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by Ethan Rothstein — October 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm 390 0

An apartment building that bills its units as “boutique luxury” apartments says it’s a month away from leasing,

The Hyde, at 3119 9th Road N., is an 18-unit “exquisite rental residence,” according to developer Clark Realty Capital, that is still under construction but is expected to begin taking tenants next month. The apartments range from one to three bedrooms averaging 1,400 square feet each. When construction began, the project was referred to as 9th Road Residences when construction began a year ago.

The apartment building includes 33 parking spaces and ” a dog wash facility, automated package delivery, on-site electric vehicle charging stations, and wifi-enabled Nest temperature programs” as amenities, according to a Clark spokesman.

The rents have not yet been determined, but Clark developer Michael Jiang said they will be comparable to “similar new product in the area,” by square foot. For comparison, a 1,003-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom in the new Beacon Clarendon building cost almost $3,500 a month, according to that building’s website.

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 ARLnow.com — October 8, 2014 at 9:30 am 1,432 0

Rainy fall day in Bluemont Park (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Civ Fed Votes Against Tall Buildings — The Arlington County Civic Federation has voted to urge the Federal Aviation Administration to adopt stricter rules regarding skyscrapers around airports. Such a rule, intended as a safety measure in the event a plane suffers an engine failure on takeoff, could impose a moratorium on future tall buildings in Crystal City and Rosslyn. [InsideNova]

Walk and Bike to School Day — Arlington Public Schools participated in International Walk and Bike to School Day this morning. Students and parents across the county ditched their cars and made their way to school on foot. [Arlington Public Schools]

Man Steals Skinny Jeans from Mall — A 33-year-old D.C. man has been charged with stealing numerous pairs of skinny jeans from the Hollister store in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. The alleged crime happened Tuesday afternoon. [NBC Washington]

Slow Start for Gay Marriage in Arlington — Only five same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses in Arlington in the 24 hours following the Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Virginia and a number of other states. Among Virginia jurisdictions, Arlington grants the third-most marriage licenses per year. [InsideNova]

Fairfax Approves Streetcar Design Funds — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved its $4.2 million share of design and program costs for the Columbia Pike streetcar on Tuesday. The Board voted 7-2. Arlington County already approved its share of design funds. The Pike streetcar will run from Pentagon City to Bailey’s Crossroads in Fairfax County. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by Ethan Rothstein — September 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm 2,533 0

(Updated at 5:15  p.m.Red Top Cab is exploring redeveloping its two properties in Clarendon as apartment buildings with ground floor retail.

Red Top has occupied those parcels for decades under owner Neal Nichols, who founded the taxi company in 1964. Nichols has partnered with Ballston-based developer The Shooshan Company with the intent of redeveloping its business office and large surface parking lot at 1200 N. Hudson Street and its communications center at 3251 Washington Blvd, ARLnow.com has learned.

According to Tom Miller, a planning supervisor in Arlington County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, representatives from the Shooshan Company held “a preliminary meeting” with the county to discuss the plans, but no permits or site plan applications have been submitted yet. The developers also met with the Lyon Village Civic Association to discuss the plans.

The two properties are adjacent to the recently opened Beacon Clarendon apartment project at the corner of Washington and Wilson Blvds.

A Shooshan Company official declined to discuss the plans before they are more concrete. Nichols has owned the 23,000 square foot parcel at 1200 N. Hudson Street since 1969, according to Arlington County property records. Nichols purchased the 13,560 square-foot communications center property in 1993.

by Ethan Rothstein — September 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm 923 0

Rosslyn skyline from the Roosevelt Bridge (Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen)The Arlington County Civic Federation could weigh in on whether continued redevelopment in Rosslyn outweighs potential new safety regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA announced in April that it was considering changing the regulations around airports to accommodate “one engine inoperative” planes — aircrafts that have an engine fail on takeoff and can’t ascend into the air as fast. The new rule, if passed, would restrict the heights of buildings in the area surrounding airports, which could impact redevelopment in Rosslyn and Crystal City.

County Manager Barbara Donnellan sent a letter in July to the FAA stating the county’s opposition to the rule change. In the letter, she wrote “we share the FAA’s interest in ensuring that air navigation in and around airports is safe, with appropriate plans and procedures in place to account for emergency situations.”

“At the same time, Arlington is committed to our long-established smart growth and transit-oriented development policies, which includes creating mixed-use, high-density neighborhoods around investments in transit,” Donnellan continued. “Therefore, we share the view of other potentially-affected communities that the impacts be thoroughly evaluated through the formal rule-making process before any change is made.”

The Civic Federation, a county-wide organization made up of delegates from more than 80 civic and resident associations, could vote on a motion at its meeting Oct. 7 to oppose Donnellan’s letter, made by retired U.S. Navy Pilot Jim Pebley, a Civic Federation delegate. Pebley said Donnellan made only a cursory “head-nod” to safety, instead prioritizing economic development.

“If the FAA delays adopting the proposed rule, buildings in Rosslyn could soon grow past 450 feet,” Pebley said to the County Board this week. “That gives pilots flying a disabled plane two bad choices: try to clear the buildings or turn early and cross over central Arlington… Madam Manager, your letter’s head-nod towards safety and argument about the rule change’s economic impact on smart growth is not the responseI’d hoped my County would make. You know, having a ‘downtown’ airport comes with economic benefits and safety responsibilities.  You can’t have an urban airport and unlimited development crowding airliners.”

Pebley’s resolution would “urge” Arlington County government to work with the FAA on building height safety regulations instead of trying to fight such regulations.

The FAA introduced the change as a “proposed policy,” which, according to Rep. Jim Moran, meant the administration could circumvent the typical rule-making procedures, including a cost-benefit analysis by the federal Office of Management and Budget. Moran said the proposed policy was written to allow airlines to overload plans with cargo and passengers, because a plane hitting a building with one engine out of commission “never happens.”

“The airlines and the airports authority are acting out of greed,” Moran said in May. “It’s self-centered on their part. It’s disappointing and it should be stopped in my view. I’m just asking that they go through the normal, standard rule-making procedure where you look at the real-world impact, but they don’t want to consider what the economic impact would be in surrounding communities because their stovepipe attitude is they exist for the benefit of the airlines.”

The Civic Federation meets Tuesday, Oct. 7. If the FAA policy were passed, buildings already built would not be affected — about 170 in Arlington, Moran said — but, if they were to be redeveloped, they would have to be built shorter than they are now.

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

by ARLnow.com — September 19, 2014 at 9:15 am 1,274 0

Taxis queued up at Reagan National Airport

‘Pups and Pilsners’ Photo Contest — Want to sample some brews and make your pet famous? Head on over to Crystal City’s Pups and Pilsners event from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, snap a photo of your pooch and tweet it to us and our sponsors, @CCBID and @BeckysPetCare. Pups and Pilsners is a free dog-friendly event featuring a massive beer garden and food from local restaurants. [Crystal City BID]

Planners: Bank Shortchanges Courthouse — The office building slated to replace the Wendy’s in Courthouse will have a Wells Fargo bank prominently located on the ground floor, and Arlington planners don’t like it. County staff says the bank use is “not appropriate” and should be at least moved so that a more active retail use can occupy half of the plaza area. Developer Carr Properties says the bank must stay, since Wells Fargo owns the land under the existing bank that will be torn down for the project. [Washington Business Journal]

Vihstadt Out-Raises Howze — Incumbent, independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt is out-raising his Democratic opponent, Alan Howze. Vihstadt raised $31,367 in July and August, compared to $20,607 raised by Howze. Vihstadt recently reported $58,746 cash on hand while Howze reported $16,906. [Washington Post]

Fugazi to Release ‘Lost Album’ — Fugazi is planing to release a “lost album” of 11 songs recorded in 1988. The legendary local rockers recorded the songs on the album, First Demo, at Inner Ear Studio in Arlington. [Spin]

Road Closures for Clarendon Art Fest — Parts of Washington Blvd, Clarendon Blvd, and N. Highland Street will be closed Saturday and Sunday for the 2nd Annual Arlington Festival of the Arts. “Over 100 artists will showcase their works including glass, mixed media, paintings, jewelry, and pottery; providing all sorts of opportunities to appreciate — and purchase — art,” according to the festival’s website. [Arlington County, ArtFestival]

by Ethan Rothstein — August 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm 3,632 0

Rendering of the proposed 672 Flats apartment building (image courtesy The Penrose Group) The corner of N. Glebe and Carlin Springs Roads (photo via Google Maps)

The Ballston development boom doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon: a developer has submitted plans to Arlington County for a six-story, 175-unit apartment building on N. Glebe Road.

The Penrose Group has purchased parcels of land on which the Prestige Certified Motors and Macy’s surface parking lot sit, between N. Carlin Springs Road and 7th Street. It also has a contract to purchase the Exxon station at 660 N. Glebe Road, according to Penrose Group Founder and President Mark Gregg. The Washington Business Journal first reported the development.

The building, called 672 Flats, will have 4,400 square feet of retail on the ground floor facing Glebe Road, next to a 725-square-foot bicycle storage area, a lobby, “club room” and fitness center. Andrew Gregg, Mark’s son, told ARLnow.com the number of parking spaces is yet to be determined — the county hopes for 175 while Penrose is angling for fewer — but there will be an underground garage.

Mark Gregg said he expects the site plan process to conclude with County Board approval by spring 2015, and for construction to begin later that fall. Gregg expects the building to be complete in 2017. Along with the building, Andrew Gregg said Penrose plans to put on-street parking along N. Glebe Road for “off-peak hours only,” and build a right turn lane on 7th Street.

“We want to make that intersection safer,” Gregg said. He added there would be no parking in a proposed alley between the building and the townhouses along N. Carlin Springs Road and Tazewell Street, but there could be street parking along 7th Street. According to the WBJ, “The Bluemont Civic Association in February offered its conditional support for the project,” with the conditions including traffic and pedestrian safety improvements.

The Penrose Group is also building the Latitude Apartments in Virginia Square and Pike 3400, coming at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road. Latitude should deliver in 2016, Andrew Gregg said, and Pike 3400 could begin leasing by the end of this year.

With the Rosenthal Mazda dealership on the other side of 7th Street N. from 672 Flats also in line for redevelopment, Gregg said the plot of land is one of the last remaining redevelopment opportunities in Ballston.

“I think that it’s conveniently located for the Ballston area. It’s a block and a half from Metro, and it’s across from the mall” which will be redeveloped, Mark Gregg told ARLnow.com today. “We think the whole Ballston area along Wilson and Fairfax and Glebe will be an area people want to live in.”

Image, left, courtesy The Penrose Group. Photo, right, via Google Maps.

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 — July 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm 3,063 0

Courthouse Square Concept A Courthouse Square Concept B Courthouse Square Concept C

(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The large surface parking lot between the Arlington County Justice Center and Courthouse Plaza appears destined to become open, green space at some point in the future.

Last night, county planners presented three concepts to the community as part of the Envision Courthouse Square outreach process. All of the concepts included using the space the surface parking lot occupies as a sort of town green, with pedestrian and bicycle paths crisscrossing the area in different patterns.

The workshop last night was the last in-person chance the community will have for significant input before staff from Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development drafts a Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum, to be brought before the community in the fall and presented to the Arlington County Board this winter.

Moving forward, the county will plan on placing parking underground while “retaining minimal surface parking,” according to CPHD Principal Urban Designer and Planner Jason Beske. There are no plans for buildings on the north edge of the current parking lot to preserve the square, and 14th Street and 15th Street between Courthouse Road and N. Uhle Street will both remain open to vehicular traffic.

Three “big ideas” were brought before those in attendance, which included the Envision Courthouse Square Working Group and county staff. The first, Concept A, calls for 3.9 acres of open space, a pedestrian promenade connecting 15th and 14th Streets N. in front of the AMC Courthouse movie theater and converts 15th Street between N. Courthouse Road and Clarendon Blvd into a shared pedestrian, bike and vehicle corridor.

Concept B, pictured above in the center, calls for the pedestrian promenade to be diagonal from the current Strayer Building — viewed as a target for high-rise redevelopment — to the Verizon Plaza building adjacent to the building that contains the Gold’s Gym. This plan calls for 4.2 acres of open space and includes a pocket park between Courthouse Plaza and N. Veitch Street.

Concept C, pictured above on the right, calls for 3.15 acres of open space and a more east-west alignment of paths and streets in the design area.

The plans for building redevelopment vary significantly among the three plans. Concept A calls for the two buildings with 15th Street frontages to be redeveloped at heights of 153-180 feet for the Strayer building — at the intersection with Clarendon Blvd — and 300 feet for the Landmark Block, at the intersection of with Courthouse Road. It also calls for retail in front of the AMC theater and a new building up to 180 feet tall next to it.

Concept B flips the proposed heights for the Strayer and Landmark blocks from Concept A, calls for the redevelopment of the AMC theater into a county or private building up to 180 feet tall and a three-to-five story “cultural building” at the Verizon Plaza site.

Concept C includes the most significant redevelopment: a “market shed” next to the AMC theater, the same proposed heights for the Strayer and Landmark block and two, 10-12 story buildings along 14th Street N., with the option to preserve the current theater or include a separate cultural use. The Verizon Plaza would be the site for a new, 300-foot high-rise building.

“Think of these plans as a kit-of-parts,” CPHD staff wrote in its presentation last night. “All of the big ideas are open for your feedback. Feedback results will inform us of the community’s preferences as we take the next steps to combine ideas and test their feasibility. The goal is to create a single, preferred plan that carries our shared vision forward.”

CPHD officials said an online survey will be posted shortly for community members unable to attend last night to weigh in on the three concepts.

Images via Arlington CPHD

by Ethan Rothstein — July 21, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,913 0

Rendering of the Central Place project in Rosslyn (via JBG Cos.)The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) announced today it will occupy 350,000 square feet on 15 floors of the planned Central Place office building in Rosslyn — allowing construction on the building to move forward.

The building will be renamed CEB Tower and is expected to be completed by 2018, when CEB will move from its current headquarters in the Waterview building, a block away at 1919 N. Lynn Street. CEB estimates the move will bring 800 new jobs to the area by the time the move is complete.

The move was announced two days after the Arlington County Board approved an amended sign ordinance that allows developers to apply for signage above 50 feet high. The signs were previously prohibited in the two-block radius in which CEB Tower will be located.

Sweetening the pot: $4.5 million in grant money from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, a matching pledge of infrastructure improvements from Arlington County, and $5 million from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant.

“This Agreement would not have been possible without the exceptional partnership of the Commonwealth and Arlington County,” CEB Chairman and CEO Tom Monahan said in a press release. “The Governor’s office and our local government representatives clearly demonstrated why Virginia is a great state for business. Under their leadership, we are confident in Arlington’s future as a business hub and thrilled to be a landmark business in — and significant economic contributor to — the Rosslyn community.”

“While it’s too early to size precisely the economic impact for 2018 and beyond, their partnership and leadership notably support our strategy for continued growth and margin expansion,” Monahan added.

Before the office tower is complete, Central Place’s developer, the JBG Companies, is expected to wrap up construction on its 31-story residential tower next door in 2017. The twin, 390-foot skyscrapers are expected to have ground floor retail and observation decks.

“CEB is exactly the type of business Arlington needs as we move forward as a leader in the innovation economy,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in the county’s release. “Today’s announcement is a shining example of how the new initiatives we’ve implemented this year are increasing Arlington’s economic competitiveness and ensuring our place as a leading community for technology businesses of the future.”

CEB moved to Rosslyn from D.C. six years ago.

“Virginia has proudly served as home to CEB since its move from the District in 2008,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement. “A new global headquarters and investment of this magnitude are tremendous testaments to the confidence the company has in Arlington County and the Commonwealth as it grows its presence internationally, and creates the workspace and technology for jobs of the 21st century.”

Photo via The JBG Companies

by Ethan Rothstein — July 16, 2014 at 5:10 pm 3,655 0

The long-planned development that would knock down Clarendon dive bar Jay’s Saloon and Grille (3114 10th Street N.) and several other businesses could be formally approved by the Arlington County Board this Saturday.

If approved, Jay’s co-owner Kathi Moore, who owns the restaurant with her ex-husband, Jay Moore, told ARLnow.com today that she’s been given until Spring 2015 before she has to close down. Jay’s has been operating with the knowledge they could be closed down for the development since 2011.

The development on the table is a mixed-use building called 10th Street Flats with 135 residential units, nine live/work units, 3,660 square feet of retail and 4,704 square feet of office space and two levels of underground parking. In addition to Jay’s, the development would also include the demolition of a salon, car dealership and insurance agency on the 3100 block of 10th Street N.

Ballston-based Clark Realty Capital owns the property and is spearheading the development plans, but officials with Clark could not be reached for comment today. The building is proposed as five stories tall, and the live/work units — designed as apartments with a separate office space — could be converted into retail space as market conditions dictate.

The building would be L-shaped, according to the staff report, with “composite wood panels and composite wood and aluminum trellises to create differentiation on the façade given the project’s long frontage along 10th Street. The ground floor uses masonry, glass, and aluminum and provides for 79 percent transparency.” It would be LEED Gold certified and have dedicated affordable housing units to compensate for density above what is called for in the General Land Use Plan.

In the review process, community members outlined concerns about traffic in the smaller streets surrounding the area, particularly 9th Road N., a residential block. The plans also call for the roof to be accessible to residents as an amenity, which raised the eyebrows of the community and some local officials. County staff is recommending the building’s approval nonetheless, saying the traffic wouldn’t result in an “undue adverse impact” on local traffic and stipulating a buffer area on the roof to mitigate noise.

Moore said if she and her ex-husband could have, they would have bought the land along with the restaurant when they opened in 1993, but they “couldn’t afford it then, can’t afford it now.” The restaurant bills itself as “one of the last true ‘dive bars’ in Arlington,” and Moore said her clientele is upset about the closing.

“Both my lunchtime and my nighttime crowd are like ‘what are we going to do?’” Moore said. “My heart goes out to them because we’re not like the rest of Clarendon.”

Like Westover’s The Forest Inn, Jay’s is considered one of the last of a dying breed in Arlington. Local freelance writer Kevin Craft, who has written about Arlington’s dwindling dive bar scene for Arlington Magazine, said there are very few places with as diverse a crowd as Jay’s Saloon.

“I think it’s always important for a place to have a sense of its own history,” Craft told ARLnow.com in a phone interview this morning. “Places like Jay’s are where different generations and professional classes can mix and mingle, and I think Arlington is losing those establishments, unfortunately.”

Moore said she doesn’t believe Jay’s will be moving anywhere else — “20 years is enough here,” she said — but the regulars were glad to find out the saloon will stay open through football season. She purchased some new TVs for the fall, and, when the restaurant does close, plans to hold an auction, including selling all the knick-knacks that line the bar’s walls.

“Our regulars are already asking to take stuff,” she said. When asked what the most sought-after item is, she immediately pointed to the painting of a naked woman hanging over the bar. She then laughed, adding “but that’s not for sale.”

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.

by ARLnow.com — July 1, 2014 at 8:30 am 1,741 0

Sunrise on the Potomac (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Library to Host World Cup Viewing — For most of those going out in Arlington to watch this afternoon’s USA-Belgium World Cup match, a bar (or a movie theater) is the preferred venue. But if you don’t need a beer to watch the game, Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) has a free option for soccer viewing. The game, which starts at 4:00 p.m., will be projected on the big screen on the library’s first floor. Cheering and non-alcoholic drinks will be allowed in the library during the game. [Arlington Public Library]

List of 48th District Candidates Grows — More than a half dozen candidates have now tossed their hat in the ring to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48). Local Democrats are holding firehouse primaries in the race this weekend in Arlington and McLean. [Blue Virginia]

Arlington’s Traffic Paradox — Despite large gains in population and density, traffic on Arlington roads has actually decreased over the past couple of decades. How is that possible? “Virtually all the growth has happened in Arlington’s Metrorail corridors, where using transit, biking, and walking are the norm.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

by Ethan Rothstein — June 24, 2014 at 11:45 am 13,675 0

(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) The future plans for the Ballston Common Mall include demolishing the Macy’s Furniture Store and parts of the current mall to build a 29-story residential tower and an open-air town center along Wilson Blvd, officials announced Monday night.

The 393-unit apartment building, at the corner of Wilson and N. Randolph Street, is projected to be completed by 2017, Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone revealed at the BID’s annual meeting last night. Leone said the redevelopment — including a revamp of the retail mix at the mall — will be crucial for the branding of Ballston, which is often closely associated with the increasingly run-down mall.

“The mall hasn’t quite been able to serve our public,” Leone said, noting the mall’s future is the main question she gets asked about the future of Ballston development. “The mall is going to ‘de-mall’ itself. The roof is coming off.”

The mall is owned and operated by Forest City, which purchased the Macy’s Furniture Store last September. Forest City spokesman Gary McManus told ARLnow.com at the time that the mall had planned retail space with more street access in Macy’s place, and those plans now include the residential tower.

The building is expected to have four floors of underground parking and two floors of retail space below the studio, one- and two-bedroom rental apartments. The apartment building and attached parking will have a separate entrance from the restaurants and remaining mall.

Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the main Macy’s store — which will fold in the furniture store on its ground floor — the Sport&Health Club and the Regal Cinemas will all remain in the closed-air section of the mall, which is being rebranded as “Ballston Center.”

Along Wilson Blvd, parts of the mall — which originally opened as the Parkington Shopping Center in 1951 before it was rebuilt and reopened as Ballston Common Mall in 1986 — will be torn down and replaced with an open-air, town center-like plaza. Demolition is expected to begin by late 2015.

“[Forest City] thought about what was going to have the highest impact,” Leone told ARLnow.com, saying the Ballston BID has been “on a very high level” helping to form plans for the mall’s redevelopment. “To make it a town center, this is life-altering for the people who live and work here.”

McManus said that the pedestrian bridge from the mall to the current National Science Foundation headquarters across the street is tentatively slated to be torn down — private conversations between Forest City and Arlington County Board members led the mall owner to remove it from the plans — but an agreement needs to be reached with the NSF building’s property owner before that can happen.

McManus also said that the retail mix in the mall will change, to become more restaurant and entertainment-oriented. It will be aimed at serving the immediate area, not as a mall that brings in most of its shoppers from other areas, despite the fact that it will have “some destination retail, too.”

“We don’t want to compete with Tysons or Pentagon City,” McManus said. “We’ve started this project before, but this time it’s got all the momentum behind it.”

In addition to the four-level, 580,000 square foot mall’s redevelopment, Leone announced plans for changes to public spaces expected this fall, like public art projects, Ballston-branded signs lining the streets and the new Fairfax Drive landscaping ARLnow.com reported on earlier this month.

Among the proposed projects is a redesigned Metro plaza, which Leone said she hopes will include an “interactive light installation” under the Metro canopy. The light installation is being designed in Amsterdam — it will track pedestrians’ movements underneath and project light based on that movement. The Metro plaza is also planned to include an small amphitheater and redesigned bus parking to remove some buses from N. Stuart Street. (more…)

by ARLnow.com — June 20, 2014 at 9:45 am 1,260 0

Yorktown High School graduation 2014 (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Board to Consider Sign for Rosslyn Skyscraper — The Arlington County Board next month will consider lifting a prohibition on rooftop signs on two new Rosslyn office towers. The action would potentially allow the JBG Cos. to begin work on its Central Place office tower, which is expected to be anchored by the Corporate Executive Board. [Washington Business Journal]

Fisette Asks for Alternative Streetcar Funding Plan — Federal funding is currently expected to pay for half of Arlington’s $287 million share of the Columbia Pike streetcar system’s costs. But federal funding is not guaranteed and, at last night’s Capital Improvement Plan work session, County Board Chair Jay Fisette asked Arlington Director of Transportation Dennis Leach to work on an alternate streetcar funding plan that does not use federal dollars or county funds from residential taxpayers. [Mobility Lab]

Green Party Endorses Vihstadt Again — The Arlington Green Party, which endorsed independent County Board candidate John Vihstadt in this spring’s special election, has announced that it will endorse him again in November’s general election. [InsideNova]

UberX Lowers Fares — Two weeks after Virginia started cracking down on ridesharing services, UberX — the service where regular people drive you around in their personal cars — has lowered its fares in the D.C. area by 25 percent. The new fares are significantly lower than comparable cab fares, the company says. [InTheCapital]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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