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Hayes Street Construction to Wrap Up This Spring

by ARLnow.com | December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 748 views | No Comments

Construction on the Pentagon City Multimodal Project on S. Hayes Street is expected to wrap up this spring, county officials say.

The project has been under construction since the summer of 2012. It’s expected to bring numerous streetscape improvements to the stretch of Hayes Street between 15th Street and Army Navy Drive. The stretch includes entrances to the Pentagon City Metro station and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

Some residents have been asking ARLnow.com when the project and its associated lane and sidewalk closures would end. Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman says the end is near.

“Crews are currently working on traffic signal installation and landscaping in the median, which includes plantings, bioretention areas to manage stormwater runoff, and installation of porous pavement,” she said via email. “We expect construction to conclude by spring 2014.”

That’s within the project’s expected two-year timetable.

The $9 million project was approved by the County Board in April 2012. The features planned as part of the project include:

  • Upgraded traffic signals with improved timing at each intersection
  • Clearly designated mid-block crossing areas
  • New, upgraded street furniture
  • New street lighting and accent lighting
  • New sidewalks, crosswalks and lane markings
  • New ADA ramps and pedestrian crossing equipment at all intersections
  • Bioretention and rain garden landscape features to manage stormwater runoff
  • Improved landscaping including street trees and ground cover throughout the project area
  • Improved amenities for bicyclists, transit riders, pedestrians and visitors to the Pentagon City area

County Board Approves Pentagon City Mall Expansion

by Ethan Rothstein | November 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm | 1,885 views | No Comments

Image via Arlington County

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City’s request to expand and offer outdoor restaurant seating at its meeting on Saturday.

The mall, owned by Simon Property Group, will add 51,000 square feet along S. Hayes Street — two stories with space for 5-7 retail tenants whose entrances would be on the street.

The expansion will be built on the east façade of the mall, adjacent to the entrance to the Pentagon City Metro Station. As part of the construction, the mall is expected to make pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along S. Hayes Street, Army Navy Drive and 15th Street.

“This expansion plan for one of the region’s most popular malls fits perfectly with the County’s goal of making Pentagon City a more lively, walkable area,” County Board Chairman Walter Tejada said in a press release. “Bringing new shops and restaurants to S. Hayes Street will be good for the mall and good for the neighborhood.”

Image via Arlington County

BREAKING: Credit Union at TSA’s Pentagon City HQ Robbed

by ARLnow.com | October 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm | 7,442 views | No Comments

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Police are on the scene of a robbery at the Pentagon Federal Credit Union branch in Pentagon City.

The PenFed branch is located on the ground floor of the Transportation Security Administration headquarters at 701 12th Street S.

Two men entered the credit union around 1:20 p.m. and passed a backpack and a note demanding cash to the teller, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The men were given an undisclosed amount of cash. They then fled and were last seen getting into a blue-and-white taxicab.

According to scanner traffic, the cab was likely an Arlington Blue Top cab that was waiting at the cab stand between the Pentagon City Metro station and the Ritz Carlton hotel.

No one was hurt during the incident, Sternbeck said. Arlington police are investigating the robbery in cooperation with the FBI and the TSA. From a police press release:

Suspect one is described as a black male, approximately 6’0” tall with a skinny build and a short beard. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue jacket, along with a black and red hat and glasses at the time of the incident. Suspect two is described as a black male, approximately 5’10” and was wearing blue jeans, a grey hooded sweatshirt and blue jacket.

Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of these individuals is asked to contact Detective Gary Skeens with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4166,gskeens@arlingtonva.us or investigations@arlingtonva.us. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

The credit union is located within the TSA headquarters complex. Its entrance faces a public plaza that’s open to pedestrians but closed to vehicle traffic. There is an entrance to the TSA headquarters building within the branch, according to TSA spokesman Mark Howell, but one must present an ID badge to use it.

A guard station is located about 100 feet from the credit union, but Howell said the contract guards who man it are trained to initially call police in the event of a crime. They do not provide security to PenFed, which leases space in the building from the property owner, not from TSA.

Police released the following surveillance footage from the robbery:

Police Looking for Shoe Section Masturbator

by ARLnow.com | October 3, 2013 at 11:00 am | 4,181 views | No Comments

Police car lightsArlington County investigators are using video surveillance footage to try to track down a man who was seen masturbating in a clothing store.

The incident happened Monday afternoon in Pentagon City, reportedly at the Nordstrom Rack store (1201 S. Hayes Street) across from the mall. Police say a black male in his 30s was spotted masturbating in the shoe section of the store. He fled the scene before police arrived.

From the Arlington crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 09/30/13, 1200 block of S. Hayes Street. A male subject was observed masturbating in the shoe section of a retail store. The subject is described as a black male in his late 30s, approximately 5 feet 8 inches and weighing 150 pounds. The subject has short black hair and was wearing a black and red jacket with the word ‘Coogi’ on the back in red writing and red sneakers at the time of the incident. Further investigation is being conducted.

County Board Approves PenPlace Project Over Neighborhood Objections

by ARLnow.com | September 24, 2013 at 1:00 pm | 2,190 views | No Comments

Renderings of the future PenPlace development in Pentagon City (via Arlington County)After five and a half hours of discussion and deliberation, the Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a framework for Vornado’s massive PenPlace development in Pentagon City.

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.”

Renderings of the future PenPlace development in Pentagon City (via Arlington County)“Everywhere I see ‘car-free diet,” said yet another. “Who is the car-free diet for? Is it only for residents? Developers can apparently run as many cars as they want through our neighborhood.”

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.

Renderings of the future PenPlace development in Pentagon City (via Arlington County)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.

Power Outage Reported in Pentagon City

by ARLnow.com | September 24, 2013 at 11:00 am | 810 views | No Comments

Update at 11:40 a.m. — The number of customers without power in Arlington is down to 316, according to the Dominion website.

A significant power outage has been reported in the Pentagon City area.

Power flickered off in the area around 10:30 a.m. The outage set off fire alarms and caused at least one occupied elevator, at the Crystal Tower Apartments (1600 S. Eads Street), to become stuck. Firefighters were able to quickly free the people trapped on the elevator.

Traffic lights are reported dark on S. Eads Street and and S. Fern Street, between 15th Street and Army Navy Drive. Arlington County Police are on scene, setting up cones and directing traffic.

According to the Dominion Power website, 1,224 customers in the area are without power.

County Board to Consider Massive PenPlace Development

by ARLnow.com | September 16, 2013 at 4:30 pm | 1,803 views | No Comments

Draft layout of the PenPlace development in Pentagon CityThe Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on the massive PenPlace development proposed for Pentagon City at its upcoming Saturday meeting.

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.

Rendering of PenPlace's 12th Street PlazaPenPlace 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.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | September 6, 2013 at 8:30 am | 796 views | No Comments

Mariachi band at El Paso Cafe (photo courtesy ddimick)

Rosslyn Jazz Fest Street Closures — A number of lane and street closures will be in place for most of the day on Saturday for the 2013 Rosslyn Jazz Festival. The festival itself runs from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. The closures will be in place from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., in the area of Gateway Park. [Arlington County]

Road Closures for 9/11 5K Race — Several roads in the Pentagon City area, including parts for Route 110, Army Navy Drive, Washington Blvd and S. Joyce Street, will be closed Saturday night for the annual Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff Memorial 9/11 5K race. The closures will first go into effect at 5:45 p.m. [Arlington County]

‘Cheesemonger’ Katie Carter Profiled — Katie Carter, the cheesemonger for Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway), recently placed third in a national cheese contest. The honor was the culmination of the D.C. native’s nearly lifelong love of cheese and cheesemaking. (Now expecting her second child, Carter is taking a break from her “Your Cheesemonger” column on ARLnow.com.) [Washington Post]

Teen Tutors Needed — Affordable housing nonprofit AHC Inc. is again looking for volunteer tutors. AHC’s tutoring program has served at-risk teens in Arlington for more than 15 years. [AHC Inc.]

Flickr pool photo by ddimick

Author Chides Hollywood for D.C. Inaccuracies

by Ethan Rothstein | August 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm | 2,154 views | No Comments

Washington, D.C., likes to call itself the most powerful city in the world, but films based in D.C. have a knack for missing some basic information that would make locals chuckle. Those omissions made for a lively talk at the Arlington Central Library on Monday afternoon.

Author Mike Canning released the book ”Hollywood on the Potomac“ last year. It’s a comprehensive guide to how the film industry has treated D.C. as a subject, character and background since the time when moving pictures with sound were called “talkies.”

During his talk on Monday, Canning showed clips from several films that are based in D.C., from Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” to Leonardo DiCaprio’s “J. Edgar.”

No film crew has ever been allowed to shoot inside the Senate or the House of Representatives, Canning said, but the closest approximation came in “Mr. Smith,” for which Capra and his crew spent days in the Senate building, taking measurements and photos of the hall.

“It took $100,000 and six months to build,” Canning said of the 1939 film’s iconic set. It’s still the finest approximation of Congress in a movie, Canning said.

He compared it to 2000′s “The Contender,” in which Jeff Bridges, who plays the president, calls a joint session of Congress in a scene filmed in Richmond’s General Assembly building.

The biggest “goof,” as Canning calls them, in a D.C. movie came in 1987′s “No Way Out.” Kevin Costner, playing a Naval officer, is running away from two men in suits. He jumps off the Whitehurst Freeway and finds himself running along the C&O canal in the heart of Georgetown, when he takes an abrupt left turn and enters a Metro stop. The nearly 100 people in the audience burst out laughing watching a film so gravely misrepresent the area’s public transit system.

Despite the Metro stop mistake, Canning insists the rest of the film is worth watching. Arlington residents may get a kick out of the opening scene, which pans out from the Pentagon and shows Pentagon City as it was in the mid-1980s: small houses surrounded by forest.

9/11 Ride Passing Through Arlington

by ARLnow.com | August 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm | 1,110 views | No Comments

A 9/11 memorial motorcycle ride makes its way down I-66 (photo courtesy edobson22207)The annual America’s 9/11 Ride is passing through Arlington this afternoon.

The riders are expected to head eastbound on I-66 around 2:45 p.m., before motoring southbound on Route 110 and arriving at the Double Tree hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive) by 3:15 p.m. In past years, Arlington County police have set up rolling road closures to ensure safe passage of the convoy.

The bikers started the day at the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pa. They will spend the night in Pentagon City and will hold an event in the Pentagon parking lot early tomorrow morning, before departing for New York City around 7:00 a.m.

Photo courtesy edobson22207

Overturned Car Closes Road in Pentagon City

by Katie Pyzyk | August 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm | 2,585 views | No Comments

(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Police and fire crews are on the scene of an overturned vehicle in Pentagon City.

According to police, shortly after noon a woman in an SUV driving northbound on S. Hayes Street attempted to make a left turn onto Army Navy Drive. She allegedly failed to yield to a vehicle coming off of I-395 onto Hayes Street. The SUV flipped onto its roof after hitting the Dodge Challenger.

Firefighters assisted the woman in getting out of her SUV and bystanders helped remove her two young grandchildren, who were in car seats. All three were transported to George Washington hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the Challenger was not injured.

Police closed both directions of Army Navy Drive and are currently in the process of re-opening the road. Traffic exiting from I-395 onto Hayes Street is being re-routed around the accident.

Police say it is likely that the driver of the SUV will be charged with failure to yield the right of way.

Board Approves 22-Story Building, Whole Foods for Pentagon City

by Katie Pyzyk | July 15, 2013 at 9:45 am | 2,803 views | No Comments

Rendering of Vornado's planned Metropolitan Park apartment buildingAt its meeting on Saturday, the Arlington County Board gave the go-ahead for the construction of a 22-story apartment building in Pentagon City that will also house a Whole Foods.

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.

Board to Mull Plan for Apartments, Whole Foods in Pentagon City

by Katie Pyzyk | July 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 1,852 views | No Comments

Rendering of Vornado's planned Metropolitan Park apartment buildingThe 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.

Extreme Pizza Now Open in Pentagon City

by ARLnow.com | June 12, 2013 at 4:50 pm | 1,528 views | No Comments

A new pizza chain has opened in Pentagon City.

Extreme Pizza opened at 1419 S. Fern Street, across from Costco, on Sunday. The restaurant offers various types of signature pizzas, with names like “Green With Envy,” “Poultry Geist,” “The Spice Route” and “Wingin’ It.” Customers can also customize their own pizza, or order off a menu that includes calzones, sub sandwiches, salads, sides and desserts.

A gluten-free pizza option is available for those who request it.

The Pentagon City Extreme Pizza has indoor dine-in seating, and also offers delivery and takeout. Its phone number is 703-271-1020.

This is the first Extreme Pizza location inside the Beltway and the fourth in Virginia. The existing Virginia locations are in Vienna, Henrico and Richmond.

Officials Tout Revamped S. Joyce Street

by ARLnow.com | June 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 1,410 views | No Comments

It’s been open since this spring, but today county and federal officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the South Joyce Street Shared-Use Sidewalk Project,

The $1.8 million Federal Highway Administration project built new, wider sidewalks on the 1/5 mile stretch between Army Navy Drive and Columbia Pike. The 10-foot-wide sidewalks can be used by pedestrians and bicyclists. The sidewalks “improve safety and access at one of the few places in Arlington where bicycles and pedestrians can cross I-395,” according to a county fact sheet.

“As a result of the FHWA project, which was funded with a Congressional allocation… the once highway-style passage has been transformed into an easy-to-navigate bicycle and pedestrian route that connects the east end of Columbia Pike, the Pentagon reservation and Pentagon City,” the county wrote. “Arlington supported the the project, which aligns with the goals of Arlington County’s ‘Complete Streets’ program, with design guidance and funding for some additional elements.”

County Board Chairman Walter Tejada lauded the project, saying that it’s especially useful for those who commute via bicycle from Columbia Pike. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) joked that the new sidewalk “is not the kind of project you’d see on a postcard,” but said it’s important nonetheless.

“This is basic infrastructure,” he said. “If you don’t invest in it, if you don’t do the right thing, you negatively impact a lot of other infrastructure.”

In addition to wider sidewalks, pedestrian-scale lighting was added to the street and automatic bicycle/pedestrian counters were installed. Meanwhile, highway-style guard rails were removed and fire department standpipes were relocated out of the pedestrian route.

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