Two new residential buildings and a rebuilt substance-abuse recovery facility have been given the green light by the Arlington County Board.
The development, called Gables North Rolfe Street, will have 395 residential units and a public, 8,000-square-foot park featuring three mature oak trees. The developer, Gables Residential, will also tear down and construct a new building for Independence House, a transitional living facility for those recovering from substance abuse.
The complex will be located on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, near Courthouse.
Thirty-nine of the units will be committed affordable housing and the developer also has the option to install a $75,000 work of public art on the site or donate to the county’s public art fund as a community benefit. The development was approved unanimously on Saturday.
“This redevelopment addresses some of the important priorities that the Fort Myer community identified in the Fort Myer Heights North Plan,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a press release. “It includes on-site affordable housing, brings a new public park to Fort Myer and preserves some beautiful, mature trees. Importantly, it also rebuilds Independence House, the County’s transitional living facility.”
Before approving the development, County Board members inquired about the option for a small, 1,000-square-foot community retail option in the site plan application, a provision the developer was initially hesitant to put in. Real estate attorney Evan Pritchard, representing Gables at the Board hearing, said they would be open to building a retail space if they can find the right vendor to operate a convenience store, serving the residents and park users.
“It remains to be seen, as we go forward with the project, whether it happens or not,” Pritchard said of the retail.
The construction is expected to take two years, and it would include building four levels of parking; two below-grade and two above-grade.
The Independence House would be rebuilt, but not expanded, because more residents might limit the program’s effectiveness. The new building will have 14 single-occupant units, which provides more flexibility with which users can join the program.
“The existing size is ideal for the group work that happens in the evenings, working on life skills and recovery,” county Department of Human Services substance abuse treatment supervisor Nancie Connolly told the Board. “The larger numbers of individuals would make it more institutional rather than transitional living, which has more independence.”
Only one public speaker — frequent Board critic Jim Hurysz — gave testimony at the Board hearing. The lack of speakers and issues with the proposal, which includes three parcels of county land and a number of community benefits, was “remarkable,” Hynes said.
Police Investigating Apartment Break-In, Fire — A man has been arrested and accused of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and starting a small fire. The incident happened on the 1200 block of S. Scott Street, just off of Columbia Pike, Monday morning. [Washington Post]
Arlington Trying to Keep TSA — After losing the National Science Foundation and the Fish and Wildlife Service to Alexandria, Arlington County officials are stepping up their efforts to keep the Transportation Service Administration. The TSA currently has offices in Pentagon City, but at least one office owner is trying to lure the agency to Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
Name Chosen for New Park — The future, 8,000 square foot park next to the new Gables North Rolfe apartment complex, which is expected to be approved by the County Board this weekend, now has a name. Various community groups and county commissions have approved “Three Oaks Park” as the park’s name, in honor of the three large trees on the site. [InsideNova]
Building Over I-66 Would be Pricey — A new report has found that building office and apartment buildings over I-66 in Rosslyn would be expensive, but might eventually be worth considering. As much as 2.5 million square feet of new development could be possible by decking over open-air portions of the highway around Rosslyn. [Washington Business Journal]
‘How Arlington Are You?’ Quiz — A questionable, 10-question web quiz on the website of a Crystal City apartment building attempts to answer the question, “how Arlington are you?” Questions include “how many people do you know who work in the defense industry?” and “how often do you go to Starbucks?” [Crystal Square]
Photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk
(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) The last remaining homes built for African-Americans displaced by the construction of the Pentagon could soon be history.
The George Washington Carver Homes on S. Rolfe Street are in the process of being sold to a developer that plans on replacing them with 50 townhouses, including 23 duplexes. The Arlington County Board is expected to decide the proposal’s fate at its meeting later this month.
The Carver Homes are a collection of 44 garden apartments along S. Rolfe Street and 13th Road S. in Arlington View. The development is a co-operative, and the co-op board has an agreement to sell the property to Craftmark Homes pending approval of the redevelopment plans, according to county planning staff.
The apartments were built by the federal government in 1945 and designed by noted architect Albert I. Cassell, who had been the head of architecture at Howard University and designed much of the school’s northwest D.C. campus. County Historic Preservation Planner Rebeccah Ballo said as far as preservation staff are aware, they are the only buildings he designed in Arlington.
If they are redeveloped, the Carver Homes will join the former Dunbar Homes in Nauck as pieces of Arlington’s 20th century African-American history torn down for redevelopment.
“Fully understanding it is their right to sell and dispose of their property as they see fit, this is a loss,” Ballo told ARLnow.com. “This is a loss of cultural and architectural history.”
When the Pentagon, the Navy Annex and the surrounding network of roads were built during World War II, they replaced the neighborhoods East Arlington and Queen City. The areas had been occupied by African Americans, many of whom descended from Arlington’s Freedman’s Village, built for former slaves in 1863. The residents of East Arlington and Queen City were moved elsewhere, including the Dunbar and Carver Homes.
The residents of the Carver Homes bought the property from the government in 1949. Many of the apartments are still owned by the original residents or their families, Ballo wrote in her staff report for the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board.
Multiple attempts to reach the attorney representing the Carver Homes co-op board, Patricia Fettman, have gone unreturned. Fettman also represented the Dunbar Homes co-op board when they sold their property for $37 million 10 years ago, according to a Washington Post article at the time.
The Post’s article featured interviews of residents of the homes who didn’t want to sell. The author, Annie Gowen spoke to Dorothy Rich, at the time the co-op board’s president.
“Basically, we think the time has come to take the next step forward,” Rich told Gowen. Gowen wrote that Rich “declined to detail the discussions to sell, saying only ‘we won’t do anything without a vote and a majority of our homeowners.'”
The exterior of the houses are largely well-maintained, with pink-painted stucco and a pristinely mowed courtyard. The eight buildings sit on a 3.35-acre plot, an easy walk to the Air Force Memorial and less than a half-mile drive from I-395.
County staff attempted to have the homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places when they conducted a review of all potentially historic properties in the county, starting in 1997. They even filled out the application, but Ballo said after meetings with the co-op board and the surrounding community, “the nomination stopped.” (more…)
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A new 2.17 acre apartment development is likely coming to the Courthouse area.
Gables North Rolfe Street is planned as a two building, 400,000 square feet, 395 unit apartment complex on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, in the Radnor / Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, just off of Route 50.
The tract of land on which the project will be built is steep, wooded and also includes a handful of older single family homes and small apartment complexes. Because Arlington County owns three parcels of land on the site, it has been able to work with developer Gables Residential on a number of public benefits.
Among the the benefits, to be paid for by the developer:
- A new, 8,000 square foot public park that will include a 200-year-old tree
- LEED Gold certification for the apartment complex
- Thirty-nine units of committed affordable housing
- A stand-alone, 14-unit transitional living facility, for those recovering from substance abuse. This will replace the existing Independence House facility on the site, according to Arlington Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
The project is expected be considered by the County Board at its February meeting, in two weeks.
Discussing the project at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, County Board Chair Mary Hynes said the benefits from such projects represent key Democratic values.
“Affordable housing furthers diversity, inclusivity and sustainability, all of which are values… that have driven this community,” she said.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reflected County Board Chair Mary Hynes’ remarks that the planned transitional living facility was for those who were just getting out of jail. A county spokesman says that is incorrect, and that the facility will be for substance abuse recovery.
(Update at 6:25 p.m.) A new, mixed-use development is in the works for the western end of Columbia Pike.
Pillars Development Group, which built The Berkeley condominium in Ballston, is planning on constructing 78 condominiums and 8,000-square feet of ground floor retail at 4707 Columbia Pike, next to S. Buchanan Street, in the location of the now-closed El Tutumaso Bolivian restaurant.
That restaurant — previously home to a second location of Bob and Edith’s Diner and Sauca, which closed within a year of opening in 2012 — will be bulldozed for the incoming development. Pillars has applied for its first building permit on the site, and Operations Director Marwan Shahin told ARLnow.com today that the company hopes to start digging in May or June.
“We’re hoping we can start having people living in the building 18 to 24 months after that,” Shahin said.
The retail space does not have a prospective occupant yet, but Shahin said the company is looking to sell, not lease, that space to whoever wants to open a business in the first floor. The retail would front onto Columbia Pike and the residential entrance would be off of S. Buchanan Street.
Shahin said there will be a combination of underground and surface parking. The building will be developed (and has been approved) under the Columbia Pike Form-Based Code for commercial districts, which allows some projects to be approved without a hearing before the Arlington County Board.
Arlington Named No. 3 Best Place to Live — Arlington has been named the No. 3 “best small to mid-sized city” to live in the U.S. The county scored high marks for civic engagement, education, amenities and diversity. Topping the list were Madison, Wis. and Rochester, Minn. [Livability.com]
County Still Winding Down Streetcar Project — Arlington County still is on the hook for about $60,000 worth of contract work associated with the canceled streetcar project. Most of the county staff members working on the project have been transferred to other departments, County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in an update to the County Board regarding the project wind down. [InsideNova]
Fmr. Rep. Moran to Lobby — Recently retired congressman Jim Moran has been hired by the Washington law firm McDermott Will & Emery. Moran plans to join the firm’s lobbying practice, lobbying primarily for defense contractors. [Washington Post]
Development Tracking Report — Arlington County has released its quarterly development tracking report for the fourth quarter of 2014. Notably, no new office construction was approved or started during the time period, although 761 new residential units were started and another 73 were approved. [Arlington County]
Drone Company Disables Flight in Arlington — Following a recreational drone’s crash landing at the White House, drone manufacturer DJI has pushed out a firmware update for its robotic vehicles that prohibits flight within a 15.5 mile radius of downtown D.C. [Engadget]
Making Business Easier in Arlington — Arlington County is taking some small steps toward making it easier to do business in the county. Arlington recently introduced online business license registration and a streamlined process for paying building permit fees. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
After pushing its decision back two months, the Arlington County Board this weekend will consider a plan to redevelop a vacant office building at 400 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City into apartments.
Bethesda-based developer LCOR has proposed turning the former Department of Defense Inspector General office, also known as the “Paperclip building,” into a 200-foot tall, 20-story apartment complex with 453 residential units. County staff and the Arlington Planning Commission are recommending the Board approve the redevelopment at its meeting this Saturday.
The new apartment complex will consist of twin residential towers on a common platform.
LCOR is planning on making the north tower, with unobstructed views of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, a condominium building and making the apartments in the south tower, fronting 11th Street S., rental units.
The existing office building has three levels of underground parking beneath it, which LCOR plans to keep and build two levels of parking above ground, as part of the platform beneath the residential towers. On top of the platform, the developers is planning to have 11,000 square feet of recreational space, including a 4-foot deep pool and areas for grilling.
The redevelopment plan comes with some street changes, including removing Old South Eads Street from the street grid and turning it into a pedestrian walk. The plan also reinstates part of 11th Street S.
An adjacent county-owned “Teardrop Parcel” of land was formerly the planned site of the operations and maintenance yard for the now-cancelled Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system. This redevelopment will not affect the parcel, but it’s now being kept clear to potentially be included in future redevelopment of either this location or the recently approved PenPlace office complex, according to the staff report.
In exchange for added density, LCOR has agreed to provide the equivalent of $6.6 million in community benefits, including 15 dedicated affordable housing units in the building, $1.1 million to the Crystal City Open Space fund and $1 million to the Army Navy Drive Complete Streets project. LCOR would also donate $91,000 toward the county’s utility undergrounding project, $75,000 to the county’s Public Art Fund and contribute to improving the traffic signal at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Eads Street.
Replacing Brosnan will be Steven Cover, who comes from Madison, Wisconsin, where he was the director of planning and community and economic development. He had served in the position since 2011. Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Outback Bowl-winning Badgers.
(In 2012, under Cover’s watch, Madison was named the best college football town in the country by USA Today.)
“Steven is a great addition to our team,” Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a news release. “His long and successful career in local government makes him the ideal choice to lead CPHD, a key department responsible for turning the County’s Smart Growth vision into reality.”
Brosnan had served as the county’s planning director since 1988 before being named the head of CPHD. Brosnan will stay on an additional six months “aid with the transition and to work on a special project for [Donnellan],” county spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com. When asked if she could clarify what special project Brosnan would work on, Curtius said “not at this time.”
Before Madison, Cover had worked heading the planning department in Atlanta, Ga., and in Anne Arundel County, Md. Before entering public service, Cover worked as an architect.
Photo via Arlington County
Murphy Finalist for Superintendent of the Year — Arlington Public Schools’ Dr. Patrick Murphy is one of four finalists for national superintendent of the year from the School Superintendents Association. Murphy, who was hired in 2009, has previously been recognized as Virginia’s superintendent of the year. [Washington Post]
Optimism for Office Vacancies in Arlington — There’s good news for owners of commercial office buildings in Arlington. Despite high vacancy rates, “Arlington’s location close to D.C. and its numerous transportation amenities give property owners an advantage in attracting potential tenants from other locations in the region,” especially Millennials, writes Keara Mehlert, a business development manager for the county-run Arlington Transportation Partners. [Mobility Lab]
Additional Package Thefts — Arlington County police say additional package thefts occurred in Arlington overnight. That’s after a number of package thefts were reported in Ballston last week. [Twitter]
Kindergartner Makes a Run for It — A five-year-old kindergarten student at Randolph Elementary ran away from school yesterday afternoon, prompting a response from Arlington County police. The student reportedly led staff members on a chase and made it to the area of Four Mile Run as police began arriving in the area to look for him. The youngster was finally nabbed by school staffers who had hopped into a Honda to find him. “He is safely back at school with his mother,” a school spokesman told ARLnow.com after the incident.
Blue, Orange, Silver Lines Suspended — Metrorail service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was suspended during the morning rush hour due to a water main break in D.C. Those in Arlington hoping to get to work via Uber were being charged four times the normal rate, thanks to the company’s “surge pricing” practices. An Arlington Alert, meanwhile, contained an oddly appropriate typo — it noted that service was suspended at “Farragut Wet” due to the water main break. [Washington Post]
Board: Traffic Light Coming in 18 Months — The Arlington County Board had good news for activists at its Saturday meeting: the traffic light they’re seeking at Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street is coming. The bad news is that it could take up to 18 months. Board member Walter Tejada said that is “too long” and “we have to find a way to make it happen.” [InsideNova]
Zoning Change Advertised for Wendy’s Redevelopment — The County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a potential zoning change for 2026 and 2038 Wilson Blvd, the current site of the Wendy’s restaurant in Courthouse, which is slated for a redevelopment. Developer Carr Properties wants to build a 12-story office building on the site. Public hearings will now be held in advance of Board consideration of the rezoning request. [Arlington County]
Arlington Book Store Wins Grant — East Falls Church bookstore One More Page Books has won a $9,000 grant from novelist James Patterson. The store plans to use the grant to launch a “bookmobile” — a modified food truck that sells books around the community. [Washington Post]
Arlington Firms Among ‘Best Companies to Work For’ — Two Arlington-based companies have made the annual list of the top 50 small and medium-sized companies to work for . The 2015 list, compiled by employment website Glassdoor.com, ranks Ballston-based Evolent Health at No. 3 and Courthouse-based Opower at No. 25.
New Plan for Rosslyn Plaza — Vornado and Gould Property Co. have updated their redevelopment plan for Rosslyn Plaza, the series of aging buildings along N. Arlington Ridge Road between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N. The development team is proposing 2.5 million square feet of new construction, including a total of five office and residential buildings, four acres of open space and a esplanade deck with views of D.C. and an outdoor ice rink in the winter. [Washington Business Journal]
Celtics Player Swings By The Italian Store — Celtics center Kelly Olynyk stopped by The Italian Store after losing to the Wizards in double-overtime on Monday. He posed for photos and even helped make sandwiches and pizzas. Olynyk isn’t the only pro athlete that has visited the Lee Highway store. Nene, of the Wizards, and Nationals stars Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman have stopped by, as has NBA great John Stockton, who happens to be owner Bob Tramonte’s brother-in-law. [Washington Post]
ACFD Recruitment Starts Tomorrow — The Arlington County Fire Department’s biennial open recruitment period starts tomorrow. From Dec. 12-25 ACFD will accept applications for potential firefighter and EMT recruits. No experience is necessary. The county has also made a series of “Join the ACFD” videos for recruitment purposes. [Arlington County]
Arbour Realty Acquired By Md. Brokerage — Arbour Realty, the Ballston-based boutique real estate brokerage owned by “Ask Adam” columnist Adam Gallegos, has been acquired by Real Living At Home, a larger brokerage with office in Chevy Chase, Md. and Dupont Circle in D.C. Gallegos will hand over management responsibilities and continue as an agent with Real Living At Home. [Real Living At Home]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Fmr. Pentagon Police Chief Dies — Richard Keevill, the former chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, died Saturday. Keevill served as chief of the Pentagon police agency from 2004 to 2013. Prior to that, he served with the Marines in Vietnam and later was the 1st Sergeant in charge of the Virginia State Police station on Columbia Pike. On Sept. 11, 2001, he ran into the still-burning Pentagon several times to search for survivors. Keevill died of natural causes. His funeral is planned for Saturday. [Facebook]
Redevelopment May Close Carpool — Developer Penzance and real estate investor Lionstone are working to close a deal to acquire and redevelop the Carpool property in Ballston. The long-time Arlington bar was previously slated to be redeveloped eight years ago but those plans fell through in part due to the recession. [Washington Business Journal]
Another Landlord Spat for Ray’s Owner — Ray’s Hell Burger Michael Landrum has gotten into another landlord-tenant dispute, this time with the owner of a building in D.C. that’s set to house his new restaurant, tentatively called Steaks in the City. Landrum was kicked out of his Ray’s Hell Burger locations in Rosslyn in 2013 following a dispute with his then-landlord. [Eater]
Christmas Beer Event in Courthouse — Fire Works Pizza (2350 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse will be hosting a tap takeover dubbed the 12 Beers of Christmas tonight. Starting at 5:00 p.m., the restaurant will offer holiday beers from St. Bernardus, Port City, Great Lakes and other brewers. The event is open to the public. [Fire Works Pizza]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber. Disclosure: Fire Works Pizza is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Last week, ARLnow.com reported that Arlington’s site plan application process prohibits the county from receiving funds for schools when developers build bigger buildings, including apartments and condos. If the county wants to start receiving funds directly from developers to offset school costs, the site plan process has to be modified.
“I believe it is time to start a community conversation as to how we might consider adjustment to the site plan system to be more cognizant of school needs,” Vihstadt told ARLnow.com. “This won’t happen overnight, and it may require legislation in Richmond, but the bottom line is we need to be more creative and proactive in planning for and accommodating the growing enrollment trends in our schools, and we need more tools to do so.”
In Northern Virginia’s suburban counties like Fairfax and Loudoun, county governments negotiate proffers with developers who want to build higher density projects. These proffers include, at least for Loudoun, fully funding the development’s impact on schools, roads and public safety. Those jurisdictions, however, don’t have nearly the commercial tax base of Arlington, which raises about half of its revenue from commercial real estate.
“What we rely on for the payment of the ongoing governmental services are the tax support that comes from the buildings,” Arlington County Board Jay Fisette told ARLnow.com last week. “The system we use has been in place for over 50 years and it has resulted in one of the most successful transformations of a community ever.”
Garvey, who has been on the County Board since 2012, before which she served for years on the School Board, also says it’s time to take another look at that system as Arlington Public Schools experiences unprecedented overcrowding.
“I think it is a good idea to look at the site plan system,” she said. “I would want to see the pros and cons of each before deciding.”
Garvey said she also supports an examination of the way the county and schools split tax revenue and plan their budgets.
“Another look at our revenue sharing agreement and how we do the budget process with the schools, working together with the schools, would be a good idea,” she said.
Vornado is planning a new 25-story office tower and a 28-story apartment building at Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S.
The redevelopment plan would demolish the current, vacant office building at 223 23rd Street. In addition to building the two new buildings — which would be two of the tallest in Crystal City — Vornado is planning on building a 13,000-square-foot park on the site, adjacent to the residential tower, and a 4,000-square-foot pocket park along Crystal Drive.
It’s unclear what would happen to Jaleo and Kora restaurants, which currently sit at the corner of the intersection, where the office building and the 4,000 square foot park will go.
The Washington Business Journal reported on the plans this summer, noting Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee was scheduled to review the redevelopment proposal in “early fall.” According to the project’s site plan coordinator, Samia Byrd, the SPRC process has not yet started and “there are no public committee or commission meetings scheduled.”
A site plan review is one of the steps the proposal must take before being considered for County Board approval.
The buildings are part of Vornado’s plan to overhaul Crystal City as a technology and retail hub, and the office building — closer to the corner — is planned to have two floors of retail at ground level. If approved, it would deliver 658,365 square feet of office space and 28,675 square feet of retail, while the residential tower would have 1,754 square feet of retail and 353 units.
In order to complete the larger park on the side of the residential tower, and to make way for the realignment of S. Clark and Bell Streets, the plan calls for a second phase of the project which would tear down the Crystal Plaza 6 building at 2221 S. Clark Street S.
Crystal Plaza 6 is set to be renovated in order to become microunit apartments from the coworking space company WeWork. The company reportedly has a 20 year lease on the building.
Sixteen new townhouses could be coming near the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Stuart Street in Ballston, tearing down several single family homes in the process.
The project, called the Ballston Oak Townhomes, would build two, eight-unit buildings with four stories and private garage parking between 1124 and 1138 N. Stuart Street. The property’s owner is an LLC registered to Eric Ritland, the owner of home construction company Georgetown Builders.
According to the preliminary site plan, reviewed by ARLnow.com, Georgetown Builders intends to tear down four homes on N. Stuart Street, but leave the Arlington Market — one of the few stores in the area that sells kegs of beer — untouched at its location on the corner of the two streets.
The townhouses are designed to include private patios and a “herringbone brick design.” There are two garage parking spots for each unit proposed, with four guest spaces in the rear of the half-acre lot. No renderings of the design were included with the preliminary site plan.
“The project was envisioned as a ‘series of urban gardens,’ and its design incorporates private trellises, stormwater planters, gardens for residents to enjoy throughout, as well as gardens along the sidewalk to beautify the pedestrian experience, and plans for green roofs with roof decks and interior gardens,” the application states.
The developer proposes incorporating public art into the project or making a donation to Arlington’s Public Art Fund. There’s no word on when the site plan will be finalized and go before the Arlington Planning Commission or the County Board.