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by Andrea Swalec — September 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm 1,237 0

A Ballston building that served as one of three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters buildings will get "modern" renovations.One of three Ballston buildings that served as headquarters for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will remain vacant for months as it undergoes extensive renovations.

Built in 1988, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr. will receive upgrades to its offices, hallways and lobby, according to Jackson Prentice, vice president of developer MRP Realty. The renovations to the eight-story, 144,000-square-foot building will aim to create “open space, with a more modern feel,” he said.

“The whole building will feel brand new,” Prentice said. “The work will bring the building to a better prominence.”

The FWS moved out of 4301, 4401 and 4501 N. Fairfax Dr. in July and August after the General Services Administration announced last September that the headquarters would be moved to Falls Church. Under the government’s base realignment and closure plan, or BRAC, the GSA estimated moving to 5275 Leesburg Pike would save the government more than $3.8 million annually for 15 years, a news release said.

Pre-leasing on 4401 N. Fairfax Dr. has begun, Prentice said, with work expected to be complete by spring or summer 2015.

The office vacancy rate in Ballston was 16 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to figures from the real estate company CoStar cited by Arlington Economic Development. This was an increase from 14.7 percent last year. The overall office vacancy rate for the county was 20.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014, up from 16.4 percent last year, the figures state.

Representatives for the other two ex-FWS buildings did not immediately respond to inquiries.

by ARLnow.com — July 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm 3,927 0

It’s arguably the most recognizable office building in Clarendon, and it’s currently vacant.

The office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Clarendon Metro plaza, was built in 1987 and, until recently, housed the high-security Defense Intelligence Agency. Now that the DIA has moved to Reston, property owner Piedmont Office Realty Trust is reportedly planning exterior and interior renovations to the building in an attempt to attract new tenants to fill its 250,000 square feet of space.

The renovations will include adding more glass to the building — on the second floor, above the ground floor retail that runs along the entire block, and down the middle of each side of the tower, according to an individual familiar with the plans who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity. Also set for a refresh: the street-level courtyard that currently includes outdoor seating for Mad Rose Tavern.

The exact plans and timeline for the renovations are not clear — a representative of the leasing agent, Avison Young, declined to comment, saying that additional information would be made available within “the next few weeks.”

by Ethan Rothstein — July 15, 2014 at 10:45 am 1,307 0

Oak Grove Park (photo via Google Maps)

Oakgrove Park (1606 N. Quincy Street) is slated to get a new entrance, a new trail and other features.

The park, at the southern edge of the Cherrydale neighborhood, has a bit of a visibility problem — it’s not very noticeable from street level. A new entry feature is designed to help, with an artificial, metal tree holding a sculpture of an owl and a sign that says “Oakgrove Park.”

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on a contract for $488,915 with a $48,891 contingency to construct the new entrance on 17th Street N. along with a new circular walking/jogging path on the park’s perimeter, benches, bleachers and bike racks.

The 3.51-acre park’s grass field is planned to be replaced in a separate project, and that work brings the total cost to Oakgrove Park improvements to about $680,000, paid for with 2012 and 2014 pay-as-you-go funds.

The new entrance will give park visitors increased access to the gazebo and “tot lot,” and will have improved ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility to the walking trail. There are several mature trees lining the perimeter of the park, and Arlington County Parks and Recreation staff said in their staff report that the trail was designed to have minimal impact to the existing trees.

Photo via Google Maps

by Ethan Rothstein — July 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm 2,799 0

The AKA Virginia Square extended stay hotel is undergoing a conversion into a condominium building and plans to open this fall.

The building, at 3409 Wilson Blvd, was purchased by Bethesda-based The Goldstar Group. The company has rebranded the building as Arc 3409, saying it will featuer “luxury condos.” The sale went through this spring, and by May the hotel was no longer taking reservations as it prepared to close.

Goldstar Senior Vice President Eric May said the company plans to open the building in mid-September, and to start sending out information about asking prices and individual units later this summer. May said the prices for the 85 units in the building have yet to be determined.

The renovations, May said, include replacing floors, kitchens and re-fitting the units. No structural work needed to be done, he said, because the building, built in 2008, was originally intended to be condominiums before it was sold to become, essentially, a short-term rental apartment building.

“The building itself is very different from Arlington standard,” May said. “It’s not brick box. It’s got angles, curves, glass and it’s a cool building. The units themselves are cool units, some of them have floor-to-ceiling glass and most of them have balconies. It’s more of cutting-edge D.C. design than you typically see in Arlington.”

The building is two blocks from the Virginia Square Metro station, but the location and the appeal of the unusual building were just part of the equation for Goldstar’s purchase.

“There is a huge lack of supply of new or any condos in Arlington right now,” May said. “There’s very little to no new product, so we saw an opportunity to bring to market effectively new condominiums at prices that are going to be competitive.”

by ARLnow.com — June 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm 3,172 0

Cafe Caturra on S. Glebe Road Cafe Caturra on S. Glebe Road

(Updated at 5:50 p.m. on 6/19/14) Cafe Caturra (2931 S. Glebe Road) is expected to close in order to be converted into a Tazza Kitchen restaurant.

The restaurant opened in the Arlington Ridge Shopping Center in September 2011. It is expected to close for renovations in the near future, though no timeline has yet been set, according to co-owner Jeff Grant, the founder of Cafe Caturra. The restaurant has applied for but has not yet been granted building permits.

After renovations, it would then reopen as Tazza Kitchen, which serves cuisine inspired by the Mediterranean coast and Baja California. Tazza Kitchen currently has locations in Richmond and Raleigh, N.C., with another coming soon to Columbia, S.C.

As of December, dinner entrees ranged in price from $9.50 to $16.50, according to a glowing review by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“No one is really doing that kind of food here at that price point,” said Lawrence Blake, a Cafe Caturra employee in Arlington.

Hat tip to @alongthepike

by Ethan Rothstein — June 13, 2014 at 10:00 am 717 0

Woodstock Park (photo via Google Maps)Woodstock Park in the Waverly Hills neighborhood could soon be getting a $700,000 renovation.

The County Board will vote Saturday on county staff’s recommendation to award a $644,000 contract to Fort Myer Construction Corporation, with a $64,000 contingency, to build a new basketball court, replace playground equipment and build a new walking path from N. Woodstock Street, along with other minor improvements.

The project was initially put out to bid in December 2013, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation’s staff report, but all the bids came in over budget. In response, staff removed an “embankment slide” playground element and the path and stairs to get there to bring costs down.

The renovations three-quarter acre park, located at 2049 N. Woodstock Street, were planned and designed as part of a community outreach program in 2012, staff said. It currently features a playground, basketball court, gazebo and “small grassy area.”

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com — April 18, 2014 at 8:00 am 2,002 0

Fort Bennett Park (photo courtesy Rick Shewell)

Rosslyn Startup to Be Featured on ‘Shark Tank’ — Rosslyn-based startup Zoobean will be featured tonight on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Zoobean, which describes itself as “a web service that recommends apps and books for children,” will pitch itself to a panel of wealthy investors, including billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The show airs at 9:00 p.m. on ABC. The company will also be profiled as part of ARLnow.com’s “Startup Monday” feature next week. [PR Newswire, Des Moines Register]

Pentagon City Mall Expansion Imminent — Work is expected to “begin soon” on a planned 50,000 square foot expansion of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. The expansion will add two new levels of retail, restaurants with outdoor seating, new elevators and escalators, and an expanded food court. Mall owner Simon is also expected to announce some of the new restaurants and retailers coming to the mall “shortly.” [Washington Business Journal]

We, The Pizza Eyes ‘Late Spring’ Opening – We, The Pizza, the pizza restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, will be opening soon in Crystal City. No specific date has been set, but a spokeswoman said the restaurant is expected to open in “late spring.” Mendelsohn also operates burger restaurant Good Stuff Eatery in Crystal City.

‘Miss Gay Arlington’ Pageant Tonight — The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Freddy’s Beach Bar in Crystal City (555 23rd Street S.) will host the annual Miss Gay Arlington pageant tonight. Four contestants will compete in four categories: presentation, talent, evening gown, and on-stage question. The event starts at 8:00 p.m. and admission is $10. [AGLA]

Enterprise CarShare Launches in Rosslyn — A car sharing service from Enterprise Rent-A-Car has launched in the D.C. area. Two of its car share parking stations are located in the Rosslyn area. [Enterprise CarShare]

Photo courtesy Rick Shewell

by Ethan Rothstein — April 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm 2,613 0

(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) The $3 million renovation to Rocky Run Park in the Courthouse area are complete and the park is now open to the public.

The renovations, which were approved by the County Board in November 2012, include two lighted basketball courts, a lighted synthetic turf for drop-in play, a new playground area with equipment for 5-12 year-olds, a picnic shelter and bathrooms. The park, at 1109 N. Barton Street, had its mature trees preserved while the equipment and facilities were reorganized around them.

The renovations were funded through 2010 and 2012 Neighborhood Conservation funds, parks capital maintenance bonds and pay-as-you-go funds. The park came in under budget, according to parks officials. The plans to renovate the park have been in the works since 2009, according to Arlington County.

According to county Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen, the park opened on Friday and there is an official ribbon-cutting planned for April 27 at 2:00 p.m.

Korzen said an earlier plan to build “stakeable art” in the park was scrapped.

“The ‘skateable’ art feature previously designed in Phase I design development and planned for installation with the Phase II construction activities was removed from the project,” she said via email. “During the final drawing development of the art feature, it was determined that the artistic expression and functionality of the sculpture could not be effectively realized. That area will instead feature a sculpted lawn and shade trees.”

by ARLnow.com — March 31, 2014 at 9:30 am 1,218 0

"Please No Smoking" sign in the snow on 3/30/14 (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

County, State Consider Pothole Claims — Potholes abound on roads in Arlington. Should your car be damaged by a pothole, Arlington County and VDOT both investigate pothole damage claims. But as a result of the legal principle of sovereign immunity, which protects the state and local governments from lawsuits, a pothole damage claim is usually only paid in special circumstances. [InsideNoVa]

Hotel Bar Renovates, Expands — O’Malley’s Pub, an “Irish-style” bar inside the Holiday Inn National Airport Hotel near Crystal City, has recently renovated its interior and expanded its footprint by 30 percent. [PR Web]

Arlington Chess Champ Ranked Nationally — Sam Schenk, a sixth-grade student at Williamsburg Middle School, is the 69th ranked chess player among 6th graders in the U.S. [InsideNoVa]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

by Katie Pyzyk — November 7, 2013 at 9:45 am 1,111 0

Newly renovated Pentagon Row ice rink to open on November 15The plaza at Pentagon Row may still look like a major construction site following months of renovations, but the ice rink is scheduled to open for the season next week.

The site has been under construction since April, but workers aren’t worried about finishing in time for the rink opening next Friday, November 15.

“That’s how it works, it doesn’t look like anything for a while and then it suddenly appears,” a worker said.

In addition to a larger rink there will be a new stone fire pit. New features that customers can enjoy in warmer weather include a turf lawn, revamped outdoor dining areas and lighted water fountains.

The grand re-opening celebration will take place from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 7. Attendees can expect live entertainment and giveaways. Plus, regardless of whether there’s any natural snow, there will be snow at the ice rink every night from December 7 through January 1. Skate among the snowflakes at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. each night.

Hours and pricing can be found online.

by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2013 at 9:15 am 1,430 0

Morning sky in Rosslyn

Terminal A Revamp Underway at DCA — A $37 million renovation project at Reagan National Airport’s Terminal A is proceeding swiftly. The project isn’t adding a significant amount of extra space to the historic terminal, but it will make the existing space seem brighter and more open. Most of the work is expected to be complete by the holiday travel season. [Washington Post]

Pupatella Makes National Pizza Rankings — Bluemont’s Pupatella Neapolitan Pizzeria (5104 Wilson Blvd) serves one of the top 40 slices of pizza in the country, according to new rankings. Pupatella’s capricciosa pizza was ranked No. 36 on the list, as judged by the Daily Meal website. [Daily Mail]

Students Receive Scholarships at NAACP Banquet — Through a partnership with the Arlington NAACP, a new scholarship fund awarded $2,500/year college scholarships to four high-performing local students over the weekend. The scholarship fund allows the NAACP to “invest in our youth,” said the head of the Arlington branch of the organization. [Sun Gazette]

Beer and Wine Walks Return to Crystal City — Crystal City’s 1K wine and beer walks will return next month. The walks — which allow participants to sample various wines and beers while walking through Crystal City’s underground shopping center — will take place on Nov. 16 and 17. [Crystal City]

County Board Adopts Public Safety Radio Resolution — The Arlington County Board adopted a resolution yesterday (Tuesday) that calls on builders to install technology that allows better police and fire department communications in new buildings. Modern construction materials have made it difficult for first responders to receive radio signals in newer buildings. The Board’s non-binding resolution calls on builders to install in-building wireless systems to better transmit public radio signals. [Arlington County]

Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by ARLnow.com — September 25, 2013 at 9:20 am 1,332 0

Car wash signs (Flickr pool photo by Christaki)

Moran’s New Beard Called ‘Santa Chic’ — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) has been sporting a white beard since August. While the 68 year old’s new look has its supporters and detractors, the congressman’s own staff has taken to calling it “Santa chic.” [The Hill]

Letter: Arlington Dems Use African-Americans as ‘Window Dressing’ — In a letter to the editor, Bobbie Fisher, an African-American resident of Arlington, says that Arlington Democrats are taking African-American voters for granted and not paying sufficient attention to their concerns. “Walk into any [Arlington County Democratic Committee] meeting, you will never find more than a few African-Americans present,” she writes. “We are viewed as window-dressing or bobble-heads, to sit quietly while others raise questions of interest to their community.” [Sun Gazette]

GGW to Host Arlington Happy Hour — The blog Greater Greater Washington will be hosting a happy hour at Fire Works Pizza in Courthouse next Tuesday. The happy hour is an opportunity for the blog’s contributors, editors and readers to get together “for some drinks and lively conversation.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Central Library Renovations in ‘Home Stretch’ — The second floor reference desk and the old first floor circulation desk at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) are gone, among other ongoing renovations. The library’s renovation project as now entered the “home stretch,” officials write. [Arlington Public Library]

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

by ARLnow.com — September 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm 13,408 0

"Metal House" in Lyon Park "Metal House" in Lyon Park

Neighbors of an under-construction Lyon Park home are worried about who might be moving in when the renovations are complete.

The “Metal House,” at 2797 Washington Blvd, is named as such because of its modern wood-and-steel exterior. While the home’s appearance is unconventional, neighbors seem more concerned about the way the house is being marketed to potential renters.

The home features a “kegger, flip cup, corn hole-friendly yard,” according to its rental listing, below. It’s a “short stumble home from [Mister] Day’s, Spider Kelly’s, Clarendon Ballroom, Clarendon Grill, Ri Ra, etc.,” the ad continues.

Asking price for the home, which features five bedroom suites, each with its own bathroom: $7,500 per month.

“Ouch,” the ad says simply, after listing the price.

In emails, neighbors alternately called the ad “disturbing” and “rather epic,” expressing concern about the kind of tenants such a listing might attract.

“There are a lot of concerns about the legality of the renovation — neighbors don’t understand how and why the county approved a house that was formerly a single-family home be renovated in this way,” one neighbor, who didn’t want her name used, told ARLnow.com.

The home was renovated by local builder Mickey Simpson after being purchased for $460,000 in 2012. The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

CLARENDON (North Arlington): The METAL HOUSE. Coolest rental house in Clarendon. Construction is close to being finished. New 5 Bedroom house available from September 15 – October 1 in Clarendon. Four floors of NEW silly shiny metal contemporary/modern style. Top floor is kitchen/bar Great Room with half bath and ROOFTOP party deck. Two full-sized stainless steel refrigerators. Granite counters. 5 Bedroom Suites — * each BR Suite has a private full bath with an awesome shower* each BR Suite has a walk-in closet* each BR Suite has a full sized washer and dryer (yes, 5 washers and 5 dryers in this house). Kegger, flip cup, corn hole-friendly yard. Parking for at least 5 cars off-street. Short stumble home from Day’s, Spider Kelly’s, Clarendon Ballroom, Clarendon Grill, Ri Ra, etc. You get the idea. Oh, and its only a few blocks from the Clarendon Metro. Absolutely no pets. This is a brand new house. Rent is $7500/month. Ouch. Seeing is believing… Please email for appointment.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 26, 2013 at 10:30 am 6,434 0

Ballston Common Mall (photo by Katie Pyzyk)Ballston Common Mall is moving closer to beginning its major renovation project.

Mall owner Forest City Enterprises is “close to finalizing a deal with Macy’s” to allow the process to move forward and the company to begin applying for permits from the county, according to Forest City spokesman Gary McManus. Securing a deal with Macy’s, one of the mall’s “anchor tenants,” was one of the last impediments to the long-awaited redevelopment.

Forest City is planning to recast the mall as Ballston Center, building more than 300 apartments on top of a renovated shopping center and adding office space. As part of the redevelopment, Forest City is negotiating with Macy’s to take over some of the department store’s space. The negotiations were initially expected to take a few weeks after the announcement of the proposed renovations, in February.

“The deal with Macy’s has taken longer than anticipated,” McManus said in an email.

He said the negotiations are close to being finalized and should be done “within the next few weeks.” Inside the mall, the changes could include a new mix of stores and restaurants.

“The tenant mix of not only the food court but the rest of the mall will be open to revision, expansion and enhancement,” said McManus.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm 3,227 0

Whole Foods Market in Clarendon by Erin JohnsonWhole Foods in Clarendon began a renovation Monday.

Clarendon Whole Foods marketing manager Jackie Zovko said the store is pushing back a large cooler in the produce department, which will clear space to expand produce, add 8 to 10 feet of the seafood counter and add another grocery aisle, which would allow for expansion of the bulk foods section.

“We hope to have it completed by the first week of October,” Zovko said. “There will be some other changes, but they’re not confirmed yet.”

The renovation is the second phase of Whole Foods’ renovation project for its Clarendon location. Five years ago, the grocery store moved its café section to the second story and expanded its specialty and baked goods section.

Zovko said most of the work will be done at night, after the store closes, so as not to interfere with customers’ shopping experience.

Photo courtesy of Erin Johnson. Disclosure: Whole Foods is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

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