County Board to Vote on Changes at Pentagon Row

by Katie Pyzyk March 5, 2012 at 11:02 am 5,390 21 Comments

During its meeting on Saturday, the County Board is expected to vote on the proposed revamp of the central plaza at Pentagon Row.

The proposal includes plans to expand the length of the ice rink by 40 feet, add synthetic turf and add two 800 square foot freestanding retail structures. Approving the proposal would also add an additional month to the ice rink’s operating season, making it October through March, instead of November through March.

This proposal came up at the December 10 County Board hearing but was deferred to January. When it came up at the January 21 meeting, the proposal was again deferred to resolve issues with the plan’s two freestanding structures.

The small structures would be added to the northeastern and southwestern areas of the plaza, to be used year-round. At the January meeting, county staff suggested only adding the northeastern structure. There was concern that the southwestern structure along S. Joyce St would obstruct views into the plaza and make the space feel too crowded. When the applicant, Street Retail, Inc., said it wouldn’t be economically feasible to build only one, the issue was deferred until this Saturday’s meeting.

County staff recommend approval of the plan, with a few tweaks to the original proposal. To prevent visual obstruction, the new freestanding structures will have to be as transparent as possible. The one on S. Joyce St will also be built with a flat roof instead of a gabled roof.

As part of the expansion of the ice rink area, two existing planters will be removed. To make up for the lost green space, artificial turf will be added. It would be exposed during warmer months and covered by the rink during colder months. Adding the turf actually allows for an additional 775 square feet of space that is currently largely unusable due to the planters. A number of conditions must be met to ensure the turf is of high quality and can handle hot weather.

The plaza design also includes temporary shade structures, a fire pit, an interactive water display, year-round seating and elevated seating during the cold season to view the ice rink.

Street Retail, Inc. has been working with the Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge civic associations to address questions and concerns about the proposed changes. Residents were surveyed about the proposal and 70 percent are in favor of the plan. Some of the new conditions in the proposal were added in response to concerns raised by neighbors.

The vote on the proposed changes comes amid a restaurant shakeup at Pentagon Row. Several restaurants suddenly shut their doors late last year, and will be replaced by new ones in the coming months.

  • YTK

    How interesting —
    1- get rid of more live greenery in Arlington – sure!
    2- do you think the local doggies will appreciate the artificial turf?

    • Rick

      The dogs are fine on gravel in public dog parks

  • Clarendon

    The biggest difference in the pictures is that the colors are more saturated in the ‘proposed’ and the sky is better equalized so it is blue and has clouds. I support these changes!

    • brendan

      yeah… that’s what i first noticed, they just cranked up the saturation, added a few umbrellas and people walking around in brightly colored clothing… the trees are also taller.

  • WFY

    A bigger rink would be a welcome addition to Pentagon Row. The artificial turf is weird, but overall seems like a decent plan.

  • Cakes

    Slight hijack: “Holiday Tree”

    • FrenchyB

      Yes, by that standard, the accompanying decoration should be referred to as a ‘Holiday Candelabra’.

  • Cakes

    My first thought when seeing this was:

    “This is it! This is the answer. It says here… that a bolt of lightning is going to strike the clock tower at precisely 10:04pm, next Saturday night! If… If we could somehow… *harness* this lightning… *channel* it… into the flux capacitor… it just might work. Next Saturday night, we’re sending you back to the future! “

  • Michael H.

    I like it, although I agree with some of the concerns about the southwestern structure. Expanding the size of the skating rink should attract many more visitors during the winter months. I know that some residents of D.C. already make the trip to Pentagon Row just to use the skating rink.

    I’m not sure what the objection is regarding live greenery. The total number of trees looks to be about the same as there are now. The artificial turf would be fine. There is no grass currently, just hard concrete. So the project wouldn’t be removing any grassy areas.

    The stage and the temporary shade structures are a good idea. There are several outdoor concerts in the courtyard over the summer. With a better, permanent stage, perhaps they could offer even more shows with local performers.

    Would there still be space for outdoor seating for the adjacent restaurants? It seems like the restaurants would still be able to offer outdoor seating under the shade trees.

    • Michael H.

      I forgot that there are a couple small grassy areas. But those really aren’t much space for a dog to run around in. There are much bigger parks nearby at Virginia Highlands and Long Bridge Park.

      • SteveP

        Long Bridge and Virginia Highlands aren’t off-leash parks, are they?

    • WeiQiang

      I echo the concern about the outdoor restaurant seating. Doesn’t that generate more revenue in the Spring/Summer/Fall months?

  • Tabs

    Who’s paying for this?

    • We all are.

    • Rick

      The developer, which is why it’s perplexing to me that the County is invovled. The fact that they’re dragging their feet however, is crystal clear.

  • Frank

    Most likely, the merchants will be paying for this…whether in their “Common Area Maintenance” fees, the increase in property taxes due to increased property value, etc. The developer just passes all thames kind of expenses right on through to the businesses renting the spaces…

  • Frank

    Huh, meant to say “all THESE”

  • CourthouseChris

    I will gladly pay my share for this by eating regularly at Nando’s. Sweet sweet Nando’s.

    • AllenB

      +1 I live in Courthouse too but would gladly drive to Nando’s.

  • Josh S

    Yeah, I guess so.

    But operating an outdoor ice rink in October is crazy. Waste of electricity……Heck, even well into November it’d be nuts….

    • Tabs

      I agree. And remember how nice November was last year.


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