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by Ethan Rothstein — November 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm 1,436 0

Construction on 193 new apartments — including 78 affordable units — in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood has begun, and county officials and developers celebrated today with a groundbreaking.

The project, called Union on Queen, will raze three buildings to erect a 12-story tower, which will contain 181 apartments. The two buildings that make up the Pierce Queen Apartments, built in 1942 on the 1600 block of 16th Street N., will be gutted, but preserved and renovated. They will be converted into 12 affordable units.

The project is a public-private partnership among The Bozzuto Group, nonprofit developer Wesley Housing and Arlington County, which is providing debt financing. Construction began a few weeks ago, according to Bozzuto President Toby Bozzuto, and is expected to last two years, putting the project on track for an October 2016 opening.

The process to get the apartments from proposal to site plan approval to construction was not an easy one. The project was deferred by the Arlington County Board before its March 2013 approval for design and parking concerns. It also faced issues securing affordable housing grants from both the county and the state.

The developers and public officials in attendance at this morning’s groundbreaking all noted how tough of a slog the approval process was. Wesley Properties President and CEO Shelley Murphy said the company’s founder called Pierce Queen Apartments “the project from hell” when the company acquired it in 1991.

“This is as good an example of why Arlington succeeds as anything,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “We actually follow through. Follow-through is hard. We all create plans, we all create visions, we write beautiful words, we put it on a shelf. In Arlington, we work really hard to bring the vision to life, to make the investments and the hard calls to make things work.”

Rep. Jim Moran didn’t step up to the podium — “One of the nice things about retiring is that I don’t have to stand up at any more podiums and microphones,” he joked — but said “Arlington County works, and it works because they understand that communities and their economies are a reflection of a collective decision-making on the part of thousands of families.”

Arlington approved $6.8 million in Affordable Housing Investment Fund money toward the project, which also received assistance from the Virginia Housing Development Authority. The state money wasn’t easy to secure, several of the speakers said, partly because the development’s total cost was close to being ineligible for state money. Eventually, the sides struck an arrangement and Fisette said the apartments will be up to the high standards the county has set.

“There are a lot of places that would say, ‘Dumb it down, cheaper, less efficient. It’s affordable housing in there’,” Fisette said. “But that’s not the way this community works. We want every building to be indistinguishable from the next.”

by Ethan Rothstein — November 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm 2,198 0

Police directing traffic at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Lynn Street on the morning of 10/20/14(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department will increase its presence at several key Rosslyn intersections this month.

From this Thursday, Nov. 6, to Nov. 24, officers will be assigned to special safety details at the intersections of Wilson Blvd and Lee Highway with N. Lynn Street.

The Wilson-Lynn intersection has been a source of major headaches during rush hours thanks to the ongoing construction along N. Lynn Street with the Central Place project. The backups have led to some drivers not yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, and the ACPD is responding with the new enforcement campaign.

The Lynn Street and Lee Highway intersection, nicknamed the “Intersection of Doom,” has for years been a dangerous place for pedestrians and bicyclists because of vehicles exiting from I-66 to the Key Bridge intermingling with users of the Custis and Mount Vernon trails.

Police say they plan to ticket pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers who violate traffic and jaywalking laws.

Officers will ticket motorists who violate traffic laws or do not yield for pedestrians in crosswalks,” according to a police press release. “In addition, pedestrians will be cited for jaywalking. Public Service Aides will hand out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who commute through these busy intersections.”

The enforcement campaign will begin from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. and noon to 1:00 p.m. on Thursday and continue on weekdays until the Nov. 24, the Monday before Thanksgiving. The pedestrian safety campaign, part of the region’s Street Smart campaign, is designed to inform motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians that 25 percent of traffic deaths in the D.C. region are bikers and walkers, nearly 90 deaths per year.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 22, 2014 at 5:00 pm 498 0

The trail connecting Doctor’s Run Park and S. George Mason Drive to Randolph Elementary School is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

The project, funded with Neighborhood Conservation money, will realign the trail that runs between the park and the school, widening it and decreasing its slopes in several areas, according to its county project page. The trail will be lit until 6:00 p.m. to coincide with Randolph’s after school programs.

The new trail will also connect with the 12th Street S. bike boulevard that goes from street to trail at S. Quincy Street. When complete, county Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager David Goodman told ARLnow.com a HAWK signal will be installed at the intersection of George Mason Drive and 13th Street, where the trail connector meets the road. The improvements will also include a pedestrian

“There are some improvements we’re doing on either end of this connector that are going to tie this all together,” Goodman told ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — October 10, 2014 at 6:15 pm 1,898 0

Traffic is a nightmarish in Rosslyn tonight (Friday) — at least for those heading through the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Lynn Street.

Due to lane closures from utility work and the on-going Central Place construction project, Lynn Street — which is often traffic-clogged even without construction – is down to one lane just before 19th Street. That led to major backups on Lynn Street, which led to backups on Wilson Blvd due to cars repeatedly “blocking the bock” in the intersection.

There was at least one minor accident at the intersection, reports of drivers getting in fights and frequent sounds of horns blaring.

At one point, a Arlington County police officer showed up and parked in the intersection, stopping traffic from blocking the box. However, the officer left after less than 15 minutes, allowing the bad driver behavior to continue unabated. Police were dispatched again to the intersection a half hour later, after receiving “multiple calls” from citizens.

Though especially bad tonight, the traffic problems in the intersection are frequent. Central Place construction has had Lynn Street traffic down to two lanes during most rush hours the past couple of weeks, leading to frequent backups and flared tempers.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm 1,084 0

New apartment building proposed for former Crystal City Post Office site (rendering courtesy Kettler)The high-rise apartment building that will replace the former Post Office on S. Eads Street expects to have shovels in the ground by the end of the month.

The building, at 1720 S. Eads Street, is being developed by Kettler and will be called m.flats, the same name of a recently opened Kettler apartment building on K Street NW in D.C.

The development, which was approved by the Arlington County Board last February, will be 11 stories tall with 198 units, comprised almost entirely of one- and two-bedroom apartments. There will be 176 spaces of underground parking, a “gaming area, fitness center, street entry bike room, and an all-season landscaped courtyard with fire and water features.”

“Our m.flats apartments are meeting a growing demand for living spaces within walking distance of work, shops and entertainment,” Robert C. Kettler, chairman and CEO of Kettler, said in a press release. “The thought process around m.flats recognizes the fact that many young people are forming families later in life. As a result, they not only want to enjoy the vibrancy of city life, but live in an apartment that has many conveniences and amenities.”

The construction is expected to be complete in October 2016. There’s no firm date yet on when construction will begin, according to a Kettler official, but the company is “pushing to begin work by the end of the month.”

The building was the first approved under the Crystal City Sector Plan, and Kettler agreed to keep 16 units at affordable rates and achieve a LEED Silver rating. The other 182 units will be marketed as “smaller, luxury units catering to single renters, young professionals and couples looking to share an apartment,” according to Kettler’s press release.

Kettler is currently in construction on the 411-unit Acadia building in the Metropolitan Park complex in Pentagon City.

Image courtesy Kettler

by Ethan Rothstein — September 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm 3,197 0

(Updated at 5:15 p.m.CEB Tower will be the tallest building in Arlington when it’s finished. Local and state officials gathered at the site of the future tower across from the Rosslyn Metro station this morning to break ground on the latest feather in the cap of Rosslyn’s redevelopment.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Rep. Jim Moran and Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette spoke before hundreds of Corporate Executive Board Company employees.

Standing 31 stories, CEB Tower will be the office component to developer JBG Companies’ Central Place development, which will include a 390-foot residential building under construction now.

For anchoring JBG Companies’ Central Place office tower, the management advisory company received a $4.5 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, $5 million from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant and matching infrastructure improvements from Arlington County. 

“We are all in,” McAuliffe told the crowd. “This corporate partnership is of the utmost importance to the Commonwealth. We have been on a roll since I’ve been governor, with 68,000 new jobs since I took office.”

CEB plans to occupy 15 floors and 350,00 square feet of the 390-foot-tall office tower, moving from its headquarters since 2008 in the Waterview building at 1919 N. Lynn St. The move, according to the company, will allow CEB to add 800 new jobs at an average annual salary of $120,000, on top of their roughly 1,200 employees already working in the area.

“We look forward to seeing CEB Tower rise above the Rosslyn skyline for years to come,” CEB Chairman and CEO Tom Monahan said. “We look forward to a strong partnership in Rosslyn, Arlington and Virginia to make this a global center of commerce.”

Fisette remarked that the building was another signifier of Rosslyn’s burgeoning redevelopment, and boasted of the recent influx of rankings Arlington has received in terms of its livability and its millennial population.

“Nothing is stagnant about Arlington,” Fisette said. “If you don’t know what’s going on in Arlington, you don’t know the future of our nation.”

Moran repeated a comment he made earlier this year, at the groundbreaking of Central Place’s residential skyscraper, about how Rosslyn was “just pawn shops and prostitutes” when he first visited 50 years ago. And he ruefully quoted polarizing comments about the county that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) made in her new memoir.

“Some might even say that Rosslyn was ‘soulless,’” Moran said. “Arlington is anything but soulless, and Rosslyn is developing in a way that would make anyone proud.”

The residential building is expected to open in 2017 and CEB Tower is slated to be complete in 2018. Construction has already ensnared rush hour traffic in the area and closed the CentralPlaza outdoor eating space.

by Ethan Rothstein — September 19, 2014 at 3:50 pm 1,755 0

Restoration Anglican Church has opened its new church after more than a year of construction, giving its 500 congregants a permanent home.

The new church’s first service was Sept. 7, and the building at 1815 N. Quincy Street wowed everyone seeing it for the first time, Rev. David Haynke said.

“It was one of those days you wish you could remember for the rest of your life,” he told ARLnow.com inside the church today. “I just sat there and watched people come in and say ‘wow, it’s so beautiful.’ It’s sort of breathtaking.”

The former building, which was built by the now-disbanded Trinity Baptist Church more than 70 years ago, was torn down Aug. 15, 2013, Haynke said. Buying the building and the land from Trinity and constructing the new building cost $4.3 million.

The new church has seating for 375 — “18 inches per butt,” Haynke said — and new space below the chapel to host children’s activities and classes. The church was designed with a terrace to host its now-signature snacks after services, where “we can eat doughnut holes and just talk.”

Restoration had been holding one 5:00 p.m. Sunday service at Little Falls Presbyterian Church, but turnout was low because the time was inconvenient for many people. The pews have been filled for the two services held since the new church opened, Haynke said.

“It’s special because they all know they had at least a small part in it,” the reverend said, referring to congregants’ donations.

The church will be holding a consecration tomorrow, Saturday, at 10:00 a.m. with Bishop John Guernsey of the Mid-Atlantic Anglican Diocese. Haynke said two baptisms will be performed as part of the celebration. The church holds three services on Sundays, at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 28, 2014 at 3:50 pm 981 0

The plaza at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Moore Street in Rosslyn with outdoor tables, seating and shade, is closing this weekend to make room for the construction of CEB Tower.

The tower, a 390-foot skyscraper, is part of the Central Place development that includes a matching, 390-foot residential tower already under construction where the McDonald’s used to sit at 1823 N. Moore Street. The residential tower is expected to be complete in 2017, and the office tower is planned to follow a year later.

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District hosted a “farewell” lunch for the plaza this morning and early afternoon for the plaza, giving out 100 free boxed lunches from Rosslyn eateries Capriotti’s, Ben’s Chili Bowl and 100 Montaditos, all of which have opened within the past year.

Milka Haas was eating free sandwiches from 100 Montaditos at the luncheon. She has worked in Rosslyn for the past year and said she frequently has lunch at the outdoor spot.

“It’s sad, but there’s another park over there we can go to,” she said, referencing Freedom Park on the other side of Wilson Blvd. “But this spot is more convenient.”

Siska Aprilia works two blocks up from the plaza, and said with construction on two adjacent skycrapers happening simultaneously, she’s worried about her drive to work getting even worse.

“That intersection at Lynn Street and Wilson is already holding us up,” she said. “People are just going through on yellow lights and blocking traffic. With more construction it’s only going to get worse.”

Disclosure: Rosslyn BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by Ethan Rothstein — August 20, 2014 at 10:30 am 3,435 0

The Italian Store that is coming to Westover is now under construction, and the owner hopes to be open in time for the holidays, before the end of 2014.

Construction was delayed for several months due to permitting issues, owner Robert Tramonte told ARLnow.com, but has been underway for three weeks. Tramonte announced last December that he was planning on opening a second location of his popular Lyon Village shop in the former 7-Eleven space at 5839 Washington Blvd.

The store will be 6,000 square feet, not including an outdoor café, Tramonte said. As opposed to the current Italian Store, at 3123 Lee Highway, the new location will have an on-site liquor license, so customers can drink the beer and wine sold on the premises.

“There are a lot of breweries coming up in Italy,” Tramonte said. “It will be a very eclectic beer list. Wine is kind of my specialty, and we’re going to have about three times as much space for wine as we do now. It’s the Italian Store on steroids, basically.”

The Westover location will have another feature the original does not: an Illy espresso bar, which will also serve gelato, and fresh-baked Italian pastries like cannoli and cornetti.

“I’ve always felt like even in my own store, if somebody asked me where can I get a good Italian pastry, and there’s no real answer to that in this area,” he said. “We have a lot of good sources right now and some that we cook ourselves, but I’ve never marketed them well in a display case. Over in the other store at Westover, we’re going to have the space to merchandise really well and people would see them fresh out of the oven.”

by ARLnow.com — August 8, 2014 at 11:30 am 2,874 0

Houses under construction at Lacey Lane(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) Construction has begun at the new Lacey Lane subdivision at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive, more than a year-and-a-half after crews first excavated the site in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood.

Work on the first model home first was expected to begin in March 2013, but didn’t actually happen until a few weeks ago. County employees told ARLnow.com last November that the stall had to do with developer The Barrett Companies fulfilling safety obligations in order to receive permits. County staff confirms the developer met all requirements and obtained a building permit this spring.

According to the Evergreene Homes website, the nine properties will be “exquisitely detailed luxury residences.” Renderings of what the finished homes are expected to look like are also available on the website.

The base models originally were said to feature four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, at an estimated cost of $1.4 million each. Although preliminary plans are available for the three-level houses, Evergreene Homes Director of Sales and Marketing Rich Rudnicki said the company currently is finalizing the home options and base pricing. He said the company should be ready to put the properties up for sale by September 1.

Rudnicki says details like detached garages, courtyards and sitting areas will make this a unique subdivision.

“It’s a cool location,” he said, “It’s going to be a different kind of community.”

by Ethan Rothstein — August 7, 2014 at 5:10 pm 1,695 0

The gas leak in Clarendon that caused several buildings to evacuate last weekend was caused by unauthorized construction, ARLnow.com has learned.

Interior construction on the small, vacant space of 3127 Wilson Blvd caused the gas leak, and Arlington County’s department of Community Planning, Housing and Development said they have not approved any permits for work, and ordered the work to stop after the gas leak.

“On Saturday, our Building Inspector issued a notice of violation on the business and posted a stop work order,” CPHD spokeswoman Helen Duong said. “The business was doing major renovation without a permit.”

The small space, next door to Goody’s pizza shop, is owned by Tara Sharma, who also owns Classic Cigars & British Goodies (2907 Wilson Blvd). Sharma, who bought the space two months ago, said he doesn’t know what he plans to put into the space — except it won’t be a restaurant, coffee shop or ice cream store — but plans to make a decision in the next few weeks.

Sharma told ARLnow.com today that Washington Gas, which owns the gas line and the right-of-way for construction work, turned off the gas meter in the space at his request because “we don’t need the gas for the business.”

“I called them and told them there was a pipe there,” Sharma said. “They said ‘do whatever you want, there’s no gas in the pipe.’”

According to county staff, any penalties for unauthorized work in the right-of-way that caused the gas leak would be levied by Washington Gas. Representatives from Washington Gas did not return multiple messages seeking comment. Sharma said he hasn’t had any indication he’d be penalized for causing the leak.

Sharma agreed to stop construction while waiting for the county to approve his permit.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm 3,338 0

Tupelo Honey Cafe, a North Carolina-based restaurant chain, is looking to move into the new apartment building at 2001 Clarendon Blvd in the Courthouse area.

Representatives from the restaurant and the building’s retail office have confirmed the two sides are finalizing negotiations, but aren’t prepared to announce a deal. The restaurant has locations in North Carolina and Tennessee, but an Arlington location would be its first in Virginia.

According to officials with the building’s retail and residential leasing firms, exterior construction is expected to be finished in mid-August, after which build-out for the retail properties will begin and take “about three to six months.” Apartment tenants are expected to begin moving in by September.

If Tupelo signs, it would join 7-Eleven, Hair Cuttery, Olive Oil Boom and a nail salon as retail spaces moving into the ground floor of the 154-unit apartment building.

Tupelo’s website says it cooks “just about everything Southern – from fried chicken to sweet potatoes to catfish.” It says its menu items are “scratch-made” with “farm-fresh produce.”

Updated at 11:50 a.m., 8/5/14: Tupelo Honey Cafe officials have confirmed that it is moving into the space in Courthouse.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 24, 2014 at 10:15 am 1,855 0

The new Capital Bikeshare station at Arlington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive (photo via Twitter) The new Capital Bikeshare stations at N. Cleveland Street and Lee Highway (photo via Twitter)

Two new Capital Bikeshare stations became available for public use yesterday in Arlington, and a new bicycle path shouldn’t be too far behind.

Capital Bikeshare announced on Twitter yesterday that it had installed a 15-dock station at Lee Highway and N. Cleveland Street in Lyon Village and an 11-dock station at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive at the edge of the Buckingham neighborhood. The two stations are the fourth and the fifth to have opened in Arlington this year, according to Paul DeMaio, Arlington’s program manager for Capital Bikeshare.

“This makes 72 stations in Arlington and 323 in the region,” DeMaio told ARLnow.com in an email. “Thirteen stations are in planning with another 17 stations recently funded with the start of fiscal year 2015 this past July.”

DeMaio said Capital Bikeshare is on track to have 133 stations around Arlington by 2020.

Rendering of westbound Rt 50 shared use pathIn other bicycle-related news, the shared-use path being constructed by the Virginia Department of Transportation as part of the Route 50/N. Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange project is projected to open next month, according to David Goodman, the county’s bicycle and pedestrian programs manager.

The trail will run along the highway’s eastbound side from the intersection with N. Pershing Drive, at the Fort Myer gate, to the N. Rolfe Street offramp.

On the other side of Route 50, the shared use path has been realigned and extended under the 10th Street bridge. These paths are expected to open when the construction on the project is complete, projected to be the end of August.

Photos via @bikeshare

by ARLnow.com — July 24, 2014 at 9:35 am 2,597 0

Power lines in Ballston

Man Pleads to Arlington Hospital Rape — A former Virginia Hospital Center employee has pleaded guilty to the rape of a 37-year-old woman at the hospital. The victim was at the hospital to receive a CT scan after falling and hitting her head while drunk. The rapist, 30-year-old Roy Anthony Jones, will be sentenced in October and could spend up to 18 years in prison. [Washington Post]

Construction Permits Filed for Office Tower — JBG Cos. has already filed for construction permits for the new CEB Tower office building in Rosslyn. The 31-story tower is part of JBG’s Central Place project, which also includes a residential tower which is currently under construction. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Powerball Winner Claims Prize — Arlington resident Tim Dudgeon has come forward as the winner of a $1 million Powerball prize. Dudgeon bought the ticket at Mia’s Market and Deli at 1607 S. Glebe Road. The store received a $10,000 bonus from the lottery for selling the ticket. [WJLA]

Vihstadt Pushes for Greater Contract Oversight — After a $7 million streetcar contract was able to bypass a County Board approval process on a technicality, Board member John Vihstadt wants to require all capital improvement contracts valued at $1 million or above to receive Board approval. County Manager Barbara Donnellan is evaluating the proposal. [InsideNova]

Arlington Celebrates Public Art Milestone — Arlington County is celebrating “30 years of Public Art placemaking in our community.” The multi-month celebration will kick off Aug. 1 on Dark Star Park Day, held at 1655 Fort Myer Drive in Rosslyn. [Arlington County]

by Jason Hargraves — July 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm 2,377 0

The Beacon at Clarendon West, the new apartment building at the intersection of Washington, Wilson Boulevard and N. Irving Street, is set to open Aug. 15.

The two-tower Arlington apartment complex is already 23 percent leased, a leasing agent told ARLnow.com, adding that she expects a sharp rise in interest once the building is open and agents are working on site. Pre-leasing is happening down the street in the Courthouse neighborhood, at 1920 Clarendon Blvd.

The Beacon’s 187 apartments include 1-bedroom, 1-bedroom-with-den and 2-bedroom units ranging in price from $2,100-$3,000 per month. The Beacon touts itself as a “boutique” alternative to the larger apartment buildings in the area.

As for the retail frontage on Washington Blvd, a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is expected to open later this year. No other tenants have been confirmed yet, but leasing agents say there’s been interest from several retailers.

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