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Plans to construct a public park in the center of Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood may move forward this week after decades in development.
The Arlington County Board will consider awarding a construction contract during its meeting this Saturday, May 18, which would turn an area of what is now mostly empty land, at 2400 S. Shirlington Road, into a town center park.
The contract would provide “construction of park improvements, utility undergrounding, street improvements and street lighting” in the space.
The county’s website lists a 2020 projected finish date for the park, dubbed Nauck Town Square, and says construction will include an outdoor stage, a plaza, on-street parking, and tables.
McLean-based concrete contractor Ardent Company LLC is the winner of the county’s competitive contract process for the project. The company would be awarded $4,853,460 for the work if Board members approve the contract, per the staff report.
Discussions on the project date back to the 1998 Nauck Neighborhood Comprehensive Action Plan. The project area includes the former Lucky Seven food market site; the store caught fire in 2012 and was torn down.
Board members originally approved the town square project as part of the 2004 Nauck Village Center Action Plan. It is described in the recent report as “an anchor project to serve as the social and cultural center of the neighborhood.”
In 2013, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Arlington $75,000 for public art as part of the town center project.
The county tapped artist and landscape architect Walter Hood for the project’s design, which then-Public Art Administrator Angela Adams said was one of the reasons Arlington won the federal grant.
“I think that what we’re going to get with Walter’s involvement is a very sophisticated design that continues to make great public spaces here looking contemporary and fresh, but also reflective of the community,” Adams told ARLnow at the time.
The item for Saturday’s discussion is currently included in the Board’s consent agenda for the meeting — a placement usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.
It’s unclear whether the town square will retain the Nauck name after completion. Last week, the Arlington County Civic Federation approved the Nauck Civic Association’s request to change its name to the Green Valley Civic Association — a move the County Board is expected to consider in the coming months.
Arlington has paved the way to finally break ground on a new public gathering place for the Nauck community.
The Arlington County Board approved the purchase of a one-story property at 2400 Shirlington Road for $803,000 earlier this week.
The newly purchased property is the third and final plot of land needed to begin construction on the Nauck Town Square, which will “serve as a gathering place for the community, where events can be held and residents and visitors can learn about Nauck’s rich cultural heritage through planned public art by award-winning landscape architect and artist Walter Hood,” according to a county press release.
“It was the last piece of the puzzle that needed to be pulled together by County staff and the community to make the dream of a Nauck Town Square a reality,” Garvey said. “We can now move forward with this project, and hope to begin construction this summer.”
The recently purchased property is the site of a plumbing business owned by father and son Leslie J. Engelking Sr. and Leslie J. Engelking Jr. The sale was held up for years after it went to court and was further delayed due to the fact that Engelking Jr., who jointly owned the plumbing business, went missing, the Washington Business Journal reported.
Even stranger, Engelking Sr. was in 2015 charged with perjury related to the disappearance of the Lyons sisters, two girls who vanished from Wheaton Mall in Maryland more than 40 years ago. Engelking Sr. told the Business Journal he had “had nothing to do with it,” however.
The former Lucky Seven store in Nauck, closed since a fire last summer, was recently torn down and will eventually become part of a park.
Before the fire, in 2010, the property (2406 S. Shirlington Road) was purchased by Arlington County for $1.4 million, according to property records. The purchase followed a public process in 2006 to design a “Nauck Town Square,” a central public gathering place for the community that complements the developing Nauck Village Center commercial district on Shirlington Road.
The “town square” would incorporate the existing green space on the block, the Lucky Seven property and a still-privately-owned property at 2400 S. Shirlington Road. The county is now in discussions with the owner of that property about a possible acquisition, according to Chikwe Njoku, the county’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program Coordinator.
The current design for the Nauck Town Square includes “a public plaza with outdoor seating, landscaped areas with a water feature, decorative lighting, public art, and displays featuring the history of the community,” according to the county website. It will also feature either an open-air pavilion or an enclosed public multipurpose facility, for hosting entertainment and community events.
“Once completed, this Square will encompass the entire block and host a variety of community events both formal and informal,” the county said. “Additionally, it will provide an outdoor location for public art, Nauck interpretative historical elements, and outdoor entertainment.”
Njoku said it’s impossible to know exactly when the project will move forward, since it depends on the purchase of private property. He also said that the plans for the town square are likely to be “slightly different” than those conceived in 2006.
“There is no official timeline for this project yet since we are still in discussions with the owners on the acquisition of the final parcel,” Njoku said. “However, we are planning to engage the community this Fall and revisit the design that was developed as part of the Nauck Town Square Charrette. We will have a better idea of the project timeline by the time we start that process.”
Demolition has begun in preparation for the Nauck Town Center project, and the neighbors might not be the only ones buzzing with interest.
The building torn down last week is none other than the former home of about 70,000 honey bees, which the county relocated in July 2017 after realizing they had not only purchased a former office building but an apiary abode as well.
The aging building had only been vacant for about four months, according to the county, but about 100 pounds of honey were already generated by the time that local beekeepers swooped in to relocate move the hive.
The demolition is one of the final steps in the project’s first pre-construction phase. Utility undergrounding and site perimeter streetscaping will start fall 2018 and end spring 2019.
The second phase of Nauck Town Square project construction is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2019 and wrap up by the winter of 2020. Pre-construction for phase two will begin spring 2018 and last through winter 2019.
The Nauck Town Center project, which has been years in the making, includes an open plaza, outdoor stage, public art, tables and seating and sidewalk improvements, along with displays about the history of the community, which was settled by free African-Americans in 1844. The design includes a large sculpture of the word “FREED.”
Photo courtesy Daniel Wanke
The Community Association of Resources, Education, Enrichment and Economics (CARE) is scheduled to host a fundraiser at the New District Brewing Company (2709 South Oakland St.) on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.
The fundraiser is set to include live entertainment, a silent auction and an exhibit of historic papers, photographs and memorabilia from notable Nauck people and businesses.
Proceeds from the event will go toward digitizing paper records, creating a “physical museum infrastructure at Nauck Town Square” and hosting “inter-community meetups and events to foster conversations with other Arlington civic associations and encourage community learning and partnerships in development,” organizers said.
More from the fundraiser’s Eventbrite page:
Green Valley Remembered and Preserved is a kick-off fundraiser to support the historic preservation of Nauck’s History and Heritage. On display will be a collection of papers, photographs and memorabilia that is being preserved and shared as a historic preservation project. The collections feature John Robinson, Churches that migrated from Freedman’s Village in 1866, the work of the Nauck Civic Association, Bridge Builders of Nauck and the overall history on development and happenings in the African American Community of Nauck, established in 1844.
This proposal therefore seeks investment to develop a “preservation” infrastructure.
Funds will be used to:
- Digitize, organize and preserve more than 150 years of past paper records in an effort to capture its remarkable narrative. Partner with Arlington County to develop a physical ‘museum’ infrastructure at Nauck Town Square to celebrate community history and highlight its most notable residents and businesses. Preserve the past but nurture the future.
- Funds will be used to organize inter-community meetups and events to foster conversations with other Arlington civic associations and encourage community learning and partnerships in development.
Send us your family stories and information and artifacts that should be in our community archives for future generations. Call 703-486-0058 or email [email protected]
Image courtesy of Nauck Green Valley Remembered
The Nauck neighborhood will hold its annual Civic and Community Pride Day on Saturday.
The event, which is being held from noon to 6 p.m. at Drew Model School and the Nauck Town Square, will feature live music and dancing, local vendors, entertainers and speakers, a health fair, and a fish fry and barbecue.
For kids, there will be a moon bounce, a cake walk and a video game truck.
For adults, there will be a voter registration booth, HIV testing and representatives from the public defender’s office, according to an event flyer.
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced 59 “Our Town” grant awards totaling more than $4.7 million, and an Arlington project is among the recipients.
Arlington Economic Development-Arlington Public Art has been granted $75,000 to develop a public art project in the planned Nauck Town Square, which is intended to be the anchor for the Nauck Village Center. The County Board must give final approval for the grant as a formality, and that’s expected in September.
“The residents of the Nauck Community are truly thankful to the National Endowment of the Arts for their grant to assist us in planning a Town Square where all can enjoy its benefits and especially learn the history of Arlington County’s oldest African American community dating back to 1844,” said Nauck Civic Association President Dr. Alfred O. Taylor, Jr.
The NEA received 254 applications from across the country for this year’s Our Town grants. Grant amounts ranged from $25,000 to $200,000 with a median grant amount of $50,000.
“It’s very competitive. We’re very excited to be one of 59 chosen from across the country,” said Public Art Administrator Angela Adams.
The Lucky Seven store, which closed after a fire last year, previously occupied the site but was torn down earlier this year. The county had purchased the property at 2406 S. Shirlington Road in 2010 for $1.4 million.
The square eventually will take up the entire block between 24th Road South and South Shirlington Road. The county website says, “It will serve as a gathering place for residents to host a variety of community events and an area to showcase the neighborhood’s rich cultural heritage with its collection of public art.”
Arlington Public Art has commissioned landscape architect and artist Walter Hood to devise the plaza’s final design. Hood will engage Nauck residents and community leaders in the design process to create a plaza that tells the story of the Nauck community and its heritage. Adams credits Hood’s involvement as one of the reasons the NEA considered Arlington for the grant.
“I think that what we’re going to get with Walter’s involvement is a very sophisticated design that continues to make great public spaces here looking contemporary and fresh, but also reflective of the community,” said Adams. “The Nauck community has waited a long time for this.”
Community meetings to discuss the design of the project are expected to start this fall and go into next year. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.
“The County is looking forward to engaging Nauck residents and community leaders in the process of designing the plaza and art elements,” said Helen Duong with the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!
Question: How did the Opportunity Zone designation in the Nauck neighborhood come to fruition and what is the expected impact on the neighborhood?
Answer: Last year the U.S. Treasury, with the help of each state, began designating underdeveloped or “economically-distressed” communities as Opportunity Zones (OZ) to encourage residential and commercial development by offering investors preferred tax treatment. There are currently over 8,000 designated OZs around the country and 212 in Virginia.
Arlington’s Opportunity Zones
It may come as a surprise that there were two areas in Arlington that received OZ designations by the Governor/Treasury — Nauck-Shirlington Road and Barcroft-Columbia Pike. Both are located in the area bounded by Columbia Pike to the north, 395 and S. Four Mile Run (link to map and details).
Note: Although the zone is called Barcroft-Columbia Pike, part of it is actually Douglas Park and the rest is an area that I don’t think belongs to either the Barcroft or Douglas Park Civic Associations, but the apartment buildings there do take the Barcroft name.
On a national scale, I don’t think anybody would argue that these neighborhoods are economically-distressed, but within Arlington these designations should help stimulate or expedite development from South to North and West to East instead of the other way around. Both of these areas also have detailed planning documents in place to guide investors.
How Do Opportunity Zones Work?
OZs are a bit outside of my purview because they require commercial development and tax expertise, but the general idea is that investors will put money into Qualified Opportunity Funds and deploy capital to one or more projects in Opportunities Zones around the country in return for preferred tax treatment on their gains. The theme behind the OZs is encouraging long-term, sustained investment from these funds by incentivizing investments of 10+ years.
County Board Roundup — As expected, the Arlington County Board on Saturday voted to approve a contract for Nauck Town Square, a purchase agreement to acquire Virginia Hospital Center-owned property, and a permit to convert former administrative offices next to Washington-Lee High School to classroom space for up to 600 students.
Adding Amazon Acquisitions in Arlington? — “Keep an eye on what companies Amazon.com Inc. buys next. It could be what fills HQ2. Acquisitions will likely determine what jobs and teams develop at the second headquarters in Arlington, said Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s head of worldwide economic development.” [Washington Business Journal]
Drivers Work to Inflate Prices at DCA — “Every night, several times a night, Uber and Lyft drivers at Reagan National Airport simultaneously turn off their ride share apps for a minute or two to trick the app into thinking there are no drivers available — creating a price surge. When the fare goes high enough, the drivers turn their apps back on and lock into the higher fare.” [WJLA]
Garvey Endorses Stamos — “I believe we could use a healthy debate about equity in Arlington and how our legal justice system works. However, a healthy debate means using facts about what is working and what is not… I hope you will join me in voting for Theo Stamos for Commonwealth’s Attorney on June 11.” [Libby Garvey]
Sun Gazette Endorses Favola, Lopez — “In its endorsements, the paper said neither Nicole Merlene (who is challenging Favola) nor Julius Spain (who is taking on Lopez) has reached the rather high bar set for an endorsement of challengers to sitting office-holders.” [InsideNova]
Merlene on Kojo — “On @kojoshow, @NicoleMerleneVA says a second bridge over the Potomac, perhaps in Loudoun County, is needed, especially in light of the recent Beltway closure. She also expresses support for marijuana decriminalization and medical marijuana in Va.” [Twitter]
Arlington Firms in Fortune 1000 — Four Arlington-based companies are in the new Fortune 1000 list: AES, CACI International, Graham Holdings, and AvalonBay Communities. Fairfax County, meanwhile, is home to ten Fortune 500 companies. [Fortune, Twitter]]
Man Sentenced for Threatening Ajit Pai — “Threatening to actually kill a federal official’s family because of a disagreement over policy is not only inexcusable, it is criminal. This prosecution shows not only that we take criminal threats seriously, but also that online threats of violence have real world consequences.” [Twitter, USDOJ]
Another Amazon-Adjacent Acquisition — “Amazon’s planned second headquarters continues to attract the interest of major investors to the National Landing area. Newmark Knight Frank announced Friday it brokered the sale of Presidential Tower at 2511 Jefferson Davis Highway on behalf of the seller, Beacon Capital Partners. The building sold for $123M, according to CoStar information.” [Bisnow]
Photo courtesy @zachzsnapz/Instagram.
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One of the four bond referenda on the November 6 ballot is the so-called “community infrastructure” bond valued at roughly $37 million.
What’s in this bond?
This bond is a grab bag containing a wide variety of seemingly unrelated projects.
The largest dollar components are:
- $14 million for construction of Fire Station 8,
- $8 million for facilities maintenance capital improvements (including design and construction of roofs, electrical and heating/cooling systems and other facilities infrastructure) in county libraries, community and recreation centers, and other county buildings.
This bond’s proceeds also will fund:
- the Nauck Town Square project,
- assessments, renovations & improvements to other government facilities,
- Neighborhood Conservation projects and other County infrastructure projects. (The Neighborhood Conservation Program provides funding for a variety of neighborhood-identified capital improvement projects including street improvements (sidewalk, curb and gutter, drainage, paving), traffic management and pedestrian enhancements, park improvements, street lighting, recreational facilities, landscaping, and beautification.)
Enhancing the community’s role
I plan to vote for this bond.
But, the next time around, the County needs a new approach that enhances the role of the community in deciding what community infrastructure investments to make.
Community infrastructure investments should be designed to benefit the community. The community, not the County government, should have the greater say in deciding which community infrastructure investments to make. The community should be extensively consulted at every important stage as to what its priorities are for spending our limited tax dollars.
Discussing how much money is available to spend
Community consultation should begin by sharing and discussing with the community important long-term financial planning information that will determine the total dollars available for all kinds of investments including community infrastructure.
The Arlington County government should develop multi-year financial projections for both capital and operating budget spending, utilizing at least three assumptions: most likely case; optimistic case(s); pessimistic case(s). The results and assumptions should be published and shared with the community.
The community should help to set priorities, including the total amount of money the community would like to spend on community infrastructure.
Capital vs. operating funding
Best municipal financing practices suggest that it is inappropriate to use bond financing to pay for assets with expected useful lives that are significantly shorter than the repayment schedules of the bond proceeds used to purchase those assets. Yet, with respect to a substantial number of the community infrastructure assets that form part of this bond, the assets proposed for purchase have much shorter useful lives than the related bond repayment schedules.
Next time around, we should use operating not capital dollars to pay for assets with these shorter useful lives.
Example of flood mitigation
In several recent columns, I have explained why the county government needs to increase its investments in community infrastructure designed to protect its residents against flood damage.
In Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood, three flood mitigation projects previously included in earlier versions of Arlington’s Capital Improvement Plan were dropped from that plan due to lack of funds.
The community should be given an opportunity to weigh in on whether to increase expenditures for flood mitigation and, if necessary, what other community infrastructure projects should be cut to enable such an increase.
The community should have a greater say regarding community infrastructure spending. The community should be provided with more of the information it needs to make informed decisions.
Arlington County’s police and fire departments will commemorate National Night Out by holding neighborhood visits at events across the county from 5-9 p.m. tonight (Aug. 7).
In its 35th year, National Night Out strives to build relationships between police and the communities they serve, in part to help increase crime prevention awareness.
The county invites residents to “lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend an evening outside with neighbors, police officers, firefighters and elected officials.”
Events will be held at the following locations:
- Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:45 p.m.
- Cathcart Springs (4600 block of 4th Road N.) at 6:30 p.m.
- Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. and S. Shirlington Road) from 5-7 p.m.
- Park Glen (824 S. Arlington Mill Drive, between buildings 812-816) at 6:30 p.m.
- The Observation Deck at CEB Tower (1800 N. Lynn Street) from 5-9 p.m.
Photo via Arlington County