Courthouse Plaza Construction Progressing, but Slowly

by Katie Pyzyk March 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm 4,609 29 Comments

There’s progress on the brick work construction that has left Courthouse Plaza torn up for more than a year. But not enough progress that visitors can expect to walk through anytime soon without dodging fences.

A section near N. 15th Street, close to the AMC Theatres, appears to be finished and crews have moved farther into the plaza. Just looking around the area reveals that there’s a significant amount of brick that hasn’t even been torn up yet, much less replaced. The project is already nearly a year behind schedule.

Some business and restaurant owners are frustrated with how long the project has taken, and how it has driven away customers. Toscana Grill Operating Partner Joe Smith said the construction has definitely hurt his business. With the warm weather, the restaurant has set up tables outdoors. However, the usual area for outdoor dining is currently reduced because it’s partially blocked by the brick work.

“I knew there were going to be things that I have to overcome, and this is just one of those things. We’re just trying to bide our time and stay optimistic,” Smith said. “We’re looking forward to the brand new patio.”

Smith says customers have commented on the construction, but many dedicated patrons continue to show up despite the mess. He notes there’s been a lot of progress recently and hopes crews will move on to a new section in a week or so, and Toscana Grill will be able to reclaim its full outdoor space.

We contacted Vornado, which owns Courthouse Plaza, but did not receive a call back.

  • Arlingtron

    I just walked through this plaza. A lot of areas fenced off, more than the amount of active workers (two to three) justifies. It does appear that about 40% was done, another 40% being worked on, and the remaining 20% needs to be started. I was glad to see work being performed but wonder why this takes years and not just months.

  • novasteve

    I walk through this every day. The only thing I can say is that it could be worse, the people in charge of fixing Metro’s escalators could be doing this work, which would mean it would be a job that never will be finished.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      Hmmm, that was almost a positive comment. Are you feeling ok? ;)-

    • Eponymous Coward

      How many Metro escalator repairs are more than a year behind schedule? If we stipulate (for argument) that Metro is the benchmark for incompetence, these guys have beat that in spades. The plaza businesses are getting throttled.

  • Christine

    I don’t know why this is taking so long either. The Empire State Building was built in 13 months. If I were a business owner at the plaza, I’d be really ticked off. Also, the quality of the brickwork isn’t that great. There are already chips in some areas and the bricks don’t line up correctly in others.

  • Fmr. Arlingtonian

    Actually, people avoid Toscana because the food sucks (see Yelp) and because the previous management (but presumably the same ownership) ripped people off by charging higher prices than their menu indicated.

    • Edit

      People used to avoid Toscana because the food used to suck. I went there once and vowed never to return. Now it is great. Better pizza than Fireworks or anywhere else in the area. Way better Italian dishes than Listrani’s or anything else in the area.

    • AllenB

      I’ve eaten there several times in the past few months. Since the new management took over the food is really, really good. Great pizza and pasta, just the kind of place the neighborhood. I walk past there almost daily and slowly but surely the place is getting more crowded.

      If you look at the Yelp reviews (I have) you’ll see that for some reason, all of the latest reviews are getting filtered out. Check out the filtered reviews portion at the bottom of the page and you’ll see.


      • Re AllenB

        The food may have improved very recently (judging by the filtered Yelp reviews), but there are still quite a few 1- and 2-start reviews from as recently as Jan ’12 and last summer (indicating that “new management” had taken over by that time).

        Until there is new *ownership*, I will not be going back. The place attempted to defraud me. They claimed they did not have enough menus and then tacked on several dollars to both entrees that we ordered. I already knew the prices from the menu at the front door, so I called the manager/owner on it. He gave me a very sheepish look and handed me the overcharged money back. It was clearly not an accident, based on his reaction. Having a new manager and chef is great, but I’m not giving money to owners who operated a business that engaged in this sort of behavior.

        • AllenB

          I hate it when someone tries to run down a local business with non-facts.

          Since August when the new owners took over, there is a total of three 1-2 star reviews (one on the regular page, two filtered) while there are almost forty 4-5 star reviews.

          If you have a problem with them (and of course this is just your side of the story), fine, don’t go back. But don’t lie about things. I’ve had nothing but great food, attentive service and correct change since I’ve been going there. And the yelp reviews bear me out.

    • CSEM

      The old Toscana was a mess – since the new management, the new Toscana is wonderful and has been added to our dining rotation. It’s great to see them making a go of it under the weight of a rather unattractive exterior surrounding.

      Joe’s menu is straight to the point good and he will customize it for you however you wish – a little extra pinch here and little spice there. He’s out in the dining area for a quick check on everyone that is neither evasive nor arrogant. Cannot wait for the construction to end to sit outside with some good pasta and great wine.

      Give it another try…

    • joe

      Today is our year & a half anniversary since we relaunched The New Toscana as an Authentic Jersey Pizzeria.. couldn’t be happier.

      One of the hardest things is to turn around a failing restaurant and despite the old management/reputation and crazy construction project that has come to pass we’re standing stronger than ever!

      Thanks for all the support! 🙂

  • Socialist Kenyan

    If this was about some county project, there’d be at least half a dozen comments already about how you can’t trust the government to get things done on time and within budget.

    So let’s hear it for private enterprise!

    • drax

      It’s still their fault, somehow.

    • Eponymous Coward


    • Capitalist

      Actually, the public is not paying for this screw up – that’s the difference. It’s vornado’s customers problem, not taxpayers’.

      • drax


      • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

        Thank-you for pointing that out….the ACDC groupies seem to have a hard time understanding that point !!

        • B-Rad

          I think the proportion and number of complaining comments here are about appropriate considering this affects only a small number of people relative to the population of Arlington.

    • Josh S


  • Contrarian in Arlington

    Brought to you by Vornado – the same folks who are going to “transform” Crystal City. Gives one pause, no?

  • ClarendonBlvd

    I wonder if the rents have gone up during this time?

  • YTK

    Oh this heah is the Slow South — they do things ALOT SLOOOWER here.


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