want a place to hang out and congregate.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am | 805 views | No Comments

Dogwood flowers in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Obama Visit Boosted Business at Bookstore — The November 2012 visit to One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street) by President Obama and his family boosted revenue at the East Falls Church store by 20 percent. The visit still continues to benefit the store, according to owner Eileen McGervey. [Washington Business Journal]

Miss Gay Arlington Crowned — The new 2014 Miss Gay Arlington is Coco B. Colby. Colby was crowned after besting three competitors during the April 18 event at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City. Previous Miss Gay Arlington winners include Shaunda Leer, Stardust and Diamond D. Bottoms. [InsideNoVa]

County Promotes Building Safety — After a series of high-profile construction accidents this past fall, Arlington County has officially proclaimed May to be Building Safety Month. “Building safety is our focus every day, although most of that work happens behind the scenes,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, in a statement. [Arlington County]

Crystal City Power Purge Today — Crystal City is holding its annual Power Purge and Shred from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today. The event, at 1900 Crystal Drive, allows residents to recycle electronics, paper and to get rid of household paints and supplies. There’s also a specialty hard drive crusher for data security. [Crystal City]

Yorktown, W-L Soccer Game Ends in Tie — A “hard-fought, exhausting” boys soccer match between Yorktown and Washington-Lee ended in a scoreless tie Tuesday night. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

Land Eyed for Shirlington Walmart Could Become Storage Facility

by Ethan Rothstein | April 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 3,007 views | No Comments

2631 Shirlington RoadThe site near Shirlington that was once eyed for an urban-style Walmart appears on its way to becoming a self-storage facility.

The site, at 2631 Shirlington Road, is currently occupied by Redman Fleet Services, a towing and truck service company that has a contract with the Arlington County Police Department. Big box retailer Walmart was thinking about building a store there in 2011, which prompted the County Board to change its zoning ordinance so it could regulate the design and plans for Walmart or other “big box” retailers.

The plans for the Walmart ultimately fell through, and the run-down two-story warehouse and large car storage lot on 2631 Shirlington Road remain. The building, however, has been approved for demolition and, in its place, a five-story facility referred to as “Shirlington Self Storage” has been proposed to take its place.

The self-storage facility’s building permit has been approved by county staff, but the zoning application was tentatively rejected in its last review by staff, which said an ongoing subdivision process needs to be completed before the zoning can be approved.

Hat tip to Preservation Arlington

Nowhere to Go: Construction Blocks Sidewalks to Rosslyn Metro Elevators

by ARLnow.com | March 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm | 2,247 views | No Comments

(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Construction has created a glaring safety hazard in the middle of Rosslyn, and so far no one has done anything about it.

The new, $50 million high-speed elevator bank to the Rosslyn Metro station is now surrounded by construction fences — blocking the sidewalk in both directions — and leaving pedestrians only one way to go: across three lanes of N. Moore Street, a road heavily used by buses and taxis, in a mid-block stretch without so much as a marked crosswalk.

Making matters worse: pedestrians have limited visibility thanks to a large fenced-in equipment paddock in one of the lanes. Also, construction barriers across the street force pedestrians to cross diagonally, into traffic.

At one time, pedestrians could access the skybridge that runs across N. Moore Street. No longer: the skybridge is closed and awaiting demolition next weekend.

In the few minutes ARLnow.com was photographing the area this afternoon, a woman pushing a stroller could be seen craning her neck around the equipment paddock to try to spot oncoming traffic. Unable to see around a stopped bus further down the street, the woman and several people with rolling suitcases started crossing. As they crossed, an approaching taxi had to come to a quick stop to let them pass.

Some relief may be in sight next week.

Mike Reisinger, the project manager with Clark Construction, said on Monday and Tuesday next week, crews will be installing asphalt “within the depression in front of the WMATA elevators and opening the plastic barricades on the other side of Moore. This will allow foot traffic to cross in a perpendicular fashion rather than meander.”

Office Building Planned to Replace Courthouse Wendy’s

by Ethan Rothstein | March 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 5,305 views | No Comments

(Updated at 2:00 p.m) The Wendy’s fast food restaurant at the intersection of N. Courthouse Road, Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd appears likely to be replaced by a 12-story office building in the coming years.

Carr Properties submitted a preliminary site plan to the county’s zoning division yesterday outlining its plans for the 12-story building with about 6,800 square feet of ground story retail. The building — called 2025 Clarendon Blvd — will replace the Wendy’s at 2038 Wilson Blvd and the Wells Fargo bank at 2026 Wilson Blvd. The plan calls for the Wells Fargo to occupy some of the ground floor retail space in the new building.

The office building will have 233 underground parking spots with entrances to the lot built on a cut-through street. The parcel is on almost 25,000 square feet of land area, and the building will have about 181,275 square feet of floor space for office uses.

Carr Properties also designed a small plaza at the main intersection with benches and plantings for shade. As part of its community benefits package for additional density, it’s proposing either making a public art contribution or incorporating art into the plaza. Other parts of the community benefits package include: plans for the building is planned to be LEED Gold-certified; undergrounding the utility lines and improving the streetscape along Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards.

The Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum calls the site a “major gateway” and calls for a “focal feature” at the main intersection when the Wendy’s is ultimately redeveloped. The application says the building fulfills that goal with the building’s “unique glass column that will serve as an iconic architectural feature in Courthouse.”

The building’s north-facing side — which looks out over parts of the old brick Colonial Village complex — includes a set-back from the street and a “stucco-type” design to bring it more in line with the look of that block. To the east of the planned building, two new apartment buildings are also under construction, which are planned to also include ground floor retail.

Rosslyn Skybridges Closed, To Be Demolished

by Ethan Rothstein | March 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 4,900 views | No Comments

The skybridge over N. Lynn and N. Moore Streets in Rosslyn closed to pedestrians today and, starting this weekend, will be taken down permanently.

The demolition is part of the construction of the Central Place project – the same construction that has closed lanes on N. Lynn Street and snarled rush hour traffic in the area.

Starting this Friday at 8:00 p.m. until Monday at 6:00 a.m., N. Lynn Street will be closed to drivers and pedestrians as the skybridge is taken down. The following weekend, from March 28-31, N. Moore Street will be closed for the same duration.

The skybridges over N. Nash Street and Fort Myer Drives will remain open, but those hoping to use the skybridges to access the Rosslyn Metro Station will need to enter the Rosslyn Metro Mall and go down the escalators to do so.

According to Arlington County, the skybridges will be taken down in sections and either hauled away or staged on site and “cut to manageable lengths” before being taken away.

APS Wants Nearly 100 Trees Removed For Ashlawn Addition

by Ethan Rothstein | March 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 1,326 views | No Comments

Ashlawn Elementary School addition site planArlington Public Schools has almost doubled its estimate for how many trees need to be removed to make way for the 12-room addition at Ashlawn Elementary School.

The initial use permit for the addition called for 54 trees to be removed to make room the expansion. After consulting a certified arborist, Arlington Public Schools staff is asking the County Board to approve the removal of 40 additional trees.

Once construction is complete, APS is suggesting planting 224 new trees, up from the 127 that was approved by the County Board last May. The increase is to comply with county policy on replacing trees that are removed for construction, Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick told ARLnow.com.

“We’re adding more trees than required in order to be good neighbors and help to screen our property from our neighbors,” Chadwick said.

The revision is necessary because the original use permit was approved before the construction designs were finalized. APS and county staff agreed more trees needed to be removed to make room for stormwater construction, Chadwick said, and the arborist recommended dead and dying trees for removal.

The tree removal at Ashlawn generated some local outrage when the school system started removing trees not included in the use permit. That led to a verbal reprimand from the County Board in January.

“We cannot let this happen again — we cannot allow trees to be chopped down… this is a problem,” board member Walter Tejada said at the time, according to the Sun Gazette.

The use permit amendment that’s being considered on Saturday only addresses the trees, Chadwick said. The “loop road” dropoff from N. Manchester Street, which had been a source of controversy last spring, is not being recommended for change.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 10, 2014 at 9:00 am | 1,758 views | No Comments

Winter Sunrise by BrianMKA

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

Arlington Approves Homeless Shelter Construction Contract

by Ethan Rothstein | February 26, 2014 at 11:30 am | 1,726 views | No Comments

2020 14th St. N. (photo via Google Maps)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.”

Homeless Shelter Bids Arrive On-Budget

by ARLnow.com | February 5, 2014 at 7:15 pm | 1,165 views | No Comments

2020 14th St. N. (photo via Google Maps)Construction of a new homeless shelter in Courthouse is expected to cost more than $5 million.

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..

Apartment Skyscraper to Replace Rosslyn McDonald’s

by ARLnow.com | February 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm | 3,786 views | No Comments

Central Place residential towerThe McDonald’s at 1823 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn will soon be closing to make way for a 31-story mixed-use residential skyscraper.

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.

Rosslyn McDonald'sChevy 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.

Higher Bids Push Cost of New Playground to $579K

by ARLnow.com | January 22, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 1,526 views | No Comments

New playground proposed for Glencarlyn Park

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.”

Hayes Street Construction to Wrap Up This Spring

by ARLnow.com | December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 748 views | No Comments

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: Two Hurt in Construction Site Fall in Ballston

by ARLnow.com | October 31, 2013 at 10:05 am | 1,612 views | No Comments

(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.

This is the fourth technical rescue of a construction or maintenance worker in Arlington in the past month and a half.

Temporary Path to Trail Opens Near Potomac Yard

by ARLnow.com | October 24, 2013 at 11:00 am | 1,139 views | No Comments

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.

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