Parents of Gymnasts Want New Facilities — Despite a tight county budget, parents of Arlington gymnasts are calling on the County Board to fund new gymnastics facilities. Heather Cocozza, a representative of the Arlington Tigers competitive boys gymnastics team, claims that a new gymnastics facility can actually make a profit for the county. [Arlington Mercury]
APS Ranks Among Top High Schools — Arlington’s public high schools have ranked in the top 2 percent of all high schools in the country, according to the Washington Post’s “Challenge Index.” In the Washington region, H-B Woodlawn ranked #4, Washington-Lee #10, Yorktown #14 and Wakefield #62. [Arlington Public Schools]
Vacant Retail Space May Become Conference Facility — A vacant 13,000 square foot retail space on the ground floor of the new 800 N. Glebe Road office building in Ballston would become a conference facility, under a proposal that’s under consideration by the Arlington County Board. The nearby Bluemont Civic Association has expressed concerns about the change. [Sun Gazette]
Mystery Surrounds Eden Center Shooting — Questions still surround the murder and suicide that occurred at the Eden Center in Falls Church on Saturday night. The victim, meanwhile, has been identified as 51-year-old Tai Phan, of Annandale, who at the time of the shooting was on his way to a gig as a bass player at a restaurant. [Washington Post]
Board May Drop Retail Requirement for Condo Complex — The Arlington County Board is poised to reverse a requirement it set 9 years ago for the Woodbury Park condo complex to reserve interior space for a convenience store. The store would have been located inside the 364-unit complex, with no outside signage and no easy access for non-residents. Nobody has stepped up to rent the space, so county staff is recommending the Board drop the retail requirement and allow Woodbury Park to build a condo unit in its place. [Sun Gazette]
Library, Bayou Hold Instagram Photo Contests — Arlington Public Library and Bayou Bakery restaurant (1515 N. Courthouse Road) are both holding photo contests aimed at smartphone users. Entrants to both contests are encouraged to enhance — and, in the case of Bayou, submit — their photos via Instagram, the photo sharing and special effect service recently acquired by Facebook. The library’s contest is entitled the “Steve Jobs Memorial Juried Cell Phone Photo Show,” while the Bayou contest is called “Bayou by You.” [Arlington Public Library, Bayou Bakery]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
International developer and construction company Skanska is working on the five story building at 1776 Wilson Blvd, which will contain both retail and office space.
To earn LEED certification, a developer must earn credits in six categories called Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design & Regionalization. The rating system has a total of 110 points, and 80 are necessary to receive platinum certification.
Some of the green features included in the new building are ultra-efficient plumbing fixtures that offer a 40 percent reduction in the typical amount of water used, and water efficient landscaping that doesn’t require a regular irrigation system. Solar panels will be part of the effort to reduce the building’s annual energy costs by 24 percent, and high performance glass will prevent heat gain in the building.
There will also be a green roof terrace on the fourth floor. The garage will feature preferred parking for fuel efficient vehicles, and will be outfitted with power outlets to accommodate electric cars.
The building is scheduled to be mostly completed by August, and the hope is that tenants can move in this fall. Already, the building is 50 percent pre-leased.
A plan to revamp part of Virginia Square has been approved by the Arlington County Board. The development is planned for the site that houses the old Arlington Funeral Home (3901 Fairfax Dr) building.
BDC Crimson LLC is the developer for the nine story mixed-use commercial building, which will include offices, ground floor retail and a 12,985 square foot black box theater. The theater will cost $3.7 million to build, and will be leased to the County for 30 years, at $1 per year. It will hold 150 people.
“This project brings us closer to realizing the community-crafted sector plan’s vision of Virginia Square as a center for arts, culture and education,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “The public plaza will enliven Virginia Square, and the Black Box Theater will add a significant cultural destination to this part of the Metro corridor.”
The County will collaborate with groups like the Arlington Commission for the Arts to devise a business plan for operating the theater. They’ll look at cost, use and operational alternatives for review by the County Manager in the preparation of future budgets.
The new plan also includes a 12,325 square foot public plaza along North Quincy Street. The County will hold a workshop so stakeholders and the public can give input on some components of the final plaza design, such as pattern and asphalt color.
The office building will have 250 parking spaces that will be available to the public on nights and weekends. Six additional spaces will be provided for retail customers and 17 for the theater. The developer will provide free four hour parking to theater patrons.
BDC Crimson LLC will seek LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and will contribute $1 million to the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, plus $1 million to nearby Quincy Park or other open space improvements and park amenities. These contributions let the developer have nearly 70,000 square feet of additional space for the project.
This plan has been in the works in various forms since 2004, with some major revisions in 2007. Previously, the facility was designed to include residences and a new funeral home. The County Board voted unanimously to approve the current plan.
Earlier this year, all signs pointed to The Papery (2871 Clarendon Blvd) going out of business. The high-end Clarendon stationery store was perpetually low on stock, the entire inventory was 50 percent off, the landlord had the Papery’s space listed for lease and the store’s website was no longer functional.
Well, what a difference a couple of months make. The store was recently restocked and, as of this morning, its website is back up.
“We’re a family-owned business and for awhile we had a very, very rough period,” admitted Shana, a store manager. But the family has now recommitted to the store — the last of what were once five D.C.-area Papery stores.
“They all pulled together their resources and they’re going to make this store work,” Shana said. “We’ve been part of this community for a long time, and we intend to stay here.”
The Papery’s offerings include custom stationery, custom wedding invitations, business cards, baby announcements, greeting cards, paper goods and gifts.
In due time, the big hole in the ground next to Ballston Common Mall will be filled with development and the view from the soon-to-open Rustico will be even less rustic.
Founders Square, located across Wilson Boulevard from the Liberty Center development (also owned by the Shooshan Company), will consist of two high-rise office buildings, one high-rise residential building, a large hotel, and a smaller building reserved for retailers.
Among the Founders Square office towers, one will be a secure building with a single tenant: the Defense Advanced Research Projects agency, which is relocating from Virginia Square. DARPA signed its lease more than a year ago. The other office building is still leasing.
The hotel, meanwhile, is expected to be a Residence Inn, at least according to architectural sketches. It was originally intended to be a residential building, but its use has since been switched to a hotel by the developer. The change still needs to be approved by the county.
The county’s site plan review committee will discuss the hotel proposal at a meeting tonight in Rooms 109/111 at Courthouse Plaza (2100 Courthouse Road). The county board is expected to take up the site plan amendment necessary for the hotel’s approval in December.
Developers argue that the Ballston area is in need of more hotels.
All told, Founders Square will consist of 1.1 million square feet of office, residential, hotel and retail space. The development could be ready for occupancy as soon as 2012.
It used to be a sleepy street full of warehouses and warehouse stores. Now the three blocks of Fern Street between 12th and 15th Streets are starting to come to life thanks to high-end apartments and a growing roster of ground-level retailers.
The block’s main attractions at this point are the Costco on the north side of the street and the Gramercy and Millennium at Metropolitan Park luxury apartment buildings on the south side. The relatively recent addition of a Dunkin’ Donuts has helped the block attract some more lunch and breakfast foot traffic — adding to the brave souls who patronize an old greasy spoon called Nell’s Carry Out, which resides in a trailer across from the old DHL warehouse.
Slowly but surely, though, more retail is arriving. A dry cleaner and a bank moved into retail bays at the Gramercy around the same time as Dunkin’ Donuts. A UPS Store is under construction down the block. And the U.S. Post Office that’s currently on Eads Street will eventually be moving to the ground floor of the Millennium.
There’s plenty more space to fill. One retail bay of special interest is a specially-designated restaurant space in the Millennium. The building’s leasing agent has been entertaining nibbles from some restaurateurs. We hear that Lost Dog Cafe has expressed interest, as has an Italian restaurant, identity unknown.
A half block off Fern Street is a privately-constructed park with lots of potential. The neatly-landscaped open space — courtesy of Kettler, the developer behind the Gramercy and the Millennium — is big enough to be much more than the defacto dog toilet that it currently serves as. In June, Kettler used it for a party that included “live music, local vendors, a tricycle race, food, drink and a variety of fun activities.” Next summer, management tells us, it will host a series of outdoor concerts.
“Rosslyn has seen a surge in residential and retail development,” the Washington Examiner opined over the weekend. “Nearly 600 new housing units have opened in the past year and more than 500 are under construction.”
According to the Examiner, Rosslyn has experienced a “transformation” over the past decade that has made it “cleaner and greener” and a more attractive place to live.
“Rosslyn is becoming much more mixed use,” Rosslyn BID finance director John Seal told the paper. “There are so many things to do here that people tend to overlook.”
Between the DC skyline views and the proximity to downtown, Rosslyn is the “the high-end living destination in Arlington,” one local real estate broker said.
Another selling point: Artisphere, the shiny new cultural center set to open in October in the old Newseum space. (The article incorrectly lists Busboys and Poets as a tenant — in fact, Busboys dropped out and the county is trying to find another restaurant to take over.)
Yes, there’s more housing in Rosslyn as of late, and yes, Artisphere will bring more culture to the area, but retail? The article’s case for a retail resurgence seems much more thin.
Rosslyn-ites, what do you think of your neighborhood’s development?
As we’ve reported before, Arlington’s unemployment rate has stayed remarkably low during the course of the recession. But in case you needed further proof of the resilience of the county’s economy, look no further than the way money is being spent in Arlington.
A newsletter from Arlington’s economic development authority reveals that local spending on restaurants and retail goods is up significantly compared to 2009.
The meals taxes payed by Arlington restaurants jumped by 9.2 percent for the first three months of the year, according to Arlington Economic Development. In addition to the booming restaurant receipts, retail sales rose 11.2 percent in March.