(Updated at 5 p.m.) Proposed infill development for the RiverHouse site in Pentagon City is coming into focus with more renderings from the developer.
Reprising long-envisioned intentions to redevelop the expansive property, JBG Smith filed plans last year proposing apartments, senior housing, condos and townhomes on the surface parking lots on the RiverHouse site. Existing apartment towers will stay and more units within them will be set aside for affordable housing.
Arlington County has yet to officially accept JBG Smith’s application, a step that would kick off a formal community engagement and review process, which the developer anticipates will culminate in Arlington County Board review by the end of 2023.
On Thursday, more than 100 residents, neighbors, other community stakeholders attended an open house, in which JBG Smith shared renderings showing how it proposes shorter and fewer buildings than what is allowed in the Pentagon City Sector Plan, a document guiding decades of development in the area.
“As our design team has developed our plans for the RiverHouse Neighborhood, we have benefited from the active participation and input from existing residents, neighbors, and other community stakeholders,” JBG Smith said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate in the coming months as we advance a shared vision for our neighborhood.”
After the meeting, residents tell ARLnow they are hoping for more collaboration to improve “livability” on the site and in the surrounding area, through more community benefits and supporting infrastructure, per the Arlington Ridge Civic Association President Kateri Garcia and the local group Dense That Makes Sense.
“How do we know the infrastructure in place is going to be enough to meet the demand of all these additional people?” Garcia said. “What are the benefits we most need in this area? … We already have a community center and library that is out of date. How can we use the investment to improve those facilities to right-size them for the future population?”
Some Arlington Ridge residents welcome, for instance, the lower heights. Before the Arlington County Board adopted the sector plan in February 2022, some residents rallied against the height maximums the plan would allow on the RiverHouse site, potentially blocking the skyline view some enjoy in the condos and homes that line Arlington Ridge Road.
“The October 2022 plan is a more reasonable plan than what Arlington County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) proposed in its Pentagon City Sector Plan that was accepted by the County Board at its February 12, 2022 meeting,” according to Dense That Makes Sense, a group of residents who organized on this issue.
That said, the group said it does not endorse the 2022 plan, nor does it necessarily endorse plans JBG Smith put forward in 2019, which it says is the best of the three visions for the site. It argues that further study of the site is needed to figure out what supporting infrastructure is needed before JBG Smith moves forward.
Construction of a mid-rise condo building near Rosslyn and Courthouse could be finished this winter.
Dubbed the Avant, the multifamily structure is located at 1201 N. Quinn Street, south of Arlington Blvd, in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood. Housing nearby is mostly comprised of other mid-rise multifamily buildings.
Once completed, the development from Arlington-based Atlas Development Partners, will be four stories with 12 units and a garage. There are two 1-bedroom, seven 2-bedroom and three 3-bedroom condos.
Two of the units have been purchased already, said a spokesperson for The Centurion Group, a division of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, which is marketing the project.
“We expect to list units for sale in November,” he said.
Construction began three years ago and was anticipated to last 30 months, he said.
But one observer told ARLnow that work has progressed in fits and starts, wondering whether it will ever be finished. It’s nearly completed, and the reason behind the delays are Covid- and supply chain-related, we’re told.
“There were significant delays and material price increases during Covid,” the spokesman said. “Some materials and appliances were on back order for a year.”
Pricing begins at $485,000 for a 1-bedroom, $765,000 for a 2-bedroom and $975,000 for a 3-bedroom unit, according to the website.
The website says the neighborhood “provides a quiet and private corner separated from the county center.”
Still, situated near Metro stations on the Orange Line, the neighborhood offers “convenient car-free commuting options as well as convenient and walkable access to upscale urban amenities ranging from dining, shopping, bars, nightclubs, theaters, parks, and more,” the website adds.
(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) Arlington County police are conducting a death investigation after an apparent fall from a high-rise condo in Ballston.
Numerous police units could be seen Monday afternoon and evening around The Continental condo building at 851 N. Glebe Road, near the Westin hotel and the P.F. Chang’s restaurant. A photo sent by a reader shows a tent set up by police in an alley next to the building.
Police first responded to the scene shortly after 3:30 p.m. Initial reports suggest that someone had died and an investigation was underway on the ground and on the 17th floor of the building.
“ACPD is conducting a death investigation in the 800 block of N. Glebe Road,” police department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed Monday night to ARLnow. “This appears to be an isolated incident and the preliminary investigation has not revealed an ongoing threat to the community. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.”
Savage also confirmed a report that someone had been led away in handcuffs, but said it was on a drug charge.
“An adult female was arrested on a narcotics charge,” she said. “Officers remain on scene investigating.”
No other details were immediately available. A resident of the building said they were kept in the dark about what exactly was happening.
“They are not telling residents anything,” the resident told ARLnow.
An electrical worker is fighting for his or her life after an incident this morning near Pentagon City.
Firefighters were called to The Representative condominium tower at 1101 S. Arlington Ridge Road around 9:30 a.m. for a report of an electrocution and a fire on the roof, according to scanner traffic. The fire was out by the time crews reached the scene but two injured workers were found and taken to the hospital.
On social media, the Arlington County Fire Department described what happened as a “small electrical fire.” The reported injuries, however, were serious, ACFD said — one worker had critical injuries while another had serious but non-life threatening injuries.
The Arlington County fire marshal’s office is investigating what happened alongside occupational safety authorities, ACFD said.
The road in front of the condo building was at least partially blocked earlier today as a result of the sizable emergency response.
#Final – Two patients transported to an area hospital. One patient with critical injuries, and one with serious but non-life threatening injuries. OSHA, @ArlingtonVaPD, and our Fire Marshal’s will remain on the scene to investigate.
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) July 6, 2022
Residents of an apartment complex off Columbia Pike were without water and air conditioning over Memorial Day weekend — and are still waiting on the AC to return.
The air conditioning and hot water stopped functioning on Friday at Dominion Towers Apartments, at 1201 S. Courthouse Road. On Sunday evening, water to the building was shut off completely, residents told ARLnow.
“The main water shut-off valve that is controlled by Arlington County has broken, which is why there’s no water to the building,” an email sent from owner Capital Investment Advisors to residents on Sunday read. “In order to resolve this issue, we will need Arlington County and a plumber. Considering it’s a holiday weekend, Maintenance is doing everything they can to contact emergency personnel to assist.”
Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services said management’s description of the issue was not exactly what happened, however.
The broken valve was inside the building’s boiler room and was not owned by the county, DES spokesman Peter Golkin said, but after the valve failed and the complex was unable to find a replacement during the holiday weekend the county offered one it had.
“The Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau actually had a replacement in its inventory and offered it up as a courtesy with the building agreeing to reimburse for a new valve,” Golkin told ARLnow. “The Bureau shut off the main to the building on Sunday to allow for the repair and restored that service from the public main yesterday.”
Running water was restored Monday evening but hot water and air conditioning were still not functioning as of Tuesday afternoon. An email from management said the AC has not been restored due to low water pressure.
“County staff was only involved in going above and beyond to help the residents of the apartment building get their water service back as soon as possible during a long, hot holiday weekend,” Golkin noted.
In an email to ARLnow on Monday, one resident said the property manager “has not been on site all weekend and there has been no timetable for when water and a/c will be restored.”
Another resident told us that management has told its tenants that it hopes to restore both the air conditioning and the hot water by the end of the day today.
To add a bit of extra drama to the situation, the fire department was called to the building earlier this afternoon for a report of a fire, though in the end they only found burnt food on a stove in an eighth floor apartment.
Dominion Towers previously made headlines in May 2018 after the air conditioning malfunctioned and left residents sweltering during a several day stretch of particularly hot weather.
Meanwhile, another large Arlington residential building suffered a multi-day utility outage last week.
Hundreds of residents in The Brittany condominium complex at 4500 S. Four Mile Run Drive found themselves in a similar situation heading into the weekend, without running water for 2+ days last week. For them, it was resolved by Friday afternoon.
The Arlington County Fire Department extinguished a small fire in a Fairlington condominium Wednesday afternoon.
Firefighters responded to the 3300 block of S. Wakefield Drive around noon for the report of a fire inside a residence at Fairlington Commons condo community. Police closed the street due to the large emergency response, which is ACFD’s standard operating procedure for any structure fire call.
The fire was extinguished quickly and no injuries were reported, spokesman Capt. Nate Hiner said. Firefighters worked to ventilate smoke from the building after the flames were brought under control.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Hiner said.
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Firefighters from Arlington and neighboring jurisdictions battled a house fire near Shirlington.
Fire companies were initially dispatched to the Windgate townhouse development on the 2500 block of S. Arlington Mill Road for a reported electrical fire. The fire turned out to be at the nextdoor Heatherlea condo complex, along 28th Road S.
Flames were visible from the outside of the residence when the first firefighters arrived on scene, according to radio traffic. The fire was mostly contained to the home’s exterior and was extinguished before it could spread further.
Everyone was able to get out of the home and so far no injuries have been reported.
Arlington County is looking to restart an initiative aimed at helping condominium owners stay in their condos that was halted by the pandemic.
The Condominium Initiative, which is part of the county’s Housing Arlington program, is focused on strengthening condo associations. A series of workshops this fall will include information on when capital improvement assessments should be performed and who should do them.
“We are currently working with the City of Alexandria, with whom we had co-sponsored the previous workshops, to schedule more events,” said Elise Cleva, the acting spokeswoman for Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
County staff involved with the Condo Initiative are considering some ideas such as small loans to help low- and moderate-income and elderly condo owners pay for repairs and assessments.
“No specific program has been developed and no funding source has been identified,” Cleva said. “Instead, staff is focusing on outreach at this time, with a goal of becoming more familiar with the issues that are of greatest concern for condominium developments; particularly those that are considered ‘affordable’ homeownership.”
Condo affordability and safety have been on County Board member Christian Dorsey’s radar since 2019 — but the issues have been on the back-burner due to other Housing Arlington initiatives, such as the ongoing study of “Missing Middle” housing stock, which will examine how Arlington can increase the supply of townhomes and duplexes, among other issues.
Dorsey tells ARLnow the county needs to get the ball rolling on its condo initiative if it wants to get ahead of problems that are bound to befall aging condos later on. The issue took on a greater sense of urgency after news broke of a condo building collapsing in the Miami area late last month.
Dorsey said he is not worried about a disaster of that scale happening in Arlington, but he is worried about deferred maintenance. Condo owners are responsible for regular assessments and for maintenance, but when the costs become too great, the work often gets put off. Eventually, it compounds, he said, and people opt to sell rather than fix their building.
“I think it’s an emerging problem — one thing that doesn’t reveal itself to you until it becomes catastrophic,” Dorsey said.
In 2016, the county sent surveys to 134 condo association contacts. Of the 16 that responded, 11 were deemed “potentially affordable,” with sale prices less than $500,000. According to a survey summary, one building was less than 20 years old and three were less than 50 years old, and the most common capital needs were aging or deteriorating roofs, structural issues and old mechanical systems.
At the time, however, the 16 respondents expressed “minimal interest” in workshops or technical assistance, and only one development said it did not have the money to make repairs, the summary said.
“These results suggest the need to intensify efforts to contact condo associations and engage them in identifying needs and interests and planning for a program of services, activities and financial assistance,” the summary said.
But conditions have changed since that survey, Dorsey said. Over the last couple of years, the County Board has received a growing number of accounts of deferred maintenance in certain condo communities, a trend that he predicted will continue as wages stagnate and fees climb.
He added that the work should start now because sustainable solutions will require federal policies, which could take a few years to hammer out, he said. The board member said he wants monthly fees and assessments to be tax deductible just as interest on mortgages for homes is tax deductible.
“The reason I think the federal government has a role here is first, equity — not disadvantaging by homeownership type — and second, the level of government subsidy that would be required is significant,” he said.
Federal low-interest loans — such as those done during natural disasters — could also help condo associations pay for assessments, he said.
(Updated at 9:25 p.m.) Firefighters responded to the high-end Turnberry Tower condo building in Rosslyn to battle a reported fire on the roof Tuesday afternoon.
An HVAC unit caught fire atop the high-rise building, sending a small column of dark smoke rising in the air. The fire was quickly extinguished after firefighters made it onto the roof.
Police closed at least one street around the complex due to the large initial fire department response.
#Update Units isolated the fire to an air handler on the roof with no impact to the floors below. Units are going in service shortly after cleaning up.
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) March 9, 2021
Two residents of the Fairlington Arbor condominiums were told by the condo board to dig up their spooky gravestones that seek to lay bigotry to rest.
Katrina Reed and her husband Joe decked out their yard with six decorative gravestones, but they papered over the space for names of the deceased to bury hate, racism, religions discrimination, sexism, homophobia and white supremacy instead.
Both Reeds teach and coach high school basketball. As teachers, Katrina said they strive to create an inclusive environment in their remote and in-person classrooms.
“Our thought process was, ‘Why wouldn’t we want to be inclusive at home?'” she said.
The death-to-discrimination markers received a lot of love from neighbors, but drew the ire of the Fairlington Arbor management. The dispute centers around whether the gravestones are signs, which are not allowed unless the Board of Directors approve them, or seasonal decor, which are allowed if they are “modest and in keeping with community norms.”
A letter from management and addressed to the Reeds on behalf of the Fairlington Arbor Board of Directors asked them to “correct this matter” to “avoid further action by the Board of Directors.”
The letter treats the gravestones as decor, but the messages as signs.
“While the frames on your sign are compliant, the content is not,” the letter said. Joe disputed the application of the bylaw in an email to management.
“The signs displayed are not deemed ‘seasonal’ by the board since they display a message that does not fit the Halloween occasion,” Arbor management said in response.
The letter’s author, Fairlington Arbor’s general manager, declined to comment further. In an automated message, Matt Duncan, the President of the Board of Directors, said he is out of office and referred inquiries to management.
In a private neighborhood Facebook group, Katrina asked her neighbors for advice and to see if others had similar experiences. The response was overwhelming, with more than 175 comments on Katrina’s post so far.
“People went nuts,” she said. “They were ready to light their pitchforks and find the board members.”
One Facebook commenter said of the decorations: “We thought they were awesome. 10/10. Do not take them down.”
“These have made me very happy every time I walk by!” another said.
The couple maintains that stifling free speech causes more division than signs promoting inclusivity.
“If you can let people express First Amendment rights within a time period, I think it solves these issues,” Joe said.
The couple said the bylaws need to be clarified and they plan to speak about it during the next board meeting on Oct. 27. Joe said ironically, he was on the board and helped write the bylaws.
“I don’t envy them,” he said.
On Facebook, some theorized that the condo board was pushed to take action by a handful of complainers.
“Neighbors have been complimentary of our messages of inclusion, but I seem to have offended the racists, homophobes, etc.,” Katrina wrote in her post.
Others guessed that the current political climate might have caused an overreaction by condo management.
“It’s probable that no one is offended by your decorations but management just wants to head off something truly objectionable,” wrote one commenter, who congratulated the couple for speaking up.
This summer, the S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 in Fairlington was the site of a showdown between those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and counter-demonstrators who replaced BLM slogans with pro-Trump messages.
County Launching Race Conversations — “Today, Arlington County launched a new effort to address racial equity and disparities in our community. Called Dialogues on Race and Equity (DRE), the effort is part of the County’s broader commitment to racial equity… DRE will include a series of virtual community conversations with individuals, nonprofit organizations, civic associations, faith organizations, and businesses.” [Arlington County]
Local Nurses Hold Food Drive — “Nurses at the Virginia [Hospital] Center are going above and beyond to give back to the local community… Nurses launched the ‘Together We Can’ campaign where they collected canned goods. All together, they collected 10,000 cans and donated them directly to the food assistance center.” [WJLA]
Virtual 5K for Local Nonprofits — “A coalition of three homeless-outreach organizations – Community Lodgings, Bridges to Independence and Homestretch – will be hosting their third annual 5K “Home Run for the Homeless” in a different format this year. Rather than running as a group on the Washington & Old Dominion Regional Trail this year, participants will be able to run where they choose anytime from Oct. 10 (which is designated World Homeless Day) to Oct. 31.” [InsideNova]
Penthouse Sold in New Rosslyn Tower — “The sales team for Pierce announced strong early sales for The Highlands‘ luxury condominium tower… Strong early interest in Pierce has resulted in over $18.7 million in sales by The Mayhood Company since launching sales in August, including the sale of one of two top-of-the-market penthouse residences.” [Press Release]
Theater Holding Virtual Halloween Event — “Synetic Theater will hold its annual ‘Vampire Ball’ in a ‘virtual’ setting this year, with participants enjoying the festivities ‘from the comfort of your own crypt.’ The event will be held on Friday, Oct. 30 from 8 to 10 p.m.” [InsideNova]
Nearby: Trump Rallies at Eden Center — Vietnamese Americans held rallies for President Trump at the Eden Center in Falls Church over the weekend. [Twitter, YouTube, YouTube]