Arlington Funeral Home Closes to Make Way for Development

by ARLnow.com December 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm 11,284 65 Comments

After 55 years in business, Arlington Funeral Home in Virginia Square (3901 Fairfax Drive) has closed its doors to make way for a new office development.

Once called “the most modern funeral home in Northern Virginia,” the business has transferred its remaining operations to the Murphy Funeral Home at 4510 Wilson Blvd in Bluemont. Both funeral homes are managed by Service Corporation International under the Dignity Memorial brand.

The Arlington Funeral Home building and its surrounding surface parking lot was purchased by developer Crimson Partners in 2010. The developer is expected to bring a site plan before the County Board next month that calls for the property to be redeveloped as an office building with 173,700 square feet of office space, 3,200 square feet of retail space and a 9,900 square foot black box theater.

If the site plan is approved, a groundbreaking can likely be expected at some point next year.

  • E

    The offices are dying to get in that spot.

    • Tins

      They’ll be rushing to undertake the endeavor!

      • R. Griffon

        I think they’re making a grave mistake.

        • Just the Facts

          With so many office buildings in that neighborhood, competition for tenants will be stiff.

          • Nooner

            As it was… people were dying to get in that place.

          • The old landscape will pale in comparison to the new.

          • Ricardo

            Might have worked in 2005, but I’m afraid the time for this idea has passed.

  • Clarendon

    I wonder how large Dignity Memorial is in the funeral biz. All the services I’ve been to lately are Dignity. Are they reaching the “too big to fail” stage?

  • DarkHeart

    They’ll be tearing down Central Library next. Wasn’t there a plan to keep the business on the ground floor for historic reasons?

    • Clarendon

      I think the very first approved site plan on this site kept the funeral home, but that was because they were a hold-out not because it was historic.

  • Vik

    I understand the real estate situation being a lot different, but I liked the old design for this site a lot more. It’s good to get something there, though. At one point, this development was going to tie in to some public space facing the library; I don’t know if that’s still going to happen somehow.

  • MC

    It will be fantastic to turn this block, now dominated by a surface parking lot, into something that will draw ground floor storefronts. Also, looking forward to the new development containing a “black box” theater space that can be used for various events and performances, as envisioned in the Virginia Square neighborhood master plan.

  • Brittany

    That would be a perfect spot for a Wegmans!

    • Cherrydaler

      +1, regrettably it’s most likely too small.

    • demonfafa

      I don’t understand the amount of verbal fellating that Wegmans gets. I’ve been to the one in Fredericksburg on my way down to Richmond and while it’s quite a nice grocery store, it’s not the second goddamn coming of Christ. Not to mention that while it’s not at Whore Foods level of expensive, it’s not cheap either.

  • JimPB

    ARLCo should pursue “cashing in” on the prime location value of the Central Library and the adjacent park — and other such locations.

    One possibility to explore is an adaptation of arrangement that Friends Select School in downtown Philadelphia pursued several decades ago. The school entered into an agreement whereby the school received a lucrative payment from a developer for the right to build on the block size plot along with provisions that the grown floor of the new building would be for its classrooms, offices, etc and the roof would be for its outdoor facilities.

    Businesses, living units and government facilities can mutually benefit with a base in the same plot of land.

    Other non-profit entities would also do well to explore mutual uses for their land that would be consistent with their missions and values.

    • bemused bystander

      Do you mean Arlington should sell its parklands? and playing fields? and playgrounds? and open space? Or just co-locate public buildings such as libraries with private space?

  • schell terr

    Year-round homeless shelter would be perfect in this space.

    • Rick

      They’re already hanging around there as it is…

      • Don’t Fence Me In

        Then it would be a perfect location. Bring the home to them. Thanks for the great idea!

  • ArlForester

    Sorry to nitpick but….while the Arlington Funeral Home might be Va Square not Ballston (not to most people), Murphy’s is nowhere near being Bluemont. If it isn’t Ballston, it is Ball’s Crossing.

    Sad to see the Arlington Home go though but glad they are passing their business to a family owned place like Murphy’s.

    • charlie

      Murphy’s is located within the boundaries of the Bluemont Community of Arlington.


      • ArlForester

        That’s a very generous map they drew up for themselves. No one considers that area Bluemont.

        • charlie

          actually it isn’t “their” map. It is the official boundary as recognized by Arlington County. The boundaries for the older neighborhoods also correspond to voting precincts.
          So while you may think it is “generous” it is actually the officially recognized map, as seen on the County website.

          • ArlForester

            and you won’t find any native Arlingtonian who considers anything even near much less past George Mason to be part of Bluemont. Hell, half the people up the hill probably don’t even consider themselves part of it. That map is of a civic association anyways. It isn’t anything more than where those busybodies think they can run.

          • Baja

            Get over yourself, “native” Arlingtonian. I live in the Bluemont civic association, between George Mason and Glebe and have participated in the association for years.

          • Lou

            I agree, if the article had said “within the boundaries of the Bluemont Civic Association” it would be correct. But nobody calls that area Bluemont. I noticed the article a few weeks ago about the new street light on Wilson called it Bluemont as well, but I held my tongue.

            If the the Farmer’s Market at Reed School ever gets going, I wonder if the boundary lovers will complain about calling it the Westover Farmer’s Market, since Reed is not in the Westover Civic Association boundaries.

            Common sense, people.

          • ArlForester

            Thank you.

        • SimplyDusty

          I’ve lived closer to Ballston Mall than the funeral home for 5 years and the Bluemont boundary has always been on Glebe.

          • charlie

            Well SD< apparently that isn't going to make AF happy. I've actually lived in Arlington for five decades and two centuries so not sure what is up. While I may not know what to call that area, I'd actually look it up on a map and then agree to the county civic association maps.

          • ArlForester

            Just because some civic association lays claim, that doesn’t make it part of an area a mile away. It’s actually closer to Arlington Forest than Bluemont. We should have a coup and lay claim to it. I declare everything north or Route 50 and west of Glebe to be Arlington Forest. Long live the Forest!! Bow to your masters and put your name on the waiting list for the pool!!

    • Karyn

      It’s truly heartbreaking to see this place go. I started out in my funeral career at Arlington Funeral Home. Served my apprenticeship there, have wonderful memories and made great friends. It was definitely a family atmosphere and a place that I enjoyed going to every day. Unfortunately, Arlington FH and Murphy’s are owned by corporations now, SCI I believe, although they do strive to maintain family traditions and atmosphere.

  • Arlington Lawyer

    Sadly, Murphy’s is no longer family owned, having sold out to the mega-corp SCI a couple of months ago.

    • DarkHeart

      Hopefully they store bodies better than NFH in FC.

    • ArlForester

      That sucks. Thanks for the correction.

  • And

    How much did the Funeral Home get for that land?

  • novasteve

    An all Froyo-cupcake mall could be built on that spot!

  • neathridge

    Amusing .. I just happened to drive by there this afternoon (on way to I-66) and saw the signs and was thinking … I never saw anything about this on ARLNOW … So I guess I just happened on it in timely fashion; keep up the great work!

  • Chris Scheer

    I assume the “design bland” architecture of the Ballston strip will be employed… how many more bistros, bars, grills, and assorted other purveyors of alcohol and calories can the area absorb?

    • Don’t Fence Me In

      There will be a Western themed bar/restaurant on first floor called “oh give me a home…” and it will be staffed by the homeless from the new year-round homeless shelter on the second and third floors. Very progressive idea.

  • ArlingtonCountyTaxpayer

    I don’t see how this could possible become an office building.
    NSF is on the verge of leaving Ballston. DARPA has so much space in Virgina Square that it is leaving for the bus yard.
    next door are two office buildings that are approved but “unbuilt” because of lack of market.
    this needs to be residential so that Ballston can actually have people living in it. and spending money.

    oh very funny to think that this could possibly get thru the approval process in one year and have a groundbreaking. HAHAHAHAHAHAA

    • And

      Yeah, let’s have even more people packed into the area. No thanks.

      • demonfafa

        As long as they don’t drive, I couldn’t care less. VA Square is a very underutilized area as far as housing goes.

    • Vik

      This was going to be developed as residential two years ago, but the previous developer went bankrupt. I liked the brick facade of the residential proposal. I wouldn’t be opposed to apartments going up here.

    • The county is using the Chinese development model.


      • Zoning Victim

        That’s really weird looking. It’s very creepy to see a huge cities almost completely empty like that.

  • Arlwhenver

    I said goodbye to some exceptional people at Arlington Funeral Home. May God bless them all and their familes.

  • John Andre

    Have I heard…? … that Murphy Funeral Home may also be threatened by Ballston development??? This could mean that both Ballston-area funeral homes could give way to the office-space development bug. However I understand that DOD has moved or is moving a lot of Ballston-based military jobs to other locales due to BRAC…something which could create a lot of office vacancies in Ballston/Virginia Square at the same time the developers seem intent on building more office space into the area. Somehow this doesn’t quite add up to me…or else we will have a lot of vacant office space in Arlington County.

  • Carol_R

    Too bad. More Arlington development that we don’t need & that ruins the County. More stores they’ll build that I refuse to shop at. I grew up in Arlington & it’s really sad how it’s been ruined & destroyed by development.

    I can only hope that the stores that lease space in the new development go out of business in short order like so many of the other unneeded stores that keep popping up in Arlington.

    • Baja

      You wanted the Metro but you don’t want transit oriented development. You need some perspective; the level of development and density in the R-B and Crystal City corridors are quite modest, (the urban village concept) particularly next to the large swaths of low density residential neighborhoods that are more spacious than many of the outlying burbs. This approach is highly attractive to businesses, young professionals, and others who like the ‘quasi-urban’ R-B corridor, it’s more efficient use of space and energy, and is the only way the area can hope to mitigate the horrible traffic.

      • Agent Michael Scarn

        +1, Baja.

      • Lou

        Who said she wanted Metro?

  • Curious George

    One of the things I like about Virginia Square is that everything you need, from cradle to grave, is within walking distance.

    I guess that is not the case anymore.

    At least the retail portion of the new project will include businesses we have a shortage of. Like dry cleaners, convenience stores, and restaurants.

    • Cupcake stores, bars, pizza places.

    • Clarendon

      But, you had to walk to Clarendon to T.A. Sullivan & Son in order to browse for grave stones. But, now even that is going away. 🙁

  • SamW

    I lived across the street from the funeral home the past two years and never once saw someone go in or out of that building. Kind of drove me crazy that that huge parking lot went unused. Office/residential/whatever they have planned, I’m glad that the space will finally be utilized.

    • I’ve been to numerous funerals there. The space was used. I would guess lately the business has been gearing down to move, knowing this was coming.

  • I against I

    More orange condos, with pizza, cupcakes, PF Changes, and starbucks. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Michael Newman

    VERY SAD to see Arlington Funeral Home shut down. I have had both of my grandparents (in 1976 and 2004), have their funerals there. To the transient population this was just an old building. To the few of us Arlington locals left, this was part of our history that served us during a difficult chapter in our lives!

  • Ken & Faye Morris

    Remembering 50+ years of family service to community. Alas, all good things seem to come to an end.


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