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Army Navy Country Club Access Road Set for Lengthy Delay Due to County Funding Woes

Construction work on an access road crossing a portion of Army Navy Country Club could be pushed back by nearly a decade, as Arlington grapples with a funding squeeze impacting transportation projects.

County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan calls for engineering work on the project, which is designed to link the Arlington View neighborhood to Army Navy Drive, to start by fiscal year 2027 with construction kicking off two years later. The county has long expected to start design work for the project by fiscal year 2020, with work to begin in 2022.

Since 2010, county officials have aimed to build the new road, which would be reserved for emergency vehicles looking to more easily cross I-395, as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. The 30-foot-wide road would run from S. Queen Street, near Hoffman-Boston Elementary, to the I-395 underpass, where a country club access road meets up with Army Navy Drive.

The process has required a good bit of back-and-forth with the country club — the county only secured an easement on the club’s property as part of a deal to allow Army Navy’s owners to build a larger clubhouse than county zoning rules would ordinarily permit. Some members of the country club even sued the county to block the arrangement, over concerns that cyclists and pedestrians on the proposed trail would be disruptive to golfers.

Yet Arlington leaders have pressed ahead with the project all the same, with the County Board approving two different updates to the county’s Capital Improvement Plan, known as the CIP, including funding for the project.

Schwartz hasn’t gone so far as to ask the Board to abandon the project — his proposed CIP calls for the county to spend $837,000 on engineering work in fiscal years 2027 and 2028 — but the delay does reflect Arlington’s new challenges paying for transportation projects.

As he’s unveiled the new CIP, Schwartz has frequently warned that the deal hammered out by state lawmakers to send the Metro system hundreds of millions of dollars in annual funding has hammered localities like Arlington. Not only does the deal increase the county’s annual contribution to Metro, but it sucks away money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a regional body that would ordinarily help localities fund transportation projects.

With the county having to shift money around to compensate for those changes, officials say smaller projects like the Army Navy access road will necessarily suffer.

“Overall, the transportation CIP has fewer resources for smaller, neighborhood-scale improvements due to reduced funding resulting from legislation,” Jessica Baxter, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services, told ARLnow via email.

The project’s delay comes as particularly bad news for people living in the Arlington View neighborhood. One resident, Eric Davis, told ARLnow via email that he fears delaying the project would “endanger the lives of nearby bicyclists and pedestrians.”

“With Columbia Pike being our only access out of the neighborhood, this new access road would give us a safe alternative to reaching Pentagon City, Crystal City, and other points east,” Davis wrote. “And, if/when connected to the Washington Boulevard path currently under construction, it then becomes an essential north/south connection in Arlington for bikes and pedestrians.”

Davis also pointed out that the project as a whole could be in jeopardy if delayed much longer.

The county’s CIP documents note that the easement for the country club’s land was recorded back in March 2012, and “may terminate automatically if construction contracts are not awarded within 20 years of that date.” Baxter noted that “the current schedule anticipates completion before the easement expires,” however.

Any delay is also contingent on the County Board approving the change in the CIP. The Board is in the midst of holding a series of work sessions on the CIP this month, but doesn’t expect to sign off on a final spending plan until July 14.

Photo via Google Maps

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BalletNova Drafts Former Redskin For Program Kick-Off

A Super Bowl-winning former linebacker joined the BalletNova Center For Dance to kick off a new community engagement program today.

Former Washington Redskins linebacker Andre Collins joined BalletNova for its “M.O.V.E” residency session at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in the Arlington View neighborhood Tuesday morning.

M.O.V.E stands for motivation, opportunity, vitality and empowerment. The school-based program uses accessible movements to teach elements of dance and develop sophisticated choreography, while challenging children physically and mentally. For most students participating in the M.O.V.E. program, it is their first experience with dance.

The school residencies are six to eight weeks in length, with classes meeting once a week for an hour. Each residency culminates in a performance at the school.

Collins joined the class earlier this morning. He studied dance in college and took classes while playing in the NFL. After graduating from Penn State, he was drafted by the Redskins in the second round of the 1990 NFL Draft.

After four years with Washington, including winning Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, he played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions before retiring in 1999.

He is now director of retired players for the NFL Players Association and executive director of the Professional Athletes Foundation.

Photo via Professional Athletes Foundation

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Two Affordable Housing Units Up For Lottery on Friday

A local nonprofit is looking for qualified buyers for two affordable housing units, and will hold a lottery this Friday to find new owners.

The two homes are in the new Carver Place community, at 1316 S. Rolfe Street in the Arlington View neighborhood. The affordable condo units were built as part of an agreement between developer Craftmark and Arlington County.

Arlington Home Ownership Made Easier, Inc., is sponsoring the lottery. AHOME helps first-time buyers with education and counseling in Arlington and the surrounding communities.

The lottery is only open to a family of four or five that earns no more than 60 percent of area median income. For four people, that would be a total household income of $65,520; it’s $70,800 for five people.

The homes both have a purchase price of $282,800, and each have three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

Eligible applicants must also have a minimum credit score of 660; have a minimum cash down payment of $9,900, which is 3.5 percent of the homes’ purchase price; afford the monthly Homeowner Association fee of $272; fill out the homebuyer assessment form; and complete a Virginia Housing Development Authority homebuyer education class.

AHOME executive director Karen Serfis noted in an email that this is the first time in more than five years that the organization has had three-bedroom condos available for purchase.

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Morning Notes

Wreaths on gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery 2016 (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Hunt Loses Mansion Legal Battle — Rodney P. Hunt, once one of the D.C. area’s wealthiest businessmen, has lost a legal battle to keep his $24 million Chain Bridge Road mansion. Hunt, who represented himself in court, asserted that the entity that bought the mansion at a foreclosure auction this summer was not its real owner. While Hunt was living there, the 20,000 square foot property hosted large “#RHPMansion” parties, one of which led to a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]

‘Loss of Historic Architecture’ — The historic George Washington Carver Cooperative Apartments in the Arlington View neighborhood were torn down in February. The apartments’ 70-year history as a centerpiece of the working-class African American community there was, however, preserved via oral histories and historic markets. The property is now the Carver Place townhomes, which start at $689,000. So far, 38 of 73 have sold. [Falls Church News-Press]

Road Closure in Lyon Park — Washington Gas pipeline work is prompting a road closure in Lyon Park today and tomorrow. Cyclists who use the Arlington Blvd trail may also be affected. [BikeArlington Forum]

First Day of Winter — Today is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also known as the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight. [Capital Weather Gang]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Rosslyn at night, as seen from the Key Bridge

Woman Hit By SUV on Route 50 — A woman was struck and critically injured by an SUV while crossing Route 50 at Fillmore Street during Monday’s evening rush hour. The victim is expected to survive; lanes were closed while police investigated the crash. Nearby residents say the intersection is dangerous and accident-prone. [WUSA9, Twitter]

House Fire in Arlington View — There was an unusual house fire last night in the Arlington View neighborhood near Hoffman-Boston Elementary. A house’s gas meter caught fire, spreading flames into the home’s basement. The blaze was quickly extinguished, sparing the home from major damage. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]

Man Pleads Guilty in Hot Car Case — The man who accidentally left a friend’s two-year-old child in the backseat of a car, causing the toddler’s death, has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. Daiquan Fields was sentenced to a net six months in jail, time he had already served since the April incident, and is now on supervised probation. [NBC Washington]

Bonnie Black Murder Case Begins — The estranged husband of slain south Arlington mom Bonnie Black is now on trial for her murder. The trial of David Black started with opening statements on Monday; this morning witnesses for the prosecution are expected to be called. [WJLA]

Crystal City Post Office Moving — The post office along Crystal Drive in Crystal City is moving a few blocks down the road. The existing post office will be closed Thursday and Friday and the new post office, at 2180 Crystal Drive, will open Monday, Oct. 31. [Patch]

High Praise for Ambar — New Clarendon restaurant Ambar, which opened this month in the former Boulevard Woodgrill space, may get an indirect boost from TripAdvisor rankings. Ambar’s original Capitol Hill location is listed as the top-ranked D.C. area restaurant on TripAdvisor. [Washingtonian]

Amputee Athlete Visits Students — “Ghanian athlete and activist Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah recently visited with Arlington students to share his message that physical disabilities should not stop individuals from achieving their destiny.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Lyon Park Community Center (Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok)

Balcony Fire in Arlington View — Arlington County firefighters battled a small fire on an apartment balcony in the Arlington View neighborhood yesterday afternoon, following reports of an “explosion” sound. The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Carpool’s New Owner Trying to Sell — The fate of Carpool is once again uncertain. The Ballston-area bar was supposed to close later this fall to make way for a new high-rise residential development. Despite County Board approval of the project, and the just-completed sale of the bar, developer Penzance is now reportedly trying to sell the site. [Washington Business Journal]

Student Population Growth Lower Than Estimate — The student population at Arlington Public Schools grew 3.6 percent from last school year to the beginning of this school year. That’s an increase of 914 students, the equivalent of a new middle school, but it is 262 students below APS projections. [InsideNova]

Pedestrian-Only Streets on County Board Agenda — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is slated to consider allowing pedestrian-only streets in Arlington. Currently such streets are not part of the county’s Master Transportation Plan. Pedestrian-only streets are being discussed for parts of Rosslyn and Courthouse. [Arlington County]

White Squirrel Hit By Car? — A commenter says an albino squirrel that was often seen in neighborhoods near Columbia Pike has been hit by a car and killed. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok

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Morning Notes

Merry-go-round at Arlington County Fair (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Kitchen Fire at Zaika — A kitchen fire closed Zaika restaurant at Market Common Clarendon last night. Firefighters had to ventilate smoke from the Indian restaurant after quickly extinguishing the small blaze. [Twitter]

Nude Glebe Road Runner Identified — Police say the man arrested for running naked along Glebe Road while screaming at passing cars is Timothy Lowe. Lowe was previously arrested for doing pushups in the buff, in the middle of a street in the Nauck neighborhood. He also spoke out against alleged police harassment at a community forum last year. Police found a “large quantity of crack” after Lowe was arrested yesterday, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

History of Arlington View Co-op to Be Preserved — Arlington County is working on a plan to help preserve the history of the George Washington Carver Cooperative Homes in the Arlington View neighborhood. The circa-1945 cooperative is set to be razed to make way for a new townhouse development after residents agreed to sell it to developer Craftmark Homes. [InsideNova]

East Falls Church Profiled — The Washington Post profiles the real estate market of East Falls Church, which will be undergoing some changes as the area around the Metro station eventually develops into a “neighborhood center district” over the next couple of decades. [Washington Post]

New APS Teachers Hired — Arlington Public Schools has hired 325 new teachers this summer to keep up with rising enrollments and staff retirements. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Board Approves Two Columbia Pike Developments

The County Board room during discussion of the Columbia Hills development (photo via @ArlingtonVA)The first two residential developments designed with the Columbia Pike neighborhoods form-based code were approved last night, bringing hundreds of new residences into the Pike’s development pipeline.

The Arlington County Board approved a 229-unit, eight-story affordable housing complex on the western end of Columbia Pike and 50 new townhouses to replace the historic George Washington Carver homes in Arlington View.

The Carver Homes were built in the 1940s for residents displaced by the construction of the Pentagon, and many of the families who lived there when it was built now own residences in the co-operative. While preservationists lament the loss of a piece of the county’s history, the residents urged the County Board to approve the development.

“I know first hand that our co-op has been deteriorating for many years,” Velma Henderson, a Carver Homes owner who has lived in the co-op for 68 of its 70 years in existence, told the Board. “Busted and frozen pipes, leaky roofs and crumbling foundations, to name a few… We have a long and proud history in Arlington, so it was important for Carver Homes to select a developer who had the vision and resources to create a high-quality development. This plan considers Carver Homes’ needs.”

The 44 units will be bulldozed and replaced with 50 townhouses, 23 of which will be duplexes. Six of the duplex units will be committed affordable units, and the developer, Craftmark Homes, also has agreed to build a public park on the property and extend S. Quinn Street through the parcel at the corner of S. Rolfe and 13th Streets.

The George Washington Carver Homes in Arlington HeightsAs part of the redevelopment, the developer will place two historic markers on the property signifying its history. Arlington is also beginning to compile an oral history of the property, which will be available at Arlington Central Library when completed.

“My mother’s dream was that we would benefit from the sale of the property,” said James Dill, a co-op owner whose mother was displaced by the Pentagon construction. “We’ve been banking on it for 50 or 60 years that, at some point in time, Arlington County would grant us our piece of the American dream, and we’ve been holding firm on that.”

The County Board unanimously approved the redevelopment. County Board Chair Mary Hynes thanked the owners — who have been working to sell the property for most of the past decade — and the community for their patience. Board member Libby Garvey remarked that many of the residents were forced out of their homes in the 1940s for the Pentagon to be built, and the Board could, in a very small way, “right that wrong.”

“I think we’re really touching history,” Garvey said. “This was temporary housing 70 years ago. How much temporary housing lasts 70 years? So it’s time.”

The conversation surrounding the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing‘s proposal for its new affordable housing buildings next to its expansive Columbia Grove community on S. Frederick Street was quite different.

Columbia Hills apartments rendering (image via APAH)Dozens of speakers came out to speak on both sides of the issue, and public comment and Board deliberations lasted after midnight. Opponents, many of whom live close to the site, said there is too much concentration of affordable housing on the western end of Columbia Pike.

“Presently our community is home to about 18 affordable housing communities in the immediate area,” Erin Long, a homeowner in the Frederick Courts Condominiums across the street. “What’s become known as the western gateway node of Columbia Pike cannot sustain the affordable housing development as it’s planned.

“It’s clear that plan is for those units lost at the east end of the pike to be relocated to the west end,” she continued. “It’s absolutely inappropriate for every lost unit to be relocated to us. We deserve to benefit from the redevelopment of Columbia Pike, not serve as the repository for those displaced from other nodes.”

Other complaints surrounding the development revolved around its height; while it’s eight stories, it sits on a steep hill. Critics, including residents of the adjacent Carlyle House condos, which are directly north and front Columbia Pike, say the topography would make the building seem even taller than it is, and not conforming with the vision for the neighborhood plan.

Supporters of the plan included APAH board members and other affordable housing advocates, including Timothy Malone, the associate rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and a member of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (V.O.I.C.E.).

“Many people support affordable housing, but not in my backyard,” Malone, who lives in Columbia Forest, said. “I’m here to say that I’m a YIMBY: yes in my backyard. If we are to maintain diversity, we must continue to maintain and develop affordable housing.”

The Board approved the plan 5-0, acknowledging the project was built in compliance with the code, but asking APAH to make adjustments to appease its neighbors. APAH now has clearance to build the project, which will include three levels of underground parking, a new playground, with 100 percent of the units affordable at a maximum of 60 percent of area median income, with some as low as 40 percent.

“APAH is deeply honored by the Arlington County Board’s commitment to affordable housing and we are excited to bring much needed affordable housing to Arlington as envisioned by the award-winning Columbia Pike Neighborhood Plan,” APAH president and CEO Nina Janopaul said in a statement Thursday.

As part of the project, the County Board approved an $18.9 million loan from the Affordable Housing Investment Fund. APAH expects construction to begin — assuming its state and federal financing is approved — in 2016.

After approving the project at about 12:45 early Wednesday morning, Hynes said “this was a momentous day,” but said the way in which the project came forward was far from perfect.

“This is a moment of taking the longer view and of understanding we’re at the beginning of a multi-year plan,” Hynes said. “I think there have been lessons learned. Know that we will all do better next time.”

Photo, top, via @ArlingtonVA. Image, bottom, via APAH

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Historic Homes Built for Blacks Displaced by Pentagon May be Demolished

(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) The last remaining homes built for African-Americans displaced by the construction of the Pentagon could soon be history.

The George Washington Carver Homes on S. Rolfe Street are in the process of being sold to a developer that plans on replacing them with 50 townhouses, including 23 duplexes. The Arlington County Board is expected to decide the proposal’s fate at its meeting later this month.

The Carver Homes are a collection of 44 garden apartments along S. Rolfe Street and 13th Road S. in Arlington View. The development is a co-operative, and the co-op board has an agreement to sell the property to Craftmark Homes pending approval of the redevelopment plans, according to county planning staff.

The apartments were built by the federal government in 1945 and designed by noted architect Albert I. Cassell, who had been the head of architecture at Howard University and designed much of the school’s northwest D.C. campus. County Historic Preservation Planner Rebeccah Ballo said as far as preservation staff are aware, they are the only buildings he designed in Arlington.

If they are redeveloped, the Carver Homes will join the former Dunbar Homes in Nauck as pieces of Arlington’s 20th century African-American history torn down for redevelopment.

“Fully understanding it is their right to sell and dispose of their property as they see fit, this is a loss,” Ballo told ARLnow.com. “This is a loss of cultural and architectural history.”

When the Pentagon, the Navy Annex and the surrounding network of roads were built during World War II, they replaced the neighborhoods East Arlington and Queen City. The areas had been occupied by African Americans, many of whom descended from Arlington’s Freedman’s Village, built for former slaves in 1863. The residents of East Arlington and Queen City were moved elsewhere, including the Dunbar and Carver Homes.

The residents of the Carver Homes bought the property from the government in 1949. Many of the apartments are still owned by the original residents or their families, Ballo wrote in her staff report for the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board.

Multiple attempts to reach the attorney representing the Carver Homes co-op board, Patricia Fettman, have gone unreturned. Fettman also represented the Dunbar Homes co-op board when they sold their property for $37 million 10 years ago, according to a Washington Post article at the time.

The Post’s article featured interviews of residents of the homes who didn’t want to sell. The author, Annie Gowen spoke to Dorothy Rich, at the time the co-op board’s president.

“Basically, we think the time has come to take the next step forward,” Rich told Gowen. Gowen wrote that Rich “declined to detail the discussions to sell, saying only ‘we won’t do anything without a vote and a majority of our homeowners.'”

The exterior of the houses are largely well-maintained, with pink-painted stucco and a pristinely mowed courtyard. The eight buildings sit on a 3.35-acre plot, an easy walk to the Air Force Memorial and less than a half-mile drive from I-395.

County staff attempted to have the homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places when they conducted a review of all potentially historic properties in the county, starting in 1997. They even filled out the application, but Ballo said after meetings with the co-op board and the surrounding community, “the nomination stopped.”

“There’s not a lot of information about what actually happened,” Ballo said, adding the designation would not have prevented the co-op board from profiting from a redevelopment. “There are thousands of properties on the National Register that are not protected. They get torn down all the time.”

If the townhouses are approved, a total of 73 residences would be built, six of which would be committed affordable units, and all of them would be for sale, according to planning staff. They are being proposed as a redevelopment under the Columbia Pike neighborhoods form-based code.

The redevelopment proposal will go before the Arlington Housing Commission Wednesday night and the Planning Commission on Thursday. County planning staff has not released a report on the proposal, but Urban Planner Matt Mattauszek, the project’s lead with the county Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, said “we’re recommending it gets approved.”

To prepare for the development’s possible destruction, the Arlington Public Library and historic preservation staff are working on interviewing residents of the homes and the developer to build an oral history and potentially an exhibit around the historic project.

Despite those efforts, Ballo said she feels awareness is growing that some of Arlington’s demolitions are doing more harm than good. Arlington may not be Old Town Alexandria, but the county’s 20th century history is still vital because it has “its own unique and special story to tell.”

“At some point you have to start saving your 50- or 70-year-old buildings,” she said, “because if you don’t you’ll never have 200-year-old buildings.”

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Tire Slashing Spree in Arlington View

Map of tire slashing incidents on 8/7/13 (Courtesy ACPD)Police are investigating a tire slashing spree, a little more than two weeks after a similar incident.

Ten vehicles in the Arlington View neighborhood, located along the Columbia Pike corridor, were discovered with their tires slashed yesterday. Police say all the incidents occurred between 2:45 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. A screwdriver was found nearby and police believe it may have used to destroy the tires, although there is no suspect description.

Even though this bears similarities to the incident from last month when 16 vehicles — mostly Priuses — had their tires slashed, police have not yet said there is a connection.

“This time all the cars struck were in a three block radius in the same neighborhood. Last time it was mostly a certain make and model around the county,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “Right now, it’s hard to determine if they’re definitely related.”

Anyone who may have seen a suspicious person or vehicle in the Arlington View neighborhood in the early morning hours of August 7 is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 703-558-2222.

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You Can Own History, But It’s a Fixer-Upper

The Harry W. Gray House in Arlington View is on the National Register of Historic Places for its unique architecture and its significance to local African American history. And now it’s for sale for a mere $291,000.

The house was built in 1881 by Harry Gray, a bricklayer and a former slave in the Arlington household of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Despite the fact that the house stood alone on a 10 acre piece of farmland at the time, Gray built it in the Italianate style of fashionable townhouses he had seen in the District. The architecture was a statement about how far freed slaves had come since the Emancipation Proclamation.

“The dwelling represents the monumental shift from slaves to freedmen for African Americans in the years following the Civil War,” a National Park Service document states. The house sits at present-day 1005 South Quinn Street, near Columbia Pike and adjacent to what was once a thriving Freedman’s Village.

The house remains a sturdy structure, its longevity a testament to Gray’s workmanship. Its yard is fairly well-kept, and the brick exterior itself doesn’t look much older than other houses in the area . However, the interior needs some work thanks in part to what we’re told is water damage under a second-floor wooden deck and some outdated fixtures (wood stove, anyone?).

That’s not to imply that the interior is from the 19th century. Indeed, the house was largely gutted and renovated in 1979 after being sold by Gray’s descendants.

“There’s really nothing of significance left” inside, according to county historic preservation planner Rebeccah Ballo.

The home is a foreclosure. The bank took possession of the house late last year, county property records show. Also hurting the value of the home is the fact that the owner won’t have much latitude to make changes to the exterior.

“Any change has to be reviewed by county Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board” to make sure it’s “in keeping with the original architecture of the house,” Ballo said. On the plus side, interior changes would not require approval.

For all the hassle, whoever buys the place will get a home much more unique than any similarly-priced studio condo in Clarendon.

“It’s an important house and a really lovely one too,” Ballo said.

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