Arlington, VA

Construction has started in Ballston on the future site of a new Harris Teeter, three apartment buildings and a new green space.

Excavation and sheeting and shoring work started this past week at 600 N. Glebe Road, said Mary Senn, the vice-president of Georgia-based developer Southeastern Real Estate Group, LLC, the developer overseeing the project.

“We are underway,” she said.

Work began last year with utility relocation and demolition of the vacant American Service Center building, Southeastern president Mark Senn told ARLnow in October.

The current phase is the first of three for the site, approved in 2019. In phase one, a new 310-unit apartment building with a new Harris Teeter space on the ground floor will replace the former American Service Center building.

In this phase, customers still have access to parking and the current Harris Teeter, which was the company’s first in Virginia.

“Harris Teeter and Southeastern are very excited to be moving forward with the construction, and the community will be excited to have the new store,” Mary Senn said. “[Harris Teeter] will really do this one up as the latest and the greatest, as far as the store goes.”

The grocery store may have a bar, among other new features, and will also have covered parking, she said.

“People in Arlington, given the weather the past couple of weeks, will appreciate the covered parking, which will definitely be an improvement,” said Senn.

The timeline for the construction of the project has not changed, the vice-president said. Phase one is expected to be complete in 2023.

“But we’ll be open before then,” she said.

During the second phase, the old Harris Teeter will be demolished for new temporary surface parking. The second apartment building, with 195 units, and the public open space will be constructed in phase two.

In the third phase, the temporary parking lot will become the third apartment building: a 227-unit residential building with retail on the ground floor and two levels of below-grade parking.

The park will include a pedestrian path, a dog run, a picnic area, as well as natural vegetation to support pollinator insects and birds.

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Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria and other departments battled a smoky kitchen fire at a large Crystal City apartment complex Thursday night.

The fire broke out shortly before 7 p.m. in the kitchen of a first floor apartment at Crystal Towers (1600 S. Eads Street). The blaze was extinguished, but not before smoke spread to multiple floors of the apartment complex’s south tower.

Residents of the tower were evacuated into subfreezing temperatures outside. So far, no injuries have been reported.

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Gov. Ralph Northam made an Arlington apartment building his venue to announce a half-billion dollars in rent relief for Virginia families.

Northam announced the new federal funding for the Virginia Rent Relief Program at Gillam Place, an affordable apartment complex along Columbia Pike. He did so after touring an Arlington vaccination clinic Tuesday morning.

The rent relief “will assist households and landlords with rent payments to avoid eviction” during the pandemic. Virginia residents can apply for up to 15 months of rent relief, for payments dating back to April 1, 2020 and up to three months in the future.

More from a press release:

Governor Ralph Northam today announced $524 million in new federal funding to help keep Virginia families in their homes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) is funded through the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program included in the recent federal stimulus package and will assist households and landlords with rent payments to avoid eviction. Governor Northam made the announcement at Gilliam Place Apartments, which is owned by the nonprofit organization Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have prioritized efforts to keep Virginians safely in their homes,” said Governor Northam. “There continues to be an overwhelming need for additional relief to help those struggling to make ends meet. This new federal funding will provide an important lifeline to individuals and families, and bolster our ongoing work to address housing affordability in the Commonwealth. I urge eligible households to act quickly and work with their landlords to seek rental assistance through this program.”

Virginia is immediately putting $160 million into the RRP to increase housing stability across the Commonwealth and will make additional funding available based upon need. The program will be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

In June 2020, Virginia was one of the first states in the nation to create a statewide rent and mortgage relief program with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds. To date, the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) has distributed over $83.7 million in 24,294 rent and mortgage payments for households throughout the Commonwealth. Families with children represent the majority of households assisted by the program. Governor Northam and the General Assembly allocated Virginia Housing Trust Funds to continue supporting the program prior to this new federal allocation.

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Morning Notes

Planning Process for Pentagon City Underway — “Amazon.com Inc.’s vision for Pentagon City is decidedly futuristic, anchored by a helix-shaped building that looks straight out of a sci-fi novel. Arlington County’s existing plans that guide the neighborhood’s growth, meanwhile, date back to the days of disco… The open question is how much more development the tech giant will inspire.” [Washington Business Journal]

SUV Overturns on GW Parkway — From WTOP yesterday morning: “NB George Washington Pkwy before the Key Bridge, crash involves one on its side with the left lane only squeezing by.” [Twitter]

GMU to Partner with Local American Legion Post — “Realizing a need existed to help veterans and their families in similar situations, leaders at the law school established the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) in 2004…. A new partnership with American Legion Post 139, which will be standing up a new building in Arlington, will allow the clinic to further increase its impact.” [George Mason University]

New Apartment Building Opening — “AHC Inc., a leading developer of affordable housing in the Washington-Baltimore metro region, is pleased to introduce a new apartment community in Arlington, VA, called The Apex. Featuring a total of 256 apartments, the $100 million development has started to welcome its first residents and is currently accepting applications.” [Press Release]

Arlington Housing Remains Pricey — “The city of Falls Church in Virginia remains the most expensive housing market, by official jurisdiction, with a median price of $820,000 last month. But among larger jurisdictions, Virginia’s Arlington County remains the most expensive, at $600,000 last month.” [WTOP]

Instant-Runoff Voting Challenges — “Technical, legal and financial complexities likely will mean any start to ‘instant-runoff’ County Board voting in Arlington will be pushed back to 2022 at the soonest. ‘It’s not practical for this year. The earliest this could possibly be used is next year,’ said Arlington Electoral Board secretary Scott McGeary, summing things up during a Feb. 6 Electoral Board meeting.” [InsideNova]

Reminder: Blue Line Work Starts Tomorrow — “Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday… platform reconstruction work [is] being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station.” [ARLnow]

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Morning Notes

Confusion Over CVS Vaccine Reservations — “The confusion began early Tuesday morning, with people reaching out to ABC7 to express their frustration over the COVID-19 vaccine registration process at CVS pharmacies in Virginia. ‘They didn’t do what they said they were going to do, and it’s just really frustrating,’ said Roxanne Grandis, who’s been trying to make vaccine appointments for her elderly parents.” [WJLA]

Some Kudos For County Vaccination Effort — “Virginia’s been struggling for weeks to administer vaccine doses. Out of the 1.38 million doses the Commonwealth received, officials only injected 1.1 million. That’s roughly 80%. Meanwhile, Arlington County is setting the standard at 97%. How did they do it? With other areas struggling, how did Arlington Public Health succeed on all levels? Local officials say it’s been a team effort.” [The Dogwood]

Chase Young’s Arlington Connection — “Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young, whose father was in law enforcement, testified before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, expressing support for police reform… Young, named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year on Saturday, grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, but his father spent 22 years as a police officer in Arlington, Virginia.” [ESPN]

Arlington Man Running for Governor — “Another Northern Virginia executive is joining the Republican race for governor. Peter Doran of Arlington said Tuesday he is seeking this year’s GOP gubernatorial nomination. It is his first run for office.” [Associated Press]

Arlington Dems Eye High Rises — “Mid-rise and high-rise living represents a large swath of the Arlington population, and ‘many of them are inaccessible to outside groups,’ said Carol Fontein, who heads the robust precinct-operations efforts of Arlington Democrats. As a result, the party aims to recruit those living in multi-family complexes to help with outreach – within the limits set by owners of the properties.” [InsideNova]

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(Updated on 1/28/21) It’s still early in the approval process, but we’re getting a closer look at a proposed redevelopment that would replace the Silver Diner and The Lot beer garden in Clarendon.

As previously reported by the Washington Business Journal, the development would take place on a triangular parcel of land at 3200 Wilson Blvd, across from Northside Social.

The proposal, according to the website of The Donohoe Cos. — which is partnering with property owner TCS Realty Associates to develop the property — calls for two buildings: a 224-room hotel atop what is now Silver Diner, and a 286-unit residential building where The Lot currently sits.

The redevelopment would also replace a pair of smaller commercial buildings and some surface parking lots, and would add 15,000 square feet of street-level retail, a curbless pedestrian-friendly street (known as a “woonerf”), a public park, underground parking, and an upgraded streetscape along Wilson Blvd.

“Bingham Center, located in the heart of the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, presents an opportunity to transform a long underutilized property into a vibrant mixed-use destination,” the company’s website says. “Located within one block of the Clarendon Metro station, this project will stitch together the urban fabric of central Clarendon with the Virginia Square and Ballston neighborhoods to the west.”

“The hotel will include a ground-level restaurant and bar, 6,000 square feet of meeting space, a state of the art fitness facility, and an iconic rooftop bar with sweeping views of Clarendon,” the website adds. “The multifamily building will include a ground-level coworking café and library, an indoor/outdoor lounge opening to an expansive landscaped terrace and pool deck, state of the art fitness center, club room, and multiple elevated outdoor spaces.”

A slide deck with additional renderings, obtained by ARLnow, notes that the Silver Diner property “may be the only economically viable hotel site in Clarendon.” The triangular shape of the lot “will not work for an office building” and will “generate higher tax revenue” as a hotel, the presentation sys.

Atop the ten-story hotel, Donohoe plans to seek permission to add a publicly-accessible rooftop bar and terrace “with views of Clarendon and D.C.,” as well as a fitness center, in “otherwise unused excess space.” While those facilities will not be taller than the planned mechanical penthouse on the building’s roof, it may prompt a battle with nearby residents around the overall height of the building.

Donohoe notes that is is “providing significant land area to public streets, sidewalks, and streetscapes (38% of site area),” as well as a new “Irving Street Park (to be coordinated with neighboring developments),” as community benefits.

Along Wilson Blvd, “improvements per sector plan include increased lane width, added parking and tree pit, and sidewalk (more than twice as wide),” the presentation says.

Adjacent to the proposed Bingham Center development, south of Silver Diner, another developer has proposed “an 11-story mixed-use building with room for at least 200 apartments at the intersection of N. Irving Street and 10th Street N.,” according to a Dec. 2019 WBJ article.

Hat tip to Kristin Francis

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After years of delays, plans for half of an undeveloped parcel of land in Potomac Yard, called Land Bay C East, are taking shape.

Two residential buildings with ground-floor retail, bisected by a pedestrian pathway, are planned along Potomac Avenue and Crystal Drive between 29th Street S. and 33rd Street S. In addition to 488 residential units, the plans call for underground parking and open space.

The developer, ZOM Living, has dubbed the project Hazel National Landing. A luxury apartment developer with an office in Tysons, ZOM Living has built The Beacon Clarendon on N. Irving Street and 19Nineteen in Courthouse.

The plans are a long time in coming for the parcel, which is currently used for parking and as a construction staging area, said Adam Watson, a County planner, in a staff presentation from December.

“Despite persistent leasing efforts, the property remains vacant,” said Martin “Art” Walsh, the attorney for the project, said in ZOM Living’s presentation from December. “We’ve worked with economic development to verify our efforts in terms of trying to lease the property.”

The original site plan was approved in 2007 and situated four office buildings over an underground parking garage. It allotted more than 1 million square feet to office space, 41,000 square feet for retail space, as well as a half-acre for a park.

The land is owned by German grocery chain Lidl, which has its U.S. headquarters nearby. In 2017, the County Board gave Lidl a three-year extension to develop the property.

In February 2020, six months before the three-year extension ended, Meridian Development Group seemed poised to swap offices with residential buildings. Two months later, ZOM Living submitted its plans.

ZOM Living’s development covers Land Bay C East, while the western half is still slated for offices.

The first residential building will be 150 feet tall, with 14 floors and 297 residential units. The second building will be 120 feet tall, with 11 floors and 191 units. The towers share 9,181 square feet in retail space and two floors of below-grade parking, with 399 residential spots and 15 retail spots.

Some of the lower-level units will have their own townhouse-style exterior entrances.

Renderings illustrate primarily brick buildings with large patios and greenery on the ground floor and rooftop, overlooking a tree-lined passageway and plaza.

“We’re very excited about the vibrancy and potential of this project, not only for the buildings but the public open space,” said Tom Kerwin, the founding principal of bKL Architecture, during the December presentation.

A public engagement period for the project ended in December 2020. The Site Plan Review Committee will look over the project in February and March, prior to consideration by county commissions and the County Board.

Photos via Arlington County

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The second of two residential towers at Pentagon Centre, in Pentagon City, is taking shape at 15th Street S. and S. Hayes Street.

This past spring, work began on The Milton, an 11-story building with 253 residential units and 15,541 square feet of ground-floor retail. It follows on the heels of a 26-story, 440-unit residential tower with 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail called The Witmer (710 12th Street S.), which opened in July 2019.

The Milton is set to be completed in 2023, said Geoffrey Glazer, the Senior Vice President for National Development of Kimco Realty, owner of the shopping center.

The County Board approved the buildings in 2015 as part of Kimco’s three-phase, 30-year development of Pentagon Centre. Phase one began with a parking garage near Costco. The project also includes a 9,000-square foot open space, according to a staff report.

Construction crews worked from spring to fall relocating utility lines for the new building, and the project is still on-schedule, Glazer said. Right now, they are doing preliminary foundation work and will eventually start digging.

“We’re very close to where we were [supposed to be] when we started that project,” he said. “We worked through most of the pandemic, and construction on the site work all kept moving forward.”

He does not anticipate the construction causing any disruptions to shopping at Costco, Nordstrom Rack or Marshalls.

“Access to our existing parking structures and fields will all be open and operational,” he said. “There will be additional signage for people to have clarity for how to move around.”

In later phases, scheduled out about two decades, leases will be up for the big-box stores, making way for public open space and new development.

“It’s out there,” Glazer said. “Everybody’s leases have lots more term.”

Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A and a Chase Bank branch are moving into the ground floor of The Witmer, joining Arlington’s second outpost of Wiseguy Pizza. The local D.C. pizza chain opened the Pentagon location in June.

Ultimately, as currently configured, the site will have 346,000 square feet of retail, 705,000 square feet of office space and a 200-room hotel. With the residential buildings, that brings the total project size to nearly 2 million square feet, according to Kimco.

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JBG Smith is proposing to replace the Crystal Plaza One office building with two multifamily towers in Crystal City.

As part of the project, the Bethesda-based developer will be shifting S. Clark Street to the east to create a new S. Clark-Bell Street and “create greater connectivity” in the area, according to a recent JBG Smith presentation.

After a public comment period closed yesterday (Monday), the project is in the home stretch, with only a few meetings to go before an expected review by the County Board later this year.

JBG Smith proposes 786 units across two LEED Silver-certified buildings bisected by a new S. Clark-Bell Street. A pedestrian pathway would form the eastern border of the East tower.

The towers would replace an aging office building at 2001 Richmond Highway, along with a surface parking lot previously used for some public events.

The West tower (2000 S. Bell St.) has the following specifications:

  • 250 feet tall
  • 365 units
  • 18,510 square feet of ground-floor retail
  • 180 parking spaces

The East tower (2001 S. Bell St.) has these specifications:

  • 200 feet tall
  • 421 units
  • 11,060 square feet of ground-floor retail
  • 167 parking spaces

The new S. Clark-Bell Street would shift S. Clark Street east and, south of the buildings, tie into the existing S. Clark Street, according to a county report. The northern end of the road would line up with S. Bell Street north of 20th Street S.

In response to the proposal, members of the Crystal City Civic Association, as well as a few transportation and pedestrian commission, have pointed out the project fails to meet some basic requirements of the Crystal City Sector Plan.

In a letter provided to ARLnow, the civic association said the planning process “failed to meaningfully address long-range planning issues implicated by the proposed site plan.”

Transportation Commission member and Aurora Highlands resident Darren Buck said efforts to expand cycling options in the area will be hampered by the buildings, which are eight feet closer to their property lines than the Crystal City Sector Plan calls for.

Buck wrote that the project is part of a trend in which “the strict terms of the [Crystal City Sector Plan] are used to justify refusing or ignoring minor deviations from the plan sought by members of the public (particularly in regards to non-motorized transportation), while substantial deviations are advanced when they originate from an applicant.”

Meanwhile, the Crystal City Civic Association said the sector plan calls for “trees, gardens and benches” for the space where JBG Smith proposes a cement pedestrian plaza. The association characterizes the plaza as “an afterthought,” and Pedestrian Advisory Committee member Pamela Van Hine said it should be a pocket or linear park, not a hardscape.

The civic association also expressed concerns about the future of the network of tunnels in Crystal City, known by locals as the “Underground.” JBG Smith proposes an underground garage, which the civic association said would interfere with the tunnels.

The association credited JBG Smith for changing its plan so the new garage and existing tunnels link up and said it supports the developer’s commitment to “a holistic approach to revitalizing the entire Underground.”

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McLean-based Jefferson Apartment Group has taken over plans to convert the RCA building in Rosslyn into a 27-story mixed-use residential complex.

The next steps for the proposed retail and residential building at 1901 N. Moore Street include community engagement — an online feedback form available through next Wednesday — and site plan reviews in February and March.

In 2017, Weissberg Investment Corp., which developed the RCA building in the 1960s, filed plans to redevelop the RCA site — but those plans were put on hold indefinitely in 2018. Jefferson started filing application materials in May 2020.

Jefferson proposes a building with two towers, 260 feet and 239.5 feet tall, atop a base, connected at the top by a penthouse level, creating “a sky window” in the middle, according to staff and architect presentations. As currently planned, the building will have 424 residential units and nearly 12,000 square feet of retail space.

Though it has some ground-floor retail, the current building is mostly devoid of street-level activity, while the sidewalk around it is shaded by an overhang.

“In 1969, the current RCA building was constructed, and quite unfortunately drained the site of that rich pedestrian environment that formerly occupied the site,” Shalom Baranes, the architect for the project, said in the developer’s presentation. “One of our goals with the proposed project is to restore the street-level retail vitality that existed years ago.”

Parking access will take up most of N. Moore St while retail — dining, entertainment, services and repairs and sales — will be housed on the other three sides of the block: 19th Street N., N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway.

The site will have 280 parking spaces, including 10 retail and visitor spots. Not all of the 270 residential spots can fit below-grade, due to “particularly dense rock” and some Metro tunnels, Baranes said.

Two levels of parking, or 102 spaces, will be inside the building — above the retail and below the residential units.

“We have been very careful to integrate the parking architecturally so that it appears to be part of the overall building composition,” Baranes said.

There will be 171 long-term and 12 short-term bike spaces.

Arlington County principal planner Kristen Walentisch said that increasing the share of housing will make Rosslyn more vibrant and economically competitive.

“Historically, Rosslyn has been dominated by commercial office spaces and hotels, so the Rosslyn Sector Plan adopted in 2015 includes several land use goals aimed to establish a greater balance between commercial and residential uses and activities,” she said during a staff presentation.

Photos (2-3) via Arlington County

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