No work is happening yet, but there are signs that plans to replace the Highlander Motel in Virginia Square with a new CVS store are getting closer to fruition.
A permit application was filed last month for the property at 3336 Wilson Blvd for a new building, to house CVS. Thus far no permits have been issued.
The application follows years of legal wrangling between Arlington County and local businessman Bill Bayne. In 2018 the Virginia Supreme Court cleared the way for Bayne to redevelop the 56-year-old budget hotel, after the county refused to allow him to use the parking lot behind the motel for store parking.
Bayne subsequently sued the county in federal court for alleged civil rights violations, but that suit was dismissed in October, with the judge citing Arlington County’s sovereign immunity as a reason for the dismissal.
Bayne told ARLnow that the legal fight cost him at least $250,000, if not more.
“It’s over… it is what it is,” he said.
As of Monday morning, no bookings were available online for the Highlander’s $69/night rooms past January, but Bayne told ARLnow that was an error that would be corrected; rooms could be booked past then if you call the hotel, he said.
Bayne said the hotel is planning to stay open for at least another year and there’s no set closing date, though he acknowledged that he’s continuing to pursue the redevelopment.
Bayne is also the owner and co-owner, respectively, of two other long-time local businesses: the Crystal City Restaurant gentlemen’s club and Crystal City Sports Pub, both on 23rd Street S. Changes may be on the way for the former — Bayne said he’s considering changing the name of Crystal City Restaurant to “National Landing Strip,” given the new branding for the collective Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area in the wake of Amazon’s HQ2.
“I’ve thought about doing it… it’s certainly crossed my mind,” Bayne said of the possible name change.
The only thing keeping Bayne from changing the name, he said, is sentimentality. Bayne’s father bought the business in 1963 and renamed it “Crystal City Restaurant” from “Arlington Luncheon” to reflect what was then the new name for the neighborhood along Route 1.
Flickr pool photo (1) by Maryland Nomadic