The Board approved the the framework for its planned Rosslyn Sector Plan Update. It’s an outline for a plan that when finished and approved, will help move Rosslyn from its auto-oriented, commercial feel to what the County Board hopes will be a mixed-use hub of street-level activity.
Among the components of the framework the Board approved this weekend were developing more housing in central Rosslyn, studying turning Ft. Myer Drive and N. Lynn Street into two-way streets, creating a full 18th Street corridor to remove the “superblocks” between 19th Street N. and Wilson Blvd, creating an “esplanade” and connecting the open spaces in the area.
The 18th Street alignment was the source of some dispute between Rosslyn property owners last month, and the framework left the final alignment of the pedestrian and bicycle corridor to be determined. Tad Lunger, a lawyer representing the owner of the Ames Center at 1820 N. Fort Myer Drive. Lunger, spoke at Saturday’s meeting.
“This process, which lasted for over a year, resulted in many of the framework plan’s issues to remain unresolved and a source of anxiety to many stakeholders in Rosslyn,” Lunger said. “As a result, most major issues were not really addressed until the past month’s public portion of the process.”
The plans to turn Lynn Street and Fort Myer Drive into two-way streets also concerned residents of the area, who feel it could have traffic implications for the neighborhoods.
“The change of Lynn Street and Ft. Myer Drive to two lanes going in each direction from their current four lanes is probably a benefit to Rosslyn,” said Radnor-Ft. Myer Heights Civic Assocation President Stan Karson, “but it could have unintended consequences to the residents of the nearby area because of the possible and probable backup in the area.”
Among other goals set by the framework:
- Making Rosslyn a more walkable neighborhood
- Adding building density — especially housing density — in central Rosslyn while maintaining “sensitive transitions” to lower density on the edges
- Encouraging “more varied building facades”
- Enhancing connectivity among Rosslyn’s parks and green space, including additional connections to the Potomac waterfront
- Working with WMATA on plans for a second Rosslyn Metro station
- “Preserving the potential” for connecting D.C.’s planned Georgetown-to-Union Station streetcar line to Rosslyn
- Narrowing excessively wide streets by building wider sidewalks and more bike lanes
County staff will now take the framework and develop the specifics of the Rosslyn Sector Plan Update, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2014. The public will continue to have input through the Realize Rosslyn process, the county said.
A street corner in Rosslyn transformed into a red carpet scene for an hour this morning, all to make a little girl’s wish come true.
Five-year-old Addy — who is suffering from a Wilms Tumor, a form of kidney cancer that affects young children — wished to become a pop star. Through the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic chapter, Addy’s wish played out in front of the WJLA building in Rosslyn, on the corner of N. Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd.
There, Addy shot a scene for a music video as part of her pop star wish. Make-A-Wish, with an assist from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, asked people in Rosslyn to hold signs, cheer for the starlet and hold out photos for Addy to autograph.
The proceedings started a little later than anticipated because, as the director told the gathered crowd, the pop star was suffering from “stage fright.” Once Addy emerged from her stretch limousine gripping her mother’s hand tightly, the crowd softly cheered, bringing an immediate smile to the purple-wigged 5-year-old. After that, Addy strutted in front of the crowd for multiple takes.
The music video is set to be released in May.
New Restaurants Coming to Rosslyn – At least three new restaurant concepts are reportedly coming to Rosslyn. The restaurants will be opening on the ground floor of the Sedona/Slate apartment building and office buildings at 1100 and 1501 Wilson Blvd, according to speakers at a Bisnow conference in Rosslyn yesterday morning. Little is known about the restaurants — so far, property owners aren’t naming names — but one rumor relayed to ARLnow.com is that one of the restaurants will feature a Top Chef contestant as its head chef. [Bisnow]
Vihstadt Swearing-In Set for Friday — The swearing-in of new Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. The ceremony will be aired live on Arlington TV (Comcast 25 / Verizon 40). [Arlington County]
Other Localities Are Also Having Transit Debates — Arlington County isn’t the only community having a debate over a large transit project, like the planned Columbia Pike streetcar line. Streetcar critics are also active in Cincinnati, where a 3.6 mile, $133 million streetcar line is under construction. In Nashville, meanwhile, opposition to a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line has spilled over to the state Senate. [Greater Greater Washington]
Yorktown Boys Soccer Moves Up in Rankings — The boys soccer team at Yorktown High School is now ranked No. 6 in the region after opening the season with a 5-1 record. [Washington Post]
Rosslyn McDonald’s Demolition Scheduled — The demolition of the now-closed McDonald’s restaurant near the Rosslyn Metro station is scheduled to begin on Monday, April 21. Demolition work is expected to take 7-10 days. [Rosslyn BID]
Flickr pool photo by Nathan Jones
In the fourth quarter of 2013, Arlington reported about $813 million in taxable retail sales in its March economic indicators study today. Over the same period in 2013, Arlington had about $786 million, a drop of 3.3 percent. The change can’t be attributed to the unusually snowy winter, either: nearly all of the snow this winter fell in the first quarter of 2014, after these numbers were recorded.
While the retail industry — which includes everything from restaurants to grocery stores to stands in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City — lost $27 million in sales year-over-year, Arlington’s workforce grew 1.4 percent while its unemployment rate dropped from 3.9 percent in January 2013 to 3.3 percent in January.
In addition, housing prices were up across the board this February compared to last year, with a 2.2 percent bump in single family detached house prices, 3.7 percent for single family attached (like townhouses and duplexes) and a 4.7 percent jump in condominium prices, from $410,339 to $430,115.
Local retail broker John Asadoorian, of Asadoorian Retail Solutions, said the numbers don’t raise any alarm just yet.
“It’s hard to really discern what the drop means,” Asadoorian told ARLnow.com. “The only thing I could say is there hasn’t been that much new retail space delivered in Arlington, which means there hasn’t been a whole influx of new tenants, which means the mix in Arlington is stable. If it’s stable, is it still competitive with other jurisdictions that may be growing?”
Asadoorian referred to Tysons Corner and Georgetown as two areas whose growing retail options could be poaching customers from Arlington’s shops. However, several buildings under construction in Ballston and Rosslyn figure to bump the retail number back up in the coming years, he said.
While those buildings may help the retail market, they may not do wonders for the office vacancy rate in Arlington, which ballooned to 19.9 percent over the past year, a 3.7 percent jump over 2012. A significant chunk of that is from the 35-story 1812 N. Moore Street building in Rosslyn which is still looking for its first tenants.
The office vacancy rate in Rosslyn grew 8.4 percent year-over-year and sits at 25.2 percent, now the highest area in the county. Crystal City, still smarting from BRAC closures, is the second-most vacant neighborhood at 24.7 percent. Only the Clarendon-Courthouse corridor gained more office tenants than it lost last year, with its vacancy rate falling from 11.2 to 9.0 percent.
Several cherry trees were chopped down this week, while fully flowered, for a new landscape design in Rosslyn.
The trees were several of about a dozen planted in front of the Colonial Village Shopping Center, home to the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, along Wilson Blvd. Xtra Care Landscaping & Design was hired by the strip mall’s property manager to remove the trees, according to an Xtra Care employee.
“The manager just wants the shopping center to look better and to cut some trees down,” the employee told ARLnow.com. “There are going to be a lot of new plants going in and the whole center is going to be landscaped.”
The employee estimated the landscaping work will be completed by Friday.
Rosslyn has a cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which opened to a record-setting $96.2 million in box office sales this past weekend.
The superhero flick is set in D.C., but much of the action centers around the high-rise headquarters of the spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D., which oddly appears to be built on Roosevelt Island. As a result, Rosslyn can be seen in the background of many shots.
“The filmmakers did an excellent job of showing off the Rosslyn skyline and waterfront (along with the National Mall) throughout the film,” one local moviegoer told ARLnow.com. “Most movies that take place in D.C. rarely get it right, but you can clearly see a number of Arlington landmarks like the Rosslyn skyline, River Place Apartments, and the Key Bridge Marriott.”
Some of that Rosslyn skyline is visible in the screenshot above, taken from a television commercial for the film.
Arlington Neighborhood Village Initiative Launches — The nonprofit Arlington Neighborhood Villages initiative, which seeks to provide services to seniors who wish to remain in their homes, officially launches today after more than a year of planning. [InsideNoVa]
Dogs Rescued from Fire Doing Well — The two dogs rescued from a house fire across from Yorktown High School were taken off oxygen Thursday and were expected to return home this weekend. The dogs suffered smoke inhalation from the fire. [Twitter]
Rosslyn Pros and Cons — Sophie Pyle, an on-again, off-again Rosslyn resident, has compiled a list of what she sees at the pros and cons of living in Rosslyn. Pros: the views and easy transportation. Cons: airplane noise and a lack of nightlife. [InTheCapital]
DJO Senior Named All-Met Player of the Year — Bishop O’Connell High School senior Melo Trimble has been named the boys’ basketball All-Met Player of the Year. He will play at Maryland next year. Wakefield High School’s Dominique Tham was named to the third-team All Met. No other Arlington athletes were named to winter All-Met teams. [Washington Post]
The Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District’s weekly summer film series at Gateway Park, will have a work theme for 2014.
Starting with “Office Space” on May 30, every Friday night will have a movie set in an office of some kind.
The Rosslyn BID said the movies are meant to portray office life as “honest, funny, goofy, and just plain entertaining.”
The full lineup is as follows:
- May 30 — Office Space
- June 6 — The Devil Wears Prada
- June 13 — Horrible Bosses
- June 20 – Thank You For Smoking
- June 27 — Two Weeks Notice
- July 11 — The Internship
- July 18 — How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
- July 25 — Up in the Air
- August 1 — Nine to Five
- August 8 — Empire Records
- August 15 — Miss Congeniality
- August 22 — Anchorman
Gateway Park is at 1300 Lee Highway, between N. Nash and Lynn Streets. The movies start at 8:00 p.m., but moviegoers who show up early can participate in games and giveaways.
The McDonald’s restaurant at 1823 N. Moore Street has closed to make way for a new residential skyscraper.
The fast food restaurant posted a sign on its entrance on N. Lynn Street declaring Sunday as its last day. The standalone location, one of the shortest buildings in central Rosslyn, will soon be torn down as part of JBG Companies’ ongoing construction in the area, which has also claimed the skybridges over the Metro station.
The initial timeline of the McDonald’s closure indicated the restaurant wouldn’t be demolished until May. Unfortunately for local office and apartment dwellers, the timing of the closure coincided with McDonald’s two-week free coffee promotion.
The apartment building will have 25,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and McDonald’s sign stated it would be closed “indefinitely,” leaving open the possibility that Rosslyn won’t be without a McDonald’s permanently.
(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Construction has created a glaring safety hazard in the middle of Rosslyn, and so far no one has done anything about it.
The new, $50 million high-speed elevator bank to the Rosslyn Metro station is now surrounded by construction fences — blocking the sidewalk in both directions — and leaving pedestrians only one way to go: across three lanes of N. Moore Street, a road heavily used by buses and taxis, in a mid-block stretch without so much as a marked crosswalk.
Making matters worse: pedestrians have limited visibility thanks to a large fenced-in equipment paddock in one of the lanes. Also, construction barriers across the street force pedestrians to cross diagonally, into traffic.
At one time, pedestrians could access the skybridge that runs across N. Moore Street. No longer: the skybridge is closed and awaiting demolition next weekend.
In the few minutes ARLnow.com was photographing the area this afternoon, a woman pushing a stroller could be seen craning her neck around the equipment paddock to try to spot oncoming traffic. Unable to see around a stopped bus further down the street, the woman and several people with rolling suitcases started crossing. As they crossed, an approaching taxi had to come to a quick stop to let them pass.
Some relief may be in sight next week.
Mike Reisinger, the project manager with Clark Construction, said on Monday and Tuesday next week, crews will be installing asphalt “within the depression in front of the WMATA elevators and opening the plastic barricades on the other side of Moore. This will allow foot traffic to cross in a perpendicular fashion rather than meander.”
Spanish mini-sandwich chain 100 Montaditos (1776 Wilson Blvd) is opening its first Arlington location on Monday (March 31) in Rosslyn.
In honor of the grand opening, customers on Monday will be treated to a free “montadito,” a spanish sandwich with ingredients like chorizo and serrano ham, and a drink. The montaditos typically cost between $1 and $3.
If customers can’t make it on Monday — or want to avoid the lines free food usually attracts — the restaurant is offering a buy two, get one free deal until April 6, according to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.
In addition to the montaditos, the restaurant offers beer and sangria, with pitchers of the fruity wine drink and domestic beer offered for $8.
Photo via Rosslyn BID
The bikeometer will be on the trail near the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street — known as the “Intersection of Doom” — with electronic displays counting “passing bicyclists in real time and cumulative daily, monthly and year-to-date counts,” according to an Arlington County press release.
The bikeometer is the first of its kind on the East Coast and sixth in the nation, according to BikeArlington. The data will be used in future planning for cyclists in the area in addition to providing “a highly visible, engaging and fun view of the volume of bike usage on the Custis Trail in Arlington.”
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will be on hand, along with League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke, on Tuesday, April 1 at 10:00 a.m. to unveil the bikeometer.
Photo via BikeArlington
Skybridge Demolition Extended — The demolition of the skybridges on N. Lynn and N. Moore Streets in Rosslyn has been extended to another weekend. Drivers should expect N. Lynn Street to be closed from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. March 28-30. N. Moore Street will be closed during the same times April 4-6. The middle lane closures on N. Lynn Street, meanwhile, are expected to last until April 4. [Arlington County]
Yorktown Soccer Team Ranked — Updated at 10:00 a.m. — The Yorktown High School boys soccer team, despite finishing 4-11-3 last year, rank #9 on the Washington Post power rankings. The girls soccer team, meanwhile, is ranked #7.
Civ Fed Wants to Restrict Videotaping — In response to campaign officials videotaping the County Board debate it hosted earlier this month, the Arlington County Civic Federation says it will start to enforce rules against video and audio recording at its meetings. Anyone caught video or audio taping a meeting without prior approval will be kicked out, the Civic Federation said in its April newsletter. [InsideNoVa]
Photo courtesy by Liza Hodskins
Restaurateurs Eye Rosslyn — Rosslyn has been long neglected in the restaurant and bar department, primarily because it has been viewed as a place where only fast casual lunch places can be successful. That may be changing thanks to Heavy Seas Alehouse, which has been doing boffo beer and dinner business since it opened last month. [Washington City Paper]
Streetcar Battles Continue — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey continued her one-woman campaign against the Columbia Pike streetcar from the County Board dais last week. Garvey used her time in the County Board meeting to do a slideshow of streetcar systems that have well-exceeded their budget or which have performed poorly in wintery weather. Meanwhile, the streetcar remains the central issue in April’s County Board special election. [InsideNoVa, Greater Greater Washington]
Tribute to Terry Holzheimer — Acting Director of Arlington Economic Development Cindy Richmond has penned a tribute to her former boss, Terry Holzheimer, who died of a sudden heart attack on March 1. [Arlington Economic Development]
Grand Opening for Arlington Mill Residences — A grand opening ceremony will be held tonight from 4:00-6:00 p.m. for the Arlington Mill Residences, at 901 S. Dinwiddie Street. The four story, 122-unit apartment complex, located next to the new Arlington Mill Community Center, is 100 percent committed affordable. There was a long waiting list for those hoping to live in one of the units.
Arlington Woman on Jeopardy Tonight – Arlington resident Nancy Akerman, who works as a science policy fellow, will compete on Jeopardy tonight. The game show airs at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).
The Rosslyn Sector Plan update — the product of the Realize Rosslyn community planning efforts over the past 15 months – is expected to be adopted by the end of this year, but before that the County Board must hold hearings and approve a framework for the plan. That’s expected to happen next month, after the Board voted to advertise the hearings at its meeting on Tuesday.
Among the biggest changes that could be coming in Rosslyn if the plan is approved is extending 18th Street N. as a pedestrian and bike corridor through Rosslyn’s main stretches — with intersections at Nash Street, Fort Myer Drive, Moore Street and Lynn Street before connecting with N. Arlington Ridge Road — making Fort Myer Drive and Lynn Street two-way roads and removing the tunnels underneath Wilson Blvd.
In addition, the plan will call for utilizing ground floor space for uses other than retail in areas where it would be difficult for stores or restaurants to survive; revitalizing Freedom Park and implementing “active recreational opportunities” in Gateway Park; and increasing housing density in central Rosslyn.
The Realize Rosslyn panel, made up of residents, property owners and government officials, has a stated goal giving Rosslyn a “vibrant 18/7 street life.”
The proposed 18th Street N. corridor was one of the issues that generated a rift between property owners, specifically the owners of the Ames Center (1820 N. Fort Myer Drive) and Monday Properties, which owns several buildings in Rosslyn including the new, vacant 1812 N. Moore Street skyscraper.
The owners of the Ames Center, in a letter from land use attorney Tad Lunger, said Monday Properties is trying to unduly influence certain aspects of Realize Rosslyn. Lunger said the Ames Center, which houses the Art Institute, is planning on redeveloping into two buildings on either side of the planned 18th Street extension in a straight line from the current 18th Street. Monday Properties’ site plan for the redevelopment of 1401 Wilson Blvd and 1400 Key Blvd moves that alignment to the north, Lunger said.
“We are concerned that Monday Properties’ site plan application will preempt the planned alignment of 18th Street before the Rosslyn sector plan update is ever adopted,” Lunger wrote. “The Realize Rosslyn process should guide the Monday Properties site plan, not the other way around.”
Monday Properties President and COO Tim Helmig fired back at Lunger, calling the claims “accusations,” but saying “I will not comment at this time on the specific suggestions and objections in the Lunger Letter.”
“I believe it is without basis to insinuate that Monday Properties role [sic] on the Process Panel has perpetuated a conflicting proposal,” Helmig wrote in a letter to the County Board. “The efforts of Monday Properties as an applicant are in stark contrast to the unfair characterizations within the Lunger Letter.”
Flickr pool photo (top) by ddimick