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PenPlace Open Space Approved Over More Resident Discontent

by Ethan Rothstein | July 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 686 views | No Comments

The Arlington County Board has approved a concept for two acres of open place on the planned PenPlace development in Pentagon City.

The plan calls for three open spaces: two small parks along planned 10th and 12th Street S. connections between S. Fern and Eads Streets and a “Central Green” in the middle of the large development. The Central Green is designed to allow for events like outdoor movies and concerts, according to the space’s designer, and will include a cafe in the northeast corner.

The concept was presented to the County Board during its Thursday meeting last week after three community meetings. The PenPlace development was approved by the County Board last September, with the condition that a concept for the open space be brought back within a year.

The PenPlace development, when completed, is planned to have five buildings, each between 16 and 22 stories tall, that include 1.8 million square feet of office space and a 300-room hotel. It will be adjacent to a planned streetcar station on 12th Street.

As part of the approval, the developer, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, agreed to build about two acres of public space as a component of the community benefit package required for bonus density.

“I think the overarching goal here, that we’ve shared with the public, is to create a vibrant urban space in the heart of Pentagon City,” said Hallie Boyce, a design partner with Olin Landscape Architects, which designed the open space, ”that will not only allow people to enjoy the great outdoors but also to enjoy each other’s company, and to really create a sense of community here in Pentagon City.”

In addition, Vornado plans to include up to 20,000 square feet of community-oriented space in the building at the corner of the planned 10th Street and S. Eads Street intersection. According to Vornado’s presentation to the County Board, the space could be used for educational use or a university, a business incubator, a library or community center, or large entertainment use, such as a bowling alley, movie theater or performance venue.

The concept was submitted and approved as a “base case,” which will now operate as a guiding principle for when the buildings come back before the Board for a full site plan approval. According to Vornado Senior Vice President and Director of Development Mitch Bonanno, there is still no timeline for any construction.

PenPlace was met with numerous resident objections when it first came before the County Board last year. Four speakers came to Thursday’s meeting in protest of a provision that allows Vornado additional density on the site, saying they felt they were caught unaware after the community meetings. The base case includes a provision that, if the open space costs more than the staff’s estimate of $2.65 million, Vornado is entitled to added density.

“The citizen participants were under the mistaken impression that the outdoor space improvements were part of the extremely generous deal Vornado already got,” Pentagon City resident Elizabeth Wirick said. “Those who took part in the workshops feel betrayed. This is a concept, not a plan, we don’t have any data on how much it’s going to cost other than staff estimates, and with regards to staff estimates, I’ll keep it short. Two words: aquatics center.”

(Vornado agreed to partially fund the proposed Long Bridge Park aquatics center project as part of PenPlace’s initial phased development approval. The aquatics center is now stalled after construction bids came in well above staff estimates.)

The motion passed just before midnight, 3-1, with Board member John Vihstadt dissenting and Board member Libby Garvey absent.

Virginia Highlands Park Slated for $2 Million Upgrade

by Ethan Rothstein | July 14, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,554 views | No Comments

Scenes from Virginia Highlands Park on Sun., March 7, 2010(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) The Arlington County Board could approve nearly $2 million worth of renovations to Virginia Highlands Park near Pentagon City at its meeting this weekend.

County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending the Board approves a $1.83 million contract, with a $183,000 contingency, to replace the park’s six tennis courts, two tennis practice courts and two basketball courts. The money will also fund a new, junior half basketball court, new fencing, new “dark sky” lights for the courts and accessible parking improvements.

The improvements are part of the county’s ongoing effort to completely renovate the recreation facilities at Virginia Highlands (1600 S. Hayes Street), which are some of the busiest recreation areas in the county. Within the last 10 years, the synthetic turf field, playground, restrooms, athletic field lighting and spraygrounds have all been either renovated or constructed.

In addition to new tennis courts — which will replace existing courts that were recently resurfaced — the renovations call for new covered waiting areas outside the courts, along with a drinking fountain and an “information kiosk.”

Virginia Highlands Park renovation rendering (Image via Arlington County)

The junior basketball court will replace the tennis practice courts to the south of the six tennis courts. The court was requested during public input meetings last fall. The community lamented that there was no basketball space to be used specifically by young children.

The basketball courts will be relocated to the north of the current courts.

“Several community members expressed concerns about the proximity of the existing basketball courts relative to the playground area,” county staff said in a report, explaining the relocation.

The remaining park features — the diamond field turf, picnic shelter, gazebo, petanque courts, and front plaza area — are proposed for renovation in 2016.

File photo (top). Image (bottom) via Arlington County. 

UPDATED: Power Outages Follow Severe Storms

by ARLnow.com | July 8, 2014 at 6:35 pm | 1,914 views | No Comments

Update at 10:50 p.m. — Fewer than 1,000 Dominion customers are now in the dark in Arlington. A possible water main break has also been reported in Fairlington.

Nearly 3,000 Dominion customers were without power in Arlington Tuesday night after a line of severe storms packing gusty winds blew through the area.

Most of the power outages were concentrated in south Arlington, in the Pentagon City area. Storms appear to have caused only minor damage in most parts of Arlington, but a reported transformer fire on the 1600 block of Arlington Ridge Road has caused numerous power outages along the east end of Columbia Pike and in Pentagon City, Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge, according to Twitter reports.

Police closed Arlington Ridge Road near the blown transformer, while Dominion crews worked to fix it.

Despite the outages, the storms did have some upside: temperatures have cooled down significantly and residents were treated to a spectacular double rainbow at sunset as the storms passed.

Arlington County and much of the D.C. area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning earlier. Forecasters said a line of storms approaching the area was packing “destructive” winds, large hail and frequent lightning.

From the National Weather Service:

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 830 PM EDT FOR THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA… THE CITY OF FAIRFAX… THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH… THE CITY OF MANASSAS… THE CITY OF MANASSAS PARK… PRINCE WILLIAM… FAIRFAX… CALVERT… ANNE ARUNDEL… PRINCE GEORGES… ARLINGTON… HOWARD AND MONTGOMERY COUNTIES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA…

AT 715 PM EDT… SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WERE DETECTED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM LAUREL TO KENILWORTH TO FRANCONIA… AND WERE MOVING EAST AT 40 MPH.

THESE STORMS ARE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH.

LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… RIDGEWAY… SEVERN… SUITLAND… DISTRICT HEIGHTS… SOUTH GATE… PRINCE GEORGES STADIUM… GAMBRILLS… MORNINGSIDE… SEVERNA PARK… HERALD HARBOR… CROWNSVILLE… CLINTON… CAPE ARTHUR… RIVERDALE… CHELSEA BEACH… PASADENA… SILLERY BAY… LAKE SHORE… BODKIN POINT… NAVY-MARINE CORPS MEMORIAL STADIUM…

THIS IS A DANGEROUS LINE OF STORMS. IF YOU ARE IN ITS PATH… MOVE INDOORS TO A STURDY BUILDING AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO… REPORT SEVERE WEATHER TO LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OR TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.

THIS LINE OF STORMS HAS A HISTORY OF PRODUCING WIDESPREAD WIND DAMAGE. SEEK SHELTER INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | June 16, 2014 at 10:05 am | 1,329 views | No Comments

Patrons lined up to have a book signed by Hillary Clinton at the Pentagon City Costco on 6/13/14

Clinton Signs Books at Pentagon City Costco — Former Secretary of State and likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton signed books at the Pentagon City Costco store on Saturday. One group of Clinton supporters who lined up outside the store Saturday morning told ARLnow.com that they were in line for more than 4 hours before getting their books signed. The signature: a simple, cursive “Hillary.” Also dropping by on Saturday was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was shopping and stumbled upon the event. [Huffington Post, Washington Post]

Board Approves Waycroft-Woodlawn Plan — The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved an updated Neighborhood Conservation Plan for the Waycroft-Woodlawn community, located northwest of Ballston. The plan calls for funding “to address speeding and cut-through traffic, improve pedestrian safety, enhance street conditions and make park improvements.” Waycroft-Woodlawn has 1,600 residents, mostly in single-family homes. [Arlington County]

Healthy Vending Machine Installation Complete — Arlington Public Schools has completed installation of 115 new “FitArlington Healthy Vending Machines” in all 40 APS-owned buildings. The machines offer “bottled water and 100% fruit juice beverages, and a variety of healthy snacks, such as dried fruit, baked chips, and granola bars.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Pentagon City Apartments Converted to ‘High-End Luxury’

by Ethan Rothstein | June 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm | 2,297 views | No Comments

The Instrata at Pentagon City (photo via Google Maps)The Metropolitan Pentagon City apartment building has undergone a renovation and rebranding and is now charging more than $6,000 a month for some apartments.

The 17-story building at 901 15th Street S. is now Instrata Pentagon City, a part of the Instrata Lifestyle Residences chain that casts itself as “a lifestyle concept of high-end luxury rental apartments,” according to a press release.

The pet-friendly building will be managed by D.C.-area property manager Bozzuto and, according to Bozzuto spokeswoman Lauren Neuvel, will lease one-bedroom apartments for between $1,969 and $2,519 a month; two-bedrooms for between $3,035 and $6,205; and three-bedrooms from $6,306 to $6,458.

Instrata Pentagon City apartment“Instrata Pentagon City apartments feature kitchens with ceramic flooring, custom-crafted cabinetry, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and gas cooking; premium bathrooms with soaking tubs and ceramic tiling… private balconies or sunrooms, and stunning views of Washington, D.C.” according to the press release.

The building’s amenities include jacuzzis and marble fireplaces in penthouse apartments, a yoga room, massage room, personal trainers and a complimentary membership to ClubCorp, which, according to the press release, provides “access to private golf and country clubs, business, sports and alumni clubs throughout North America.”

The apartments were recently renovated as tenants have moved out, Neuvel said. Instrata launched in New York City earlier this year, and Instrata Pentagon City is the company’s first venture outside Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Photo (top) via Google Maps, photo (bottom) via Instrata Pentagon City

Woman Falls to Death at Pentagon City Apartment Building

by ARLnow.com | June 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm | 6,331 views | No Comments

Police car lightsA woman fell to her death at one of the RiverHouse apartment buildings in Pentagon City early Sunday morning.

A source tells ARLnow.com that the woman was intoxicated and within a restricted portion of the building’s rooftop when she fell through an old incinerator chute to her death. Police investigated the incident but no foul play is suspected and investigators believe it to be a “tragic accident,” we’re told.

No additional information is available about the accident at this time. An Arlington County Police spokesman declined comment.

Hillary Clinton to Sign Books at Pentagon City Costco

by ARLnow.com | June 9, 2014 at 10:15 am | 5,301 views | No Comments

Hard Choices by Hillary ClintonFormer Secretary of State and expected 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in Arlington on Saturday, signing copies of her new memoir.

Hard Choices will go on sale on Tuesday. The book chronicles Clinton’s four years as Secretary of State and the “crises, choices, and challenges she faced.”

Clinton will be signing copies of the book at the Pentagon City Costco store from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on June 14.

Following Hillary to the signing will be a large tour bus paid for by Ready for Hillary, the Arlington-based political action committee that’s supporting Clinton in her expected 2016 presidential run.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | June 6, 2014 at 10:00 am | 1,957 views | No Comments

Reagan National Airport

Dump Truck Driver Found Guilty in Woman’s Death — The driver of a dump truck that struck and killed a 39-year-old mother of three in February has been found guilty of “failing to pay full time and attention.” Marvin Valladares, 33, was sentenced to 10 days in jail with four suspended. [WTOP, WJLA]

Pentagon Centre Redevelopment Plans Change – A plan to redevelop the Pentagon Centre shopping center is being changed. Owner Kimco Realty Corp. now wants to build two residential buildings on the site before building two office buildings and a hotel. Pentagon Centre is currently home to Best Buy, Costco and other big box retailers. If the plan is approved, it and other Pentagon City development projects could result in “a deluge of roughly 4,000 new residential units in a decade.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lane Closures Planned for Parade — A number of lanes will be closed in the area of Four Mile Run on Saturday for the Corso de Santa Cruz Parade. [Arlington County]

ATF Busts Felon With AK-47 in Pentagon City

by ARLnow.com | April 29, 2014 at 10:05 am | 3,931 views | No Comments

An allegedly gun-toting convicted felon was arrested by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents after a brief car chase and crash in Pentagon City over the weekend.

The ATF says its agents were following D.C. resident Othaniel Gaither, a convicted felon, after he illegally bought two guns and ammunition in Northern Virginia on Sunday. When Gaither took a detour through Pentagon City en route back to D.C., the agents tried to pull him over in the area of 15th Street and S. Fern Street.

“At this point, Gaither attempted to evade arrest and rammed into one of the ATF vehicles,” ATF Washington Field Division spokesman Thomas A. Faison told ARLnow.com. “This evasion attempt proved unsuccessful.”

“[Gaither] admitted to being a convicted felon who was transporting the firearms and ammunition from Virginia to D.C.,” Faison said. “He also stated that an associate of his was shot several weeks ago in D.C. and the firearms and ammunition were for retaliation against the individuals responsible for the shooting incident.”

ATF agents recovered an AK-47 rifle, a .38 caliber machine pistol and a flare gun that was modified to fire 12-gauge shotgun shells, according to Faison. Ammunition was also found.

Gaither remains in custody on federal charges.

Photos courtesy @WestwoodKing

Arlington Unveils Pentagon City Multimodal Improvements

by ARLnow.com | April 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm | 1,964 views | No Comments

Arlington County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for its multimodal improvement project in Pentagon City.

The two-year, $9 million project resulted in improved sidewalks, road crossings, bike lanes, street trees, drainage and landscaping along S. Hayes Street in front of Pentagon City mall. The project was completed nearly 6 percent under budget, with the state and federal government paying 80 percent of the final cost, according to the county.

“This project is key to Arlington’s efforts to make it easier to travel to, around or through Pentagon City, whether you are traveling by car, bus, bike or Metro,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “South Hayes is now a more complete, welcoming, accessible and safe corridor.”

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and County Board members Walter Tejada and Libby Garvey were on hand for the unveiling on Thursday.

The county’s press release about the project’s completion is below, after the jump.

(more…)

Vehicle Overturns in Pentagon City Wreck

by ARLnow.com | April 28, 2014 at 2:55 pm | 2,240 views | No Comments

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Arlington police and firefighters are on the scene of a rollover accident at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street in Pentagon City.

Initial reports suggest an SUV overturned as a result of a two-vehicle crash. The driver of the overturned SUV was able to get out of the vehicle and did not appear to be seriously hurt.

According to police on scene, the drivers of both cars escaped with minor injuries, but the driver of the car that flipped was transported to Virginia Hospital Center as a precaution.

Motorists should expect delays in the area of the crash.

Video: Police Seek Assault Suspects

by ARLnow.com | February 21, 2014 at 10:00 am | 1,812 views | No Comments

Arlington County police are looking for three suspects in an early morning brawl at the DoubleTree hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive) Sunday.

“Surveillance video captured the suspects in the lobby area at approximately 3:16 a.m. as they taunt two couples as they entered the hotel,” according to police. “Following the comments, the three suspects charge after the victims and a physical altercation ensues, leaving one of the victim’s unconscious on the floor. The suspects flee the scene after hotel security arrive and are again captured on surveillance video exiting the front door.”

The victim was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police are asking anyone who might recognize the suspects to contact investigators.

“If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of these individuals, please contact Detective Paula Brockenborough of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703.228.4241 or at pbrockenborough@arlingtonva.us,” said a police press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”

New Contender for Biggest Pothole in Arlington

by ARLnow.com | February 19, 2014 at 11:00 am | 3,181 views | No Comments

Large pothole on S. Joyce Street in Pentagon City Large pothole on S. Joyce Street in Pentagon City

A monster pothole has been claiming hubcaps and testing the suspensions of unsuspecting drivers in Pentagon City.

The pothole is located on S. Joyce Street, across from Pentagon Row. As of last night, it measured approximately 4 feet by 4 feet, with a depth of 6 to 9 inches. That makes it even bigger than our previous contender for biggest pothole in Arlington, which was located on N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon.

The pothole was consistently being run over by the right tires of vehicles last night, occasionally producing a loud thud from those with smaller vehicles or tighter suspensions.

The pothole has been there for at least two weeks, and has been growing bigger by the day. Myllisa Kennedy, spokeswoman for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, suggested that the maintenance crews responsible for filling potholes have been slowed down by recent snowstorms.

“Crews have had to shift back and forth between pothole/other maintenance work and snow because of all the storms — doing as much as they can when the weather is cooperating,” she said via email.

Kennedy explained that Arlington County prefers to use a more durable method of pothole repair, which requires better weather conditions than the more temporary alternative.

“Crews fix the potholes using a longer lasting ‘hot’ mix – as opposed to a ‘cold’ mix used for temporary repairs in some places — whenever possible to reduce the likelihood we have to come back around and fix the same pothole,” she wrote.

The harsh winter is producing more potholes this year, Kennedy said. Maintenance crews are expected to be back out on the streets today trying to catch up on the pothole backlog.

“The severe weather fluctuations this winter are leading to more potholes earlier in the season and thus there is a need to for crews to start focusing on pothole repairs sooner than they would in milder winters,” said Kennedy. “Our plan is to get back out and continue filling the potholes County-wide. Our streets crews, which total about 35 employees, will be out on the roadways today, throughout this month, and well into the spring working to fix the potholes caused by this year’s extreme freeze and thaw weather. We will also bring in contractors to help with larger potholes and patches.”

Street Closures for ‘Love the Run You’re With 5K’

by ARLnow.com | February 4, 2014 at 11:45 am | 419 views | No Comments

2013 Love the Run You're With 5K (photo via Pacers Events)The annual Love the Run You’re With 5K will take place Sunday morning (Feb. 9) and will result in some street closures around Pentagon City.

The Valentine’s Day-themed race kicks off at 9:00 a.m. on S. Joyce Street in front of Pentagon Row. Runners then do a loop up Army Navy Drive, as it runs parallel to I-395, before returning to Pentagon Row.

Registration for the race, organized by Pacers Events, is $40. Participants are given different colored race bibs depending on whether their relationship status is “single,” “in a relationship” or “it’s complicated.” A post-run party will be held Champps Restaurant (1201 S. Joyce Street).

To accommodate the race, the Arlington County Police Department is planning on closing the following roads from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m.

  • South Joyce Street between South 15th Street and Army Navy Drive
  • Army Navy Drive between South Joyce Street and South 25th Street

“Street parking in the area will be restricted,” the police department said in a press release. “Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call 703-558-2222.”

“Race attendees are encouraged to use Metro, however, if driving please utilize the parking garage at the Pentagon City Mall,” ACPD advised.

Photo via Pacers Events

Apartments Could Replace Vacant Pentagon City Office Building

by Ethan Rothstein | January 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm | 2,097 views | No Comments

A rendering of the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive apartment buildingsA vacant office building in Pentagon City could be in line for a transformation into a two-tower high-rise apartment building.

The former Department of Defense Inspector General office at 400 Army Navy Drive has submitted a site plan for a 20-story building with two towers — on one, three-story platform — that would have 491,588 square feet of ground floor space and 453 residential units.

The building, also called the “Paperclip Building,” was acquired by Bethesda-based developer LCOR in 2012, according to City Biz List, with the plan to convert it into housing. The site plan is now under consideration with the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) and is slated to go before the Planning Commission and the Arlington County Board no earlier than April for approval, we’re told.

The 1.6-acre plot of land is bounded by Army Navy Drive to the north, 11th Street S. to the south, S. Eads Street to the west and the Doubletree hotel to the east. The site is across S. Eads Street from the recently-approved PenPlace commercial development, which calls for four office buildings and a 300-room hotel on 10.2 acres; more than 4 million square feet of floor space.

A rendering of the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive apartment buildingsPenPlace was approved despite heavy opposition from the Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA) and other neighborhood groups, who objected to the height of the buildings (16-21 stories) and the additional traffic expected to be generated.

At the initial SPRC meeting, commissioners expressed concern that the traffic study the developer performed in June, when putting together its site plan, did not include the impact from PenPlace. In addition, a proposed operations and maintenance facility for the Crystal City streetcar line is directly adjacent to the planned apartment site.

“I don’t see how the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive project can be successfully developed if the County proceeds with its plan to build a streetcar operations and maintenance facility a few feet from its front door on the ‘tear drop’ in the middle of Eads Street,” Arthur Fox, who’s representing ARCA on the SPRC for the project, told ARLnow.com.

“Indeed, an O&M facility in that location will likely be the rotten apple that will spoil the barrel the County is seeking to develop across Eads on PenPlace,” Fox continued. “Unfortunately, the county failed to seriously consider a number of alternative sites that would be far better suited for an O&M facility. It needs to take a step backward and reopen that process.”

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