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Bluemont Residents Form Safeway Task Force

by Katie Pyzyk July 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm 5,659 129 Comments

In response to a controversial mixed use development proposed for Wilson Boulevard, a number of Bluemont residents have banded together to form the “Safeway Task Force,” and will be holding a public meeting tomorrow.

The group is made up of members of the Bluemont Civic Association and aims to educate community members about the proposed development. Members say they want to ensure that the Bluemont community is able to help shape future changes at the Safeway site at 5101 Wilson Blvd.

Earlier this year, Safeway began soliciting bids from developers who may be interested in building a new grocery store, with residential property above it. The building would take up the entire block of Wilson Blvd from N. Frederick Street to N. Edison Street.

Last year, attendees at a Bluemont Civic Association meeting confronted County Board Chair Mary Hynes about the development. A number of residents voiced concerns about increased density along the stretch of Wilson Blvd in question, and also worried about how small businesses would fare.

The task force will be hosting a town hall meeting on Tuesday, July 10 (tomorrow), which is open to the public. It will be held at St. Ann’s Church (5300 N. 10th Street), starting at 7:00 p.m. Members of the county Planning Commission will be on hand to speak about issues related to the proposed development, such as zoning and by-right policies, and will answer residents’ questions.

In the coming months, the task force hopes to meet with Safeway representatives to discuss plans for the future. The task force’s charter states it plans to wrap up work by November 1, at which time it will be decided if it is needed any longer.

Photo (bottom) via Google Maps

  • novasteve

    I’d rather have a safeway in my building than a church like that hideous Clarendon building.

    • Pentagonian

      Or a Harris Teeter full of sewage

  • bluemontbocce

    Hopefully they will put in a bocce court or two!

  • How dare those evil developers propose replacing a neighborhood Safeway with a neighborhood Safeway! And more neighbors, too–who the heck needs those?

    As a small business owner in this neighborhood, I am afraid of the competition that a replacement Safeway and more potential residential customers might bring here. I would prefer that everything stay exactly the way things are now, so that I don’t have to consider changing my modus operandus until I retire.

    • Karzai’s Mammy

      Sam, is that you?

    • NPGMBR

      LOL

  • KalashniKEV

    Are any of the units in the new residential property set aside for Welfare Families?

    • welfare

      why do you ask? are you on welfare?

      • Parkington

        Why do you ask? Are you the welfare-check-giver-outer?

    • drax

      Sure would be nice if they had easy access to jobs at Safeway.

  • CW

    The whole “it might hurt small businesses” thing with respect to chain/big box stores is getting so old. The small businesses that are already prospering do so with a unique business model, be that based on product, customer service, etc., and will survive regardless. It’s ridiculous to sit back and just demand protectionism from the local government. Any small business scared of a big box store moving in probably has a reason to be scared regardless. Like the satirical post above implied, what small business owner with a good product/service would hate having a whole Safeway parking lot full of potential customers right next door?!

    • Robert A Buoy

      Well, it would definitely have an impact on restaurants around there, of which there are several. All the new grocery stores are virtually take-out restaurants these days.

      • CW

        Which ones? Pupatella? Super Pollo? The Chinese place? McDonalds? I don’t see any of these places losing business; there is very little overlap. However, I do see almost all of them witnessing an increase of people who place orders, go grocery shopping, and then pick the orders up (well, maybe not McDonalds).

        • Id

          Two Chefs, is what I’m afraid of losing. A nice family place run by a nice Greek family.

          • R

            But the family that owns Two Chefs is the same that owns Amvriosia in Ashburn, so according to the commenters on this site that makes them a “chain restaurant” equivalent to Applebee’s or Chili’s and as such unworthy of deserving the patronage of us elitist Arlingtonians. They are just another evil corporation. Down with Two Chefs! (of course I say this in jest and as a knock on the commenters here not Two Chefs which I have enjoyed since they opened in the mid-1980’s)

          • Id

            No one has the Monster Sub. Delicious.

        • nom de guerre

          I agree about Two Chefs. The McDonalds at George Mason and Wilson is currently closed (as of today) for construction. Why would I need to place/pick up an order at a restaurant after going grocery shopping?

          • CW

            If you cook everything you buy at the grocery store immediately after purchasing it, I would say your dining habits differ from those of most people. There are a lot of people who go grocery shopping and, in the same trip, pick up that night’s dinner.

            If Two Chefs has a great following with the family crowd and has been doing it for years, what do they have to fear? Loyalty is pretty powerful.

          • nom de guerre

            “There are a lot of people who go grocery shopping and, in the same trip, pick up that night’s dinner.”

            You are correct. And they sometimes pick up that night’s dinner at the grocery store. The last time I checked you could purchase prepared, cooked food at a grocery store. Convenience + Price is sometimes greater than loyalty.

          • FDR

            The only thing Two Chefs has to fear is. . . their rent tripling in less than a year and not being able to afford staying there – probably even before the Safeway is completed. But that’s okay – I think there isn’t a Ruby Tuesday’s anywhere nearby so they can always move in. Maybe a TGIFriday’s. If the county really cared about the businesses and not the revenue maybe they could force the developers to include affordable housing for the nearby businesses as well.

          • Rick

            If they take out the conveyor belt for the drive-thru, I will be beyond upset. Something about my food traveling 10 feet in the air makes it taste better.

          • Id

            It’s the E. Coli. gathered on your food in that 10 foot trip.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      It’s not the big box that kills the small business – it’s the county driven high property prices. The county comes in – mandates high density(usually up zoning in the process – they call it form based Codes) – requires first floor retail and perks/tithes from the developer which drives up the costs to the developer who passes them on to the future tenets. This site is too far from the main Ballston corridor and so won’t be able to sustain businesses paying these high rents driving them out(maybe replaced by crappy or generic temporary startup chains). End result is empty store fronts/high turnover just as anything that isn’t in the center point of the RBC corridor.

      • Robert A Buoy

        Well I will tell you one retail business that could do good in that neighborhood, an ABC store. That area is a liquor desert.

        • Westover

          Close enough to be easy for me, far enough to not effect my property value. Build it and I will buy, a lot of rum and whisky/burbon/scotch. 🙂 Just keep it in Bluemont and out of Westover, please. We already have the Forest Inn for the riff-raff.

      • CW

        You’re jumping about 20 steps ahead.

        I’m pretty sure “high property prices” around here are demand-driven, not County-driven. As one resident was quoted in the initial April article as saying, “the development keeps marching closer”, linearly, away from Ballston (see VATech buidling, etc.). Hmm, sounds an awful lot like supply expanding to meet demand to me.

        How do you know what rents business can or can’t afford? Do you think whoever is financing this project isn’t going to do some simple project economics, or is going to be surprised by the total cost of the project (i.e. including contributions to county funds, etc.)? I would guess this probably isn’t their first rodeo.

        • Suburban Not Urban

          Yea just like the folks in the building up on Lee Hwy near EFC where the Bear Rock was that’s turned over 3 times in 2 years.

          • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

            well that location sucks, that building sucks and those businesses sucked.

            that has nothing to do with this point being discussed.

      • Homer

        Maybe the developer should lower the rent rather than let the storefronts sit empty.

        • Lee-n-Glebe

          Maybe the developer has done the cost-benefit analysis of doing just that and has come to their own conclusion as to what to do with their property.

    • Douglas Parker

      That sounds so benign indeed! Wait a second, you with Wall Mart?

      • Rick

        Just look at Lee-Harrison. Unleashed by Petco came in across the street, lots of folks were upset. End of small business bla bla bla. Dominion Pets, still there. Dogma, as silly of a concept, still there. That weird bird store, still there. Bad business kills small business, not big business.

        • nom de guerre

          Perhaps you missed this from last month:

          “Dogma May Close N. Arlington Store — Dogma Bakery’s store in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center is in financial jeopardy, according to owner Sheila Raebel. The gourmet dog bakery and boutique has reportedly been losing money for the past two years, and last year’s opening of a Petco store across the street likely hasn’t helped matters. Dogma’s Shirlington location, however, is expected to become profitable at some point this year. [Examiner.com]”

          http://www.arlnow.com/2012/06/11/morning-notes-487/

          • Rick

            1) 2 out of 3 still aint bad

            2) Honestly. A dog bakery. How long was it really going to last?

          • 5555624

            Your quote actually supports his point — Dogma was losing money at that location for a year before Petco moved in. (They’ve been losing money for two years and Petco moved in last year.) Obviously, Petco didn’t help matters, but it doesn’t sound like the right place for a dog bakery.

        • Frank

          Such a ridiculous concept that they have lasted 12 years so far and Unleashed by Petco has copied the model…..you might want to go in and see what Dogma, and companies like PetMac and Wylie Wag actually sell and do in our community.

        • girlFace

          Hey — Don’t be knocking on Wild Birds Unlimited !!!
          Love the WBU !! cool stuff
          Not weird

          http://www.wbu.com/

          • drax

            Yeah, lay off the birds.

  • Thes

    A “town hall” style meeting? Clearly these people don’t know the latest technology for citizen outreach. In a “town hall” style meeting, everyone can hear what everyone else has to say. That’s dangerous to orthodoxy.

    Instead, local residents should be made to sit at small tables and tell their thoughts to no more than five strangers. Then a judge at each table should decide which ideas merit recording on 3X5 cards, to be collected after the event and summarized online by someone who sat in a corner the whole night.

    THAT’S how you get community input! At least that’s what I hear…

    • bemused bystander

      Clearly you haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid of community engagement. Next I suppose you’re going to suggest that Board members come to the town hall meeting and sit quietly and listen?

  • JnA

    More of the county government three step – allow neighborhood infrastructure to deteriorate, say it’s deteriorated, tear if down and replace with mixed use infill, big parking garage, lots more vehicles, traffic calming, etc.

    • CW

      So I’m assuming your solution is that the county should instead just take all the money being made off the new citizens who are coming here, spending their incomes, and paying taxes, and use that money to ensure that everything in your quaint little neighborhood is just as Mayberry-esque as it was “right after the war”? Keep repaving your road so you ’57 Chevy doesn’t have to sit in a pothole? Maybe even paint your picket fence if it falls within the county easement?

    • Ballston

      It’s a little tough for the county to force safeway to upgrade their store. If they did that, people would freak out about big government interfering with free enterprise. The county is being very business friendly here by allowing safeway to make a lot more money on the property by increasing the density.

      • bemused bystander

        So when did the county agree to increased density? Somehow I missed that step. Oh — because it hasn’t happened?

        • Suburban Not Urban

          Happened in EFC, Happened on the Pike, it’ll happen here – One party rule – no accountablity

          • drax

            One party rule doesn’t mean no accountability. Just the opposite. It means the board is accountable to the vast majority of voters who like what it is doing. There is always accountability – that’s what elections are for.

          • John K.

            It works really well across the river here in DC (where i should be doing my job, not reading this blog!).

          • JnA

            People at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. (many who call Arlington residents Nimbys via this blog) and make the ‘planning’ decisions are typically non-residents who live in classic 60’s suburbs elsewhere and will never suffer the consequences of their actions. Starting with the County Manager.

          • drax

            Yeah, we’ve heard that one before.

          • Elmer

            “Yeah, we’ve heard that one before.”
            Yes, and its still true.

          • terri78

            Happens to be true. Let’s not forget Arlington’s CPHD Director and Economic Development Director while we are at it. Fairfax County residents.

            Why is this out-of-state supermarket chain that neglected the store for decades being given anything by anyone? Ask Safeway to sell the supermarket to an entity that will do 21st Century upgrades.

          • FaintlyProgressive

            I thought the county board made the decisions, not the support staff.

      • Elmer

        The county’s increasing the density means they will upzone to allow the development to go higher and greater.
        To get that, the developer will have to pony up a multi-million dollar “contribution” to the county.
        Neighbors can talk all they want; its the money that’s listened to. Sorry folks, that’s the Arlington Way.

      • drax

        Yes. This is driven by Safeway wanting to do more with a crappy old store and an underused parking lot. Safeway has wanted to do this for decades at that site. It’s not driven by the county.

        • Dirk Digler

          All Safeways are crappy, new or old.

          • drax

            You drive right past one on your way to pay twice as much at Whole Foods?

          • Dirk Digler

            Damn straight.

  • nom de guerre

    I have lived in Arlington-North, South and Central-for quite a while and have seen what has happened to the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor and think this model should not expand to surrounding areas. But I also think a small improvement to the adjoining areas could be beneficial if done right. I also don’t want the Rosslyn/Ballston model to repeat itself along the Columbia Pike.

    • confused

      how is a five story building repeating the model of places with 10 story buildings?

      • nom de guerre

        It’s not-I have no issues with this proposed project’s size. I do have some limited concern about how it will possibly contribute to the homogenization of Arlington by discouraging local small businesses from being able to afford to rent street level space and encourage the proliferation of large, well capitalized businesses to offer us more burgers, pizzas, large screen tvs and the like.

        • WeiQiang

          You’re concerned about slippery-slope-ishness?

        • confused

          Chains manage quite well in low density areas around the DC region. I am not sure that low densities will preserve local businesses. Old cheap spaces may be good for local businesses, but short of draconian regulation (commercial rent control?) I don’t think you can keep property owners from renovating (and raising rents). Perhaps better would be to allow LOTS of new commercial development – when they age and rents fall, it will open up possibilities for local businesses.

  • CourthouseChris

    “Bluemont Residents Form NIMBY Task Force”

    • drax

      Let us know when they oppose the development altogether and then you can cry NIMBY.

      (As if you wouldn’t oppose a giant development in your backyard either.)

      • CourthouseChris

        Good ol’ reliably contrarian drax.

        • drax

          Someone’s gotta do it.

    • Fred

      LOL. It certainly isn’t the first time!

  • Johnny

    I welcome a new Safeway on Wilson. The present store is a dump.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I agree Johnny. I can walk to that Safeway, but I rarely go there because the present store is a dump. I will be much more motivated to walk to a nice new well stocked and maintained Safeway.

      • Richard Cranium

        Oh, so now the EEEEEVIL developers are attacking the Historic Safeway? All in the name of “progress”? How dare they! “They” should “stop them” from improving their property!

        Next thing you know the County and their cronies will start allowing redevelopment of Arlington’s historic and family owned / run used car dealerships!

        • Bluemontsince1961

          Unless you’re being sarcastic (not sure if you are), I happen to be in favor of improving this Safeway, this “historical” Safeway. What’s your issue?

          • Richard Cranium

            This is Arlington, where everything old is historic and worthy of preservation, and all development / improvement is bad and all developers are greedy and evil, almost to the point of being Satan Incarnate. All development / redevelopment should stop immediately.

    • herpderp

      it’s been a dump ever since I was a kid, I have no idea how it’s lasted that long

  • Hank

    I’m fine with a replacement Safeway as long as it gets a cool moniker like Sequel Safeway or Supplemental Safeway. Does anyone still use the Safeway nicknames anymore? I loved Senior Safeway and Unsafeway.

    • nom de guerre

      I thought the current location is known as one of the Soviet Safeways.

      • Hank

        The one in Rosslyn could give Bluemont Safeway a run for its money for Soviet status. During Snowmaggedon, it lacked staples such as meat and grains. I understand there was a run on these items, but this was the first day. I did appreciate when they filled the dairy section with beer…. they knew their audience.

        • nom de guerre

          I think these two locations are tied for second with the former one at DuPont Circle taking the gold.

          If you watch TV you would think the most popular items during a snowstorm were bread, milk, eggs and toilet paper. If you check with people who work at grocery stores they will tell you it is beer, wine, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

          • South Awwlington

            Yes, 17th and Corcoran. My old home. Before the days of the People’s Republic of Arlington (Takoma Park X2). The Original Soviet Safeway. God, I hated that place. It always felt damp, even after the reno. And you must not forgot the Social Safeway in the Palisades on McArthur.

          • James Moron

            Don’t forget the one at the Watergate. I used to live at 23rd and Virginia – that Safeway was epically horrible. I was the only one without the combo walker/shopping cart.

          • Hank

            Hence the name “Senior Safeway”.

    • drax

      Second Safeway
      Supernumerary Safeway
      Salacious Saturday Safeway (bonus to anyone who gets that reference)
      Son of Safeway

      • WeiQiang

        novasafeway
        SafeWaycroft
        YouDontSayfeway

        • drax

          LOL on the novasafeway.

          How about SAFETERP or FREDWAY or SafeWeiQiang?

    • Vinh An Nguyen

      The Rosslyn Safeway is the ghetto safeway.

  • Mc

    I salute Bluemont for providing their input. I’m glad they care about neighborhood issues.

    • CW

      Well, I think this bears pointing out, for people who are new to this story or might not have read up on the past stories, that it was NOT Safeway which came up with this plan. It was the Bluemont Civic Association. To quote the 6/22 ARLnow article: “The plan was generated by the Bluemont Civic Association, with the volunteer help of a Virginia Tech graduate student, as part of its Neighborhood Conservation plan process.”

      So what we’re seeing here is a faction of that group which is opposed to this plan splitting off and doing its own thing. To anyone who is claiming that this is a case of big national chains and the County coming in and trying to bulldoze someone’s quaint little neighborhood, well, please read the story.

      • Dave

        Either way, it’s local residents getting involved in their community and that should be applauded. Too many people these days just don’t seem to care. As a Bluemont resident myself, it’s nice to see involvement in the community.

  • Neutrino

    How would small businesses be affected? By what? A Safeway?

    • JohnB2

      A new Safeway and surrounding mixed-use development may cause rents to rise above that which the existing small businesses can afford?

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        So . . . an old, decrepit store should NOT be replaced by something new and functional because . . . it might improve the neighborhood, make it more desirable for business, and as an ancillary effect cause rents to rise?

        • dk (not DK)

          Try to keep up.

  • Inmby

    These folks must rep a narrow segment of homeowners- most people who own homes don’t complain about things that drive up their property values. Guessing that ‘residents’ here might mean mostly renters.

    • Glen Carlyn NOW

      Or retirees on fixed incomes and lots of free time to form task forces.

    • big spaniel

      One’s property values is not nearly as important as the value you get from owning and living in the property the way you choose. What good is living in a million-dollar home if the things that drove up the price of your property makes you want to move? The whole emphasis on property values is the exact same mentality that has driven the property market into the pit everywhere (except in Metro DC). My house is not a commodity. It’s my home. Our County government should respect that.

      • FaintlyProgressive

        okay, you get a veto on zoning. I get the deed to your home when you die. Deal?

      • John K.

        Can’t and won’t. You’ll be replaced. It’s gonna happen to me to. Arlington will be beige and dense, except where it is glass and steel and dense (north of Lee Highway or Old Dominion excluded).

      • TJLinBallston

        Seems like your saying the entire second-rate commerical strip of Bluemont must stay exactly the same simply because you prefer nothing change. How dare you stand in the way of process!? It’s dinasaurs like you who ruin neighborhoods with their greedy self-interest that can’t see the future. People like you need to be shouted down at civic meetings. Bluemont obstructionists killed the last Safeway but you will NOT mess-up this one. Those who won’t accept change are greedy, narrow-minded and anti-neighborhood deadwood in out community. We will fight you tool and nail to get the future we deserve — a modern future, not some tired suburban strip frozen in time. That what it is now and it’s your fault!

  • South Awwlington

    Quite telling is the response to the Affordable Housing question. Surely the folks in Bluemont will want to do their share in helping the downtrodden…;) We on Columbia Pike have ponied up.

    • Flat fries

      Dude. Can you give your Columbia Pike v. North Arlington inferiority complex a rest for two sexonds? How you can post so much with that class warfare chip on your shoulder is a mystery. Simmer down there, Che.

      • South Awwlington

        Dweeb! I have no inferiority complex regarding Columbia Pike. I rather like it compared to the rest of Arlington. It has a great balance of people that makes Arlington “Arlington.”

        Part of being “Arlington” means welcoming programs like this into all neighborhoods. If you’re not willing to do that, keep your mouth shut and don’t accuse your neighbors of being less than hospitable when they don’t want it either.

        And while we’re at it, man-up and post under your real name.

  • Andrew

    This is interesting because I always believed neighborhoods west of Glebe to be “suburban” Arlington and those east of Glebe to be “city” Arlington.

    Now it seems that the “suburb” wants to be more like the “city.” That’s fine, I guess. But one of the things I like about the county is that you get th best of both “worlds.”

    • Glen Carlyn NOW

      True, It’s just the line between “city” and “suburb” is not static. Given it’s proximity to Ballston, it’s only a matter of time before demand moved up Wilson Blvd.

      I work in Ballston and enjoy eating lunch in the restaurants clustered on George Mason. The quality is good, prices are reasonable, and the lines are short. When I bring my coworkers, they are amazed that this is so close yet so suburban. Building medium density housing at the Safeway site will bring more business and growth to this part of town, setting a pattern that will continue until Wilson is built up to Eden Center.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        We’ll that’ll be gone soon – thank you county board. High density = high property cost = high prices.

        • drax

          No, high density does not always = high property costs.

        • FaintlyProgressive

          you have the causality a little mixed up.

  • TJLinBallston

    Bluemont’s commercial strip along Wilson could use a boost. It’s not looking so hot.

  • What’s going on here?

    A task force with a charge? This is just some people in the Bluemont civic association clique trying to impersonate an Arlington process so they can appear official. Members of the county planning commission will be on hand to answer citizen questions? The role of county advisory commission members is to advise the elected officials on county-wide issues, not advocate for their neighborhood friends. I agree that Safeway is terrible, so I took my shopping dollars elsewhere. We don’t need a big development proposal in our neighborhood just so these folks can have a gourmet style grocery store. Work with Safeway to renovate the store and leave the rest alone. Safeway has done this with other nearby stores without adding a big development project too.

  • Arlingtron

    It will be sad to see the current store go. It is a living museum of life in 1964. The decor, merchandise (except prices), staff, and patrons all seem to be stuck in time.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      I’ve lived in this part of Arlington since 1961, and except for one remodeling in the late 60s that changed the store’s front from facing Wilson to facing N. Edison, that Safeway is pretty much the same as it was back in ’61. I don’t want that area built up to the extreme of Rosslyn-Clarendon-Ballston, but I would like to have a decent Safeway I could walk to for my groceries, not one that has the look and feel of something from the Brezhnev era.

  • big spaniel

    Isn’t the whole notion of a “Bluemont Village Center” a little bit pretentious? Do we really need something that will be a “destination” or something more scaled-back that will serve the needs of the immediate community? The more we ask of a project the more it will cost the neighborhood in terms of excessive growth, traffic, lack of green space and overall congestion. We’ve already got Ballston for that; it’s only fifteen minutes away by foot. The last thing the neighborhood needs is another Arlington high-rise to warehouse a transient population that won’t contribute to the neighborhood at all.

    • FaintlyProgressive

      5 stories (i think thats what this is) is a hirise? Seems like it makes sense to step down in density from Ballston. This small project would do that.

  • Safeway

    Ha ha,

    You dupes fell for it. We’ve let that store rot since 1983, still made enough to keep the lights on and now we’re about to cash in.

    Thanks a bunch.

    Love,
    Safeway

  • John Fontain

    Now: A grocery store.

    Future: A new grocery store and more residential units.

    So if the only thing that changes is more residential units, wouldn’t this be a plus for surrounding small businesses?

    • CW

      But John, think of the small businesses! Their rents might go UP! Never mind that they will now have hundreds of new customers living withing minutes…

      • John Fontain

        Exactly. And i don’t even buy the argument that rents would go up. They may, but they may not. I’m not convinced that one block getting redeveloped means the surrounding landlords will automatically ask for rent increases. And rents only go up if someone is willing to pay them. Are there other businesses lined up and wanting to fill those spots? I doubt it. Plus, the existing tenants likely have multi-year leases with renewal options.

      • nom de guerre

        If you look at the pattern in Clarendon, the neighboring landowners decided to sell their property to developers who subsequently built denser buildings that were rented out at more expensive rates.

        • CW

          …and which were summarily filled rapidly with tenants, which charge market rates for their goods and services, which Clarendon residents happily pay.

          What is your point? That all commercial rents on earth should be a flat rate?

    • dk (not DK)

      I don’t get it either.

  • Ken Schellenberg

    I think it sounds like a great idea. The location is great (walking distance to Ballston with Capital Bikeshare already in place and an adjacant bike/walking trail). It’ll help bring business to the funky little places like Pupatella and Two Chefs and even the little bookstore, “junk shop” and vet. Win win win, I say.

  • dcbrewer

    I live basically across the street from the Safeway, and I am thrilled with the idea of a new, bigger store, and increased density. My experience is that the more density you have, the more small businesses your neighborhood can support, and while walking down to Ballston isn’t too bad, it would be nice to have some other options a bit closer.

  • shellshock868

    Ok. I’ve lived in Ballston for 6 years now. I’ve been to that Safeway 3 times. It smells. The food there is usually expired or about to expire. I wouldn’t get anything from the deli counter there. YUCK!!! I did go there right before the big snow storms because NO ONE was there!! Only empty grocery store for miles!!

    Currently I probably only go over to that area to drive through McDonalds, maybe pick up a chicken at Super Pollo, a pizza at Pupatella or get my nails done. But there is never any parking. So I use the EMPTY Safeway store parking. That’s about the only use for that store right now.

    I feel that the crappy Safeway is actually hurting the small businesses. There is no big draw to get me over there. And with no businesses doing that well and a run down Safeway, that will actually drive your property values down.

    To quote CW above – read up on the past stories, it was NOT Safeway which came up with this plan. It was the Bluemont Civic Association. To quote the 6/22 ARLnow article: “The plan was generated by the Bluemont Civic Association, with the volunteer help of a Virginia Tech graduate student, as part of its Neighborhood Conservation plan process.”

    • Suzanne Smith Sundburg

      Jane Kim was the Virginia Tech grad student who drafted a report outlining potential commercial redevelopment options, but she was not responsible for the plans shown in the ARLnow.com articles. A newly graduated architect student, Ryan Arnold, drew those plans at civic association president Judah dal Cais’s behest. Dal Cais did not seek prior approval from civic association members before having the plans drawn, nor did he even provide advance notice to all members of his own Executive Board. Dal Cais and Arnold subsequently met with representatives of developer JBG in March 2011. Dal Cais notified all Executive Board members of this meeting after the fact. Based on his conversations with JBG, dal Cais—again with no input or approval from the membership—directed Arnold to increase the height and density of the plans’ buildings that were then shown to members at the April 2011 meeting, at which Mary Hynes was present.

      To date, those plans have never been voted on by civic association members. There has never been a publicly recorded vote approving the plans by the association’s voting members of the Executive Board. The height and density portrayed in the plans is greater than that approved by the majority of respondents to Bluemont’s neighborhood-wide NC survey conducted in 2010. So I think it would be premature to say that these plans reflect the desires or will of the Bluemont Civic Association (BCA) membership, much less Bluemont residents.

      Although not listed on the May 2012 agenda, representatives of JBG showed up and took over the civic association’s meeting to talk about Safeway’s request for proposal. No member of the Executive Board has publicly acknowledged inviting them or explained why they were granted unannounced access to the membership. As far as the task force is concerned, dal Cais controls who may serve on it, and he edited and approved its charter. The task force serves at his pleasure to provide information to BCA members and local residents.

      Keep in mind BCA’s membership peaked at around 330 members in 2011. There are over 2,000 households within BCA’s boundaries. Whereas many residents might like to have a new or renovated grocery store on the site, most residents do not want a 5- or 6-story building on the site (Safeway is asking for LEED building certification and the “bonus” density that goes with it). The neighborhood is bisected by I-66 to the north of Wilson Blvd. and by the bike trail to the south, leaving very few through-streets for traffic circulation around the site. Moreover, the county’s parking requirement calls for just over 1 space per unit for multifamily residential buildings, which means neighborhood streets must absorb the overflow. The prospect of integrating and meeting the needs of approximately 200 new families is daunting. McKinley and Ashlawn elementary schools are already over capacity, and ATS (a choice school) is full too.

      Based on redevelopment along the R-B corridor, small local businesses are legitimately concerned. Once the Safeway site is upzoned and upGLUPed (GLUP=general land use plan), the tax assessments for neighboring parcels will rise. The Ballston BID (business improvement district) has also signaled its interest in expanding its borders westward—meaning that Bluemont’s commercial property owners may be asked to pay the BID’s “assessment” as well. Most small businesses do not have the financial resources or cashflow to survive this process, which is why they typically are forced to move elsewhere. Thus, property owners lose sitting tenants that they cannot replace and have little alternative except to sell their properties to developers.

      Developers often build commercial space they cannot fill. The commercial space located at 950 N. Glebe Road (corner of N. Fairfax Drive) sat empty for well over a year despite its close proximity to Metro. Staples chose not to return to the new building on the Peck Chevrolet site (corner of Wilson and Glebe), as originally hoped. And I know of no law that would prevent Safeway from helping a developer get its site upzoned and upGLUPed and then to sell that property outright and decide not to keep a store on the site after all.

  • Bluemont Resident

    Something needs to be done to dress this section of Wilson up. The adjacent homeowners are not in an enviable position though. I don’t know what the right answer is for them. I do hope there won’t be any low income rental unts. We already received our share of these types of units in a building run by AHC, near the corner of Glebe and Wilson.

  • Justin

    Anything to stand in the way of progress.

  • APSnumberone

    Will they provide ample free parking? If not, then forget it. At least now you can park quickly, run in and get a few things, and run out.

    • Westover

      For the for seeable future, I can’t see them charging for parking in that area. But ample parking will have to be seen.

  • Rochacha

    Did anyone call Danny Wegman?

  • Crappy empty Safeway needs to go. Over-concerned NIMBYs need to check themselves.

  • nota gain

    I have always found the employees at this SW are mostly asleep when it came to assisting customers (checking out is a huge laugh) and therefore, I go to the one on Lee Highway which also has problems with customer service but I prefer it. Any improvement to this Wilson store would be a boon to any customer, even those living above it.
    The Bluemont residents had better awaken to the fact that the building boom of Arlington is acomin towards them so you all will have to deal with it.

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