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Inner Ear Studios demolition falls behind schedule due to surprise structural issues

Demolition of the old Inner Ear Studios in Green Valley is expected to start this month, after some delays.

This project was delayed after the discovery of unforeseen structural conditions with the adjoining building,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services Public Engagement Specialist Alyson Jordan Tomaszewski told ARLnow.

“After modifying the construction plans, we are now expecting demolition to start later this month and conclude in spring 2024,” she continued, noting that the issues were discovered in May.

Arlington County acquired the nearly 70-year-old warehouse and building at 2700 S. Nelson and 2701 S. Oakland streets — once the epicenter of the D.C. punk scene — in late 2021.

Deeming the building structurally unsound, the county decided to demolish it and build a flexible open space for arts programming. It aims to create an arts and industry district in Green Valley and make the arts more accessible in south Arlington.

The county approved a contract for demolition work last December and, at the time, work was expected to take 180 days and wrap up this summer. The surprise structural conditions have delayed the timeline several months and depleted the contingency budget down to $15,700, per a county report.

This weekend, the Arlington County Board is set to approve a $100,000 contract increase to cover “unforeseen conditions that are likely to be revealed” during the remaining work, the report says.

“Previously authorized contingency has been expended to implement structural modifications that were required due to unknown structural connections with adjoining buildings,” the report says. “The structural modifications have been resolved and demolition of the building is proceeding.”

If approved, the new funds will bring the total contract with Demolition Services, Inc. to nearly $547,750. Even with the contract increase, the overall budget for this project remains unchanged at $1,136,633, the report says.

Meantime, this August, the county released the final design plans for the new, temporary art space. It will be nestled among the Arlington Food Assistance Center and the Arlington Cultural Affairs building — now home to an outpost of Arlington Independent Media — and across from Jennie Dean Park.

A project webpage projects the space will be installed and open in 2024.

The designs take inspiration from Inner Ear Studios and nearby Four Mile Run, according to a video.

A plywood drum riser salvaged from Inner Ear Studios will sit atop a small outdoor stage, which has as a backdrop the corner of a wall saved from the original building.

“This small performance area serves as a monument to the creativity of the hundreds of local and national bands that recorded on this site from 1990 to 2021,” the video says. “Through a public workshop the wall will be decorated with wheatpasted print media including historical and cultural contributions from local communities and reprinted album covers from records recorded here.”

Thin blue and teal lines will criss-cross the pavement, evoking “a flowing river,” while string lights will serve as “gateways into the space,” the video says.

Lawns on either side of the small, Inner Ear-inspired stage will have outdoor sculptures and a mobile stage with a screen for movie projections. Planted berms and concrete blocks will provide a seating while a pergola will double as a shade structure and outdoor art gallery.

Inner Ear Studios has since relocated to the basement of owner Don Zientara’s Arlington house.

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