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Pricey Rent at Ballston Common Mall

by ARLnow.com June 7, 2011 at 11:15 am 5,575 62 Comments

Interested in leasing space in Ballston Common Mall? Thanks to an item on the upcoming County Board agenda, we now know about how much it costs.

Arlington County leases a 3,119 square foot store, on the second floor near the entrance to Macy’s Furniture Gallery, to house the Woodmont Weavers program. The privately-run but publicly-funded program allows adults with cognitive disabilities to learn how to weave, to sell their creations (placemats, pillows, totes, scarves, hats, etc.) and to earn a wage in the process. The county subleases the space to St. Coletta of Greater Washington, which runs the program on behalf of the Department of Human Services, for a nominal $1 rent.

On Saturday the board is expected to approve a lease and sublease renewal for the mall storefront. According to the staff report, the base rent for the store from Nov. 1, 2011 to Oct. 31, 2012 will be $67,528.80 per year. Add in taxes and utilities, and the expected annual cost rises to $93,911.40.

In addition to the Woodmont Weavers program, the space is also subleased to Ellipse Handmade Crafts, which sells handmade items from local artists and utilizes some of the production space for classes and workshops when not in use by Woodmont. Ellipse pays the county $5,415.00 per year in rent.

We reported last year that the 25-year-old mall is in the early planning stages of a major renovation.

Photo via stcoletta.org

  • Arrrrrlington

    Damn. And I thought the rent was ridiculous around the Clarendon Metro.

  • NorArl

    Now I really want to know how all the crappy stores are able to afford that kind of rent. That mall is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a riddle!

    • ArlForester

      Well they don’t have 3000 sf for starters.

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      $21psf base ($30psf fully loaded) is a bit on the high side, but generally OK for class C office, which this is. Retail rents for similarly-sized in-line tenants are likely lower, but with a percentage of sales kicker.

  • MallWorker–

    You forgot the 200% mark up for Govenment cost useage that the mall must add on.

  • Southeast Ben

    Poor education leads to poorly thought out purchasing decisions. That mall is full of teeny boppers.

  • Lacey Forest

    Actually at $21.65 per square foot, that is slightly below the metro Washington average of $22.44 (April number), so one cannot complain too much, and given the constituency being served, you have to have a location convenient to transit and centrally located.

  • $21/RSF is pricey? That’s not expensive for the area. It’s much cheaper than many other areas in Arlington, especially near metro.

    • Allan

      Way cheaper than Village at Shirlington. Bottom level even.

    • Pricey relative to, say, one’s apartment. This is not intended to be a comparison to other commercial real estate.

      • Is it? $21/RSF is $1.75/SF per month. An 800 SF apartment at $1.75/SF would be $1400/month. That’s cheaper than I’d expect.

        Either way, yes, I guess 5 figures in rent a year is more than 4 figures.

  • O.C.

    I have been stewing for weeks over the hating people have given to places that show up on the Treasurer’s “meals tax deliquency list”. We don’t know the ins and outs of why these places show up, but we get all up in arms about them failing to pay up to the Treasurer’s wishes. For details see http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/Treasurer/files/file73709.pdf

    Listen–this “list” doesn’t matter. It’s the resteurants’ money; they know better than the GOVERMENT what to do with it. Thanks to this item, we now know the extortionery rent that Ballston Common Mall forces Cold Stone Creamery in Ballston to pay. Now Cold Stone could say “We must go generic on the Toffee crunch–we have to pay our bill to the County.”

    Cold Stone could say: “How can we use real brownie pieces when we owe $19,000 to the County? Let’s switch to Little Debbie.”

    Cold Stone could say: “Frozen granite costs too much. Let’s use frozen Corian instead, and use the savings to pay our taxes”.

    Let’s say Cold Stone does that. Maybe FRANK O”LEARY wuld say you’ll still get the same “Mud Pie Mojo” or “Cookie Doughn’t You Want Some”, but , but does that make it TRUE??? NO, it makes it FLASE!!! No Arlington County worker learns to actually run a business. If Cold Stone needs that 19k to beat out insane predetory competition from places like Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream and Lazy Sunday, places that live off of Arlington County favoritism and “smal business funding”, who are we to judge???

    Levae Cold Stone alone. Jackals, go picket APAH and AHC, the true thieves who bleed this County dry.

    • Jim

      I think someone forgot to take their pills today…

      • Set the Controls

        They don’t work anyway.

    • Aaron

      I think his ArlNow.com account must have been “hacked” or something.

    • doodly

      You’re right, the government is trying to take away our God-given right to eat ice cream mixed on real granite instead of fake Corian! To arms!

    • SoCo Resident

      Not paying the tax is felony embezzling. Ask Roberto Donna of Bebo, who owes $150K and will serve his 5-year sentence if he doesn’t pay. We know all we need to know about these criminal felons: they collected the money and did not forward it to the County, using it for other things. They are not to touch that money. And we are “haters” for exposing them!

    • Southeast Ben

      I’ll say this. Respectable restaurants who run clean and professional businesses do not appear on the list. When a patron pays their bill, the tax is broken out right there. Respectable restaurants separate this money out that goes back to the county/state/etc instantly and there is never confusion. Bills are paid and taxpayers’ dollars aren’t lost by some poor management. Bottom line is that unpaid tax money back to the county is not the restaurants’ money.

    • CW




      • CW

        As a side note, my favorite part of that rant was: “NO, it makes it FLASE!!! “

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          That rant is a perfect example of what happens when you slam a six-pack and then start pounding on your keyboard with your fists.

    • Bob

      If the rent is too high to sustain a business, franchise or otherwise, then they shouldn’t set up shop there. I don’t buy a house or rent an apt where it costs too much for me to make ends meet. Lord knows Cold Stone Creamery certainly charges an arm & a leg for their ice cream anyways (though it *is* quite tasty)!..

    • Wilson

      But sales-tax collections are NOT the restaurants’ money; they are money that belongs to the citizens of Arlington County. The restaurants are supposed to *set aside* the sales-tax revenues to pay them to the County, not use them for their own ends.

      Homeowners have to pay property taxes, and businesses should pay theirs. The ones that don’t are deadbeats, and the County is right to go after them for their payments, just as they would delinquent homeowners.

      No one “forces” any given business to pay rents it deems too high; the business can decide to rent elsewhere.

      Also, learn to spell “restaurants” and “extortionary.”

  • Tabby

    Oh dear.

  • SoCo Resident

    Wonderful work ARLNOW: going after a charitable effort that aids adults with “cognitive abilities.” Last week, ARLNOW maligned Goodwill on Columiba Pike: this week another program to help “the challenged”in our community make some sort of living. Wow, worth a Pulitizer Prize.

    Thanks to those who exposed that these rents are below market since ARLNOW purposefully left that important fact out in order to make the story more sensational. Journalism?

    • Stu Pendus

      Oh give it a rest.

    • you read this blog why, again?

      emphasis on BLOG…

      • SoCo Resident

        BLOG, no mention of the word blog on ARLNOW’s “About us” page.” Should ARLNOW submit entries for “journalism” contests if just BLOG as Jenn so forcefully states?

    • doodly

      Wut? How does this “go after” Woodmont Weavers?

    • probable carcinogen

      So stop reading if it bothers you so much – nobody forces you to read the articles on this site. I heard a rumor about a second-hand report that ARLNow causes cancer – better run for the hills.

    • NOVApologist

      How do you know that the market rents were “purposefully” left out to make the story more “sensational”?

      I read this story as being more about the general rents at Ballston than about the non-profit leasing space there. Then again, I am not reading every story here with an eye out for proving there is a secret ARLnow campaign against the poor.

    • CW

      Shutchyo mouf. The point of this article is that the fact that the county is paying for the space makes it public information how much they’re paying. That’s it. I’m sure the commuter store rent is public too.

    • DC123

      I think the OP was misreading the intent of the article.

      That said, what are people drinking today? Some of the responses are unnecessarily nasty.

  • SoCo Resident

    1.) The rent is NOT “pricey” as ARLNOW misleads us to believe. 2.) The story is about much more than just rents; it is detail about the subsidy afforded St. Colettas, founded in the basement of St. Charles Church in 1959. Why St. Coletta’s? Why not the “Made for TV Store” rent as an example?

    If it was only about the rents at Ballston Common, that would be easy to find out and display. The article zeroed in on a County program to assist challenged individuals, and last week ARLNOW took a snipe at Goodwill Industries.

    Yes, DC123 “some of the responses are unnecessarily nasty”, from those immature readers who will not address the issue but instead continually resort to personal attacks. Knowing of my great concern for breast cancer, one of the readers has now strangely adopted as his moniker “possible carcinogen.” I have great concern for the developmentally disabled too.

    • doodly

      You and O.C. need to get together and start a “slam a six-pack and then start pounding on your keyboard with your fists” club.

    • CW

      Well, I don’t know what to say. Sorry that you feel that way. I’m pretty sure private rents are individually negotiated and are kept secret. It is likely that Noodles and Company, with their crack team of corporate attorneys, negotiated a better deal than those sketchy dollar stores up on the second floor did. Ballston Common does NOT have to disclose that. It is a part of doing business – potentially incentivizing desirable businesses with attractive lease terms (ahem, Trader Joe’s in Clarendon, ahem).

      They zeroed in on a County program because the COUNTY DISCLOSES ITS EXPENDITURES. That is the only reason why! If he wanted to be a pure news journalist and not spin it at all, then he should not have said “pricey”, I’ll give you that. But he was not picking on this county program.

      The Goodwill reference was not a snipe. It was calling a spade a spade. Is there a Goodwill in midtown Manhattan or Beverly Hills? I’d guess not. He was just setting the scene, alright? So calm down.

      • SoCo Resident

        See what I mean about uninformed ARLNOW readers: there are TWO Goodwills in Beverly Hills and THREE in Manhattan!

        “If he wanted to be a pure news journalist and not spin it at all, then he should not have said “pricey”, I’ll give you that, says “CW.” Well, “Pricey” was the empahssis of the story, so in your words, he should not have written the story! There were PLLENTY of ways to illistrate Ballston Common rents withou picking on the St. Coletta’s store.

        The Goodwill snipe evoked a wonderful testament (Sauca story) from a Goodwill employee, which hopefully educated some.

        • NOVApologist

          There are no Goodwills in Beverly Hills, although there are five in close-by LA.


          And there are a lot of crappy neighborhoods in Manhattan.

    • jjbug

      Thanks for your contribution to this question; I hate to see the County supporting a religious group which does not represent the whole community. It may be true that all religions and people support the County’s goals with this small sales enterprise, but awarding money to a particular religious group is absolutely wrong. How can we restructure this to avoid support for St Coletta’s group?

      • St. Coletta is a non-sectarian organization.

  • Take it down a notch

    I’ve walked past that store but never gone in. After reading this article, I think I will stop in next time and see what they have to offer.

    • doodly

      They do amazing work, and you can watch them do it on the premises. It’s a great place to buy a gift, especially because of the meaning behind it. And the people who work there are always friendly.

      • I taught/trained some of these workers back in the day in Arlington Schools. It has always amazed me the talent they have in the art/crafts field and it gives them such a sense of acomplishment and the feeling of giving to society. Glad to hear they are still around and will definitely stop in someday.

  • ClarenDouche

    I only scan the articles. I mainly read this for the funny comments you people make. Entertaining to say the least.

    • Your screen name

      is clever but redundant.

  • Allen

    I don’t know anything about the rents Malls in this area charge.

    I do know that in many places the rents on stores is less than the rent on homes in. (Per Square Foot.)

    The problem here is this is taxpayer’s money, and the store is located up stairs and in the far back of the mall. This space is not very good, and I doubt they could rent it to anyone else even at half the price.

    If you wonder why Macy’s rents this space, it is because Macy’s owns the Mall, and they can not hope to rent it to anyone else. (The Furniture store never has any customers.)

    First floor space might be worth this price, basement space in the Food Court is not!

    Space on the Second floor is not worth it either.

    Now, as to space on the third floor of the Mall, it is practically worthless!!!


    • Lee-n-Glebe

      Macy’s does not own the mall. Forest City owns the mall.

  • Sulco

    This is well below Ballston average retail rent. If you do the math this is approx. $30/sf all-in. The avg. retail rent in this market is $40/nnn which means the expenses are then added onto this base rent. Other tenants would kill for rent this low.

  • John Andre

    This may explain why the food quality in the Food Mart has gone south. The Ballston Market [formerly “Market to Market”] buffet has been shut down since Christmas and it now appears the pizza place has followed suit! This leaves me with only McDonalds, Subway and other fast-food alternatives…I sure wish another good salads buffet would open up down there.

    My dream of course is that Sholl’s Colonial Cafeteria, which I used to enjoy in D.C., would “resurrect” and open in Ballston. They closed for good shortly after the events of 9/11/2001. However I suspect that the high rents charged by Ballston Commons et al. would prevent such an establishment from opening around here.

    • Justin Russo

      There used to be a Scholl’s in Rosslyn, too.

  • Carol_R

    I grew up in Arlington but have never gone to Ballston Common Mall except the Chipotle. Why would I want to pay to park to shop?

    I remember when it was called Parkington and I frequently shopped at it then. It had a parking deck and was a mall but the parking was free. The building may not have been new but the tenants could afford the rent.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Me too! The old Parkington always seemed to do booming business when I was growing up. From when I was little through my high school years, there was a good variety of stores and businesses in the old Parkington. I noticed a decline back in the mid-70s when I’d be home in Arlington during summer break while in college, but even then, it never seemed to be as bad as Ballston Common is now. Most of the time when I do go there (rarely), it seems mostly deserted. I think most of the parking there is commuters that use Metro or people going to the ice skating rink. I rarely go there partly because I don’t like paying for parking to go shopping (the reason I don’t go to Pentagon City much) if I can help it and because none of the stores have appeal for me.

      • doodly

        Ballston isn’t the most exciting or successful place to shop, but you’re way overstating the case.

        As for the paying for parking thing: with gas at about $3.50 a gallon, use your car’s gas mileage and the miles to the place you shop instead and do some math.

        • Bluemontsince1961

          Whatever. We each have our differing views/opinions and I expect neither of us will change them. I don’t know how long you’ve lived in Arlington, but I’ve lived in Arlington since 1956, when my parents moved from DC when I was six months old, so I remember different (and in some ways better) times.

          • doodly

            Sure, we have different preferences, and that’s fine. I was talking about you saying it’s “mostly deserted.” Hardly. It’s not thriving, but it’s not failing either.

    • doodly

      “Why would I want to pay to park to shop?”

      Because it’s usually one one stinking dollar, and it means you don’t have to drive way out somewhere and waste time on the road and probably spend more than a dollar in gas?

      Because it’s easily accessible by Metro, so you can shop on your way home from work instead of paying to park?

      • Balls Crossing

        It’s more than $1 on weekdays. I believe it’s more like 3-5 bucks for a couple of hours.

        Say it’s $4. If your car gets 20 mpg, and gas is $4/gallon, you break even if you drive 10 miles from home to shop. And you get more comfort and convenience than stuck in some sweltering train that stops for no reason.

        I live close to the mall but never go there. I will drive miles to go somewhere else–though better options are within 5 miles. Movie theater? Potomac Yard or Shirlington. Clothes? Filenes/Marshalls/TJ Maxx. Furniture? Pottery Barn outlet. The only people who seem to be using that mall are people who get there by bus/train.

        • doodly

          It’s $1 for 3 hours, then $2.50 for 4, etc. And only $1 after 6 pm and on weekends – the times most people shop.

          I wouldn’t take the train TO Ballston, but when I’m on my way home from work on the train, it’s more convenient and cheap than driving to either mall.

          You sound like the kind of person who drives for miles just to save a few cents on gas. It’s a dollar. Big deal.

          • Balls Crossing

            Re. the gas: Actually I don’t, but whatever.

            I don’t go to Ballston mainly beause the stores suck. I also hate Metro. Rode it for years and got tired of the crowding, inexplicable breakdowns, occasional violence, weird “burning brake pad” smell, etc. If it works for you, then great. I would find it very inconvenient to get off the train, go to the store, wait for the next train and hope to there’s room on board–but that’s me.

            Fact is, for a store to succeed, it’s gotta have parking–unless it has enough carless hipsters nearby to keep it afloat. That can work for bars/restaurants, but department stores? I think the Ballston Macy’s only survives because it’s part of a huge empire. There’s a reason Whole Foods and (soon) T Joe’s at Clarendon have/will have parking.

          • Vinh An Nguyen

            Fact is, for a store to succeed, it’s gotta have parking

            Yes, that is why there is no retail in Georgetown.

          • Stu Pendus

            Carless hipster clause.

          • Balls Xing

            Case in point–Georgetown has nothing but bars, restaurants, and weird little upscale boutiques. And the Crapple Store. Those draw mostly from DCers and maybe the odd Rosslynite. If you want anything that appeals to families or singles over 35 who don’t want to live a few blocks from the Metro (because they value sleep and easy parking), then yeah, ya gotta have parking to be viable.


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