Arlington Public Schools is planning to sell the school and its grounds to developer Penzance, with the proceeds being used to help fund the school system’s ongoing expansion. The school would be torn down, as would the adjacent fire station. In turn, Penzance would construct a new mixed-use development with affordable housing, a new fire station and a 1.5 acre park.
The Wilson School was built in 1910 and is in need of extensive, costly renovations. School officials say its grounds are not big enough for the construction of a new elementary school.
Preservation Arlington argues that the Wilson School is “an important part of the character and urban fabric of Arlington” that provides a “sense of place to the community” and a “break from high density.” It wants to see the school retained and restored for continued educational use.
“Help us save the Wilson School from being turned into another high rise,” the petition page says. “Let’s take back our neighborhood.”
As of 8:00 a.m., the petition had collected 96 online signatures.
Photo courtesy Preservation Arlington
Development Proposed to Replace Courthouse Wendy’s — Developer Carr Properties is planning to propose an office building to be built at 2038 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse, replacing the Wendy’s. The building will be similar to Carr’s planned office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd, which was approved by the Arlington County Board in December. [Washington Post]
Questions Remain As Staff Works on Urban Ag Report — County Board Chairman Walter Tejada is pressing county staff to move faster on a report on urban agriculture. The report is expected to recommend a course of action on the controversial issue of urban hen raising, an issue for which many questions remain. [Sun Gazette]
Free Tropical Plants Today – Ferns, palms, ficus trees and banana plants will be given away for free this afternoon at the Crystal City farmers market. Used to decorate outdoor areas of Crystal City during the summer, the plants would otherwise be composted in advance of winter. [Crystal City BID]
Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser. Photo courtesy @BrianWohlert.
B.M. Smith and Associates submitted plans to Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board earlier this month for a six-story apartment building with ground floor retail, tentatively dubbed 2400 Columbia Pike.
Located across from Penrose Square, the building would replace Rappahannock Coffee, L.A. Nails, the former Saah Furniture and other businesses in three low-rise retail buildings on the block. At minimum, the facades from two of the buildings (2338-2344 Columbia Pike and 2406-2408 Columbia Pike) will be preserved and incorporated into the new building.
Columbia Pike’s Form Based Code allows for apartment buildings up to 6 stories, so County Board approval may not be needed in order for the project to proceed, but the relatively historic nature of the buildings on the block will likely require additional community review, public hearings and a Form Based Code amendment.
So far, the developer has not submitted a formal Form Based Code application to the county, so a county spokeswoman was not able to speculate on a timeframe for the development.
Hat tip to G. Clifford Prout
Safeway Seeks New Developer in Bluemont — Safeway is looking for a new developer to work with for the redevelopment of its Bluemont store at 5101 Wilson Blvd. Developer Mark Silverwood pulled out of a partnership to build a new Safeway store topped by 160 apartments after Bluemont residents rejected it, saying the proposed building was too tall and would generate too much traffic. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington’s Recycling Rate Reaches New High — The recycling rate in Arlington hit a new all-time high in 2012. The county’s recycling rate was 51.1 percent in 2012, according to the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality. [Sun Gazette]
Wakefield Seniors Names Scholarship Semifinalists — Three Wakefield High School seniors have been named National Achievement Scholarship semifinalists. The scholarship program recognizes academic excellence among African American students. [Arlington Public Schools]
Affordable Housing Forum Tonight — Arlington County is holding a public forum on the topic of affordable housing tonight. Arlington residents are encouraged to attend and weigh in on the county’s affordable housing goals. The event is being held at the Navy League Building auditorium (2300 Wilson Blvd) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Located on a 10.2 acre parcel of vacant land once proposed as a site for the Nationals baseball stadium, the development will include five buildings between 16 and 22 stories high, and more than 2 million square feet of total floor area. The buildings will be mostly commercial office towers — including one secure office building — plus a 300-room hotel and an option for a 300-unit residential building in lieu of one of the office towers.
Despite 25 public meetings on the development proposal, including 17 Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meetings starting in February 2012, a vocal group of residents were still not sold on the project. Mostly hailing from Arlington Ridge and other residential neighborhoods around Pentagon City, they listed a variety of objections to the project, including concerns about additional traffic on neighborhood streets and the new buildings blocking monument views of D.C.
“The SPRC process was a charade — it was more like Chicago and less like Arlington,” said one resident. “The fix was in… it’s been fundamentally unfair. Please help us preserve the character of our neighborhood.”
“The heights are absurd… the 22-story building is going to look ridiculous down there,” said another. “I felt like we’ve been railroaded a bit. We don’t believe that adequate concern was given to Arlington Ridge Road traffic and 23rd Street traffic. We believe those are going to be jammed up.”
A “monumental planning mistake” and “a giveaway,” is how other opponents described the project. One speaker at Saturday’s meeting even proposed renaming the development “Tejada Place,” after the Board chairman, who he said he hoped would be voted out of office.
County staff recommended approval of the project, noting that Pentagon City’s proximity to transit — three Metro stations, a VRE station, local and regional bus routes, I-395 HOV lanes, and the future Crystal City streetcar line – allows it to support high commercial office density. PenPlace will also be next to Metropolitan Park, a 16-acre residential development featuring a future Whole Foods Store, helping to form what county planners envision as a “lively, pedestrian-friendly” retail corridor along a future extension of 12th Street S. between Eads and Fern Streets.
In a first for Arlington, intended to reduce the number of car trips to and from the development, the Board approved a cap on the number of office and retail parking spaces the development may have: a maximum of 1 for every 1,000 square feet of floor area.
Vornado agreed to a host of community benefits in exchange for approval of the development framework. Among those benefits will be a 1.5-2 acre contiguous central green space, a future 20,000 square foot “community facility,” new sidewalks and bike lanes on Eads Street, a new street grid to break up the “superblock,” and a $15 million contribution from Vornado to the future Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility.
Vornado managed to cobble together the additional density needed to supplement that already allowed by zoning via a combination of community benefits, density transfers from Arlington County (in exchange for the $15 million and a parcel of land that will be used for a potential streetcar maintenance facility), and bonuses for LEED Silver and Gold certification and a potential on-site district energy system.
Additional community benefits may be approved in the future. Each of the five buildings in the development will have to go through a final site plan approval and public review process, during which additional benefits may be proposed. The development is expected to be built out over the course of 15-20 years.
As currently proposed, the development will include five buildings and 2.1 million square feet of total floor area. The buildings include a 22-story office building, a 22-story secure office building (for military and/or contractor use), a 20-story office building, an 18-story, 300-room hotel and either a 16-story office building or an 18-story, 300-unit residential building. The project will also feature 50,000 square feet of retail space, a 20,000 square foot “community facility,” and about 2 acres of public open space.
County staff is expected to recommend the Board approve the project, though the official recommendation will not be made until after the county’s Planning Commission weighs in on the project. The commission is holding a carryover meeting to discuss the project at 7:00 tonight (Monday), after the discussion at its meeting on Sept. 11 went too late.
PenPlace has drawn opposition from residents who live in the neighborhoods that border Pentagon City. Members of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association have been particularly vocal, saying the traffic generated by PenPlace will be disruptive to the community.
To help reduce the number of car trips to and from the development, staff has proposed capping the number of office and retail parking spaces at 1,859 — or 1 for every 1,000 square feet of floor area. Setting a parking maximum would be a first for Arlington, which has traditionally focused on setting a minimum number of parking spaces for developments, according to county planning director Bob Duffy. Opponents of the project, however, would like to see even an even lower parking space cap.
“We have listened to the community, but there are still outstanding issues,” Duffy said.
Also proposed in order to reduce car trips: a traffic demand management system, new bike lanes, and a streetcar stop. One side of the development faces the future streetcar tracks that will run along 12th Street S. The project is also a block away from the Pentagon City Metro station.
PenPlace has gone through an extensive community process, including some 25 public meetings, possibly a record for Arlington. The county’s Site Plan Review Committee alone met 17 times between February 2012 and July 2013 to discuss the project and help find a middle ground between developer Vornado and local residents.
The project will be able to achieve its high density of office buildings thanks to a proposed transfer of development rights from Arlington County-owned Long Bridge Park. If approved by the County Board, Arlington will transfer 610,000 square feet of development rights to the project from its Long Bridge Park holdings in exchange for a $15 million contribution from Vornado to the future Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility.
Even if approved this coming weekend, Vornado isn’t expected to start building the PenPlace right away. It could be 15-20 years until the company completes all the proposed buildings in the development, said Duffy.
Building Permits for Major Projects — Developers have filed applications to begin construction on two major building projects. At 20 stories, the soon-to-be-built office building at 4040 Wilson Blvd will be the largest of the three Liberty Center buildings in Ballston. Also set for construction: 2145 Lee Highway, better known as the Bergmann’s development. That project will include 175 apartments, 27 townhouses and a MOM’s Organic Market. [Washington Business Journal]
At Kettler, Olympic Hopefuls Expect Gold — The prospective USA Hockey players who are holding orientation camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston through Thursday expect to be a favorite to win gold at the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014. [Associated Press]
Copperwood Tavern Now Hiring — “Cabin-style” restaurant Coppperwood Tavern, located in the former Bistro Bistro space at 4021 Campbell Avenue in Shirlington, is now hiring. The restaurant will hold an employment open house for all positions tomorrow (Thursday) from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. [Facebook]
Catching Up With Dave Arlington — “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark chats with WASH-FM deejay Dave Arlington, who used to be a disc jockey at Arlington-based WEAM. [Falls Church News-Press]
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) The Arlington, Va. parking garage that played a pivotal role in the Watergate scandal is set to be demolished as part of a redevelopment.
Monday Properties plans to tear down two aging office buildings, at 1401 Wilson Blvd and 1400 Key Blvd in the Rosslyn neighborhood, to make way for a new mixed use development. Before any construction can take place, however, the proposed redevelopment will go through Arlington’s site plan process, which usually takes 1-4 years.
The parking garage below the buildings will be a casualty of the eventual redevelopment. Forty years ago, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward met a source dubbed “Deep Throat” — later revealed to be FBI official Mark Felt — in the garage, which was chosen because it was considered an “anonymous secure location.” The information Felt passed on to Woodward helped expose the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
A permanent historical marker outside the garage, erected by Arlington County, marks the location. Monday Properties says it expects the marker to stay even after the garage is removed.
“We obviously view the whole Watergate situation as a significant event in the history of our country,” said Monday Properties Chief Development Officer Tim Helmig. “It would be our hope that we preserve that plaque and incorporate it in our redevelopment.”
The marker will likely be removed and stored during the redevelopment, said Cynthia Liccese-Torres, Acting Historic Preservation Program Coordinator for Arlington County.
“Ideally we would want to put the marker back up again when the development is all finished,” she said.
The garage, built in the early 1960s, is nearing the end of its useful life, Helmig noted. Nonetheless, he said the company is receptive to ideas for preserving some part of the garage’s history.
“That will likely come into the discussion as part of the [site plan] process,” he said. “That’s exactly what the process is designed for.”
Monday plans to replace the older buildings with a 32-story apartment or condo building and a 29-story office building. In total, the buildings will have 500,000 square feet of office space, 385,000 square feet of residential space, and 60,000 square feet of retail space, including a planned full-service grocery store, according to Helmig. About half of the land will be used as a public open space. (See photos, above.)
So far, there’s no word on when Monday, which is still actively trying to find tenants for its massive 1812 N. Moore Street skyscraper in Rosslyn, would actually move forward with the demolition and subsequent construction, if and when it receives county approval.
“There’s not really a set timeframe,” Helmig said. “We are really in the early stages. We have a lot of process and community input to go before our project comes to fruition.”
“We’re excited about our application,” he added. “It certainly meets the goals and objectives of the Rosslyn Sector Plan.”
Arlington County’s Site Plan Review Committee is scheduled to hold a meeting about the development proposal on Monday, Oct. 21.
Major Rosslyn Redevelopment Proposed — Monday Properties has filed an application with Arlington County to redevelop two aging office buildings in Rosslyn. Monday is proposing to tear down the 1960s-era buildings 1401 Wilson Blvd and 1400 Key Blvd and replace them with a 1 million square foot residential, retail and office development. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Woman Turns 105 — Helen Crossley, a resident at the Culpepper Garden retirement community, turned 105 on Saturday. Of her longevity, Crossley, a former nurse, said: “This lassie’s taken care of her chassis.” [Washington Post]
Possible Squirrel Poisonings – Three dead squirrels were recently found outside the Westmoreland Terrace Condominiums, near Rosslyn. Might someone be illegally poisoning the critters? [Ode Street Tribune]
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
Jack Melnick Dies — Lifelong Arlington resident and former General Assembly member John “Jack” Melnick died on Wednesday at the age of 78. A funeral service will be held next week. In addition to representing Arlington County in Richmond, one of Melnick’s claims to fame was being the owner of an impeccably restored 1931 Ford Model A. [Sun Gazette]
Town Hall for 9/11 Responders — Two town hall-style meetings will be held next week in Arlington for responders to the Pentagon on (and, in some cases, after) Sept. 11, 2001. Firefighters, police officers, cleanup and construction crews and Red Cross volunteers who responded to the Pentagon in the aftermath of the terrorist attack are now eligible for a federal health care program specifically for 9/11 survivors and responders. [Patch]
Preservation Arlington Lauds ‘Three Sisters’ Development — Preservation Arlington is lauding a residential development in Cherrydale. The group says a project to build two new houses on a half acre site on the 1800 block of N. Randolph Street properly took into account the history of the site and the architectural style of the original house on the property. [Preservation Arlington]
Photo courtesy @LemurFestival
The Board approved three measures for Metropolitan Park Phase 4/5 at 1200 S. Eads Street. In addition to approving the overall site plan, Board members voted to amend the Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan from 1976 to increase the allowed building height. They also approved an amendment to the Master Transportation Plan to allow a portion of the planned 12th Road S. to be deleted.
The new building will join two others at the Metropolitan Park site. Developer Vornado decided to combine phases 4 and 5 of the project into one building containing 699 residential units and more than 40,000 square feet of retail space. A Whole Foods grocery store will occupy most of the retail space.
“This is an important milestone for the Metropolitan Park development, because it includes a full-service grocery store that will serve residents of the Pentagon City and Crystal City neighborhoods,” said Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. “We are now halfway to our goal of transforming this industrial part of Pentagon City to a more walkable, transit-oriented area that offers a great mix of homes and places to shop.”
The county lists a number of benefits for the project, including a developer contribution of around $5 million to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $150,000 to the county’s public art fund to support art within the Metropolitan Park development. More than $130,000 will be contributed for undergrounding utilities at the development site, and transportation improvements will be added such as expanded sidewalks, street furniture, trees and outdoor cafe seating. The developer has also committed to a design that is expected to earn LEED Silver Certification.
The site plan for a new apartment building in Pentagon City with a Whole Foods grocery store on the first level will go before the County Board for approval on Saturday.
The proposal involves Metropolitan Park Phase 4/5 at 1200 S. Eads Street. Developer Vornado wishes to combine Phases 4 and 5 to make one building, the fourth in the Metropolitan Park development. Phases 1 and 2 of the project focused on building The Gramercy at Metropolitan Park and The Millennium at Metropolitan Park, which are both currently occupied. Phase 3 is for The Acadia at Metropolitan Park, which is under construction. Planning for the overall project has been in the works for about a decade.
The 22-story new building would contain nearly 700 residential units and would have more than 40,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. Almost 37,000 of the retail space would be taken up by a Whole Foods. The plan includes a four level, 885 space underground parking structure that will likely have one floor reserved exclusively for use by the grocery store.
In addition to site plan approval, the Board will consider an amendment to the 1976 Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan to permit the proposed building height. An amendment to the Master Transportation Plan has also been requested to allow the removal of a portion of a previously planned new street — 12th Road S. — from the proposal.
The Planning Commission’s Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) discussed Metropolitan Park Phase 4/5 at six meetings from November 2012 through April of this year. Members discussed numerous aspects of the development that could be cause for concern like building height, building density, streetscape improvements and grocery store operations. No major issues were identified in the final site plan that would prevent approval of the project.
Last week, members of the Planning Commission voted unanimously (11-0) in favor of the proposal. Similarly, the Transportation Commission unanimously (7-0) approved the final site plan proposal and amendment to the Master Transportation Plan at its meeting on June 27.
Staff recommends the County Board follows the lead of the Planning Commission and the Transportation Commission by approving the proposal.
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) and County Board Chair Walter Tejada announced Wednesday that the state, county and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are looking into leasing the air rights above I-66 near the East Falls Church and Rosslyn Metro stations in order to generate additional revenues for transportation improvements.
“By leasing airspace above certain transportation facilities owned by the Commonwealth, we can better utilize our existing infrastructure to generate additional revenues to fund future transportation improvements, while at the same time attracting new jobs and economic development,” McDonnell said in a statement. “Additionally, by co-locating these potential developments around existing Metro stations and other major transportation facilities, we can reduce congestion and create more livable communities.”
From the press release:
Air rights development projects have proven a successful revenue generator in other parts of the United States. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, for example, generated $40 million in FY 2011 through leases, with long-term lease income projected at $868 million. Further, earlier this year MassDOT awarded a contract for an additional air rights project through a 99-year lease that will generate $18.5 million (net present value) in rental payments.
“Virginia has long been a leader in partnering with the private sector to advance innovative solutions to our transportation infrastructure needs,” said Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton. “The potential development of these air rights presents a unique opportunity to attract additional private sector investment to the Commonwealth and better utilize our existing assets to fund future transportation projects.”
Arlington County is currently undertaking a review of the Rosslyn Sector Plan. As part of that process, development over I-66 in the northern and eastern edges of the Rosslyn Metro Station area can be evaluated. While there are no existing mixed-use development rights over the I-66 right-of-way at either Rosslyn or the East Falls Church Metro Station location, the East Falls Church Area Plan currently supports mixed use development on VDOT and WMATA’s property next to I-66.
Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada emphasized, “It is important to involve our residents, businesses and developers in this conversation about air rights. We will ensure that any potential transit-orientated development using these air rights in Arlington County is consistent with our community’s vision and is consistent with the County’s land use and transportation plans.”
The state has issued a Request for Information to gauge private sector interest and feasibility. Following the RFI, the county, various state agencies and WMATA will weigh in on assessing how the air rights would match up with the planned development for the communities. The state will then issue a Request for Proposals in the fall, according to the governor’s office.
The Rosslyn project has a suggested location adjacent to the Lynn Street overpass, but staff of the state Office of Public-Private Partnerships said it would consider other areas of I-66 in Rosslyn if those were deemed feasible.
At East Falls Church, the area of I-66 between Sycamore Street and Route 29, including the Metro parking lot to the north, is the targeted area.
New Laws, Sales Tax Hike Takes Effect in Va. — Today, July 1, a number of new laws take effect in Virginia. Among them: a new law cracking down on texting and driving, the decriminalization of unmarried cohabitation, and an increase in the sales tax in Northern Virginia from 5 to 6 percent. [WTOP]
NSF Buildings to Be Sold, Redeveloped — Changes may be on the way for the two office buildings in Ballston being vacated by the National Science Foundation in 2017. One of the building is being offered for sale, while the other is being considered for a conversion to apartments or a hotel, according to the Washington Business Journal.
Challenge to Va. Gay Marriage Law Considered — The law barring same-sex marriage in Virginia may face legal challenges in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, according to several local elected officials. [Sun Gazette]
Wayne Street Apartments to be Renovated — The Wayne Street Apartments on 2nd Street S. in Penrose have been acquired by developer Penzance. The company plans to renovate the aging complex, raise rents and incorporate the complex into the Myerton community apartment across the street. [Globe St.]
Flickr pool photo by Eschweik
(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) A new Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches shop is coming to Rosslyn.
The eatery is the first business to lease a ground floor retail bay in the new Sedona | Slate apartment complex at 1510 Clarendon Blvd.
The 14-story, 474-unit complex, developed by the JBG Companies, held a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday morning. JBG representatives were joined by Rosslyn BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy, state Sen. Barbara Favola, County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette and County Manager Barbara Donnellan.
Already, 70 percent of the 271-unit Sedona tower is leased, while all 55 committed affordable units in the complex are leased. The 203-unit Slate tower will begin leasing next month. The complex features rooftop pools, LEED Gold sustainability certification and planned cafe seating for retail tenants along Clarendon Blvd.
Jimmy John’s has two existing Arlington locations, at 2450 Crystal Drive in Crystal City and 550 N. Quincy Street in Ballston. A JBG rep tells us the new restaurant in Rosslyn is hoping to open early this fall. So far, no building permits have been issued.
The Sedona | Slate project was beset by a couple of construction incidents in 2011, including the partial collapse of a retaining wall and a rescue operation for a crane operator who suffered a medical emergency.