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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com April 30, 2012 at 8:58 am 2,927 75 Comments

Pike Buildings Set for Redevelopment — The buildings along Columbia Pike that house Rappahannock Coffee, L.A. Nails and Saah Furniture are set for redevelopment. A developer has proposed a single seven-story building to replace the aging buildings on the site. [Arlington Mercury]

School Board Approves Sequoia Plaza Lease — The Arlington School Board has approved a lease for office space in Sequoia Plaza, next to the new headquarters of the county’s Department of Human Services. The office space will allow the school system to move out of the Clarendon Education Center building and the Syphax Building on N. Quincy Street. [Sun Gazette]

H-B Student Production Accepted to Capital FringeMindset, an original H-B Woodlawn student production, has been accepted to the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival. Mindset creator and H-B Woodlawn junior Jace Casey says he’s “excited” to be showcasing his production at the annual performing arts festival.

Naked Man on the GW Parkway — A naked man was reportedly taken into police custody this morning after being spotted by drivers on the GW Parkway near Memorial Bridge. [NBC Washington]

  • it’s too chilly to run naked this morning.

    • Novanglus

      I wonder if it was someone taking Ambien…

      Your nightmares become real, but you sleep right through them.

  • Arlington, Northside

    Did not know that Crazy Ned wandered that far down the Potomac from McLean.

  • Ned

    I was wearing socks.

    • Westover05

      You should have just been wearing sock.

  • John Fontain

    Regarding the Columbia Pike redevelopment project, the article contains this quote: “In this case, HALRB members said the owners hope to trade a green building (LEED) designation for the extra floor. Members said a LEED designation should grant a developer extra square footage, not another entire level on a building.”

    How long is it going to take for the County to figure out that LEED designation is a largely meaningless certification akin to ISO certification (i.e., just using normal modern construction techniques will yield LEED designation as long as the developer is willing to pay the fees to register and get certified)?

    • Harry Rogers

      Hold the backhoes! Seven friggin stories? As an Arlington Village resident how can the zoning allow for a seven story building next to our low-rise town house community? What about all the talk about “step down” and “tapering” we hear about with other projects adjacent to residential?

      • Fairfaxian for transit

        its right on the Pike itself. Where would you taper down? Besides if they end up with the as of right 6 story building, thats not that big. Its not like tapering down from 12 stories, say.

        • AVer

          That site is pretty small. Any multi-story building on the site is likely to be constructed VERY close to the property line. The AV townhouses are also very close to the property line. At least with the Penrose construction there is a street in between.

      • WeiQiang

        Even in Crystal City, they tapered down from Crystal House/Tower to the 519 Lofts [?] … and they don’t have single-family residential across the street.

        Having said that, the current limits on the Pike – or any street – are well-known.

    • KalashniKEV

      LEED is a scam at face value. It’s not something they’re going to one day just “realize.”

      • John Fontain

        I just hope the County doesn’t give away another story of development in exchange for a largely meaningless LEED certification.

        • drax

          Make the case for why it is meaningless.

    • Josh S

      I think you’d have to compare buildings of recent vintage with and without LEED designation to really understand the differences. I suspect it is a stretch to just assume that all the things that go into getting a LEED designation are automatically done by builders these days, especially if you’re looking at LEED beyond the basic level. For example, several recent county buildings were built with LEED designation and feature green roofs. I don’t think anyone is doing that as a matter of course.

      Whether the LEED requirements are properly enforced is a different matter.

      • Arlingtune

        Sounds like you don’t know much about LEED.

        • Josh S

          This comment is about as helpful as a stick in the eye.


          • Thes

            Well, how about this study which concluded, in part: “On average, LEED buildings used 18-39% less energy per floor area than their conventional counterparts. However, 28-35% of LEED buildings used more energy than their conventional counterparts. Further, the measured energy performance of LEED buildings had little correlation with certification level of the building, or the number of energy credits achieved by the building at design time. “

          • Arlingtune

            Useful comparisons by Thes.

          • Josh S

            There are just all sorts of questions one has to ask to gain a complete understanding of the comparison. Approx 30% of LEED buildings used more energy than their conventional counterparts. How did they define “conventional counterpart?”

            In any case, you may be pointing out flaws in the certification system, but I’m not sure that you are pointing out flaws in the county making an effort to promote building more energy efficient buildings.

            One hundred years from now, if LEED is still around, people will be able to find flaws with it. But the fact that it exists at all is a good thing for society to the extent that it promotes an ideal, raises awareness, and provides a basis for discussion between planning agencies and the developers that come before them.

            Again, I strongly doubt that every (or even most) building that has been LEED certified over the years was built in the same way it would have been built absent LEED. The fact that the researchers you cite above concluded that “on average” LEED buildings are more energy efficient than their “conventional counterparts” seems to reinforce my assertion.

          • FLW

            Name 5 things about the way a building is built that can earn LEED credits. Things mentioned in this thread and Googling not allowed. No lifeline calls.

          • Thes

            Josh S. I linked to the study, so you could find out how the study authors defined terms and made comparisons. After you read the study, I will be interested to know what flaws, if any, you find.

            But bear in mind, Josh S., that a hundred years from now, if this study on LEED’s limitations is still around, people will still be able to find flaws with it. But the fact that this study exists at all is a good thing for society to the extent that it promotes critical thinking and raises awareness, and provides a discussion between activists who promote untested standards, and the results (if any) those standards wind up producing in terms of actual environmental improvement. (see what I did there?)

            The researcher’s conclusion that “on average” LEED buildings are more energy efficient than their “conventional counterparts” does not suggest which one is cause and which one is effect. John Fontaine and others have argued that LEED is simply a way for developers who were *already* going to build a more efficient building get bonus density for what they were going to do regardless of LEED.

          • John Fontain

            Josh, if you take the time to go through the scoring criteria for LEED, you’ll see that you can rack up a large number of points (and basically get to certification) just by using traditional, modern building techniques.

            Also, you can get points for things such as:

            -infill building
            -not building on wetlands or floodplains
            -building within 1/2 mile of existing infrastructure (water and sewer lines)
            -building within a 1/2 mile of public transporation

            In the case of the Columbia Pike redevelopment project, they will be getting points for meeting “criteria” that they would have met already anyways (i.e., they didn’t do anything special to earn the points above).

          • drax

            Right – so LEED is sometimes, but not always, about energy. There are other environmental values other than energy use, such as water quality or wetlands preservation. Those are still good things.

            As for points, why not get them for what you do even if you would have done them anyway? So what? The point is that a good building gets built. Doesn’t matter why.

          • John Fontain

            To make my point as obvious as possible, I’ll provide this over-simplified example:

            Builder: “Hey Arlington, can I build taller than the zoning limits for my property?”

            Arlington: “Why should we let you do that?”

            Builder: “Well, I won’t build on wetlands or a floodplain.”

            Arlington: “But your property isn’t a wetland, so why should that matter? And you can’t build on a floodplain anyway.”

            Builder: “Yeah, that’s true I guess. Ok, what if I put a lot of windows in the building to let in natural light?”

            Arlington: “Aren’t you going to do that anyway?”

            Builder: “Yes. Well, how about if I colllect points for the above items and a bunch of other stuff for which I won’t have to do anything above and beyond the norm, and we call my project LEED certified?”

            Arlington: “OK, that sounds awesome. Extra building height granted!”

          • drax

            So what?

            The point of the certification, John, is to recognize a good building. The fact that it would have been a good building without the certification process is irrelevant.

            You have a very good point when it comes to bargaining for concessions with the county. But it’s completely irrelevant to the value of the LEED program on its own. Who cares if they were going to do it anyway? It’s the building that gets the certification, not the builder.

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    Kind of early to be headed to one of those cruising spots isn’t it?

    • WeiQiang5

      You think he was going for volume, figuring that he’d have a much better chance of scoring on the Parkway than in the parking lot at LBJ?

      • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

        Like the way you think.

        • WeiQiang

          Thx. I always think about the business model.


    Did anythnig historic happen in any of those buildings? If not, there is no good reason for the designation and the developer should be allowed to demolish the entire building. Preservation for the sake of preservation needs to stop!

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      Agreed. Old =/= historic.

    • Josh S

      I’m not usually among the crowd that bemoans historical designations, but in this case, I would have to agree. I fail to see anything terribly exciting about these buildings.

      • FrenchyB

        Apparently, having a few rows of bluish/green brick in the facade = historic.

    • Arlington, Northside

      The facade is of an architecural style that is historical, attractive, and is disappearing. I have no problem with putting such a simple stipulation on an agreement to increase the zoning/development potential of the site.

  • George

    i don’t really appreciate the real estate listings to the right of this page. $2.5 million for a single family house? Get the F out of here you crook

    • Richard Cranium

      If I were you, I’d voice your displeasure by not buying it. That’ll teach ’em!

    • JamesE

      $400k for a 1 bedroom condo???? I could buy a castle in Montana for that!!

    • drax

      How much is your house worth, George? The median in Arlington for a single-family home is around $500K. Outrageous! You should definitely give a buyer a substantial discount. Huh George? You’re not a crook, are you?

  • no more please

    yes to leeds. no to 7 stories. leeds should be mandatory for all development. i am sick of big buildings, big buildings without adequate parking, people parking in our neighborhood, people dumping the trash in front of my house when they feel like cleaning out their cars and mostly just sick to death of developers and density and the destruction of the trees to make construction EASIER.

    • no more please

      • Arlington, Northside

        Those buildings have served there purpose over hte last 65 years, time to build up there. If the Columbia Pike redevelopment talk is for real, that is the location where it should begin and work its way out. A seven story building is more than appropriate there, I say do 20 floors! Now a block further our from the pike, no way.

    • South Awwlington

      The County needs development to generate commercial taxes. This allows them to constantly remind us, “Arlington enjoys the lowest real estate ta burden in the region” while funding their assorted pet projects (while the roads remind me of those in Pennsylvania – not a compliment and the schools bulge at the seams. This items however, are not attention grabbing nor vote getting. (Well from me, they would be…but not when acting as magnet jurisdiction.)

      • Josh S

        You do realize this whole thing is being generated by the property owner, right? It belongs to a private citizen. When they want to redevelop, they redevelop. Moaning about it and trying to somehow blame the county for your displeasure is just lazy cogitation.

        • South Awwlington

          Not sure what your comment has to do with mine.

    • KalashniKEV

      Is this a joke post?

    • Josh S

      Your message seems to be mixed.

  • Jim

    Yes, tear down those buildings. If you don’t want to live in the city, move out to the country.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      Except that 20 years ago we lived in a suburb, 10 years ago we lived in a suburb, 5 years ago we lived in a suburb You take your tall buildings and move them into the district.

      • drax

        20 years ago we were already long past suburb, dude. Your memory is faulty.

      • Fairfaxian for transit

        20 years ago the metro was built, and the plans for development were clear.

      • KalashniKEV

        100 years ago we were rural- let’s bring that back! Backyard chickens for everyone! I’m having my tobacco crop planted in front of my condo next weekend.

        • Cheif Powhatan

          Get off my lawn!

        • WeiQiang

          NIMRG! Not in my rain garden.

  • nice

    Last time I saw a naked dude on GW parkway, he had just bludgeoned someone to death. If you ever see a naked person like that, it is bad news, many times PCP or mentally ill (if you are lucky). A cop told me if they get a call about a naked guy, he won’t go near him until he has 5 other cops to help him. PCP makes naked guy super strong.

    • Arlington, Northside

      You do not know the story of Crazy Ned, he won’t hurt a fly and has been wondering the woods from River Bend to the Chain Bridge for the last 30+ years with his base of operations around the American Legion Bridge.

      • Arlington, Northside

        Need gets naked, pretty much lives naked, but he does not do PCP.

        • BlueSkies

          Arlington, Northside, might this have been the naked guy a friend and I saw building a small dam in the river with rocks near Scott’s Run years ago? What else do you know about his story?

  • WeiQiang

    OK, here are some questions:

    Is there value in retaining the facades of the 20th century [not-so-historic] buildings being replaced?

    Does anyone care anymore about architectural interest?

    Is the current crop of brick & glass monoliths in RCB and elsewhere in the County objectionable?

    With current development models favoring walkability and residential/retail mixing, do we care how interesting/warm/functional/dramatic a given facade is when we walk past it or dine outside in front of it?

    While I object to $350K for artwork adorning/replacing the fence at the sewege treatment plant, I kind of like keeping an facade that has some architectural interest or historic feature.

    • SomeGuy

      One more question: what is RCB?

      • Sam

        I think he/she meant RBC (Rosslyn – Ballston corridor).

      • WeiQiang

        Rosslyn-Clarendon-Ballston. If Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor is the hip lingo all the cool kids are using, I’m jiggy with that.

        • Josh S

          I don’t know that there is anything hip or cool about it. It just is.

          A couple of years ago, GGW tried to come up with a different name – God knows why. I remember Orangistan as being one option. Thank goodness none of that crap caught on.

          • FrenchyB

            Orangistan – is that pronounced like the color or the ape?

  • CW

    I’m a big fan of the $3M real estate listings on the right column of this page, just sitting there and mocking my existence.

    • Elmer

      Multi-million $ mansion? No sweat.
      Its amazing what you can use a student loan for these days.

  • esmith69

    I am guessing they are proposing 7 stories because the footprint of the building would not big all that big when compared to other new buildings in the immediate vicinity (Siena Park and Penrose Square) but they still want to have at least a certain number of units in the building for it to be profitable. Both of those buildings are 6 stories.

    • zzzSleeper

      same developer as penrose square. “a” developer? Why so vague about who it is?

  • Tabs

    Glad I didn’t buy the AV unit I was looking at right behind Rappahannock.

    • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

      Pity the fool that did.

      • Arlington, Northside

        Why? They are south of the building, so they won’t be in the shadow much, and with the re-development away from looking at the back of an ugly parking lot and dumpsters, the value of the AV Condo is going to shoot up when the building is complete.

        • Arl2

          Wrong about the value going up for the guy behind the proposed 7 story building – we live across from an apartment building and the appraiser lowered the market value of our house because of the building across from single family homes.

  • Mary-Austin

    If they are going to put in a new development in that spot they might as well just start from scratch.
    It would be really nice to see something architecturally unique in that spot but not holding my breath.
    The new development across the street is about as boring as it gets. My fear is we are going to look back in 25 years and realize we missed a lot of opportunities in Arlington. Just think of all the crappy buildings that went up with people following the status quo in 1987.

    • Tabs

      I agree.

    • Arl

      The boring looking development across the street called Penrose Square is owned by the same people who want the 7 story building. And they own other boring looking apartment buildings on the Pike as well. Same old, same old….


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