Ask Adam: Columbia Pike Corridor Real Estate

by ARLnow.com March 13, 2012 at 11:45 am 8,733 109 Comments

Editor’s Note: This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

“Just wondering what you think about the 22204 market. Do you foresee all the development around Columbia Pike having an impact? I see quite a few knock-downs and new homes springing up within blocks of my house but don’t really seem to feel full-scale gentrification. Still a ways off?” -Sean

As a resident of Arlington County I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz term “Smart Growth”. In my opinion, Columbia Pike is a great example of what is considered to be smart growth. I’ll explain why I think so.

You may already know that the Columbia Pike corridor was a vibrant artery in Arlington between the 1940’s and the arrival of the Metrorail. At the time, approximately one out of three Arlingtonians lived along the Pike. When decisions were made to run the Orange Line through the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor and the Blue Line through the Eisenhower Corridor, development froze along the Columbia Pike corridor and it took a back seat. Between 1970 and 2002 not a single multifamily residential building was constructed along the Columbia Pike corridor and the relative value of land became stagnant or began to decline.

Step one in reviving Columbia Pike was a change to the zoning code. Arlington County and the Pike community introduced a new form based code that provides developers a lot more flexibility with the buildings as long as they conform to a certain look and size. The review period for plans could be reduced from years to months while providing a high degree of predictability for developers, businesses and the community at large. Adoption of form based code in 2002 coincided with what I consider the beginning of Columbia Pike’s revitalization.

We are in the midst of step two. New grocery stores, restaurants, bars, shops and multi-family residences are slowly moving-in along the Pike. There is a blend of old school and new school, which planners intend to maintain. Columbia Pike’s smart growth plan favors diversity among residents, buildings, retail options and homes. The benefit is realized by greater financial and social resiliency. If you are hoping for a Reston Town Center, then I think you will be disappointed with the direction of Columbia Pike. I compare the vision more closely to some of the neighborhoods in the San Francisco area.

The next step is an upgrade in transportation options. Yes, the Pike already has a top notch bus system, but have you ever been drawn to an area because of its bus system? When you are on vacation, are you like me and willing to try any transportation option other than a bus? Could a streetcar system help put Columbia Pike on the map?

Takis Karantonis, Executive Director of Columbia Pike Revitalization explained to me that approval of the Columbia Pike streetcar is cardinal to the continued momentum. It could be the first streetcar system in Northern Virginia. It helps the area prepare for growing transportation needs along the Pike. It helps the area attract new businesses and residents. The streetcar also provides the County and the Pike Community with leverage when it comes to negotiating with developers over public benefits associated with the development process (like affordable housing, open and green public spaces, shared parking, public art, environmental improvements, better architecture, etc.). Spending $250 million in times like these is a tough decision. Just as it was when Arlington dug its heels in about taking the Metro underground. I think we can all agree that the payoff was well worth the investment.

It has gotten to a point where large businesses interested in moving to Arlington and residents alike, are turned off by the high cost of homes. Locations around the Orange Line are saturated and the cost to rent or own in neighborhoods like Clarendon is astronomical.

Guess what, you can buy a modest house or townhouse in the 22204 zip code for the cost of a condo along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. You still have easy access to D.C. and Clarendon. But, as shopping and nightlife options continue to grow along the Pike, you may not even need to venture out of your own neighborhood. More and more home buyers are expanding their search to include the 22204. I foresee this trend continuing.

Actually, I can see Columbia Pike becoming the cooler, edgier option. Yes, residents are happy to have a new grocery store, but they also like being able to buy an authentic burrito from Pedro & Vinny’s. Open a Southside Social instead of a Starbucks. Cheescake Factory and Pottery Barn are probably not a good fit.

Why do I consider this smart growth: The County is weighing the long term effects of their decisions. Transportation options, school crowding, green space, retail diversity and neighborhood diversity are all being taken into consideration. They are taking small, but deliberate steps forward.

This is not just top down either. The neighborhoods that make up the Columbia Pike Corridor have realized their strength in numbers and meet at least once a month. Representatives from Penrose, Arlington Heights, Alcova, Barcroft, Douglas Park, Columbia Heights, Columbia Heights West, Arlington View, Columbia Forest and Foxcroft Heights all sit at the same table to discuss the progress and concerns of their residents. They realize that they have a huge stake in keeping the Pike desirable.

I don’t see full-scale gentrification taking place like Sean asked about. I do see continued momentum revitalizing Columbia Pike. I think that it is not far off from becoming a more frequent consideration for home buyers and home builders, especially if the street car gets approved.

Please keep your questions coming: [email protected]

  • CW

    I can only imagine the fun everyone is going to have with yet another San Francisco comparison.

    Not sure I would qualify Columbia Pike as “easy access” to D.C., clarendon, etc. Compared to Reston, sure. But in my mind, “easy access” is what I have right now where I step out my door, walk one block to the metro, and am at my desk downtown in 20 minutes.

    Still, it blows my mind that we have SFHs down there for half the price of the same thing a couple blocks north and all that’s keeping the prices low is no direct metro access and some boogeyman idea about S. Arl. being second-class.

    Real smart growth would be sucking it up and getting another metro line under Columbia Pike. But this is the U.S., we don’t do capital projects, they turn out badly (like that terrible Eisenhower Interstate System, what a step backways). Instead we just complain about taxes.

    Kudos to Adam for leaving the comments open!

    • JamesE

      Once those street cars go active it will be San Francisco 2.

    • South Arlington

      For someone that hates riding Metro, it is pretty awesome that I can make it to my office in Chinatown from our house in Penrose in 8 minutes in non rush hour, 15 minutes in rush hour. It’s definitely easy access.

      • CW

        Ok, fair, IF one’s office is right next to the 395 tunnel, then yes.

        • South Arlington

          I don’t use the 395 tunnel. The 12st St expressway gets me right to the heart of Metro Center. Not to mention the many thousands of workers that can make it to L’Enfant super easily. North Arlington is slightly better to get to Georgetown and Dupont.

        • meh..

          From my home off Columbia Pike; I get to my office on Constitution Ave in 8 minutes by motorcycle, 20 minutes by bicycle, and 40 minutes by Metro…

      • drax

        Good thing other people like riding Metro and aren’t on the roads with you.

        • CW

          Yeah, I’m also glad that I’m not on the roads with him when he’s on his way home from happy hour…metro is good for that too…

      • JamesE

        I can make it from Ballston to McLean in 10 minutes*

        *At 11 am.

    • Burger

      I am not even sure how to respond to the silliness of a post against a major capital project that made it possible for me to drive to Philadelphia to see my parents in approximately 3 hours.

      • CW

        I am not even sure how to respond to posters that don’t understand sarcasm.

    • NPGMBR

      I’m one of those that lives on the Pike and have so since I moved here in 95. The Pike is definitely easy access to DC. I also walk one block to a MetroBus stop; on the by at 7:40 and at my desk by 8am.

    • Kirk

      “Not sure I would qualify Columbia Pike as “easy access” to D.C., clarendon, etc. Compared to Reston, sure. But in my mind, “easy access” is what I have right now where I step out my door, walk one block to the metro, and am at my desk downtown in 20 minutes.”

      I would. I hop in my car in Penrose and am at my desk in 6-9 minutes, depending on traffic. I happen to get close to free parking with my job, but even if I had to pay it would be well worth it, given that my house would cost at least $300K more if it was just a mile north of where I live.

    • esmith69

      Agreed, TRUE “smart growth” around here has to involve metro. It’s basically like putting an extra efficient bus system underground (where there isn’t anything currently). Obviously this has the added benefit of freeing up space on the roads for cars, peds, or bikes.

      Unfortunately nowadays we’re in a “no spending” political climate. Or at the very least, people just don’t want to pay additional taxes for anything. Funny how everyone is ready to whine about how bad traffic is, but many people refuse to help pay for things that might reduce traffic.

      • CW

        Yay, someone who understood my post!

      • Bus, Metro or bust

        +1. The streetcar is a vanity project that’s 5x the cost of articulated bus for identical carrying capacity and transit times (according to the County’s studies) and will monumentally screw up traffic and hurt businesses during installation relative to buses.

        True smart growth means metro. We should start with the super stops, articulated buses, streetscape and lighting improvements that are in the works, and go for metro later if we can’t get it now.

        • Josh S

          What gives you the authority to declare what “true” smart growth is? Last I checked, it involves density, transit-oriented development, mixed-use developments, maintaining connections to natural features like rivers, etc, and a few other things. I have never seen a discussion of smart growth that insists on a subway. Public transportation, to be sure. But not one mode over another, necessarily, as long as it provides the connectivity and usefulness to promote its use and provide a reasonable alternative to cars.

          • CW

            ^^This is your answer right here, out of your own mouth!! Buses and trolleys don’t provide a “reasonable alternative to cars” because they sit in traffic like cars AND stop more than one would in his or her individual car. Also, the population of the area makes a subway a better match in terms of passenger volume. Thus while “smart growth” in a global sense of course doesn’t favor any one mode, to say that one shouldn’t tailor that policy to the needs of a specific area and choose the most appropriate option would be pretty ridiculous.

      • Arlington, Northside

        No one who lived the the cut and cover going up Wilson Blvd/Fairfax Drive is going to be in favor of going through that again anywhere in Arlington County. The payout was HUGE, but so was the cost and not just the immediate dollars.

        • Southeast Jerome

          I think your post is exactly the kind of attitude that CW is talking about.

          If its costly, takes a long time, a huge inconvenience and a total PAIN – that means it has to be done right.

          It also means that we need strong leaders to accomplish that. I laugh at the leaders of government, at all levels. The kick the can attitude is disgusting.

          Its amazing the metro is underground anywhere or there are highways, or that there are tall buildings. We should thank the leaders we had years ago who had the balls to make a decision that might not be popular, but well worth it.

          Short-sighted viewpoints are a massive problem. Thats what is leading the tysons corner disaster. They will NEVER have what arlington has because they wanted to save some current dollars and not tunnel.

          Last time I checked, all of this could be financed for super cheap at the lowest interest rates on record and paid for over a period of time, like the majority of the world does with capital projects. It is well worth it and I think that Ballston-Rosslyn shows that.

          • CW

            Sure is SJ, sure is.

            I would crawl to work on broken glass for 5 years if it meant I could buy a house in a cheap S. Arl. neighborhood with a guarantee of a subway after those 5 years.

    • Arlington, Northside

      The difference in the North Arlington High Schools and the Wakefield have a HUGE impact on the houseing prices.

      • CW

        I know it is, but when people refuse to consider S. Arl. for this reason, I have three thoughts come to mind:

        1) Any high school in Arlington is better than 99% of the schools in this country, so it’s somewhat silly.

        2) If they’re that concerned, take the difference in house price and save it. Invest it. Then send your kid to a private H.S. and still have money left over.

        3) We don’t live in a steady-state system. Anyone who thinks that S. Arl. is going to be neglected forever is just silly. Look at the above poster who had the light bulb turn on and realized that he could come in from Ashburn and be all of 2 miles from downtown D.C. South Arlington will have its day; by the time your little bundle of joy gets there, Wakefield will probably be on par with the other schools.

      • Erin

        I went to both high schools when there was a REAL difference – the contributing factor to my transfer to Yorktown after just my freshman year (and we’re talking the 90s people). Friends who work in the AC school system now consistently talk about how the playing field between the schools is leveling out. I still did my own research on the renovation plans for WHS (as well as the CPC in general) and was confident in buying a house knowing I would eventually send my two boys to school there.

  • Lloyd

    Did Zimmerman ghost-write this? Jeez.

    • JohnB

      Is it so shocking to you that someone else can think that the Streetcar is a good idea? I support it fully.

      • Did I just agree with a realtor? WTF!

        +1 I’d like to see the street car too JohnB.

        It makes for fun bar crawl and commute to pentagon metro area.

        • Car-Free Diet Arlington Whine

          While I agree with the arguments in favor of Metro, I also strongly favor the streetcar project. I live on Columbia Pike and avoid taking the bus, but the streetcar I would ride on all the time.

      • Burger

        You do realize old Adam has ulterior motives to support higher prices, right?

        • Barcrofter

          Oh jesus relax. All people aren’t trying to get a FAST ONE on you.

          Would love to see a metro under 50/CP but it will NEVER happen.

  • DB


    Carlyle House, now a condo bldg, was built in the mid-70s on the Pike in Arlington.

  • HMS

    Thanks for the article about Columbia Pike. I’m a new Penrose resident. Moved in from Ashburn. I enjoy a 15 min commute to my office in DC and my street is full of kids that are the same age as mine. We do have a few new oversized bungalows but most neighbors have kept the originial structures or worked with an architect to minimize the visual impact to our neighborhood. I am hoping that the Pike becomes a bit more pedestrian friendly as well as bike friendly. Moving to Arlington was the best decision we could have made.

    • DarkHeart

      A few? Expect more of those behemoths in the coming years.

  • meh..

    I REALLY REALLY like the idea of a Southside Social. In fact I said to my wife that they should open one on the Pike when they moved into Common Ground.

    Anyone that’s taken the time to actually explore what the Pike has to offer knows that it’s something special that you just can’t find anywhere else in Arlington. And most people that discover that fact decide to put down roots here instead of other parts of the county. I think the residents of Arlington County (& this website) need to get beyond this whole N. Arl vs. S. Arl nonsense and work towards getting the county as a whole back to the top of the list of Best Places to Live in America…

    • veeta

      +1 on the nonsense factor!

    • South Awwwlington

      We can all agree with that!

    • Erin


  • Coldwell Banker

    as a someone who is looking to buy in Arlington, diversity and easy access to Metro as not on my list of what I am looking for in a neighborhood. I don’t need “cool” or “hip.”

    • Did I just agree with a realtor? WTF!

      As gas hits $5 a gallon you will see home prices in 22204 go up big time as outside the beltway realizes just what the real cost of commuting is.

      Yeah, 22204 is probably the best kept secret in the area. We moved here in 2007 with our two kids and love the area. There are lots of kids, great diversity, cinema draft house, salsa room, twisted vines, lost dog II, the broiler, and more. I’m waiting for Taqueria Poblano to open – HURRY!

      It’s also nice to be between columbia pike and shirlington. Both offer different things depending on what kind of night you are looking for. e.g family dinner or a dank night of drinking at LA Bar and Grill.

      Coldwell Banker – you’re a goof. I dare say it, but I think I agree with Mr. Gallegos. Wait! Did I just agree with a realtor?

      • Nice shout out to The Broiler!

      • Erin

        Dead on. Well done on the Broiler discovery btw, long-time local secret 😉

    • meh..

      What are you looking for in a neighborhood? Just curious. This website is probably THE best place for you to get a feel for what fits for you.

    • Anne

      I beg of you then to please not move into Arlington! We love our diversity! I suggest Loundon county for you, no metro, no diversity.

      • John K.

        Actually, Loudoun is quite diverse these days. I don’t like Loudoun, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say Loudoun (or most communities in the DC area) aren’t diverse.

  • MC 703

    5 years in S. Arl and counting. 3 years in Penrose and 2 years near Shirlington. Looking forward to buying along the Pike in the next 5 years.

    • MC 703

      I spport the streetcar and hoping I end up pulling the trigger on a house before it’s done and property values shoot up

      • Burger

        So I should support your need to build a vast sucking hole of tax revenue that the Trolley will become because you are entitled to not take the bus to work.

        • South Arlington

          Similarly, I pay into a vast sucking hole of tax revenue to support dysfunctional WMATA and the Metro system because you are entitled to not take the bus to work.

          • CW

            Just as I pay into a vast sucking hole of tax revenue that pays for millionaires’ children to go to $100M high schools to build robots and row crew while studying on iPads.

          • South Awwwlington

            And we could keep this going and going and going…Energizer Bunny…Beep, beep!

          • bike commuter

            You can all kiss my vast…never mind.

          • CW

            Right, the point being that while not everyone uses every single taxpayer-funded program, that doesn’t exactly make those programs useless either. However, we hear lots of vocal people here who only think about themselves. So if they don’t like the streetcar or a bike lane, it can’t possibly be of any value to anyone else.

          • Clarendon

            Its the Madison-Hamilton debate with Jefferson in the middle.

          • MC 703

            I am sick and tired of those millionaires in North Arlington getting their roads paved for free on my dime.

          • Southeast Jerome

            yea, tell those rich people off!!! I am sure they are projecting the Arlnow.com comments on their 85 inch tv while wiping their a$$es with 20’s.

            Get real. The super rich in N. Arlington most likely are very educated highly paid people that work long hours, or they are some sort of foreign royalty or family money.

            Also- they most likely pay by themselves wayyyyy more than anyone on here does for govt services yet they use them the least.

            The 1% bashing should stop just as the bashing on S. Arl should stop. It goes both ways.

          • MC 703

            Good point SA. Burger obviously doesn’t get it.

  • Margo

    The Barkley condo behind Bob and Edith’s was built in 1982.

  • veeta

    As a resident of a Columbia Pike-adjacent neighborhood, I support the streetcar because I’ve ridden them overseas and like the idea, but I will probably rarely use it. I commute to north Arlington on bike, foot, and bus; I can get to Clarendon metro on foot in 25 minutes; and I can catch one of several buses to one of several metro stations in mere minutes.
    But you said one thing that really made the difference to me: “you can buy a modest house or townhouse in the 22204 zip code for the cost of a condo along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.” I did, and I am thankful for it every single day!
    If you want to have the quality of life that Arlington offers in terms of commute and everything else but lack a 500+k budget for a home, I highly recommend investing in this area. There are many houses with a lot of potential–they are just waiting for some TLC.

  • JamesE

    I’ve posted this before in real estate threads but if you currently own now is a good time to refinance. 3.875% 30 year fixed just went through for me, refinanced two years ago at 5% and my payments dropped over $200. I am pretty sure rental rates in my building are now equal to or more than my mortgage + taxes + condo fee.

    • Rebecca

      Smart move and yes, when it’s cheaper to buy than rent, it’s a good thing.

      • CW

        Where is it cheaper to buy than rent?

        • CW

          (for a new homeowner, not someone who’s already paid down part of the principal and done a refi)

          • i moved to arlington village (JUST off the pike) in august 2010 after renting (in 22206) for 2 years. i was living in a 3 br with roommates and was planning to go back to my own place (i’d lived with multiple roommates, one roommate, and alone over the past decade, and made the decision to take the next step back to living alone). i was looking in both north and south arlington at 1br apartments, and was astounded by the cost. just out of curiosity, i talked to my parents’ close friend who happens to be a realtor, just to get an idea of what it might cost to buy. i had absolutely no intention of actually buying, having recently paid off my car and with 30+ years of grad school debt payments in my future. less than 3 months later, i’d closed on a condo that looks and feels like a townhouse with a lawn i don’t have to mow and a sidewalk i don’t have to shovel, literally stumbling distance from a bar, 2 blocks from the cinema draft house and b&e’s, and with the promise of a new grocery store and new businesses in easy (<5min) walking distance. my mortgage + condo fees cost a bit less than rent for a smaller 1 bedroom apartment in the same neighborhood would have, and significantly less than the similar 1 bedroom in ballston/clarendon/courthouse. not to mention the fact that it's all mine, and all of the new development means my property value can only go up. my interest rate was so low that my lender told me i'll most likely never refinance, and while i don't have plans to move any time soon, i know that when i do, i won't be upside down.

            long response to an excellent question, i never would have believed it until suddenly i was a first time homeowner myself.

          • CW

            Thanks! Although even summer 2010 is a whole other world ago in real estate terms.

            My biggest regret is not going all-in on an R-B condo in 2009. Every time I walk by Buck Realtors on Wilson, they still have the sign on the window that says “Check out the great values on the orange line for under $350,000!”. Just hanging there, taunting me. Used to be full of listings underneath. Hasn’t had one in a year now. I don’t know why they still have the sign up.

  • Burger

    — When you are on vacation, are you like me and willing to try any transportation option other than a bus?–

    Is there some vast untapped tourist center along the Pike that I am not aware of….otherwise this comment is silly.

    • meh..

      Yeah…personally i’m on the fence regarding the street car…
      This comment doesn’t really solidify a stance for me…
      I GUESS he’s referring to tourist that choose to stay in Arlington when they visit DC… But as much as I love the Pike…I can’t say i’d recommend any of the hotels along it.

      • FrenchyB

        True, but the streetcar could attract new hotel development.

    • Missing the Obvious

      Now that they have chased the ladies of the night out of the Days Inn, I imagine that the tourist dollars spent along The Pike will be moving elsewhere as well !!

  • Coldwell Banker

    nope, just looking for a neighborhood where future kids live in a safe neighborhood w/o all the problems associated with a Metro stop. we would like to be with people like us. Grocery store and a few places to eat are key, but don’t need a hipster/trendy bar.

    • meh..

      Well, I hope you didn’t get the impression that the Pike is in anyway a hipster or trendy mecca.. I can assure you that it’s DEFINITELY not….at least not at this point. The Rosslyn – Ballston corridor still has that crowd pretty much locked down.

      I’d venture to say that 22204 is perhaps the most family and young to middle age adult zip code in the county. I’m talking 30+ crowd with young to teenage children. It’s definitely a safe area despite what folks may allude to here in the comments. Much of the small amount of crimes you see on the crime report are localized to known hot spots in the county. In general, i’d venture to say that anywhere in Arlington County is likely to be safer than pretty much any other jurisdiction you’d find inside the beltway….

    • Anne

      Please please please stay out of Arlington. “living with people like us” is very offensive to saying we don’t like races to commingle, no matter what yours may be. Stay far out as I do not want my mixed child to be influenced by you or your poor values.

      • John Cocteau

        Oh, so diversity is great as long as it adheres to YOUR kind of diversity and values? Typical Arlington logic.

        If only more people thought exactly like us. Yes! That’s it – we can create the perfect society. At least JamesE and CW will be happy, as all restaurants will be Taco Bell. . .

    • Erin

      If you sincerely think that lack of a Metro stop prevents crime, keeps out “trendy” establishments, and prevents co-mingling with your ‘people’…then I would suggest a trip to Georgetown to fully understand the fallacy of your statement. Those residents wanted the same thing…

      We ALL want a safe place for our kids to grow up – that is not unique to your ‘people’. It is your generalizations and apparent ignorance that pose a far greater threat to the futures of our children than any Metro stop ever could.

  • SomeGuy

    Once again, kudos to Mr. Gallegos for leaving comments open on his sponsored articles. I read every word of his article, along with the comments. And I might actually bother to read those lame Beer Guy and Wine Guy articles if their authors left comments open on those.

  • veeta

    Yeah, most def nothing trendy going on down here. But if that rep gets us quality independent businesses, then I’m happy to oblige!
    What I think is true is that the area is more diverse (esp for Arlington), more in terms of life stage and economically than the common definition. I have neighbors who are single, elderly, and young families with children. If we can reduce the speeding traffic and prevent the McMansionization, then this is where I’ll be living for the rest of my life in the DC area.

  • YTK

    More tacky hi rises that block the air movement so that more commuters in their cars can stinkify those gentrified neighborhoods.
    Columbia Pike, which used to be a nice airy tree-filled area, is now an amalgam of cobbled-together edifices that don’t do anything to improve the area.

    • meh..

      Take a drive down the Pike AND take a look at the open-for-public-viewing of the Pike development plans and you’ll realize that you aren’t speaking the truth here.

      My recollection of the Pike prior to what is going on now was a hodgepodge of buildings, strip centers, and rundown establishments in disparate need of repair. Some of that element still exists if you really still desire it…

      The future plans for the pike will indeed result in MORE greenspace and LESS concrete. Take the new apartment building where the Giant is located. The previous site was an old rundown Giant grocery and random shops and a HUGE paved parking surface with virtually NO greenspace.. Look at what’s there now… Also look at the plans for the current Rosenthal dealership…

      • FrenchyB

        Exactly. I don’t recall the Giant & Safeway parking lots as being ‘nice airy tree-filled area(s)’, nor was the run-down strip mall at 5500 Columbia Pike.

      • JohnB

        +1. All new developments are required to plant street trees and the medium density of the form based code will result in more people walking from place to place, not driving.

  • Josh S

    I object to these thiny disguised marketing newsletters/posts and frankly would be less inclined to real ARLnow because of them.

    • meh..

      Not sure what you mean here. It clearly says in a fairly prominent black box “SPONSORED ARTICLE”

    • Michael H.

      There’s also an editor’s note in italic font at the very beginning of the article. Pretty hard to miss the fact that this is a sponsored article. It’s not disguised at all.

    • Car-Free Diet Arlington Whine

      Dude, you are pretty dumb. ARL.now needs to pay their bills, the realtor not just runs an ad, but shares their expertise and point of view. If you don’t like it, Go Now!

  • Arlwhenver

    If you are buying what this guy is selling we’ll be listing something real for sale around the 1st of May — suitcases full of cash or pre-approved mortgage buyers will do.

    • What are you talking about?

  • kat

    Just because the new businesses popping up along the Pike are less likely to be parts of a chain doesn’t make them any more authentic or better values than Cheesecake Factory or Crate & Barrel. To a one, the new restaurants that have opened over the last two years feature pumped up prices and low quality, poorly prepared and sourced food (including Pedro & Vinny’s, which displaced an ACTUALLY authentic Pupuseria. If you call these burritos “authentic” then I feel sorry for you because you haven’t had a good burrito). The beauty of the diverse ethnic markets are what the new “development” installations of a super Giant et al. is likely to chase out. The high price/low quality also applies to some of the new businesses and services that have arrived here. Say what you like about the homogeneity of Clarendon, at least you find sophisticated food establishments there. My experience on the Pike has been low quality, overpriced goods and services offered seemingly with the implication that it’s what’s here, so I’ll take it and be happy about it. The comparison to San Francisco is laughable.

    • meh..

      The authenticity of many of these businesses is that the owners have a vested interest in the community directly. They don’t just see the locals a money. They view and treat them as neighbors and friends. You go into any of the businesses along the pike on a regular basis and you’ll see the same faces, and they will remember your face too. They don’t look at the Pike as a market or a stat…they look at it as a community and a place they want to establish themselves in and become a part of. Value is a lot deeper than the cost of goods sold. Factor in the cost of parking, or the cost of driving around in circles to find parking next time you visit other neighborhoods in Arlington with dining establishments….

      I recall the papuseria…. not fondly. I was never drawn to eat there due to it’s poor and unsanitary appearance. I don’t see establishments that contribute to blight as adding any value to the community. If you can’t maintain a 6′ wide X 12′ long trailor…I don’t think I wanted to even attempt to try the food you cooked on the inside…
      You should probably try some of the other places and come back and comment. Twisted Vines, Lost Dog, Sangam, William Jeffrey’s. Heck…even many of the older establishments are making attempts to improve themselves due to the new competition.

      Nothing’s been chased out. Giant has ALWAYS been on the Pike. It was torn down, and reopened with the new apartment building above and around it. Bangkok 54’s restaurant is still doing just great as it ever was.

      Aside from P. Brennens, i’ve had nothing but good experiences with all of the new establishments on the pike. The prices are pretty much in line with all the other restaurants in the region. Are you expecting cheap eats because of your opinion of the worthiness of the residents along the Pike??

      I DO wish that car title loan place would shut down STAT though…I HATED to see it open up next to Dunkin. I would rather have the fake Verizon store back instead….

      Again…enough with the N.Arlington vs. S.Arlington nonsense. The county is small enough for there to be destination spots throughout.

      • meh..

        I meant to say Bangkok 54’s grocery store….

      • kat

        I’ve tried all of the establishments you’ve listed multiple times. I looked forward to the opening of each with anticipation and went into each really really REALLY wanting to have a good experience because there are so many aspects of living along the Pike that I enjoy. With the exception of Sangam and Pedro & Vinny (which is hit or miss in terms of service), each time I’ve been struck by the exact opposite of what you’re claiming I’d experience — poor (and often neglectful or downright rude) service, self-congratulatory marketing and menus boasting prices equivalent to what you’d pay in Clarendon, with the actual resulting food served being made from poorly sourced, poorly prepared food.

        The owners of Lost Dog and Pedro & Vinny do not live in South Arlington as far as I know.

        I don’t know how you can pass judgment on the Pupuseria if you never patronized it. And I don’t hate Pedro & Vinny’s for what it is. But what it is definitely does not include “authentic Mexican.”

        I’ve never had anything but good experiences at Bangkok 54 and Sangam. I can’t wait until Eammonn’s and Taqueria Poblano open. I know those owners and their other establishments and I know their other establishments to boast higher quality and value than Twisted Vines, P Brennan, Lost Dog or William Jeffrey’s Tavern, so I can only hope that the influence of the former will force the latter to step up their game.

        • Meh..

          Based on Yelp reviews alone, your experiences at these establishments does not reflect the majority at all.

          Again….re-read my response…I don’t think I said anything about the owners living in S.Arlington. Their interest and participation in the community beyond just selling goods is what makes them neighbors.

          I stated clearly how I could pass judgement on the Papuseria. If you research and know about the history and ownership of that parcel of land, you’d have a better understanding of my viewpoint. I don’t advocate or support blight in my community. The previous ownership contributed to the blight along the Pike. I hope to see some other establishments along the Pike close and make way for businesses that contribute and not take away…(here’s looking at you Mrs.Chen’s…shape up or ship out)..

          • Piker

            Based on Yelp!!?? LOL

          • I’d be interested in seeing a poll of ArlNow commenters who also comment on Yelp and if there is a correlation between negative reviews and begrudging comments.

          • Piker

            Probably the same correlation between positive reviews and positive comments.

            Did you have some point to make?

          • kat

            Based on common sense alone, Yelp is biased, easily paid off and really not reflective of much of anything real at all.

            In my opinion, you cannot claim to be “interested” or “invested” in or to “contribute to” rather than “take away from” a community to whom you sell food made by Aramark at high-level prices a la Lost Dog. (A waitperson explicitly told me that they got their food from Aramark — a well known low cost, low quality food supplier who is most well known for sourcing to low budget building cafeterias). Pumping up the prices on low quality product does not help a community. Being innovative, and offering high quality local alternatives while supporting community prosperity by charging fair prices does.

            It’s easy to call a business owned by a minority and founded to serve the food of the local ethnicity a “blight” because it does not receive enough business (and doesn’t have a pre-established successful food truck in the District) to afford maintenance. It’s easy and also subtly racist and detrimental to the precise ethnic diversity that makes the Pike a great departure from Clarendon. It saddens me that the approach is not to bolster existing minority businesses but to chase them out and put in shiny new “fake local” businesses that sell homogenous products at jacked up prices to attract the same kind of boring and annoying rabble who clog the streets of Clarendon. And at least in Clarendon you can get better food for the money.

            To be clear, I don’t begrudge Pedro & VInny’s their business. As I said, I appreciate their offerings for what they are, though to call them “authentic” is disingenuous (the owner is Italian). It’s just too bad that instead of supporting preexisting local business and trying to attract the kind of community that would support it, the best option is to chase out the ethnicity and appease the masses.

            Did anyone else notice that about a year or so ago, the barber shop called “Pablo & Nancy’s” changed its name to “Nancy’s.” Or that M & R Grocery closed down? Or that the crazy electronics store with handmade Spanish language signs is gone? Senor Pan is a poor replacement.

          • John K.


          • meh..

            Hmmm..Yelp is biased now? Reviews by real people are now biased? ..wow.. nice stretch..

            If you think that Lost Dog is the only establishment in Arlington that sources their food from Aramark, Sisco, etc…then wow…I don’t know what to say. I really don’t quite get exactly what argument you’re trying to make now.

            LOL…subtly racist?? Wow. Nice low. To be clear here….. There is a reason that the Papuseria closed…perhaps many reasons…. not ONE of those reasons is subtle racism or anything that you’ve attempted to allude to so eloquently. A blight is a blight is a blight. Nearly EVERY preexisting food establishment on the Pike is minority owned, and most do a superb job at keeping their establishments up to snuff. So subtle racism? I think not.

            Please stop with this veil of ethnic concern…. your original post reeked of elitism and disdain for the lowly Pike…now you’re a champion for preserving the ethnic diversity along it???

            What I read into what you’ve posted is that your perception is based solely on what you wish the Pike to remain…and NOT what the Pike has the potential to be. I imagine you desire an Arlington where the have’s and have-nots remain in their own respective neighborhoods with establishments that cater to their needs only. Keep the Pike “ethnic” and keep the rest of Arlington “sophisticated” ….
            no thanks. 🙂

            M&R sold me outdated food and even molded produce on more than one occasion…. so, I wasn’t sad to see them go.

            That crazy electronics store with the handmade signs?? You ever wonder HOW they stayed in business so long??…go talk to ACPD, i’m sure you’ll get an earful.

            First of all, Senor Pan didn’t open up in the same storefront as the electronics shop. Second of all, Senor Pan has some of the best baked goods I’ve had anywhere in Arlington. Let me guess, you don’t like Senor Pan because the owners aren’t “ethnic” enough for you??

          • ColumbiaForester

            Loved this response meh! Kat had no way to respond…

          • Piker

            Yeah, people have biases. Is that news to you? Wow, not sure what to say there.

            Read every comment in this thread. People have opinions, or biases as you would call them.

            Not everybody agrees with you. That does not mean they are biases, it just means you are different from them.

          • Car-Free Diet Arlington Whine

            What problems do you have with Italians, and who are you to put-down Senor Pan, you outright fool.

        • Car-Free Diet Arlington Whine

          You seem pretty stuck up to me. I’ve been to Twisted Vines. The service seemed especially friendly, there where other guests obviously having a good time, and the food seemed fine.

          Don’t know why you want to bad-mouth so many businesses.

  • meh..

    I don’t really get all the hubbub about this article. YES, it’s sponsored. YES, it’s written by a real estate agent. YES, it is a blatant promotion of Arlington County & Columbia Pike corridor in particular. Exactly WHAT is the problem here?
    The county and residents of this county would rather live in a region where home sales are stagnant? And there’s no good to be said about any neighborhoods?
    I find it appalling that people are quick to take issue with things that actually serve to improve the prosperity and growth of the communities that they live in.

    Get over yourselves people. If you’re on this site, you’re likely an Arlington resident or interested in becoming one. You don’t pay for this site, so if you don’t like what it’s offering to the community, then log off and don’t come back.

    • Car-Free Diet Arlington Whine


  • justme

    where is your beer garden south arlington? *ducks*

    • Piker

      Impromptu event under the Four Mile Run bridge.

  • What can all of this mean for Foxcroft Heights? A 16 story Sheraton constructed prior to any land use planning on The Pike, w/ over 400 rooms (not a misprint) is the default anchor. Intermingled row houses and bungalows dating back to 1938 surround the anchor. Henderson Hall to the west, Arlington National Cemetery to the northwest, a soon to be razed Navy Annex to the north (which will become Cemetery) and VDOT (state police & I-395 staging area) to the East. Southgate Rd will be no more upon razing of Navy Annex. Will the Steetcar save F.H.? Can it be saved?

  • Ryan

    This is an excellent article. As someone who is quite happy living in South Arlington as it is – I’m excited about the development and glad to hear that things like a cheese cake factory won’t be a good fit – I’d puke. The street car is a must. You are so right about that point. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    • Erin

      I agree Ryan – this is an excellent article. As an Arlington native and fellow homeowner in South Arlington, I chose 22204 not only because I grew up here…but because I also want to raise my young family here. I went to high school on the North side and love that area – but I still deliberately chose Douglas Park because of the potential of this area in the long-run and the diversity it offers. Similar to what the author of this article mentions, it is my belief that the Columbia Pike corridor has the opportunity to expand its footprint and impact on the community in a MAJOR way while preserving its unique identity. We sure don’t need another Clarendon.


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