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Navy Annex, Parking Lot Demolition to Start Soon

by ARLnow.com October 23, 2012 at 12:40 pm 11,256 58 Comments

The long-awaited process of demolishing the Navy Annex and its surrounding parking lots is scheduled to begin within the next month or two, officials tell ARLnow.com.

The 1 million square foot military office complex, first built in 1941 and located on the eastern end of Columbia Pike, will be torn down to make way for an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery. The entire 42-acre Navy Annex site, which includes a large surface parking lot on the other side of Columbia Pike, will be turned into a grass field in advance of an official transfer from the Department of the Army to Arlington National Cemetery in late 2013.

Demolition on the eastern wing of the Navy Annex is scheduled to start in November or December. The process will include abatement of asbestos and other hazardous materials. Demolition, site grading and seeding is expected to be complete by August 2013.

Columbia Pike should only experience “minimal” traffic impacts from the project; Southgate Road, which runs parallel to the Pike on the other side of the Navy Annex, is expected to see the majority of traffic disruptions.

The Navy Annex site is not expected to be used for burials for at least a couple of years. First, Arlington County and the federal government must come to a land swap agreement. The entities are still working on a deal to swap the county’s 4.23 acre Southgate Road right of way, and perhaps some other land, in exchange for a portion of the Navy Annex site.

The most recent land swap agreement — which has since fallen through, according to Arlington County federal liaison Brian Stout — called for construction of an Arlington County heritage museum on the site. At least a portion of the proposed museum would be used to commemorate the Civil War-era Freedman’s Village, which was once located on the site.

The county is also working with the federal government and VDOT to reach an agreement for a realignment of Columbia Pike. Currently, the Pike curves around the Air Force Memorial — located adjacent to the Navy Annex — and toward the cemetery before the intersection with S. Joyce Street.

Stout says the county is proposing that the Pike be straightened and run through the current Navy Annex parking lot, before making an L-shaped intersection with Joyce Street. That would make for an easier drive up the Pike and would make for a contiguous burial area that’s not divided by the busy road. The project has been discussed but so far no engineering plans are in place, Stout said.

Another point of discussion deals with parking for the Air Force Memorial. Stout said the current demolition plan seems to call for the demolition of a portion of the parking lot used by memorial visitors. If that’s removed, visitors may need to park on Southgate Road.

Takis Karantonis, Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, says the demolition presents an opportunity to improve the “eastern gateway” to the Pike. He said CPRO would like to see up to five stories of mixed use development along the Columbia Pike frontage of the tiny Foxcroft Heights neighborhood, located between the Navy Annex and the Sheraton National hotel.

“This is not the sightliest of places,” he said of the aging military building and the parking lots that line that section of the Pike. “Getting this redeveloped… is for us a welcome development. We think that the neighborhood will develop very nicely with that.”

Most of Foxcroft Heights is slated to remain single family homes under the recently-approved Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan.

A neighborhood information meeting about the demolition process is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Galaxy Room of the Sheraton National (900 S. Orme Street).

  • Jackson

    “The entities are still working on a deal to swap the county’s 4.23 acre Southgate Road right of way, and perhaps some other land, in exchange for a portion of the Navy Annex site.”

    Why doesn’t our beloved county just give it to the Department of Defense in gratitude for the people who are going to be buried there defending the nation? Why does the county need to put up its own museum? What selfishness.

    • drax

      It’s selfish not to give away stuff to the federal government?

      And you seem to be under the impression that the museum caused the deal to fall through (though another one is pending). The article says no such thing, and that wouldn’t make sense anyway.

      Your anti-County knee jerked hard today.

      • Jackson

        For starters….your impressions are incorrect and nothing I wrote tied the failure of the deal to the museum. Just reread my post again.

        My point is that setting up development and putting up a county museum pales in comparison to the longstanding need to expand ANC for a noble cause. If the county is tied to getting a land swap, then swap for other land in the county or drop the need.

        I never knew I had an anti-county knee…makes me feel uncomfortable that you know about my knees….

        • drax

          If and when the county decides not to swap the land, then you might have a point.

        • NPGMBR

          The land swap is a good idea for both parties because as the article says, it avoids the problem of the Pike running through the Cemetary. As Columbia Pike is a major access point to and from Pentagon City and especially Pentagon and Pentagon City Metro; it would behoove the County to just give up that land thus cutting off access to that area of the County.

        • Mandy

          Expanding ANC a noble cause????? The war dead interred from wars based on lies from pols who are selected, not elected, by Americans? SHAME!

  • Jerry Slovensky

    Respectfully, Arlington Cemetery will run out of space sooner or later and the federal government will need to make a new space to honor the dead. This area, with reasonably close access to Metro – and largely far away from NIMBY neighbors – needs to be redeveloped at the highest possible density, not a museum, not a land swap. This is a once in a generation chance to build more transit-friendly development in a County and region that desperately needs it, yet the supposed “Smart Growth” County Board has decided to bypass this opportunity. Our nation’s heroes can be given all of their deserved honor in another location (in fact, there are already veterans’ cemeteries all around the US).

    • Jerry Shepardini

      Respectfully, is there a problem with some more green space? Does every square inch of Columbia Pike have to be a 5 story, mixed-use building?

    • Taylor

      There are some things in this world that are more important than building another high-density, “transit-friendly development.”

      Honoring our nation’s defenders is one such thing.

    • Wow, Just Wow

      Yeah, God forbid the cemetery where our fallen heroes are buried be accessible to mass transit and major highways. I supposed you’d like it to be somewhere out past Front Royal.

      Are you for developing Central Park too?

    • ARLResident

      I thought that the federal government prohibited commercial development on any land that was part of a swap and adjacent to the Cemetery. In this case, Arlington does not have the option to pursue dense development.

  • confused

    I doubt the county board wants to take on DoD, veterans, etc. Probably a politically wise decision.

  • confused

    and there you go – see the first comment (which I missed before)

  • southarlington

    It is nice to see Arlington Cementary take this land rather than a huge new building. Nice change!!!! Arlington County keep your hands off this property you do not need to develope more land !!!!!

    • WeiQiang

      You do realize that folks are working together to try to make the ANC a contiguous piece of land? ArlCo owns land that comes between current ANC and the former Navy Annex. If that goal can be achieved and Columbia Pike made a better thoroughfare, I’m for it. As for putting retail across the street from the ANC, I find it kind of creepy. The views from that hilltop will be smashing, tho.

      • speaking of creepy

        I got an eyeful of creepy when I took my parents to visit the Women In Military Service For America Memorial at ANC a few years ago. Apparently they rent the space for various purposes, and on the day of our visit, a pharmaceutical company hawking urinary tract drugs. I kid you not. Complete with anatomical posters.

        • WeiQiang

          Anatomically CORRECT posters? No references to hoo-hoo’s or punani-like parts?

          • YTK

            Well, imagine the benefits of those drugs, but then again we might not need them if we get another local brewpub in Arlington.

      • Mandy

        Hell, FT. Meyer commissary is retail across from ANC; shopping there can get creepy….as in escalating prices which makes the commissary NOT a bargain anymore.

  • southarlington

    sorry I spelled cemetery wrong ::))

  • JohnB2

    I don’t see a need for mixed-use stuff there but a smooth way onto ColPike is defintely needed. When trying to get from Pentagon City to North Arlington, sometimes 395 gets messed up and it’s nice to have another option to get out of PentCity. The current way to get from Army-Navy/Joyce to ColPike is a cluster.

    Widening ColPike/etc for dedicated streetcar lanes in that area would rock.

  • Mitt

    What a shame – this is the fewest Navy parking lots we’ve had since 1917.

    • Crystal City


  • South Awwlington

    I’m confused…who would be building the Arlington Heritage Museum? Please don’t say the County expects this of the federal gov’t.

    Are we shaking down the feds for community contributions as if they were development corporations?

    How about we just trade the land, fair and clean because it is the RIGHT thing to do? No extortion need. The cemetery gets the sadly much needed contiguous land, we get to reconfigure the Pike.


    • drax

      People, the article does not say that the museum had anything to do with the deal failing. Jeez.

      • South Awwlington

        No…but it was oddly mentioned. Unless we have inside information on the deal, we will never know.

        • drax

          I didn’t find it odd.

  • Neighbor

    Why did the previous land swap deal fall through? I personally don’t think we need a county-funded museum there but was that the reason given? Or was there a reason given?

  • arlcyclist

    Better send a high school student over there to get some pics for future vehicle decals. Don’t want to run out of military themed subjects!

  • Following publication of our article, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan issued a statement regarding Arlington National Cemetery’s plans for the Navy Annex site.

    “The County understands the Cemetery’s desire to maximize contiguous burial space,” Donnellan said. “We also recognize the potential benefits to all parties of a larger, more comprehensive future land exchange, and we are committed to working with Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Army to this end.”


    • WeiQiang

      Thanks for the update. The statement doesn’t really say much more than what was stated in the original report. Is this CYA in advance for whatever details may come out about why the previous deal fell through?

      • drax

        Deals fall through sometimes. New ones are made.

        • WeiQiang

          I understand that. Same thing happened with Monument & Long Bridge Park and any number of other projects. Given that the original article [and previous ones] wasn’t amplified or expanded by the CM’s statement, I was just wondering why she published it. It just appeared to be pre-emptive to me.

          • drax

            I don’t see that, but okay.

      • The deal supposedly fell through because the cemetery wanted to revise it in order to assure more contiguous space for burials.

        • drax

          Many readers apparently got confused by the sentence in the article about the museum and the deal falling through, thinking they were related.

    • Jackson

      To add – the press release says “The County’s goals, Donnellan said, remain to:
      • Provide a location in close proximity to the original site of the Freedman’s Village for a future Arlington Heritage Center and Freedman’s Village Museum
      • Provide additional land south of Columbia Pike
      • Provide for a realigned Columbia Pike and an improved intersection with South Joyce Street
      • Provide for a new, relocated Southgate Road to provide the necessary level of access to and from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.”

      I understand #3 and 4 to fix the roads. But #1 (museum) and #2 (land for development-it seems) pales next to it being used to bury the dead of this country’s armed services.

      • drax

        So? We’re going to give them the land. The question is under what terms.

        • Jackson

          No, we are swapping the land so we can build a museum and development on the outside perimeter. Give the feds all the land as a gift or ask for land in another part of the county

          • drax


    • South Awwlington

      The County’s press release smacks of a$$ covering. IE, they would have been on the losing side of the equation in regard to land area unless they were able extract funds the museum, which I think is a good idea – on the County’s dime.

      As for anything commercial across the street from the expanded ANC…bad taste people, really bad taste.

      Perhaps VDOT wants to surrender their Maintenance facility while we’re at it?

      • WeiQiang

        It’s not clear from the info so far that anything nefarious, cringe-inducing or controversial has transpired … which makes this statement with no new info a curious thing. Why the CM would take the time to publish this after the ArlNow article [not that there’s causation] is a head-scratcher.

        I thought about the maintenance facility. That thing could be moved to 4MR someplace [WalMart, anyone?] and the land put to a more sightly or lucrative use.

        • South Awwlington

          lol I don’t think they residents at Shirlington Crest and West Village would be enthused about your idea…though it does fit the motif.

          • WeiQiang

            What’s the view of the fine folks in SC and WV about mini-WalMart?

  • ChugALug

    Would straightening CoPi allow them to fix the landscaping disaster in front of the AFM?

  • internet tourettes

    I wonder if you will be able to access the museum commemorating the Civil War-era Freemen village from Jefferson Davis Highway?

    • Nate

      The streetcar will take you right there.

  • Chris Slatt

    The original plan was to swap Arlington’s South Gate Road right-of-way for a portion of the Navy Annex site (ostensibly for the museum).

    My understanding is that the negotiations have moved on to a swap that would be better for all parties that would involve re-aligning Columbia Pike and also building a new access road to access Ft Myer/Henderson Hall at the east edge of the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood. This would keep the base traffic out of Foxcroft Heights, improve the eastern end of Columbia Pike and provide more contiguous burial space for the cemetery.

    • WeiQiang

      That’s clearer. Thx.

    • Electricbill

      Thank you for posting Chris.

      This sounds like a very logical plan.

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    Trolley car barn perhaps?

  • justin

    Can they demolish the Ballston mall and bus terminal next?

  • Mc

    It’s a shame that the Freeman’s Village historical memorial and museum is not part of the cemetery. It represents something of national historic significance – former slaves able to live on Robert E Lee’s plantation as free men before the Army kicked them out decades later. While space at Arlington Cemetery is limited, this is far more signicant than the plots of numerous family members buried there who never served in the military but get a government burial plot intended for those who risked their lives.

  • MissKittenCat

    growing up my parents used to tell me thats where they would send the bad kids too. the building used to creep me out. happy to see it go lol

    • YTK

      That place was creepy — I think alot of the bad kids who had grown up went to work in there.

  • George

    Why do we even need a cemetery for the dead? Who cares, they are dead. Build a mausoleum and have the remains cremated and put in jar. Space saving and green at the same time, and the street trolley can go by the structure. Arlington should also have that eyesore Sheraton hotel demolished along with the neighborhood that is between the hotel and the old navy annex.

    • YTK

      The Sheraton was built over the site of a Freedman’s Village cemetery. That cemetery should have stayed there, not the hotel.

      • neerveer

        A cemetery move…? Now that’s creepy. The Sheraton was (is?) above a cemetary ,and from what eles I gather, the cemetary once was thought to stretch as far as S. Courthouse Rd.


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