Changes Along Washington Blvd in Clarendon

by ARLnow.com October 11, 2011 at 9:10 am 4,174 48 Comments

Clarendon residents have taken note of two big, recent changes along Washington Boulevard.

About a week ago, a set of new traffic signals at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and N. Garfield Street were switched on. The traffic lights are helping to bring some order to what was previously a somewhat tricky intersection for Garfield Street traffic.

One block away, meanwhile, the Garfield Park at Clarendon Village luxury apartment complex has rapidly taken shape. A wooden outline of the 5-6 story, 149-unit building has sprung up where, just two months ago, there was nothing but a one-story foundation.

  • Scott

    Those have to be the cheapest “luxury apartments” I’ve ever seen. The only difference between those and the new affordable housing going up in Ballston are the fancy cornices.

    Seriously, who builds 4+ story buildings out of plywood?

    • JamesE

      the phrase “luxury apartments” always makes me laugh.

    • charlie

      they look like they are already falling apart. what junk.

      • Southeast Jerome

        And they’ll still charge $2000/month for a 1bedroom.

        Just wait til this bubble bursts. Wages have not been keeping up with the skyrocketing rents in this area. Only can be sustainable for so long. Will be fun to see all this supply hit the market right around the time govt contractors are laying people off b/c govt has to cut spending.

    • A.E. Hortinson

      It actually looks like OSB and not plywood. That’s essentially a slightly better version of particle board.

      • bred

        Plus, it looks like brick is going to be applied on the exterior. So what’s the deal with the products uses for interior constuction? Oh, one other thing, has anyone noticed the video camera on the roof of the storage center which is monitoring this building’s construction?

        • Burger

          Well, the cheaper it is the more likely you are going to hear every bump or noise your neighbor makes.

        • Scott

          The windows are flush with the wood. I suspect you’ll see brick covering the cinder block, but vinyl siding above that.

        • jjbug1

          The owner of the in-process Garfield Park bldg built and owns two other buildings on this block: the seemingly 3 story storage bldg and the storage bldg above the ABC store.

    • Clizzledizzle

      I know! I went there to look at a condo with the wife once, the Clarendon 1021 was built as apartments, but was flipped to condo’s before it was finished. Result: paper thin walls, shaggy carpet, dorm style look all for the price of $400K for a 1 bedroom + den. Bah!

    • (another) Greg

      This is the same way Penrose Square was built. Lots and lots of plywood and 2×4’s.

    • R. Griffon

      Every time I drive by that thing (which is often) I think “I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll BLOOOOOOOW YOUR HOUSE DOOOOWWWWN!!!”

      Seriously – who builds multi-level commercial buildings out of friggin plywood? At least they’re apartments, and won’t be selling them to unwitting condo buyers who think they’re making a long-term investment.

  • Steve

    The cross walk thing for the blind sounds really creepy. Some creepy voice keeps on saying “Garfield”.

  • Arlingtron

    I noticed that wood is used for construction above the first floor at the development on Pershing Drive too. I wonder if wood is preferred over steel and reinforced concrete as part of the LEEDS “sustainable” design?

    I am glad Garfield got a new light. However, the old light at 10th Street and Washington Blvd. is poorly configured and puts pedestrians at risk for serious harm.

    • novasteve

      Just walk fast at 10th and Washington. It may start flashing red after 2 seconds, but gives you enough time to cross.

    • A.E. Hortinson

      It would be difficult to envison OSB glue as being endorsed as green.

    • DudeInBrownFlipFlops

      No, wood is preferred for those who want to be cheap. It has almost nothing to do with a building’s LEED certification. When you expect a building to stay around for less than 30 years you build with wood, if it’s more than 30 years you use concrete. Either way, people renting those “luxury” apartments are going to be annoyed with the paper thin walls and the sound of people stomping around in the apartment above them.

      • Burger


      • speonjosh

        Why is wood OK for a house but not for an apartment building?

        • Rick

          Because there’s no fire walls in these apartments, not to mention the noise factor. Houses are made with wood frames but wrapped in brick more often than not.

          • DudeInBrownFlipFlops

            Agreed. Also the bigger the structure the more weight and the more wear and tear it experiences over time. I’m pretty sure that this structure has cement columns to support some of the weight but generally wood doesn’t handle the stresses of a tall buildings. The size of a house (in relation to the wood they use) vs the size of this building (using the same relation of wood) naturally creates instablity. Imagine building a bird house out of toothpicks. It can be done but it won’t last as long as one built out of a thicker and stronger material. Also with 149 apartments you’re going to have atleast 300 people moving around this oversized shop class project. “Luxury” indeed….

          • speonjosh

            OK. Noise reduction would certainly be handled better by having cement walls between apartments as opposed to wood or metal studs and sheetrock. And I can see that fire walls made out of concrete would be advantageous in an apartment / condo building. Do we really know that this building does not have cement fire walls? Even if it doesn’t, wouldn’t the walls and / or insulation have to then be treated in some way as to make them fire resistant?

            But since people have been building buildings for thousands of years, haven’t we got engineering pretty well down? What I mean is, the criticisms of the structural integrity of this building seem a bit hard to believe. Would the building really be built in a way that it couldn’t handle the stress it will experience?

            So, it may have the noise issues. But I remain skeptical about the rest.

            Houses are wrapped in brick in some parts of the country, not all. Also, the brick bears none of the weight. It’s a skin. And except for fires started outside the building, it adds nothing to the fire worthiness of the house.

          • DudeInBrownFlipFlops

            speonjosh, I don’t mean to be obtuse. My arguement isn’t that the building won’t stand up to the first thunderstorm it encounters but rather that I can see a building like this needing major renovations (or more than likely torn down to build new) in the next 20 or so years. In terms of people that’s a pretty long time but in terms of construction that’s a blink of an eye. Obviously for people and stores to move in the building has to comply with state and locality fire and safety codes. I’m sure they’ve taken that into account (fire systems, height requirements, intersticial space, etc). I’m just saying that you can build something to last or you can build something to just make money as fast as possible. Obviously these property owners have chosen the latter. Yes, people have been building buildings for thousands of years but other than small home construction a majority of large old structures were built from stone, concrete, marble, etc. Look at any building built before 1980 and I doubt you can find a high rise made mostly from wood. The same can even be said for older houses. We’ve all heard people say “they don’t build ’em like they used to” and that’s true. They don’t. What used to take over two years to build now takes 3 months. We’re sacrificing quality for a quick buck and just assembling as fast as possible now for something that’ll be an eye sore by the time our toddlers are in college. ::waves his cane and tells people to say off his lawn::

          • Chris Wiz

            Engineering is ALWAYS a compromise between performance and cost.

          • John B

            There is no concrete above the ground floor except for the stairwells/elevator shafts.

        • charlie

          in a house you can tell people to shut up since they are family or people you chose to live with.

    • Burger

      The worst intersection is going north on highland and trying to make a left on Washington. The genius urban designers that reworked the pedestrian median made it to big so it is almost impossible to make a left turn onto Washington if someone is making a left to go in the opposite direction on Washington.

      • brendan

        Or… On Highland heading South between Clarendon & Wilson…

        The geniuses with Arlington county planning now have squashed everything down to one lane each way… which is fine, but they left the bus stop and taxi stand (which blocks a fire hyrdrant, fyi) all in the only lane of traffic.

        So now when abus stops there, and stays through one cycle of a red light, creating a chain reaction backup in the already car and pedestrian overcrowded Wilson/Clarendon/Highland/Metro Stop intersection. Backing up everyone in every direction every time a bus let’s one or two people off. Stupid.

        The taxi stand simply needs to be moved around the corner to where there are now parking spaces on Wash Blvd. Can’t believe they’ve left it there, blocking the only lane of thru traffic for as long as they have.

        • brendan

          oops… meant Highland heading South between Clarendon/Wilson and Washington.

          • CW

            Yall just wait until Trader Joe’s opens.

          • Southeast Jerome

            Yea, its going to be a total mess when that Trader Joe’s open. I’m gonna stay away from that grocery store. I’d rather drive to Baileys Crossroads than deal with the insanity thats going to happen there.

          • porkchop_milkshake

            Really? I can’t imagine it being any worse than the parking lot at the Baileys Crossroads store. At all. Sometimes it takes me as long to get into and out of that parking lot as it does to drive over there.

          • Southeast Jerome

            Interesting. I’ve never had any issue with the Baileys location parking lot, with the exception of during the holiday season its a bit more crowded w/ the best buy shoppers. But its not nearly as horrible as the Foggy Bottom location, which is a madhouse on the inside.

          • Rick

            The Falls Church/Tysons location isn’t bad parking wise and you can always walk to whole foods across the street too.

          • brendan

            permits first, questions later…

  • Michael

    I tried to use the walk signal at the intersection, which you must press to activate. It never came on, so I had to dodge traffic like I usually do to make it to the other side. I really wish the walk signals would just come on when there is a green light, many people ignore the button and just walk anyway, and I have encountered a few intersections where the button didn’t activate the walk signal at all (rt. 50 and Fillmore being the most fun intersection to cross when that happens.)

    • charlie

      i’m constantly badgered by our County to WALK here WALK there and be CAR FREE …
      but I cross mid-block now because I only have to look for traffic one way.
      i push pedestrian activation switches mostly to humor myself but not to expect anything to come of it. it is sad to watch people push them and actually wait a light cycle expecting something to happen.

      oh but we do have money to build a trolley…

      • speonjosh

        Funny, I’d describe it as being “encouraged” to walk and be car free.

        • Rick

          Speed humps, curbs, and bike lanes are badgering

          • charlie

            and videos of Chris Zimmerman pretending to walk places is also badgering.

          • Freddy Flintstone

            I wonder if Arlington would consider my mode of transportation walking or driving?

    • Kirk
  • brendan

    A pedestrian will be struck here in the next month.

    very poor design.

  • CEW


    An ABC wine and beer permit has been posted (10/4) on the vacant storefront between the nail salon and Endo sushi (facing the corner of 10th and Washington). If memory serves, the applicant is OBE ULA LLC or something like that. Curious what is going there.

    • Rick

      Needs more acronyms

    • CW

      Endo sushi? Do they insert the sushi directly into your stomach?

  • BallstonDweller

    Speaking of stoplights, any followup from the story a few weeks ago on “Residents Still Waiting for Promised Traffic Lights” regarding a light at 9th and Pollard? Did the County ever respond???


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