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Construction Starting on Penrose Square Public Plaza

by ARLnow.com January 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm 5,594 29 Comments

Construction is getting underway on a new public plaza along Columbia Pike.

Fences have gone up around the construction site — a small grass field in front of the Penrose Square apartment complex, on the 2400 block of Columbia Pike. The first construction phase of the $2 million Penrose Square public plaza is expected to be completed this fall.

“Penrose Square is the first of three squares that will eventually be located along the Pike Corridor and will be an active pedestrian center and community gathering spot within the corridor’s Town Center,” said Arlington County parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

Among the plaza’s planned features:

The first phase of development calls for a tree-covered, upper terrace with movable tables and chairs; an inner plaza with a water feature; a unique two-piece sculpture called “Echo”; an inscription of the historic significance of the site, and a grass mound area shaded with trees for informal seating.

Continuing Arlington’s goal of a sustainable environment, the tree terrace area will have Silva Cells installed beneath the surface to facilitate stormwater runoff filtration into the soil while providing maximum soil volume for root growth. The Silva Cells prevent compaction of the soil so that tree roots are protected and also help to retain water to sustain the trees during dry periods.

What’s more, a portion of the square will have a water feature designed to shoot thin jets of water 5 – 12 feet into the air from the pavers. The water feature will enhance the square by providing the movement and sounds of water and make an enjoyable place for people to visit. The water from the fountain will be collected, treated and then reused in the fountain again to conserve water.

And finally, the square will also have a new Super Stop Station located along the front sidewalk that will support the current Pike Ride system as well as future generations of transit that are planned for Columbia Pike.

  • South Arlington

    Good news, although I hope the next phase of the project gets going soon.

    • po’ boy

      Millions for a park on Columbia Pike. Any money to repair and pave the Pike since the county took it over from VDOT on Oct. 1, 2010?

      • Nick


  • truth be told

    “The water feature will enhance the square by providing the movement and sounds of water and make an enjoyable place for people to visit.”

    This is going to make me have to pee.

  • diq4brains

    Arlingtons motto should be goodbye minorities

    • novasteve

      Not a chance. They’ll just use taxpayer money to bring them back in. Get a lot of well off people in to tax the hell out of them, then buy votes by redistributing that money.

    • ThirstyVA

      How is it that something like planting trees, adding a fountain, sculpture, tables and chairs, etc. in a public square for people to enjoy is automatically interpreted as “goodbye minorities?”

      • ArlingtonWay

        Uh, been to South Arlington recently? I’m not too worried.

    • Trolly Troll

      Around 2025 the minorities will be the majority. Thats about the time the street car will be finished, so the minorities will have moved out only to find the pike is filled with minorities.

  • John Fontain

    $2,000,000 to landscape a small, 17,200 square foot lot.

    That’s $116 per square foot.

    High-end natural stonework, say 2″ thick natural cleft (or thermaled) cut fieldstone, costs about $18 to $25 per square foot installed. Stairs and stacked stone cost more.

    Trees (I count 20 in total) cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000 per tree (installed), depending on species and size. Other plants might cost $5,000 to $10,000 in total. Sod costs about $1.00 to 1.50 per foot installed.

    Aside from the half million dollar marble sculpture Arlington commissioned, I’m failing to see how you end up at $2,000,000 for such a small parcel of land.

    • Richard Cranium

      All those “It’s been XXX days since a fatal injury at this jobsite” signs ain’t free, you know.

    • Sam

      Silva cells, water jets, filtration systems, plumbing, etc. There’s a lot more than sod, stonework and trees. But I get your point, $2 million for this seems to be excessive but that also seems to be in line with the rest of the excessive projects in Arlington.

  • (another) Greg

    “Penrose Square… will be an active pedestrian center and community gathering spot…”

    In other words, a place to eat your burrito from Pedro & Vinny’s while waiting for the 16.

  • esmith69

    Clarendouches will always find something negative/critical to say about Columbia Pike and/or South Arlington.

    I personally think that anything they can do to this huge patch of heavily watered/fertilized grass will be a big improvement, so I welcome these plaza plans.

    • ArlingtonWay

      Now, now. South Arlington has lots going for it. For example, its very close to the United States. Very convenient!

  • jim

    What a waste of money.

  • Dan Marting

    Can’t wait to set up my tent at Occupy Penrose. I call dibs on the spot next to the “super bus stop” so I can pick up free wifi and lay on the heated benches!

  • ArlingtonWay

    I assume the phrase “future generations of transit that are planned for Columbia Pike” means “trolley stop.” Christ. You cant make this stuff up.

  • 5555624

    Where’s the love? Come on people! The trolley riders don’t want to see a grassy lot! They want sculptures and water jets!

  • mojo

    Why has construction completely stopped at the superstop across the street by the rite aid? Why does it take months/years to build a bus stop?

  • G Clifford Prout

    They’ve stopped referring to it as a “bosque.” And… could someone let me know what is so “historic” about the site?

    “an inscription of the historic significance of the site”

    • FrenchyB

      The first successful overseas radio messages were relayed from nearby – http://www.arlnow.com/2010/04/15/arlington-the-birthplace-of-radio-sort-of/

      • 5555624

        The towers were a few blocks away, at S Courthouse Rd. There’s already a historical marker there.

      • G Clifford Prout

        I read it as there was something I should know about the corner of Col. Pike and Barton St.

  • CP Neighbor

    A $2 million garden…An unwanted trolley line… Any other money-wasting projects the county can ram down our throats?

    • SARLingtonian

      I’m your neighbor on CP and I support the park and the “trolley” – aka a modern streetcar by those not looking for the negative in everything – and don’t consider any of this as having been rammed down my throat. I can’t wait to see the area become more pleasant and enjoyable to live in. Good times area ahead for the CP!

  • Penrose Peasant

    I’m sure I’d sleep better in an “occupy” tent in that square as Dan M. alluded to, you can hear the upstairs neighbor urinate before the toilet flushes in my Penrose urban apartment.

    • Josh S

      Good to know – another reason to not feel bad about not being able to afford $2400 for two bedrooms.

  • kevin22204

    Yay! I am so happy Arlington pays attention to public spaces. I’d like to see the Columbia Pike Farmer’s Market moved from that tired spot in front of the Rite Aid to this new public space.

    Thank you, Arlington County! You can spend my tax dollars for this anytime! (and I mean that sincerely)


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