The Arlington County Board is expected to approve easement acquisitions to the northwest and southwest corners of the intersection at its meeting Saturday, which will allow the county to widen sidewalks and install bus shelters at the intersection.
The easement acquisition is the first step of wide-scale improvements coming to the intersection. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2014, but there is no timeline yet, according to county Department of Environment Services spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman.
Among the changes coming to the intersection will be the installation of left-turn lanes on N. Glebe Road, four new bus shelters, and a new commercial entrance into the Rite Aid shopping center between Glebe Road and N. Albemarle Street. There will also be new streetlights, crosswalk markings and traffic signals installed.
The project is 50 percent designed and funded in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Photo via Google Maps
With the stated goal of “a more economically vibrant, walkable, attractive Lee Highway corridor — one that benefits neighborhoods and the business community,” representatives from the civic associations have already met with the Arlington County Planning Commission for guidance, according to representatives of the Waverly Hills Civic Association.
Along with Waverly Hills, East Falls Church, John M. Langston, Glebewood, Yorktown, Leeway Overlee, Old Dominion, Donaldson Run, Cherrydale, Maywood, and Lyon Village have also joined what the group is calling the “Lee Highway Grassroots Re-visioning.”
Waverly Hills Civic Association President Ginger Brown says the group hasn’t discussed specifics on what the future Lee Highway should look like, calling these first months since the group formed in February “the educational phase,” which includes meetings with the county’s planning staff.
Among the issues the group will be examining and presenting to staff and, they hope, the County Board, will be land use planning and zoning, housing, transportation and parking, demographic trends, tax increment financing and transferable development rights.
“It is anticipated that the new vision will be sent — in early 2015 — to the Arlington County Manager’s office with a request that the County Board appoint and fund a Task Force,” Brown wrote in an email. “Its purpose would be to formally develop a Lee Highway Sector Plan that guides future rezoning and development applications.”
(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) A Little Caesar’s franchise is expected to open near the intersection of Lee Highway and N. George Mason Drive before the end of 2013.
The pizza shop, at 5175 Lee Highway, will be the only Little Caesar’s location in Arlington, according to Little Caesar’s spokesman Gray Reynolds. Little Caesar’s has one location in Alexandria and three in Fairfax County. The space was formerly occupied by Sana Jewelers.
There is already a Little Caesar’s banner on the roof of the storefront and a “Now Hiring” sign on the window. The owner of the Garden City Shopping Center — the strip mall in which the future Little Caesar’s is located — was approved for an interior alteration building permit Sept. 24.
Hat tip to Jim Sweetman
A new restaurant specializing in food from Bangladesh opened its doors today at 5169 Lee Highway.
Aladdin, in the Garden City Shopping Center near the Yorktown neighborhood, opened for lunch today with a limited menu, owner Harun Rashid said. He is planning a grand opening on Sept. 1.
Rashid and his wife, Shiuli, opened their first restaurant in 1994 in New York City. After a few years there, they moved to Atlanta, then to Rockville. They sold their restaurant in Maryland and signed their lease in Arlington in May.
He didn’t initially plan to have a soft opening before Sept. 1, but he said many of his Bangladeshi friends “were getting frustrated” that they couldn’t eat at the restaurant yet.
“We’re eager to see the local crowds,” Rashid said. “Most of our customers are American and have our lunch buffet. They love it here. In Georgia, they just go to Waffle House, Waffle House, Waffle House all the time and don’t try anything else.”
The buffet is open from noon to 3 p.m. and costs $9, Rashid said. Aladdin’s specialty, however, is the Kachi Biryani, a slow-cooked, lamb delicacy they only serve on Saturday that customers need to call and order in advance. Rashid said he already has an order for five dishes from an former Maryland customer this Saturday.
“We think we make the most authentic Biryani,” he said. “It takes six hours in total to make, and we won’t reheat it. It’s a very expensive, very tender meat, and a very unique cooking process.”
Bengali food is very similar to Indian food, Rashid said, but there are subtle differences in its texture and spice. Rashid’s two children were sitting quietly in the restaurant Thursday morning when he spoke to ARLnow.com. He emphasized that it’s a family-owned and operated establishment and he hopes to build ties to the area.
“I’m very proud to be part of the Bangladeshi community here,” Rashid said.
A car flipped on its roof on the eastbound lanes of Lee Highway this afternoon, sending at least one person to the hospital.
The accident happened between N. Nash and Quinn Streets, near Rosslyn, around 3:30 p.m. today (Friday). The late model Toyota Corolla somehow overturned, coming to rest in the left-hand lane of the three-lane thoroughfare.
One person was transported from the scene in an ambulance while police closed the two left lanes. A Bergmann’s Cleaning truck remained on scene while its driver gave statements to Arlington County police officers. It’s unclear whether the truck was involved in the accident or if the driver was being interviewed as a witness.
The car lost its right rear wheel in the crash, and the area around its left rear tire was stripped of paint in the accident.
A new hookah lounge and restaurant is coming to Lee Highway, perhaps as soon as this summer.
Cloud Lounge is planning to open at 2525 Lee Highway, in the basement of Burger 7 restaurant. A sign is up in the adjacent parking lot and its owner, who owns both Burger 7 and Cloud Lounge, told us in a brief phone call that he’s hoping to open this summer.
A construction permit for the lounge, first issued in February 2011, indicates that it will seat 53 people. We’re told the restaurant will serve Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as Illy coffee, chocolates and other desserts.
The lounge will also offer cigars, thanks to a walk-in humidor, and hookahs. Alcoholic beverages will not be offered, we’re told.
The interior of Cloud Lounge, meanwhile, will have a unique look, according to the restaurant’s website.
“The distressed aged space is dressed and accessorized with semi modern Baroque designed furniture,” the site says. “When such style of furniture is mixed with modern & vibrant color upholstery, the results are one of a kind.”
Photo via cloudlounge.co
This weekend, the Arlington County Board is expected to consider a plan to build a new hotel on the former Colony House furniture site at 1700 Lee Highway.
The hotel is slated to be branded as a Hilton Homewood Suites. Developer B.F. Saul plans for the hotel to be 8 stories tall, with 168 rooms and 102 parking spaces.
“Due to the extreme topography of the site, which rises 20-50 feet in elevation from the northern to the southern property line, the two levels of parking are at grade and visible along Lee Highway and at the corner of North Quinn Street,” Arlington County staff wrote in a report to the County Board.
The staff report anticipates “marginal” increases in traffic at nearby intersections after the hotel opens, with no additional traffic delays expected. The hotel is roughly a half mile from the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations.
The County Board is set to consider the project at its Saturday meeting. If the Board approves a rezoning and site plan for the hotel, developers hope to have it built and open at some point in 2014.
(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) Police and firefighters responded to a two-alarm house fire this morning on the 2300 block of N. Dinwiddie Street, near the intersection of Lee Highway.
The two-story house was fully engulfed in flames when rescuers arrived.
At least two people are reported to be hurt, and were transported via ambulance to a local burn center. Drew Lofton, a witness, says one woman jumped to safety from a second story window, at the encouragement of neighbors who rushed to the house after spotting the smoke and flames. A third resident was rescued from the basement.
Samantha Pozo tells ARLnow.com that she was in the basement of the house and was rescued, along with her two pet ferrets, by a firefighter. The basement was filling with smoke and she was still on the phone with a 911 operator when a firefighter found her and escorted her to safety.
“He came to me and he said to go,” Pozo said. “He took my ferrets and we just got out of there.”
Pozo, who was uninjured, says the fire started suddenly.
“I heard an explosion from the kitchen, I believe,” she said. “Then I saw fire and smoke outside my door.”
According to Pozo, a student at Northern Virginia Community College, six women live in the house. Her roommate downstairs was at school at the time of the fire.
Police shut down westbound Lee Highway at Glebe Road and several neighborhood street for more than two hours due to the large fire response.
Heat from the fire melted the siding on an adjacent house, and caused damage to the side of another adjacent house.
The incident happened at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Veitch Street just before 9:00 a.m. Via a traffic camera, it appears that the pedestrians were attempting to cross Lee Highway on the western side of the intersection when they were struck near the center median.
One of the victims suffered a head injury, while the other suffered a possible back injury, according to scanner traffic. Both victims’ injuries are described as relatively minor.
At about 9:15 a.m., a tree fell on power lines along Lorcom Lane, in the area of N. Jackson Street, causing several transformers to blow. That knocked out power to 3,827 customers, according to Dominion. Power was restored by noon, the company said.
Shortly after that outage was reported, another began.
“Around the same time we had another outage involving a tree on a power line in nearby northern Arlington,” Dominion spokeswoman Daisy Pridgen told ARLnow.com. “It affected 2,455 customers. Power was restored in two hours and 25 minutes.”
Traffic lights were reported dark on busy Lee Highway near I-66 as a result of the outages.
(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) A car has plowed into the front of a Pizza Hut restaurant on Lee Highway.
Arlington County police and firefighters responded to the Lee Centre shops on the 3300 block of Lee Highway just before 1:00 p.m. for a report of a car into a building. Upon arrival, they found a Honda Fit hatchback that had driven through the front door of the Pizza Hut. Half of the car was in the restaurant, stopped only by the order counter.
The 86-year-old female driver was extricated from the car by firefighters, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. She suffered no visible injuries but was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Amazingly, even though it was lunch time, there were no customers inside the store at the time of the accident. Four employees were inside at the time, according to police, but nobody was hurt.
The car was removed from the building by a tow truck around 1:30 p.m. An Arlington County building inspector has determined that there is no structural damage to the building, but the restaurant will be boarded up until its front facade can be repaired.
Photo courtesy @CAPT258
Arlington mom Li Vo opened Yorktown Nails, at 5163 Lee Highway, in December. Fellow moms have been spreading the word about the salon in an attempt to drum up business.
“It was opened by Li Vo, a McKinley Elementary and Yorktown [High School] mom who many folks know as the uber-popular manicurist at American Nail,” resident Sarah Moore told ARLnow.com. “Now she and her family have opened their own salon and everything is super clean, new and parking is a cinch.”
Through Feb. 28, Yorktown Nails is offering a “grand opening special” — an “organic” pedicure and manicure for $28.
Photo courtesy Sarah Moore
Joanna Wallace (left) matched five numbers but didn’t match the Powerball, which would given her a share of the $587 million jackpot. She was one of four $1 million winners in Virginia from the record-setting jackpot drawing.
Wallace purchased her ticket at the 7-Eleven store at 5267 Lee Highway, using the Easy Pick option to randomly select the numbers on her ticket, according to the Virginia Lottery. The store received a $10,000 bonus for selling the ticket.
Virginia Lottery Executive Director Paula Otto presented Wallace with a check for $1,000,004.00 at the store on Friday.
Photo courtesy Virginia Lottery
The Arlington County Board rebuffed the county’s Planning Commission Saturday afternoon, approving a new apartment development on Lee Highway after a strong showing of public support for the project.
Last month, the Planning Commission voted against the project, which includes a 10-story apartment building and a retail and residential complex that will include a MOM’s Organic Market grocery store. The development will replace the aging Bergmann’s dry cleaning plant, at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Vietch Street, less than half a mile from the Courthouse Metro station. The Planning Commission voted ‘no’ due to concerns about building height and the precedent the project might set for development on Lee Highway.
The Lyon Village Civic Association, which represents residents across Lee Highway from the proposed development, agreed with the Planning Commission. Civic Association President James Lantelme told the Board that the association supports redevelopment of the Bergmann’s site in theory, but couldn’t support a building higher than 6-8 stories.
Lantelme worried that project approval could inspire other developers to propose higher buildings along Lee Highway. He said existing garden apartment buildings and the National Pawnbrokers building at the corner of Lee Highway and Kirkwood Road could be redeveloped in the near future, making the Bergmann’s development “a real live issue right now.”
Lantelme was in the minority at Saturday’s Board meeting, however. More than a dozen residents spoke in favor of the development, 10 stories and all — a fairly rare showing of support at Board meetings where proposals to construct high buildings are usually greeted with a chorus of disapproval from neighbors.
The North Highlands Citizens Association — which represents some 1,800 households and businesses north of Lee Highway, including the Bergmann’s site — voted 70 percent in favor of the project. Residents told the Board that the proposed development, especially the grocery store, is welcome in the neighborhood. Until the recent addition of the now-busy Burger 7 restaurant, the only retail store in North Highlands was a 7-Eleven.
“As a resident in the actual neighborhood, I think the positives would far outweigh the negatives,” said one resident. “High rises are just a fact of modern life in Arlington.”
“I think this will help us become a more cohesive community,” she said. “I would enjoy shopping there. I would enjoy neighbors living there… I love the building, it’s filled with light. This has an aesthetic appeal and a design that contributes to people getting to know each other.”
Anita Machhar, co-president of the North Highlands Citizens Association, criticized the Planning Commission’s stance that the county should produce a comprehensive development plan for Lee Highway before approving the Bergmann’s project.
“It is unfair to hold our community hostage while it takes years for a master plan to be developed,” she said. “We don’t want a rundown dry cleaner as our community landmark.”
Republican activist Robert Atkins, a frequent critic of the county at Board meetings, also spoke in favor of the development, urging the Planning Commission to “return from their parallel universe, return to planet Earth.”
In the end, the County Board voted 5-0 to approve the development.
Arlington County staff are recommending that the County Board approve a proposed mixed-use development for the Bergmann’s Dry Cleaning site on Lee Highway.
Last month, the county’s Planning Commission voted against the project, which includes a 10-story apartment tower. The commission said Arlington should have a development plan in place for Lee Highway before any big, potentially precedent-setting developments are approved.
The Planning Commission’s vote was cheered by some residents, who think the 10-story building is too tall, and jeered by other residents, who like the grocery store component of the development plan (MOM’s Organic Market has signed on to the project) and who think the 1950s era Bergmann’s plant is an “eye sore.”
The development proposes a total of 202 residences, including apartments and row houses, and 13,257 square feet of retail space. In addition to the height of the building, some residents also worried about increased traffic.
While expressing some reservations about building height, county staff said the development is appropriate for the area — located at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Veitch Street, near I-66, 0.4 miles from the Courthouse Metro station — and will benefit the community thanks to its “placemaking” retail and affordable housing components.
“Placemaking involves providing a vibrant space that meets the needs and desires of a community,” said the staff report. “In this instance, the proposed project will provide for a broader mix of uses on a site occupied by a former dry cleaning plant and [vacant] single-family houses. The proposed grocery store and potential ancillary retail space would provide a retail component lacking in this area that residents in the surrounding neighborhoods could easily access on foot or by bicycle.”
While staff said that an 8-story building might be more appropriate for the area in the general, they said 10-stories is appropriate for this specific development.
Staff believes that the proposed height of the East block is appropriate for the site for the following reasons:
- The general area of the proposed site plan, Lee Highway west of Rosslyn and east of Cherrydale, consists largely of medium density apartment and townhouse residential development, with a few pre-World War II frame single family houses dispersed throughout. The general area had been almost entirely rezoned for apartments between the 1940s and 1960s. The tallest apartment building in the vicinity, Potomac Towers (located at 2001 N. Adams Street), was constructed by-right in 1961, and is approximately 90 feet in height and has 10 stories.
- Similarly, the Circle Condominiums constructed in 1964 at 2030 N. Adams St., varies in height from eight (8) stories and 12 stories (due to the sloping grade). Most of the development surrounding the Bergmann’s site is of older garden apartments of generally no more than eight (8) stories, and townhouses of more recent construction (1980s- present) of no more than four stories or 40 feet.
Therefore, for the above reasons staff believes that, in general, the appropriate maximum height in the neighborhood would be no more than eight (8) stories. However, staff can support a building of 10 stories on this particular site, because it is unique within the area for the following reasons:
- The site for the proposed East building is the only location on Lee Highway within a half-mile radius from a Metro Station, outside of East Falls Church and Rosslyn, that is bordered on two sides by a major highway and a major arterial: I-66 and Lee Highway. The site for the proposed 10-story building is located on a full block, separated from other uses by the Interstate 66 right-of-way on the east and north (approximately 230 feet), the Lee Highway right-of-way to the South (150 feet in width including a 45-foot landscaped buffer area acquired as Lee Highway right-of-way but not used), and will be buffered on the west by the retail/mixed use block, transitioning down to the townhouses on the west. Furthermore, the grade at this site is lower than in the immediate vicinity.
- Most of the Lee Highway corridor is more than one-half-mile from the nearest Metro station.
- The applicant is proposing bonus dwelling units for the provision of on-site affordable housing, under the provisions of Section 36.H.7 of the Zoning Ordinance, where the applicant is permitted additional density of up to 25% of the base number of dwelling units, and up to six (6) stories of additional height. The applicant is requesting 33 bonus dwelling units, eight (8) of which will be on-site committed affordable dwelling units, 24% of the total number of bonus units, which is similar to recent site plans, and exceeds the County’s adopted target of 20% of the bonus. Each floor of the 10-story East building has 16 dwelling units. Staff believes the proposed East Building as an eight (8) story building with two (2) stories of bonus height, accommodating the 33 bonus units. Again, it is important to note that 10 stories is the maximum height for apartment buildings, exclusive of possible bonus height, in the “C-O-1.5” Zoning district.