(Updated at 5:05 p.m. on 11/12/13) Nearly 10 months ago, workers excavated land at the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive to make way for a new subdivision called Lacey Lane. Shortly after the land was readied, however, the project stalled out and currently appears to be little more than a vacant lot.
In February, brothers Taylor and Milton Chamberlin of The Barrett Companies said they expected work to begin on the first model home at the site in March, with work on the second beginning shortly thereafter. They anticipated the two models would take about seven months each to build and would be ready by autumn. So far, no housing construction is visible at the site.
The land is divided into nine properties. Each plot will have a house with a base price of $1.4 million.
Calls and emails to Milton Chamberlin over the past few weeks were not returned. But Arlington County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) explained where things stand from the county’s point of view.
According to CPHD, there has not been any trouble with The Barrett Companies, the delay revolves around fulfilling safety regulations in order to get a building permit. County staff found outstanding “life safety regulations” that the developer needs to fulfill before a building permit can be granted. Once the developer makes some clarifications and revisions to the permit documents, the permit can be approved.
“To say it plainly, life safety is really about making sure the buildings are safe for people to occupy,” said CPHD spokeswoman Helen Duong. “For this project, the outstanding items on this permit have more to do with the documentation of the design than concerns about the adequacy of the design itself.”
Basically, it appears the designer believed certain safety features were implied in the building plans, but they need to be explicitly included. Revisions must continue until county staff can see all the necessary safety features drawn in.
According to the CPHD permit records, The Barrett Companies first applied for a Lacey Lane building permit in January, but the plans were sent back for revision in February. This process was repeated a few times in the following months, and CPHD’s Inspection Services last rejected a version of the plan in April. No further revisions have been submitted since then.
Permit applications stay active for six months but expire if no action has been taken after that time. The current permit application for Lacey Lane has an expiration date of March 15, 2014. That date can move back another six months, however, if further actions occur, such as submitting another round of revisions.
Once CPHD Inspection Services staff approves the plan’s revisions, the developer must also get the permit approved by the Department of Environmental Services. We’re told that process typically takes place in just a few minutes.
The developer behind the upcoming Lacey Lane subdivision in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood is giving peek at what the new area will look like once it’s developed.
The Barrett Companies, which is a business run by the Chamberlin family since the 1980s, bought the vacant property on the corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive and had it excavated last month. The Chamberlins had been working to acquire the land for about a decade.
According to brothers Taylor and Milton Chamberlin, the goal for the Georgian style homes is for them to be an alternative to “McMansions.”
“We really take our time to design the homes to fit in the neighborhood. We’re not builders that come in and put this huge McMansion in a small neighborhood where it doesn’t fit. That’s not what we do,” said Taylor. “All of this is really thought through and it’s really livable, usable space. It’s not those McMansions where you walk in and wonder, ‘What do you do in this room?’”
The base model runs around $1.4 million and features four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, with the possibility of another bedroom and bathroom on an additional level. Costs will vary based on the different lot sizes and individual add-ons the purchasers want in their homes.
“We’re pretty enthusiastic about what we’re giving back to the community and what we’re providing for people who want to live there,” Taylor said. “They’re neat homes, they’re going to be well built.”
Another goal is to foster a 1950s sense of community among the owners of the nine properties, in which everybody knows and interacts with their neighbors. The homes will only be accessible via a private road and there will be a small fence around the subdivision.
“There’s a sense of community where people can interact a little bit more, but not lose their privacy,” said Milton.
The homes feature outdoor living area options — such as screened in “sleeping porches” off the second floor bedrooms or fireplaces exposed to the outdoors — which are supposed to add to the sense of community.
“While one neighbor is out grilling, you can see a couple of other neighbors hanging out on their patios,” Milton said. “You can sit and hang out and watch the kids in the backyard. It’s a very functional space.”
The brothers noted The Barrett Companies’ effort toward green building and energy efficiency. From better insulation and caulking to installing appropriate outlets in the detached garages for plugging in an electric car, the Chamberlins believe small touches make their properties stand out.
“It’s the little things that are very time consuming that a lot of builders wouldn’t want to do,” Taylor said. “All those little things add up. It makes it so much more efficient.”
A few neighbors had voiced concerns about last month’s removal of around 150 trees on the property to make way for the subdivision. But Taylor said the trees that were removed weren’t of high quality; many of them will be replaced with new trees that are native to Virginia.
“The trees that were on this site were very low quality trees per Arlington County’s grading scale. A lot had just grown wild over the years,” said Taylor. “In the process of coming back in here, we’re putting in a lot of newer, higher quality trees to grow up around the homes. I do understand the concern of neighbors around it. They’re going to see that it will be beautiful and lush and green again.”
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) An excavating crew has begun clearing land in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood where a new subdivision will be built. The space at the northeast corner of Washington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive is private property and was one of the few remaining undeveloped pieces of land in the county.
The Department of Environmental Services recently reviewed and approved dividing the property into nine residential lots. This was done as a matter of right, which means the County Board does not have to give approval if the applicant meets all requirements.
During the preliminary review and approval of the subdivision proposal, the applicant, Lacey Lane Land Company, L.C., had to send notification to all adjacent property owners as well as those across the street. The president of the neighborhood’s civic association also had to be notified, along with the neighborhood conservation representative. The notification was to inform neighbors of a possible new development in their area, and to give them a chance to speak with county staff about the proposal.
The developer had to submit design plans for the site to ensure all the development’s infrastructure would be adequately designed and built. As with any public infrastructure to be built and be turned over to the county for operation and maintenance, this one had to be guaranteed by a public improvement performance bond and agreement. The applicant also had to meet requirements in the Zoning Ordinance regarding landscaping regulations and tree removal.
Arlington County Urban Forester Vincent Verweij says the developer was sent a letter suggesting preservation for many of the 150 trees on the land. However, Verweij noted it was only a suggestion because private land owners can cut down whichever trees they choose on their own property once receiving the initial land disturbance permit for the site. He believes the excavators left about five trees on the property.
Verweij believes the remaining trees are too exposed and may be unstable in storms or on windy days.
“I fear they may fall into houses now, because a forest is much stronger than individual trees,” said Verweij. “Most of the support and strength comes from being rooted outward and that’s going to be cut significantly by these houses.”
Under the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Ordinance, the developer must preserve, or in this case re-plant, 20 percent of the trees that stood on the site. The county will not award certificates of occupancy for the homes until those standards are met.
Lacey Lane Land Company, L.C. recently applied for a construction permit for one of the homes, which will be built at 1312 N. Evergreen Street. That permit could be approved in about 30 days. The developer will have to apply for individual permits for every additional home and each will have to be reviewed by the county. Currently, there is no estimate on when the subdivision will be completed; it will depend on the developer’s timing for submitting the additional eight permits and beginning construction those houses.
Arlington County Police are investigating the death of a man found on a park bench across from Virginia Hospital Center.
The man was found unresponsive on a bench in the hospital’s “Healing Garden,” at 1625 N. George Mason Drive in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood, according to scanner traffic. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Investigators are on the scene, but so far there’s no indication that foul play is suspected.
Photo via Google Maps
A private ambulance and another vehicle collided this afternoon in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood, near Ballston.
The accident happened at the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Buchanan Street, approximately five blocks from Virginia Hospital Center. No word on the cause of the crash nor on whether there were any injuries.
The ambulance, marked “Physicians Transport Service,” suffered front end damage and had to be towed away. The other vehicle, said to be BMW, was also carted away via tow truck. A street sign at the intersection was down, but it’s unclear if it was knocked down as a result of the accident.
Hat tip to @BrianKal
“I just came home to find the crows are pecking at what looks like a decapitated deer head in my backyard,” the woman said in an email to the Waycroft-Woodlawn email listserv. “I don’t know what I am supposed to do… I REALLY don’t want to pick it up… it may have some disease. I have never seen a deer in our neighbourhood before. And where is the rest of the poor thing?”
The woman ended up reporting it to animal control officers with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. An officer quickly arrived and indeed found part of a deer’s head lying in the grass.
“It was in a pretty rank state of decomposition,” said AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent, adding that “there’s no evidence of how it got there, or of any foul play.”
Trent said animal carcasses are discovered “fairly regularly” in the county, but they’re usually found on the sides of roads, not in people’s backyards.
The woman’s house is located between I-66 and Washington Boulevard, just a couple of blocks away from Ballston. Trent said one possible explanation would be that the deer was hit and killed on the highway, and part of its remains were carried off by a scavenger, which dropped it in the yard.