Arlington officials are pledging to take a fresh look at how they manage local historic districts, after one neighborhood’s design standards is forcing a Maywood family to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a roof repair.
Brendan and Jody Devine have spent more than a year working with county officials to get permission to use asphalt shingles when overhauling the roof of their home along the 3500 block of 21st Avenue N. But the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, known as the HALRB, blocked that request because the home is located in the Maywood Neighborhood Historic District, and the board feared replacing its current stamped tin shingle roof with a more modern style of roof would leave it out of step with the rest of the neighborhood.
The Devines appealed that decision to the County Board, but members voted unanimously yesterday (Tuesday) to uphold the HALRB’s decision.
Board members, however, expressed a great deal of remorse over that vote, lamenting that the county code obligated them to side against the Devines, even if they agreed with their concerns about the tin roof’s cost.
“We’re ending up on the wrong side of justice if we don’t provide a way to promote the architectural compatibility with the neighborhood, while at the same time accounting for real life circumstances,” said Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey. “I think we can figure out a way to do better.”
Brendan Devine noted at the meeting that the tin shingles would likely cost as much as $30,000, compared to $5,000-6,000 for the asphalt option, and that that is only for a portion of the roof. He argued that the county would be effectively making the neighborhood an “enclave” for the wealthy if the Board forced homeowners to embrace such expensive options.
In general, Board members agreed with that sentiment, though they felt there was little they could do to make a difference in this particular case.
County Attorney Steve MacIsaac cautioned that members had little choice but to side with the HALRB’s ruling unless the Devines could prove that board made some sort of “arbitrary and capricious” decision. The Board took heed of his opinion, but with some communities around the county trying to pursue historic districts in order to protect affordable housing options, several members expressed a willingness to revisit the county’s policies on the matter.
“This is a cautionary tale,” Chair Katie Cristol said. “We’ve had members of our community who have sought to use a historic designation overlay as a tool to protect affordability… but to the extent we’re looking to protect either garden apartments or single family homes, it can sometimes work at cross purposes.”
Board members were particularly interested in finding a way to get the HALRB to consider the cost of a change like this as a central part of their deliberations. Joan Lawrence, the HALRB’s chair, told the Board that her group did indeed take the expense of the tin shingles into account, but ultimately felt making an exception in this case could lead to a slippery slope.
“A defining feature of this historic district is this particular roof,” Lawrence said. “We’re dealing with a situation of death by a thousand cuts… I don’t think being good stewards of a historic neighborhood, a historic house, is making it an enclave.”
Board member Erik Gutshall would concede Lawrence’s point that the Devines did “buy into a neighborhood with high standards to be upheld.” Certainly, the homes in the area aren’t cheap either — the Devine’s house was valued at just over $863,000 in 2018, according to county property records, and other nearby homes are similarly expensive.
But the Board broadly signalled that they were far from satisfied with this outcome.
“If we would want to pursue some fresh look at the [historic district] standards, we need to think about, what are the next steps?” Cristol said.
An excerpt from the Devine’s letter to the County Board is below.
The installation of a new tin shingle roof represents a significant financial investment and will cost a homeowner approximately 4 to 5 times as much as would installing an asphalt shingle roof. Illustrative of this are the estimates we obtained for both materials, which had stamped tin shingle replacement ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 and asphalt shingles ranging from $5,000 to $6,000. This this cost is for the replacement of approximately one third of our total roof area. The home across the street from us had its entire roof replaced with new stamped tin shingles (an area approximately 3 times the size of what needs to be replaced on our home) 9-10 years ago at a cost of less than $25,000. Today that same roof would cost upwards of $50,000-$75,000. There is only one real reputable producer of these shingles in the United States, very few roofers who are skilled at installing them, and the cost of materials increases significantly year over year. This amounts to a significant financial burden that the County is leveling on a homeowner for what is a relatively minor architectural change. Requiring that an average homeowner install what amounts to luxury features of exorbitant cost on their home very much runs counter to the spirit of strong individual property owner rights prevalent throughout the State of Virginia. The preponderance of homes within Maywood currently have asphalt shingle roofs and the HALRB maintains that the roofs of new additions in Maywood be clad in asphalt shingles, which demonstrates that they do consider that material compatible with the neighborhood character. […]
The intent of establishing the Maywood Historic District, as stated in the design guidelines, is to maintain the overall character of the neighborhood, not to dictate individual features of specific homes. Replacing a tin shingle roof does not impact the character of the neighborhood and represents a significant financial burden on homeowners. If neighborhood residents wished to require that metal roofs be replaced in kind, then they would have written guidelines that included that requirement, which they did not. We fully support maintaining the historic character of Maywood, but we also strongly feel that allowances must be made when it becomes clear that replacement of materials in kind is no longer a financially reasonable expectation for the County to have of district residents.
County Aims to Fix Boring Columbia Pike Architecture — “Arlington County Board members on Dec. 16 approved amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance that revamps existing regulations for Pike properties that are built under the Form-Based Code, a 15-year-old process that aims to speed the development timeline but has had the unintended consequence of rendering architectural creativity persona-non-grata on the Pike.” [InsideNova]
McAuliffe Proposes Metro Funding Plan — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is proposing a $150-million-per-year state funding plan for Metro. The plan includes using a portion of Northern Virginia’s regional transportation sales tax and increasing three other regional taxes. [WTOP]
Gutshall to Be Sworn In Today — Erik Gutshall, the newest Arlington County Board member, will be sworn in today at 5 p.m. at county headquarters in Courthouse. [InsideNova]
Pentagon Had UFO Office — The truth is out there, in Arlington — at the Pentagon, specifically. It was revealed this past weekend that the Pentagon had a secretive program that investigated reports of Unidentified Flying Objects. The “Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program” officially ended in the 2012. [Politico, Washington Post]
Phoenix House Renovation and Expansion — “On time and on budget – and without a dollar of government funding – Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic on Dec. 12 unveiled new and updated facilities in Arlington aimed at giving an extra boost to patients moving through the addiction-recovery process.” [InsideNova]
There’s a recent addition to the site of Marymount University’s new mixed-use complex at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive in Ballston.
The inscription on the sign, below, notes that there are four additional informational markers in the complex’s courtyard, made from salvaged blue panels from the former building.
Construction of the Marymount complex is expected to wrap up this summer. A Starbucks coffee shop is set to be its first retail tenant.
This site is where the distinctive “Blue Goose” building stood. While the origin of the moniker remains unknown. Arlingtonians recognized the building’s atypical form and striking use of polychromatic blue metal panels. Well-known local architect John M. Walton designed the building for M.T. Broyhill and Sons, which opened the office tower in 1963.
Marymount University welcomes you to walk through the courtyard to the right, which contains four two-sided informational markers. Visitors heading to the west will learn about the transportation history of this site including the streetcar line that followed Fairfax Drive. Visitors walking to the east will read about the history of the Blue Goose and its architect, developer, and tenants. These four markers were partially constructed with salvaged blue panels from the Blue Goose.
Photo courtesy Joel Kirzner
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A new pedestrian bridge for those heading to and from the renovated Ballston Quarter mall and the Ballston Metro station has cleared a regulatory hurdle.
The Arlington County Board yesterday voted unanimously to approve a site plan amendment for the bridge, which will replace an existing pedestrian bridge. The old bridge is, in the eyes of the mall owners and the county, fairly pedestrian appearance-wise.
The latest design renderings for the new bridge, from bridge architect StudioTECHNE, show a geometric steel-and-glass design that crosses above Wilson Blvd at an angle. Among the words used to describe the design in a presentation to the County Board were “sophisticated,” “iconic,” “vibrant,” “safe,” “well lighted” and “experiential.”
The bridge will feature the following improvements, according to the presentation:
- “Climate-controlled space with less slope that will improve safety and comfort of bridge crossing.”
- “Opportunities for sitting and viewing areas along the traverse of the bridge.”
- “Planters and sitting areas integrated into the bridge design at the sidewalk.”
- “An architecturally memorable design that blends function and artistic expression and creates an iconic civic presence in the heart of Ballston.”
“The new bridge will be not only more functional, but also more beautiful — it will be a real asset to Ballston Quarter and our community,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said, in a statement.
The existing bridge is expected to close to pedestrians mid-October, with demolition expected to begin shortly thereafter. Construction of the next bridge is expected to start at the beginning of March, following a public process to finalize the design. The newly-renovated mall and pedestrian bridge are scheduled to open on Sept. 13, 2018.
The old bridge’s demolition will allow for major changes to the façade of what’s currently known as Ballston Common Mall. From a press release:
Demolition of the existing pedestrian bridge will make way for a public plaza that is a key community benefit of the Ballston Quarter redevelopment.
Once the existing pedestrian bridge is removed, the mall façade that fronts on Wilson Boulevard will be transformed and the existing entrance to the mall will be eliminated. A 3,386 sq. ft. public plaza will be created at street level on Wilson Boulevard with steps and seating areas leading into another 2,500 sq. ft. of sunken, public plaza space with outdoor restaurant seating and event space.
Forest City Enterprises, developer of Ballston Quarter, will construct the new bridge with funding provided through the partnership between the County and Forest City. The reconstructed bridge will have public access easements that do not exist today, and it will be more functional and aesthetically pleasing than the current bridge.
Inside, instead of a traditional food court, the new mall will feature an “‘experiential food hub’ that will combine eat-in dining, prepared food sales and market elements,” perhaps similar to D.C.’s Union Market, the Washington Business Journal reported today.
The County Board also voted yesterday to formalize its public-private partnership with mall owner Forest City. The partnership means that a county-created Community Development Authority will pay up to $55.5 million in public infrastructure costs associated with the mall project, while receiving a portion of any increase in tax revenues associated with the mall.
Design of New Wilson School Lauded — “The new Wilson School might be the fanciest public school building in the nation.” So says the influential urbanist news website Citylab, of the design of the future home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program. The fan-like design comes from a team of two architecture firms, including the Bjarke Ingels Group, which is noted for its experimental designs. The total project cost is estimated at $86-94 million. [Citylab]
APS Seeks to Squeeze More Capacity Out of Existing Schools — Facing a continued capacity crunch, Arlington Public Schools is seeking to find additional room for students in its middle and high schools. APS thinks it can squeeze another 600+ students total in its three high schools and another 150 students at middle schools, by finding additional usable space in the existing buildings. Growth in school enrollment, meanwhile, is slowing down but is not expected to stop. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
APS Wins Budget Award — Arlington Public Schools has been awarded a Meritorious Budget Award for excellence in budget presentation from the Association of School Business Officials International. The entry fee to be eligible for the award is more than $1,000. [Arlington Public Schools, ASBO]
(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) The Arlington County Board announced the 2013 Design Arlington awards winners at its meeting on Tuesday, honoring six residential projects in North Arlington and commercial renovations in Crystal City and Pentagon City.
The biennial awards are given to projects completed in the last 10 years in these categories: residential, commercial, institutional/civic, historic preservation/building rehabilitation, public art and open space.
The submissions are judged based on “overall design excellence; visual composition and aesthetic character; relationship to surrounding context; sustainable design and development; preservation of historic buildings, facades, elements, and character; high-quality craftsmanship; and creative use of durable materials,” according to the county website. This year, there were 43 entries evaluated by a panel of four architecture, preservation and design professionals.
“These awards honor those who work to create exceptional architectural and landscape design in Arlington,” County Board Chairman Jay Fisette said in a press release. “Their efforts prove that projects that are functional can also be visually interesting, beautify our neighborhoods and be respectful of the neighborhood’s character.”
Below are this year’s winners:
- Diaz Residence (4301 37th Road N.) — Residential addition/renovation – Subtle updates to the front façade and a significant addition to the rear of the home modernized a single-family home without completely changing its appearance or how it fits in with neighboring homes.
- Bromptons at Monument Place (N. Nash Street and 14th Street N.) — Residential new construction — Well-detailed neoclassical townhomes engage the street in a thoughtful way.
- Wood Temple in a Garden (1608 N. Cleveland Street) — Residential new construction — Well-designed studio outbuilding incorporates materials from the existing home. New addition is modern but respectful to neighborhood character.
- “+2Edison7” (5077 27th Street N.) — Residential addition/renovation — Compact footprint is appropriately scaled for the neighborhood. It creates contrasts with neighboring buildings without competing for attention.
- Monroe House (3132 N. Monroe Street) — Residential new construction — Design is respectful of setbacks and scale of neighboring homes. Meticulously detailed without looking out of place.
- Crystal Drive streetscape — Commercial renovation/new construction — Transformed an auto-oriented street into a lively multi-use corridor. Highlights the shifting goals in urban design and placemaking.
- Egge Residence (3317 N. 23rd Street) — Residential addition/historic preservation — Addition nearly doubled the size of the historic home without altering its character.
- Pentagon Row plaza — Open space renovation — Optimizes space and outdoor recreational areas. Highlights how a public space can be reinvented to adapt to new needs.
Two honorable mentions also were recognized:
- 800 N. Glebe Road — Mixed-use new construction — Building engages the adjacent sidewalk. It includes a historic architectural reference to the former Bob Peck Chevrolet building, as well as a historic marker.
- “Wave Arbor” in Long Bridge Park — Public art — Kinetic art incorporated into a recreational space.
Photos courtesy Arlington County
Robert Morris, a prominent local architect and winner of a number of Arlington County Preservation Design awards, has died at the age of 53.
According to his obituary in an Alabama newspaper, Morris graduated from Auburn University with a Professional Degree in Architecture in 1984. He had been influenced at a young age by the historic house he lived in with his family, ultimately prompting him to pursue architecture.
Morris moved to the D.C. area after graduation and founded Morris-Day Architects and Builders soon after. He was well known for his distinctive home designs throughout the metro area, especially in Arlington and McLean.
Morris had been a member of Leadership Arlington and was considered a “bright light” at the organization. He is remembered for his sense of humor and for making people laugh, in addition to how he “worked to make the world a better place.” The organization considers his death a huge loss for the community.
“Rob was an incredibly creative individual and Leadership Arlington benefited from his creativity and from his engagement with his class,” said Leadership Arlington President and CEO Betsy Frantz. “He was always thinking about the next possibility and making the community the best it could be. He had a way of making things happen efficiently and effectively. We’re really going to miss him.”
Morris took his own life on December 29. Family members held a memorial service for him in Alabama last week. The local service for Robert Morris will be held at 2:00 p.m. on February 8 at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in McLean (1545 Chain Bridge Road).
Photo via Morris-Day Architects and Builders Facebook page
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, help is a phone call away. Call CrisisLink at 703-527-4077.
Clarendon Center Wins Architectural Award — The Clarendon Center development has won a 2013 Charter Award, which is a global architectural award for excellence in urban design. The building straddles the 3000 block of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd. Clarendon Center was highlighted for being an example of walkable urban density in a suburban context and for its use of Art Deco styling. [Congress for the New Urbanism]
Arlington Transit Bus Survey — Arlington Transit is asking residents to fill out an online survey regarding the county’s bus service. Survey respondents are asked to suggest improvements for ART and Metrobus service. The information will help shape updates to the county’s six-year Transit Development Plan. The survey closes on Friday, June 28. [Arlington Transit]
Dream Scholarship Award Ceremony on Friday — Twenty-nine students from Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax will be honored at Friday’s Dream Scholarship award ceremony. Undocumented students in good academic standing qualify for the scholarship if they or one of their parents were born outside of the United States, and the student will attend an accredited college or university. The ceremony takes place on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at the Arlington Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street). [Facebook]
(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) The Arlington School Board approved new elementary school boundaries Thursday night, wrapping up an eight month community process.
The School Board unanimously adopted “Variation B” of Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy’s recommended boundaries (left). The new boundaries will help distribute students to a new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus (see below) as well as to additions at Ashlawn and McKinley elementary schools.
The new schools and additions (there will also be a new choice elementary school near Kenmore Middle School and an addition to Arlington Traditional School) are being undertaken to provide an additional 1,875 seats of capacity by 2017 for Arlington burgeoning student population.
“Variation B” will shift elementary school boundaries and result in the reassignment of 900 students. The changes will take effect for the 2015-2016 school year.
- Reassign 67 students from McKinley to Ashlawn
- Reassign 56 students from Glebe to McKinley
- Reassign 164 students from Jamestown to the new school at Williamsburg
- Reassign 71 students from Taylor to Jamestown
- Reassign 347 students from Nottigham to the new school at Williamsburg
- Reassign 146 students from Tuckahoe to Nottingham
- Reassign 49 students from Taylor to the new school at Williamsburg
The School Board also approved the following grandfathering provisions:
- “Rising 5th graders and concurrently enrolled younger siblings (grades K-4 as of June 2015) may choose to remain at their current school for the 2015-16 school year only. Transportation will be provided for these students who remain at their school and who are eligible for bus transportation as of September 2015.”
- “Because the effective date of students moving to McKinley is September 2016, grandfathering for rising 5th graders and concurrently enrolled younger siblings (grades K-4 as of June 2016) will be in effect for the 2016-17 school year and will follow the procedures in paragraph a.”
- “A student currently attending Claremont or Key Immersion School, in grades K-4 as of June 2015, who resides in a planning unit being moved from one Immersion School group to another Immersion School group, may remain at his or her current Immersion School through 5th grade with transportation provided by APS.”
- “A student currently attending Arlington Science Focus in grades K-4 as of June 2015, who resides in a planning unit being moved to the New Elementary School #1, may remain at ASFS through 5th grade with transportation provided by APS.”
The School Board also directed Dr. Murphy “to recommend whether rising K-4 students residing in planning units reassigned to existing schools will be eligible to enroll in their newly assigned elementary school prior to School Year 2015 if seating space is available.”
On Saturday, the County Board will consider a use permit for a 26,160 square foot addition to Ashlawn Elementary School.
Construction on the addition is expected to begin this summer and wrap up by the summer of 2014. It will add 12 rooms, including 9 classrooms, at a cost of about $12 million, according to a project web page.
Meanwhile, at its Thursday meeting, the School Board unanimously approved a schematic design for the new elementary school on the Williamsburg Middle School campus.
The new school will cost just over $43 million, according to an APS press release, with construction slated to start in January 2014 and wrap up in time for the start of the school year in the summer of 2015.
The Northern Virginia chapter of NAIOP, a commercial real estate development association, recognized two Arlington projects at its annual awards ceremony last night.
Epic Smokehouse, the new upscale barbecue restaurant at 1330 S. Fern Street in Pentagon City, won NAIOP’s “Award of Merit” in the “Best Interiors, Retail Project” category. The restaurant’s interior — which is heavy on wood, leather and concrete — was designed by Collective Architecture and built by rand* Construction Corporation.
Ballston’s new 800 North Glebe Road building, meanwhile, won NAIOP’s “Award of Excellence” for “Best Building, 4 Stories and Above.” The 10-story office building was developed by the JBG Companies, designed by Cooper Carry and built by Clark Construction.
The award ceremony was held last night in Tysons Corner.
“The event was sold out with over six hundred-fifty people in attendance as twenty-three awards were presented in the following categories: Transactions, Interiors, Marketing, Buildings and Membership,” according to a press release. “The Awards Dinner was an opportunity to celebrate significant new contributions to Northern Virginia by the commercial, industrial and mixed-use real estate community.”
There’s a lighthouse inside the Ballston mall right now, but it’s probably not what you think. It’s one of the many structures on display made entirely of canned food, all for a good cause.
The American Institute of Architects Northern Virginia Chapter and the Arlington Food Assistance Center have teamed up for the ninth year to present the Canstruction competition. Teams of architects build structures made entirely out of canned food. All the food donations, which typically add up to tens of thousands of pounds, are then donated to AFAC.
Tonight, the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at Rock Bottom Brewery, starting at 6:00 p.m. The displays will remain intact throughout the mall until 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Neighborhood Projects Approved — The Arlington County Board unanimously approved $3.4 million in funding for six neighborhood improvement projects. “This is the third round in funding for key recommended Neighborhood Conservation projects from the 2010 voter-approved $9 million Community Conservation Bond,” the county noted in a press release. [Arlington County]
County Looking for Partner to Spruce Up Farmhouse — The Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation is looking for a charitable individual or organization interested in restoring the historic, county-owned Reevesland farmhouse and estate. The restoration is expected to cost upwards of $1 million. [Sun Gazette]
DESIGNArlington Awards Announced — Arlington County is recognizing outstanding architectural or landscape design through its second-annual DESIGNArlington awards. Among five recipients of the highest “Award of Excellence” this year, three are county-owned buildings and two are private residences. [Arlington County]
John Glenn, Astronaut and Arlingtonian — Astronaut (and U.S. Senator) John Glenn lived in Arlington for about five years around the time he was becoming a celebrity space pioneer. Glenn lived in a single-story home near Williamsburg Junior High School (now Williamsburg Middle School) between 1958 and 1963. [Arlington Public Library]
Board Awards Nearly Quarter Million to Arts Orgs — On Saturday the County Board voted to approve 25 grants, worth $249,077, to Arlington-based arts organizations. “Arlington has a thriving, vibrant, diverse arts community that brings not only economic benefit, but cultural enrichment, diversity and joy to our County,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. The top grantees, at $44,625.14 apiece, are Signature Theater and Synetic Theater. [Arlington County]
Board Adopts Inventory of Historic Properties — The County Board has voted to adopts a list of nearly 400 Arlington properties deemed ‘historic.’ Each property on the list was assigned a ranking from “essential” to “minor.” While officials say the inventory is an important step in the preservation process, inclusion on the list doesn’t prohibit owners from making “by-right” changes to their property. [Sun Gazette]
Free Slurpees Today — In celebration of its “birthday” today — on 7/11/11 — 7-Eleven stores are offering a free 7.11 ounce Slurpee to customers while supplies last. The company hands out an average of about 1,000 free Slurpees per store. There are at least twenty 7-Eleven stores in Arlington.
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
HOT Lanes Firm May Walk — One of the two companies that was tapped to built High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-95/395 may walk away from the project if the federal environmental review lasts more than 12 months. The CEO of Melbourne-based Transurban told a newspaper that long delays, including delays caused by Arlington County’s lawsuit challenging the project, has prompted him to think about cutting his losses. [The Australian]
County to Designate ‘Essential’ Historic Properties — Arlington County is scheduled to designate 23 new “essential” historic properties, including garden apartment complexes, old shopping centers and the Arlington Cinema ‘n’ Drafthouse. The designation will do little by itself to protect buildings from development, however. [Sun Gazette]
For just over four years, county staff have been taking an inventory of Arlington’s historic buildings. The fruits of that labor are now paying off.
Of the nearly 400 properties that were surveyed, Arlington has now designated 23 as “essential historic properties.” Among them are the Colonial Village apartments and the buildings that house some of Clarendon’s most popular nightspots, including Clarendon Ballroom and Lyon Hall.
In the county-produced video above, Arlington County spokewoman Mary Curtius talks with Arlington Historic Preservation Program Coordinator Michael Leventhal about what makes those properties “essential” and why it’s important to preserve them. The actual properties are listed near the end of the video, as well as online.
The video notes that since the survey began, about 100 of the 400 historic properties have been demolished.