In about a year, the newly renovated Ballston Quarter mall is expected to open. For now, construction workers are plugging away daily at tearing down parts of the old Ballston Common Mall and building up the new development.
A portion of the mall’s brick facade along Wilson Blvd has been torn down, revealing steel beams, concrete columns and a lot of workers. The hole in the side of the existing structure is part of the plan to transform the previously enclosed mall into a more open design with more street-facing storefronts and a courtyard.
The new overhead pedestrian bridge connecting 4201 Wilson Blvd to the mall will be near the new courtyard.
At the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, where the Macy’s furniture store used to be, upward progress is being made on what will be a high-rise apartment complex. The tower will have more than 400 units and leasing should begin next year, according to the Ballston Quarter website.
In addition to a few holdouts who remain in place during construction — such as CVS Pharmacy and the Regal Ballston Common movie theater — at least two new businesses have committed to opening locations in the renovated mall: fast casual eatery Mi and Yu Noodle Bar and “eatertainment” destination Punch Bowl Social.
The entire Ballston Quarter development is still scheduled to open in fall 2018.
Ballston is prepared to cope with the imminent departure of the National Science Foundation, a major local employer, says Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone.
But with a number of new construction projects ongoing in Ballston, and the upcoming opening of the renovated Ballston Quarter mall, Leone said the neighborhood is going to be just fine without a federal tenant and its more than 2,000 employees, even though she said it will add about 1 percent to Arlington’s office vacancy rate.
“This is our first real challenge, I believe,” she said. “Ballston has been very much growing and sustaining organically, it’s always been a place where people can live and work very easily. And now this is probably our first big challenge, I believe.”
Leone said the reason for her optimism lies in the major development projects underway, especially the redeveloping Ballston Common Mall, rebranded as Ballston Quarter.
Demolition of the mall to make way for a new apartment tower and retail space has been ongoing for just over a year, and Leone said once that project is done in 2018 it can anchor the rest of the neighborhood.
Leone also pointed to the likes of Marymount University’s “Newside” building, construction of new mixed-use developments at 750 N. Glebe Road and the former Carpool building, as well as developer Jamestown LP’s revamp of the NSF’s current home for new tenants, as other examples of the neighborhood’s continued growth.
Ballston will also be home to a revamped Central United Methodist Church that will include affordable housing, as well as several other new apartment buildings.
“The Ballston Quarter development has helped spur on these other developments,” Leone said. “Once developers knew that this project was a go, they said, ‘okay, now we can push the button on our projects too.’ Who doesn’t want to live next to a beautiful new open air retail, restaurants, 360,000 square feet of fun? That’s what really pulled the trigger on many of these other developments, for sure.”
Commonwealth Joe Gets $2.5 Million — Local nitro cold brew coffee purveyor and Pentagon City cafe operator Commonwealth Joe has landed a $2.5 million round of funding. The Arlington-based firm says it plans to use the investment to expand its cold brew business, which includes distributing kegs of the sweet, smooth chilled coffee to offices. [Washington Business Journal]
Local Holocaust Survivor Reunited — An Arlington man was reunited with a Dutch couple that hid him and his sister, who are both Jewish, from the Nazis in 1945. The reunion took place at the U.S. Holocaust Museum and happened thanks to a high school project undertaken by the couple’s grandson. [NBC Washington]
Raise for Arlington County Board Members? — There is renewed discussion of a significant raise for Arlington County Board members, in recognition that their job, rather than being part time as originally envisioned, now involves full-time hours. There are even “whispers” that Board salaries could be nearly doubled, to reach six-figures, according to one report. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Tax Delinquency Rate Hits Historic Low — Arlington County’s 2017 tax delinquency rate has hit a record low of 0.226 percent, County Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced. That’s the lowest rate in Virginia and the lowest rate ever in Arlington, she said, touting it as “good for the county” and “good for taxpayers.” The news led Del. Patrick Hope to declare de la Pava the “best treasurer in the Commonwealth.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Remembering the Ballston Mall’s Past — First known as Parkington, then Ballston Common Mall, and soon (next year) to be reopened as Ballston Quarter, following extensive renovations, Ballston’s shopping mall has a long history that dates back to the early 1950s. [WETA]
Nearby: Legislation on Confederate Monument — State Sen. Adam Ebbin says he will introduce legislation “to give Alexandria the authority to relocate the Confederate statue in Old Town” Alexandria. “It is past time that we address the impact that lionizing the Confederacy has had on the character of our Commonwealth,” Ebbin said. [Twitter, Twitter]
Emergency repairs to a 6-foot-deep sinkhole near the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall could cause traffic headaches today (Thursday).
The sinkhole opened suddenly yesterday near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, but was quickly covered ahead of repairs to allow cars to keep driving over it.
A contractor at the scene said the hole is about 3 feet wide and 6 feet deep.
To accommodate contractors’ vehicles and tools, the westbound right lane of Wilson Blvd and the parking lane are closed, while the eastbound left-turn lane at the intersection will be used as a westbound lane. With renovations to the former Ballston Common Mall on the other side of the street also closing lanes, it means Wilson Blvd will be down to one lane in each direction.
8/10: Emergency sinkhole repair at N Randolph St/Wilson Blvd intersection (5a-4p) barring complications. Detours will be in place #VATraffic
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) August 9, 2017
Originally, there had been plans to close one lane in each direction on N. Randolph Street too, but the contractor said that would no longer be the case.
Complicating matters in that area of Ballston will be the construction crew’s removal of a stoplight just outside the mall. The contractor on the sinkhole repairs warned that the two projects could combine to make traffic a little “hectic” in that section of Wilson Blvd.
Work on repairing the sinkhole is expected to be complete around 4 p.m.
The old Ballston pedestrian bridge is no more.
The bridge was torn down over the weekend, closing part of Wilson Blvd in front of the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall and prompting a new location for the Taste of Arlington festival. The demolition included the use of a large crane to lower sections of the bridge.
Today, a construction crew was working to clear leftover debris, while a large section of the bridge sat largely intact, fenced off along the sidewalk.
Via Twitter, one local resident called the dismantling of the bridge and its “Ballston” sign an “end of an era.” A new pedestrian bridge will be built nearby, however, with its opening set for the fall of 2018.
— Heather Plochman (@HeatherHoya) May 20, 2017
— Marisa (@maracasting) May 20, 2017
— Kristina Ingram (@KristinaIngram) May 22, 2017
The demolition of the pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston is now expected to begin next weekend.
A spokeswoman for Forest City, which is carrying out the revamp of the Ballston Common Mall, said residents will start to see work being done on the bridge on Saturday, May 13.
That day, she said, crews will remove various trees and strip the bridge down to its barebones. On May 14, the spokeswoman said, a crane will be erected to remove the bridge structure. Then on May 20, final remaining bridge components will be demolished, including its columns and footings.
The bridge between Ballston Common Mall and 4201 Wilson Blvd — which houses the soon-to-be-relocated National Science Foundation — closed last year as part of the mall’s renovation.
Wilson Blvd will be shut for construction between N. Stuart Street and N. Randolph Street, with no cars or pedestrians allowed between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. The parking garage at Stafford Place II will remain accessible, as will the pedestrian entrance to CVS from N. Randolph Street.
“Please note that should an unforeseen unsafe condition be encountered that necessitates the operation to extend beyond these hours, we will require the closure to remain in place until such time that the road and sidewalk can be opened to allow for safe passage,” the spokeswoman said in an email.
The bridge is set to reopen with the revamped and rebranded Ballston Quarter mall in fall 2018.
The long-planned demolition of the pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston should begin soon, according to a spokeswoman for the developer.
An anonymous tipster reported seeing bricks being removed at the base of the bridge’s pillars where it connects to the mall, and wondered if demolition was beginning.
But a spokeswoman for developer Forest City, which is carrying out the mall’s revamp, said last week it is not doing any work on the bridge at this time. She added that demolition is scheduled to start soon.
“We are not doing any construction on the structural components that would affect the bridge,” the spokeswoman said. “The demolition should begin within the next 30 days, but we will notify the public once we have a solid date.”
The bridge is still on track to be reconstructed and reopened in time for the revamped mall’s opening in fall 2018.
A Baltimore-based fast casual noodle bar will arrive next year at the redeveloped Ballston Quarter mall.
With locations already open in the Federal Hill and Mount Vernon neighborhoods of Baltimore and another set for Hampden in September, owner Edward Kim said he expects the new spot in Arlington to continue the success he’s found in Charm City.
“The deal is right, I think the area is really good,” Kim said. “It’s very dense with good foot traffic, energy and good demographics.”
Kim said Mi and Yu is different from other Asian eateries, as customers can build their own noodle bowls, choosing from a variety of broths, noodles and proteins. The menu of Chinese steam bun sandwiches — known as bao — is extensive too, and customers can again customize.
“It’s basically a build your own concept, like you would do at Panera Bread or Chipotle,” Kim said. “It’s definitely not a traditional place.”
A busy street in Ballston will be closed this weekend while crews work to erect a construction crane.
N. Randolph Street is set to be blocked off between Wilson Blvd and the Ballston mall parking garage starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. The massive crane will be assisting with the construction of the new residential tower, which is part of the Ballston Quarter project.
More from the Ballston BID:
Clark Construction Group and their subcontractors will be erecting the tower crane for the Ballston Quarter Residential Tower this weekend on Saturday (3/18) and Sunday (3/19).
They will be closing N. Randolph Street between Wilson Blvd. and the Arlington County Parking Garage starting Saturday, 3/18, at 9 AM. and will be reopened upon completion. Vehicles will be detoured from N. Randolph St. for the entire duration of the closure. (Note: The County parking garage entrance on N. Randolph St. will remain open.) You will find a diagram of this condition for your above.
Off-duty police officers will be present to help enforce the closures and field and questions.
As the minutes tick down to the start of the Super Bowl, more than 3,100 Dominion customers are currently without power in Arlington.
Dominion’s website says the cause of the widespread outage, centered around the Ballston and Bluemont neighborhoods, is “pending investigation.” Restoration of power is estimated between 7-9 p.m.
As the lights and traffic signals went out around Ballston, the fire department was called to investigate a possible fire at the under-renovation Ballston Common Mall. In the end it was determined to be a false alarm, possibly prompted by smoke from the mall’s rooftop generators as they kicked in.
Photo courtesy Katie Pyzyk
First Board Meeting With New Rule — Saturday will be the Arlington County Board’s first meeting with a new public participation rule. Whereas members of the public could previously request that any “consent agenda” item be pulled and discussed individually at the next Board meeting, the new rule requires at least one Board member to concur with the action. [InsideNova]
A Note on InsideNova Links — The desktop version of InsideNova’s website features popup ads and multiple autoplay videos with the audio on. It is not recommended for users in quiet environments or with older computers that may slow down or crash as a result of the videos and ads.
GW Gets Donation for Baseball Clubhouse — George Washington University has received an anonymous $2 million gift that will fund a new proposed clubhouse at Tucker Field in Arlington’s Barcroft Park. The clubhouse will feature “on-site locker facilities, indoor practice space with batting cages and pitching tunnels, meeting rooms and a sports medicine area.” [GW Sports]
Teen’s Hair Lit on Fire at Inauguration — A 17-year-old Arlington girl’s hair was lit on fire at an inauguration protest in D.C. It happened on Inauguration Day, near the National Archives, as the girl posed in front of protesters while wearing pro-Trump apparel. [Buzzfeed]
Clement, Roosevelt to Run for Office — Independent Audrey Clement has filed to run again for Arlington County Board this year. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Army veteran Adam Roosevelt, a Republican, is challenging Del. Alfonso Lopez (D). [InsideNova, InsideNova]
D.C. Area Snow Drought — Will we see any significant snowfall this winter? It’s looking increasingly bleak for snow lovers, with only a few flurries in the forecast during what should be our peak snow period. [Washington Post]
Punch Bowl Social says it will be opening a 25,000 square foot space at the mall in June 2018.
“Already a hit in other cities and a proven millennial magnet, Punch Bowl Social Ballston will include eight bowling lanes, one bocce court, three private karaoke rooms, a custom built 360 degree bar and various lounging and gathering spots — for groups both large and small — housed in an eclectic space melding mountain lodge, Victorian and modern industrial design themes,” the company said in a press release.
The full press release is below.
Punch Bowl Social, the leader in the “eatertainment” movement, announced today that it will open a 25,000 square-foot restaurant, bar and entertainment concept in Arlington’s Ballston Quarter in June 2018. Punch Bowl Social pairs a Hugh Acheson designed, scratch-made menu and craft beverage program with “old-school” social activities like vintage video games, shuffleboard, private karaoke rooms, bowling, Ping-Pong, bocce and skee-ball.
Already a hit in other cities and a proven millennial magnet, Punch Bowl Social Ballston will include eight bowling lanes, one bocce court, three private karaoke rooms, a custom built 360 degree bar and various lounging and gathering spots – for groups both large and small – housed in an eclectic space melding mountain lodge, Victorian and modern industrial design themes.
Punch Bowl Social founder & CEO Robert Thompson noted that Ballston Quarter is exactly the type of development where Punch Bowl Social flourishes. “The Ballston Quarter is poised to become the urban village for Arlington and the surrounding metro area,” he said. “The team behind the project is curating a unique, elevated experience that emphasizes attention to detail and quality offerings. These are the same considerations that drive Punch Bowl Social.”
The elevated experiences that Thompson references are what have ensured Punch Bowl Social’s singular position atop the “eatertainment” industry’s leadership roster. As noted in a multi-page spread in Inc. Magazine’s December/January issue, Punch Bowl Social has “broken from the pack.” The article pays homage to the brand and to Thompson’s uncanny – one could argue unparalleled – ability to market to the often elusive millennial, now the country’s largest demographic and a group sure to descend upon Ballston Quarter.
Joe Boehm, Executive Vice President, Real Estate at Forest City Realty Trust, the development company behind the Ballson Quarter, notes that it was these very factors that drew Forest City to Punch Bowl Social. “The Ballston Quarter will offer an experience that is purposeful, thoughtful and uncommon,” Boehm said. “We support this goal by partnering with anchor tenants capable of delivering on this promise. Punch Bowl Social is an industry leader with a proven track record. But more importantly, it offers an authentic experience that resonates across demographic groupings, literally offering something for everyone.”
Punch Bowl Social has made a name for itself with its remarkably balanced execution of the eat, drink, play concept. The brand prides itself on its food-forward approach, with an inspired menu created by the company’s culinary partner, celebrity chef Hugh Acheson. Acheson, a restauranteur, cookbook author, Top Chef judge and James Beard award winner, leads the ongoing culinary direction of the growing restaurant concept while underscoring its commitment to a seasonally inspired, scratch kitchen.
Punch Bowl Social Ballston marks the company’s first east coast location. Other cities include, among others, Detroit; Cleveland; Portland, Ore; Austin; and Denver, Colorado, where Punch Bowl Social originated.
PUNCH BOWL SOCIAL
Punch Bowl Social brings classic entertainment and real culinary chops together under the same roof, in an environment that is playful and surprisingly intimate. Punch Bowl Social’s scratch kitchen serves weekend brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks while the in-house mixologists focus on serving up craft beverages. For more information, visit www.punchbowlsocial.com
The pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston will be closing to the public on Wednesday, according to a sign at the bridge’s entrance.
The bridge, which connects Ballston Common Mall with the Ballston Metro station, is set for demolition as part of the mall’s ongoing renovation project.
There’s no word yet on a specific date for the demolition.
“No final date has been determined, but they are targeting the end of November or early December,” county spokesman Andrew Pribulka told ARLnow.com.
The bridge will be reconstructed with a new, modern design. The new bridge is expected to open by the fall of 2018.
The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and the under-renovation Ballston Quarter mall will allowed to have more signs, larger signs and temporary projected images.
The County Board voted unanimously to make the changes to the county zoning ordinance.
From an Arlington County press release:
Citing the unique challenges Arlington’s regional shopping centers face in an evolving retail market, the Arlington County Board today approved new, tailored sign regulations that will apply to Ballston Common Mall (the future Ballston Quarter) and Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
The Zoning Ordinance changes adopted by the Board include the type of signs allowed at urban regional shopping centers; the amount of sign area; placement and sign characteristics. Under the amendments, regional shopping centers will be allowed a larger amount of sign area and more flexibility in where signs are placed. They also will be allowed to have freestanding signs and temporary projected images.
“Our two big malls are important to Arlington’s economy and are centers of activity in the Ballston and Pentagon City neighborhoods,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “The County listened to the business community and the neighborhoods and I’m pleased that we were able to move quickly to adopt common-sense changes to the Zoning Ordinance that will encourage these shopping centers to increase their placemaking, be creative with their signage and stay regionally competitive.”
The Board voted unanimously to approve the changes to the Zoning Ordinance.
Following recommendations of 2015 Retail Plan
The Board’s actions follow the recommendations of the Arlington County Retail Plan, adopted by the Board in July 2015. The plan calls for studying opportunities to reposition and redevelop aging urban regional shopping centers.
The Retail Plan recommends that Ballston Common Mall and Fashion Centre increase placemaking efforts by pulling storefronts to the street; creating multiple entry points and creating activity and attractions on the outside as well as inside. Ballston Mall is currently being redeveloped into Ballston Quarter, incorporating many of the Retail Plan’s recommendations. Fashion Centre also is being expanded and remodeled. To support the redevelopment and repositioning, staff studied the centers’ characteristics and looked at examples throughout the country.
The new regulations are tailored to the unique character of these centers — their built form and the concentration of retail, entertainment and restaurants they offer. They also support the transformation recommended by the Retail Plan by providing more sign area and placement flexibility on facades that have been opened up to the street. The regulations could be used by an urban regional shopping center through an administratively approved comprehensive sign plan.
The Zoning Ordinance amendments were discussed at a public meeting on April 7, 2016. The amendments also were reviewed by the Zoning Committee of the Planning Commission as well as a number of other stakeholder groups and commissions including the Economic Development Commission, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee, the Planning Commission and the Commercial Real Estate Development Group.
(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.