In response to criticism from residents, citizen commissioners and county staff, a developer has removed a drive-thru ATM from its plans to redevelop the Wells Fargo in Clarendon.
One year ago, McLean-based developer Jefferson Apartment Group filed plans to replace the bank — the one someone recently attempted to rob — with a mixed-use building. It is set to consist of 238 apartments, 60,000 square feet of office space and 30,000 square feet of retail, including a new Wells Fargo branch.
The current two-story bank building at 3140 Washington Blvd has a drive-thru in addition to a surface parking lot. Critics of keeping the drive-thru say it would detract from walkability in the area, which is seeing significant redevelopment that will result in more people living, shopping and using public amenities in Clarendon.
“This is the most walkable place in the county and drive-up for anything doesn’t make sense to me,” said Planning Commission member Jim Lantelme back in February. “You would have to have a second ATM that people could walk up to.”
One commenter said drive-thrus are “horrible for the environment and they aren’t faster than parking and going into the building,” while another called it “a relic of the 70s [that] doesn’t belong here.”
A third said it “seems like a very bad idea that will take away space from pedestrians and increase the chance of crashes and congestion in an area that is meant to be dense and walkable.”
Jefferson had originally doubled down on the drive-thru ATM, saying in a county document this was “for the convenience of existing customers and as requested by Wells Fargo based on customer feedback during and after the pandemic.”
Ultimately, it agreed to changes that resemble a suggestion from the Clarendon Courthouse Civic Association: walk-up ATMs and free, short-term parking on a new local street that Jefferson will construct as part of the project.
The walk-up ATMs will be located at the northern and southern edges of the bank, which looks out over N. Irving Street. This street, which dead-ends in a green space, is set to become a plaza through a separate, Dept. of Parks and Recreation-led planning process.
People using the ATMs will be able to park in short-term parking on the north side of a planned public road. As part of the project, Jefferson will build a new 10th Road N., which will run parallel to Washington Blvd and separate the new construction from the existing Verizon building to the south.
Even with the walk-up ATMs, staff have concerns that a bank, generally, is not the kind of lively retail that encourages people to use the planned Irving Street Plaza. Those who commented were not as concerned with this but suggested sculptures or water features could help “activate” the plaza.
For its part, Jefferson says it is committing to beautifying the streetscapes for pedestrians on Washington Blvd and N. Irving and N. Hudson streets.
While some wanted to see more tree canopy on the latter two local streets, the developer says it is limited by underground utilities connected to the Verizon building (1025 N. Irving Street).
Making use of planters to add street trees, meanwhile, could create a barrier that discourages people from accessing the plaza, county planner Peter Schulz said.
“I don’t know what it would look like but [DPR and Jefferson] both have to work together,” Schulz said.
Staff and the applicant are “exploring ideas for planting trees and meeting tree canopy requirements while not inhibiting problems with this plaza,” he continued. “We definitely appreciate people’s input on this.”
This part of Clarendon is seeing significant development and is set to see more. Construction continues on the second phase of the former Red Top Cab site across Washington Blvd, while citizen commissions are reviewing redevelopment plans for the now-closed Silver Diner across N. Irving Street.
Earlier this year, the Arlington County Board approved plans for apartments and retail to replace the Joyce Motors site south of the old restaurant. These projects, as well as proposals from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, the YMCA and George Mason University, prompted Arlington County to update a sector plan guiding the future of this specific part of Clarendon.
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At Generation Hope, we’re dedicated to supporting teen parents in college as they work toward earning their degrees. We are in need of caring child care volunteers for upcoming events on Saturday, October 21st (in Washington, DC), and Saturday, November 4th (in Arlington, VA). Join our growing volunteer community and support us at an event this fall!
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If you enjoy working with children and are looking to make an immediate impact in your community, please visit https://www.generationhope.org/volunteer to learn more.
Join us for Arlington’s biggest civil rights & social justice event of the year. The banquet is back in person at the Arlington Campus of George Mason University.
Our keynote speaker this year is Symone Sanders from MSNBC and former Chief of Staff for Vice-President Kamala Harris.
The Master of Ceremonies is Joshua Cole, former state delegate, NAACP President, and local pastor.
Tickets/seating are limited. Purchase your ticket today! Sponsorship opportunities available.
Join us at Church of the Covenant on Military Road every other Wednesday afternoon from 4:00-5:30pm beginning on October 18th for The Backyard: After-School Kids Club. Cost is free! The program will provide recreation, snacks, Bible stories, and other fun