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Trader Joe’s Could Open in Clarendon by Late Spring

by ARLnow.com November 9, 2010 at 9:54 am 4,952 86 Comments

At the Lyon Village Civic Association’s meeting last night, officials from Traders Joe’s revealed additional details about their hotly-anticipated Clarendon store.

The company still hasn’t signed a lease, we learned; it’s waiting for the Arlington County board to approve a site plan amendment for the space it wants to occupy in the Clarendon Center development. That approval is expected next Tuesday, with county staff recommending the changes laid out in the amendment.

With the lease signed, Trader Joe’s expects to be able to open in late spring or early summer. No specific dates were discussed.

Company officials addressed two specific neighborhood concerns.

While acknowledging that parking will be a challenge for the store, especially with the crush of shoppers expected right after opening, the company is working with the manager of the Clarendon Center parking garage to alleviate potential underground traffic jams that could push cars onto neighborhood streets. Colonial Parking will assign an employee to direct traffic in the garage during certain times, we’re told.

Company reps also addressed worries about the aesthetics of the store. They promised to beautify areas of the store visible to neighbors, like an elevator that will be visible through the store windows. They pledged to decorate such areas with artwork rather than just with advertisements about food and sales.

One person who was at the meeting describes the crowd as “very receptive” to Trader Joe’s presentation.

A representative from Saul Centers, the developer behind the Clarendon Center project, will talk about Trader Joe’s with neighbors at the Lyon Park Civic Association meeting tonight Wednesday night at 7:30.

In related news, ARLnow.com has confirmed rumors that a large national chain restaurant has been eying a retail space in Clarendon Center. In fact, we’re told that the restaurant, said to be of the TGI Friday’s or Chili’s variety, was interested specifically in the 10,000 square foot space that will be occupied by Trader Joe’s.

“We think [Trader Joe’s] would be a better fit for the community,” a Saul Centers official told ARLnow.com. The official refused to name the restaurant.

  • Eslater

    Please, God, not another chain restaurant. Especially not one that ends with an “apostrophe s” or has “factory” in its name.

    • LP

      Agreed, I’d be livid if TGI or Chili’s moved in next door to me. It’s bad enough having to deal with Cheesecake Factory on a daily basis.

      Awaiting good news next Tuesday on TJ’s officially coming to Clarendon!

      • Jason S

        I hate going to Bailey’s Crossroads for TJ’s and will be happy to see them nearer to me, but this turning up of the nose at other restaurants is a little absurd when we live in an area which has many chains already. If Arlington residents don’t want a TGIFriday’s, let them open a store and it will not make money. I suspect that most people wouldn’t care that much, but a vocal group of snobs insist that they speak for the majority of people who just don’t freak out over small things.

        • MikeyinCrystalC

          Yeah, I’m not the biggest chain restaurant fan in the world either, but this holier-than-thou attitude some residents have over them really isn’t a good look.

        • Eslater

          Jason S says: “… a vocal group of snobs insist that they speak for the majority of people…”

          Hey Jason, not sure why you felt a need to respond so extremely
          . Perhaps next time you can compare me to Hitler?

          FWIW, I am a huge fan of Boulevard Woodgrill, the Liberty Tavern group of eateries, and other local digs. So I plan to keep eating in these and other similar places, but no plans to open my own place, not really my skills.

          You, of course, are welcome to head down to Pentagon City and enjoy the Friday’s there.

          If you live in North Arlington, there’s an Applebee’s in Falls Church that might be closer. To get there you might pass by other locally owned places, like Clare & Don’s or Argia’s, but whatever floats your boat.

        • WD

          Trader Joe’s DC store (25th & L Street @ Pennsylvania Ave) is MUCH more convenient to Arlington than Baileys Crossroads. The garage parking is very efficient and the store is awesome. Try it!

    • Eponymous Coward

      Aha, a bit of hardball from the developer. “Don’t mess with Trader Joe’s, or we’ll jam an Applebee’s down your throats. And if you keep it up, you’ll get a g**d*** Cracker Barrel.”

      • Thes

        +1

  • DT

    For someone who has lived in Arlington for more than five minutes, its pretty funny to think back at the busy bodies who fought to keep the Home Depot from moving into the old Sears Automotive. For those who don’t know (that would be most of you), the old Sears was in the spot where the Crate and Barrel, Harry’s Tap Room and all those other stores and condos are located. The complaint? Too much traffic. Hilarious. Since that time, all we’ve seen is build up and its nearly impossible to drive through that part of Wilson and Clarendon Blvds.

    • Whitney Wilson

      I remember being pretty disappointed at the time that the Home Depot was turned away. (We had just moved to the area and I felt like I was making almost daily trips out to Seven Corners). In hindsight though, I think the Market Commons is better for the area. You are right about the traffic, however.

    • jan

      Another major issue was the noise of unloading the kind of stock HD carries. The loading dock was to be immediately adjacent to a residential area and deliveries are often done at night.

      I think the present development is a much better idea.

    • NorthAdams

      Home Depot was all about class-warfare.
      People didn’t want the day laborers, contractors and people who had to do their own home repairs (instead of hiring people) in their neighborhood.
      The trucks and cars generated by Common Market and now TJ’s are far in excess of anything HD would have generated.
      BUT these are acceptable uses with people like us using them, so it is okay.

      • CW

        “Home Depot was all about class-warfare.
        People didn’t want the day laborers, contractors and people who had to do their own home repairs (instead of hiring people) in their neighborhood.”

        Umm, class warfare? Doing their own home repairs? The only people who could do their own home repairs (and thus who would use home depot) would have to own a home, correct? You know, the homes that start at $1,000,000 and go up from there? I think I’ll buy one of those tomorrow. Then I’ll run down to HD and pick up a load of 2X4’s so I can slap a new deck down on the back of the seven-figure pad. So who’s talking class warfare now?

        I think the crate and barrel is much more accessible to a much broader demographic.

    • Clarendude

      I guess there were a lot of reasons that people didn’t want Home Depot there. Not all these groups would agree with what they wanted as the alternative though – thus a temporary coalition was formed. My clique didn’t want Home Depot because there was this vision I subscribed to of Clarendon returning to its roots as a walkable downtown with sidewalk storefronts and a mix of office and residential and Home Depot was just not compatible with that vision – despite the reps describing all the pedestrians that would be carrying their lumber home with them on the metro.

      • Wilson Blvd Express

        Clarendon’s roots as a walking community? How far back are you going? 1912? As soon as the automobile reached Arlington County the Wilson Blvd corridor ceased to be a walking community until about a decade and a half ago. The Sear’s Complex, where Whole Foods, Clarendon Market Commons, and the Arlington County Schools Building is today, was meant for folks arriving by car. The corridor was a long string of used car dealers. What Clarendon has become is great, but looking at the area 10 years ago, Home Depot was a reasonable idea and would have reflected the Sears Auto Center and Home and Garten Center that was its past. It is nice that things evolved as they have, but I wish I just did not have to deal with the freakish travel patterns that make up Seven Corners just to get a few pieces of lumber.

        • Clarendude

          1912 is a little early. Clarendon was very much a walkable downtown, I have a collection of dozens of photos from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and even into the 50’s. where the sidewalks were packed with pedestrians. In fact it looks a lot like it does now – except that there was a greater number of stores back then and fewer restaurants. In the 50’s, as an attempt to keep Clarendon as a shopping downtown as the stores contemplated moving out to the malls, there was a proposal to make a 6-lane high speed auto beltway around Clarendon using 10th on the south and 13th on the north, while making the main drag on Wilson a pedestrian mall. At some point that was scrapped (thank God) and shortly after the metro planning started.

          • Wilson Blvd Express

            Probably true, but a very different dynamic back then. In today’s world we can get everything we need in life in two or three stores, back then you needed to go to the grocer for your vegtables, the butcher for your meat, milk was delivered to your door along with eggs, had to go to the shoe store for your shoes, the tailor for your suits, JC Penny’s for your underware, your kid had only an 80% chance of reaching his 5th birthday without getting polio or some other deadly dieseas, and the family of 6 only had one car while dad saved up to get the family the first black and white TV on the block from the RCA Dealership up town in Ballston/Parkington. 😉 Today, every shop in Clarendon is a dealer of luxury goods, from Whole Foods to Orvis, from B&N to Kinderhouse Toys. It is Rodeo Drive compared to the stores of the past.

    • capybara

      I think most people who do the mental exercise of comparing that part of Clarendon with what it would be like with a Home Depot–or even a Target–instead, would agree that the present reality is far, far superior.

      Thank you to all those in the County: elected officials, staff and citizens, who held out for a better solution. Thank you.

    • Stefan Sittig

      DT wrote: Since that time, all we’ve seen is build up and its nearly impossible to drive through that part of Wilson and Clarendon Blvds.

      I walk or drive past the area you mention every day. The congestion is minimal, even during peak rush hours, the flow on both Wilson and Clarendon is actually not bad. This is a bit exagerrated in my view.

      The left lane of Clarendon blvd heading towards Rosslyn gets a bit backed up when you get to the entrance of the Whole Foods parking lot, especially during evening rush because of the folks turning left to get into the lot..but otherwise it’s really not bad.

      Compared to 80% of DC neighborhoods, it’s actually not bad at all. Try going down Euclid St. near Adams Morgan at ANY TIME of the day ANY DAY of the week and it’s worse.

  • MikeyinCrystalC

    Still hoping for the rumored TJ’s in Crystal City!

  • John

    Interesting news on national chain restaurants sniffing around the vacant store fronts. Personally, I would not frequent any of the referenced chains, but one cannot argue with the lines at Cheesecake Factory regarding market acceptance of national chain restaurants in Clarendon.

    • Clarendude

      I wonder how the Clarendon Cheesecake factory does relative to their other stores and other restaurants in the area. My impression is that it does OK, but not gang busters. As far as a Chili’s scoping out the Trader Joes space – while I believe there may have been interest, I think it’s a little fishy that Saul throws out those names that they probably know are going to be not well received. But, whatever – TJs is going in, I feel it. I’ve never shopped at one, but look forward to checking it out.

  • Danielle

    Please be Trader Joe’s and not TGI Fridays or Chili’s…gross. I cannot see those restaurants doing well here. Cheesecake factory is at least a notch up from those places. Call me a snob if you want.

  • KateKirk

    No need to apologize…I am proud to be a snob who would rather support local restaurants making regionally/seasonally appropriate food than massive chains whose artificial ingredients and oversize portions are making my healthcare costs go up because people clean their plate at places like TGIF’s or Chili’s.

  • J.

    TGIFridays would TOTALLY clash with the Clarendon culture! Come on Trader Joe’s!!!

  • a’town

    ^^^yes, snob.

    tell you what, it will be a show trying to get a parking spot at this traders.

    with all the wannabe hipsters that live in rosslyn-ballston corridor, this traders will be very similar in crowding to the dc one. buy your skinny jeans now to fit in!

  • PikeHoo

    The anti-chain sentiment around here is grosser than anything Chili’s or TGI Friday’s serves. Trader Joe’s is a chain. It just happens to be a grocery store.

    • rft

      but it’s a chain the hipsters like; can’t you see the difference?!

      • PurpleFlipFlops

        Some none hipsters like TJ as well.

        • PurpleFlipFlops

          non-hipsters

    • PikeHoo

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s too, but the irony in the chain v. non-chain debate is baffling.

      How about bringing a TJ to South Arlington! (Note – Bailey’s is not SA). When is that Giant in Penrose going to open?

      • Frenchy B

        Penrose Square is officially scheduled to be complete in June 2011, but they might actually finish early.

        • PikeHoo

          Thanks, FB! I think that part of CP is really going to come alive.

  • ThisisSarcasm

    PikeHoo – Clearly the anti chain sentiment has had the upper hand and a large impact on development in and around clarendon, as there are no chains to been seen, other than: Ethan Allen, Orvis, Crate and Barrel, My Eye Doctor, Whole Foods, Apple Store, Ann Taylor Loft, lulumon, Baja Fresh, Golds Gym, Washington Sports Club, Container Store, Archstone Apartments, Silver Diner, Joseph Banks, La Tasca, Chicos, William Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Origins, T-Moble, EMS, Palm Beach Tan, Best Cellars. The area is chock full of great local retailers, I just forget who they are.

    • a’town

      +1

    • LP

      Non-chains in Clarendon:

      Boulevard Woodgrill, Mexicali Blues, Liberty Tavern, Northside Social, Spider Kelly’s, Lyon Hall, Eleventh, Clarendon Grill, Mister Days, Screwtop, BakeShop, Boccato, Galaxy Hut, Earl’s, EvenTide, Goody’s, Faccia Luna, Urban Halo, Kavenchy, SoBe.

      • Jason S

        Your list is nice, but both lists are missing businesses. The point though is that chain establishments are not a new idea for Clarendon. Le Pain Quotidien is very much a chain restaurant and people like it, yet it is not on either list.

      • TGEoA

        Snobs in Clarendon

        +you

    • PikeHoo

      ThisIsSarcasm – Well played, sir.

  • Chris

    If another chain restaurant moves in to Clarendon, make it a Waffle House! How about the corner of 10th and Wash Blvd?

  • Westover

    They should put the Trader Joes in Ballston!

    • PurpleFlipFlops

      Ballston already has two real grocery stores – Giant and HT.

      At least some things are affordable at TJ. I can’t afford to shop at whole paycheck.

      • Arlington, Northside

        Technically the Giant is at Virginia Square…..

        A Trader Joes in the Ballston Mall could help the place out.

    • NJmetsfan

      I wish that Trader Joe’s would open in Ballston too. If they opened in Ballston, I would drive there. I guess I will take the metro to Clarendon and then back to Ballston.

      • PurpleFlipFlops

        Bus? 38B? Maybe some ART routes — not sure.

      • NJmetsfan

        If you live in Ballston, it’s probably easier to walk to grocery stores in Ballston rather than drive. But you won’t drive to Clarendon? You can easily walk there as well and carry a bag or two of groceries home. Taking the metro 2 stops doesn’t make sense.

      • NJmetsfan

        I was being sarcastic. I don’t like buses and I don’t like to walk, so I prefer metro.

        • PurpleFlipFlops

          I’m confused — in your “sarcastic” post above you were responding to yourself. Did you forget to change your name before you posted?

        • capybara

          I recommend biking for those intermediate distances that are a bit long to walk, but kind of a pain to go all the up & down the escalators for two stops. A couple of panniers and a backpack can carry a lot of groceries.

          • PurpleFlipFlops

            Capital Bikeshare would be great for this.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      They can have the EFC grocery to be named later – if they take some of the Mixed Use with it.

  • Courthouse Area

    Please, please, please, please not another chain restaurant! I have lived in the Courthouse area for 15 years. I have seen it devolve from cute independent stores and ethnic restaurants to horrific chain restaurants, including The Cheesecake Factory, which really belongs in downtown Las Vegas. If we keep adding these chain restaurants our property will devalue. On a positive note I am thrilled about Trader Joes. I realize that it is a chain, but it will be nice to have an affordable grocery store within walking distance.

    • rft

      translation: please no more chains that I don’t like, but chains I do like are OK

      • PurpleFlipFlops

        I was writing a response as well but closed the window and lost it. I more or less came to the same conclusion (translation:I can read.)

      • AllenB

        And what’s wrong with that? Not all chains are bad. Carlyle in Shirlington is part of a chain and it’s a great place. But people don’t want chain restaurants that they won’t go to. Big difference between a Carlyle and a TGIFridays. And if people in Clarendon prefer something more upscale, so what? It’s their neighborhood and they’re entitled to their own opinions about what should be in THEIR neighborhood.

  • a’town

    Will a TJ’s in Clarendon be able to keep the prices as low as the TJ’s in Baileys Cross with presumably having much higher operating expenses in Clarendon?

    I do notice higher prices on some items at the DC TJ’s vs the Baileys location.

  • AllenB

    How dare the residents of Courthouse and Clarendon have actual opinions on what they want in their neighborhood. That’s nerve. What’s next, actually shopping and eating at establishments that fit their tastes?

    • Jason S

      That’s a weak argument. Because it is not *their* neighborhood, it is the neighborhood in which they live. I live in Ballston, but it is not *my* neighborhood and I cannot tell my neighbors what to do. If a restaurant wants to serve pizza, let them. I think we have enough options, but if the building owner wants to rent to them and they want to locate in that position, they should be free to do so. I can understand zoning to a point, but to claim I should decide who can or cannot occupy a space I do not own is childish and disrespectful of the property rights of the people who do own the property. Through governance we decide *what* can go in a particular area by category, but we should not decide on the specific business if they fit the category well enough.

      • Vinh An Nguyen

        Does this philosophy apply to strip clubs and porno theaters as well?

        • Jason S

          Sure, if the area is zone for such a thing. The issue is these spots are cleared for restaurants, which make a broad category. It shouldn’t be zoned as “restaurants only certain people like” nor is it zoned as such.

    • Jason S

      I do like to add that this was the same basic argument for keeping out the “wrong people”. Are you afraid people who just want to have their silly happy hour at a place everybody knows will show up in that neighborhood you own? Sure TGIFriday’s is weak, but it’s clientele is not any more pathetic than the hundreds or thousands of losers along Wilson that think they need to drink to have a good time.

      • Wilson Blvd Express

        I can remember in the mid-80’s when traffic on Rt 7 was not totally gridlocked and the only TGI Friday’s in the area was THE yuppie hangout in Northern Virginia and no one went out in Clarendon at night alone…..

        • Wilson Blvd Express

          Oh yeah, that would be the Tyson’s Corner TGI Fridays at the Tycon Building across Rt 123 from Hechanger’s if any of you know what Hechangers was. The Home Depot of DC back in the day. 😉

          • Vinh An Nguyen

            Actually it was “Hechinger” (no ‘s’).

          • YTK

            Hechinger’s

      • AllenB

        Read again, Jason S. I didn’t say that the residents of Courthouse and Clarendon get full decision authority of what retailers and restaurants go in their neighborhood. I said they have opinions on it. Just as you have opinions as to what you want to see in Ballston. But some posters on here make it sound like an outrage that they actually have an opinion on what they want in the neighborhood in which they live, ie their neighborhood as they live directly with whatever goes in.

      • AllenB

        Bitter much, Jason? Your remarks just revealed the true impetus for your anger. The people who go out in Clarendon are “pathetic losers”. My, my… sounds like you don’t get invited along so you have to lash out at anyone that actually cares about the retail establishments in their neighborhood.

        Thanks for illuminating what really drives your comments.

        • Jason S

          Yes, that’s it. I’m jealous that nobody invites me out to drink, except that people do invite me and I go as a matter of social courtesy. That doesn’t mean I sit back and think, “I am so cool because I am drinking alcohol. Man, if my parents saw me now they would be pissed, because I had like six beers tonight. Tomorrow, I will tell all of my coworkers about it, because they will be very interested and if they aren’t interested it is because they are jealous.” Really, there is more to life in our nation’s capital than drinking.

          • AllenB

            That’s a lot of projection there, Jason S. You go drinking as a matter of courtesy, but everyone else goes to try to act cool. Got it. No wonder you hate Courthouse and Clarendon folks so much that you think they shouldn’t have an opinion or be part of the decision process about what goes in THEIR neighborhood. You lump them all into one negative category. How very open minded of you.

          • V Dizzle

            I’m with you JasonS. In spite of the losers around here, I drink at home. Less people complain about the sobbing, and I can listen to Lady Gaga on repeat!

          • a’town

            man I wish I saw this yesterday. Bro you are totally in need of some stress relief!!!

  • AllenB

    Read again, Jason S. I didn’t say that the residents of Courthouse and Clarendon get full decision authority of what retailers and restaurants go in their neighborhood. I said they have opinions on it. Just as you have opinions as to what you want to see in Ballston. But some posters on here make it sound like an outrage that they actually have an opinion on what they want in the neighborhood in which they live, ie their neighborhood as they live directly with whatever goes in.

  • Andrew

    Trader Joe’s, TGI Fridays, McDonald’s — I’m for anything that creates JOBS in Arlington!

    • Maxine LUnn

      Those jobs won’t let you actually LIVE in Arlington, however….

      • Jason S

        So rather than raise prices to support living wages like most business should do, their workers will go into Section 8 housing while we subsidize low restaurant operational costs through our taxes. Great system.

    • G-Man

      I’m with you Andrew!

  • BallstonDweller

    Would rather have it in Ballston! Giant is in VA-Square, and I will avoid Harris Teeter until either the parking lot gets better or Arlington County makes the intersection in front of it better for pedestrians.

    As in yesterdays’ post on the Ballston BID, folks begging for more options in Ballston. How long until someone takes notice is the question. Glad to see the few new restaurants though.

  • Stefan Sittig

    Le Pain Quotidien is very much a chain restaurant and people like it, yet it is not on either list.

    But isn’t that a local chain? With only a few spots in the DMV area? It’s not a national chain is it? Just checking…

    I think a TJ fits the clientele of the neighborhood, and marketing folks check these things before deciding to open a new store in neighborhoods. Why do you think Apple opened a store in Clarendon and not say, EFC or Rosslyn?

    The market dictates (and zoning more importantly) what Clarendon gets. This is why the TJ will most likely be in Clarendon and not elsewhere.

    Also, I have no idea why so much hatred for Cheesecake Factory? Don’t get me wrong, I find the food mediocre and totally not worth the wait–but I live right near it and as a neighbor, it does not bother me in the least.

    Actually, the one thing that bothers me the most about the retail stores near my abode, is the occasional 4am wake-up due to a bad delivery truck driver trying to back in to the parking garage adjacent to the Market Commons.

    So it’s not the type of establishment, or if it’s a chain or not that bothers me, but rather, if they can be considerate of the residents during non-awake hours.

    • Jason S

      Well, Apple’s first store in the area was Tyson’s, so don’t be too quick to congratulate Clarendon. I do think that TJ’s fits the neighborhood and Reston had one much sooner even though it is out in the frozen wastelands of Fairfax (as believed to be by many in Arlington).

      The hatred for Cheesecake Factory is just because it is a well known chain, that’s it. They clearly make somebody happy and I admit that I like their salad thing with beets, because few restaurants have beets at all. The portions are too big for me personally and the large menu has lots of near repeats. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just has something for just about everybody.

      Anyway, Le Pain Quotidien has about 140 restaurants and there are many in NYC. So it is absolutely not local, although it really did start in Brussels.

    • david

      Le Pain Quotidien is like Panera in NY. They are everywhere and as mediocre as the one in Clarendon.

      • bob

        You don’t have a clue. The LPQ is certainly mediocre in Clarendon. They are excellent in NYC (most locaitons in NYC, anyways).

        • YTK

          I agree with you — the staff at LPQ seemed to be vapid and superficial — the food likewise. I stopped going there. They are blessed with a BIIG space there, but obviously no idea on how to make it more user friendly.

  • Stefan Sittig

    Well, Apple’s first store in the area was Tyson’s, so don’t be too quick to congratulate Clarendon.

    I never claimed the Clarendon store was the first in the area. Re-read my post. I said they chose Clarendon over Rosslyn or EFC for a reason. In the Rosslyn-EFC orange line area we are discussing, Clarendon is clearly the preferred spot for some retail stores, particularly Apple.

    And thanks for the info on LPQ, I had no idea. Personally, I hate LPQ, find the food limited, dull and the service always always HORRIBLE. My parents love it though and go often. So there ya go.

    • Clarendude

      Just curious about the 4AM delivery truck wake up – is it the noise of the truck engine that bothers you or the beep, beep, beep backup warning ? Or something else ?

      I ask because I live across from a apartment with an outdoor trash bin and the only thing that wakes me is the beep, beep, beep. I used to literally live next to a train track (heavily used) so nothing usually wakes me after I aclimate to the sound. I guess in my slumber the beep beep beep sounds like my alarm going off.

  • Vinh An Nguyen

    Cheesecake Factory is always on those “worst” lists when it comes to high-fat, high-salt, high-calorie restuarant meals.

  • PurpleFlipFlops

    When is the meeting? I’ve looked on the county board’s website but can’t seem to find a meeting next Tuesday (which would be the 16th.)

    http://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/CountyBoard/meetings/CountyBoardMeetingsmeetings.aspx

    November 13, Tuesday
    Meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. with Public Comment & removal of Consent Agenda items, with Regular Hearings to follow.

    —Nov 13th is Saturday. Anyone know when the meeting actually is?

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