95°Scattered Clouds

by Adrian Cruz — August 9, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

The Century Center office and retail complex in Crystal City is expected to sprout a new 22-story residential building in the next few years.

Property owner Lowe Enterprises submitted a preliminary site plan application in June, outlining its plans: a 286-unit residential building, located at the busy intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S.

The new building will be built above existing ground-floor retail, including California Tortilla, Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The building will have 327,396 square feet of floor space, connected with an existing underground parking garage with 1,620 spaces.

In a letter to the county’s zoning division, the new development is described as “architecturally created to establish a distinguishable, contemporary, and elegant presence that will bring modern prominence to the southwest quadrant of the intersection.”

The building, with an address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway, is expected to contain modern amenities including an rooftop patio, a fitness area, a club room, an outdoor courtyard and bicycle storage room. Also, an existing second floor roof will be cleared of the mechanical equipment there now and will offer open space for residents. As part of the plan, the building will achieve a minimum LEED Silver certification.

The developer has included a transportation management plan to encourage residents to use alternative forms of transportation. The location is 0.4 miles from the Crystal City Metro station. Elements of the plan include placing transportation information displays in the building, offering new residents their choice of a $65 SmarTrip card or one-year bikeshare or carshare memberships, and distributing information about transit to residents and employees.

Century Center is currently home to restaurants, a Post Office branch and other small businesses. All existing tenants are expected to be able to continue operations during the property’s redevelopment, the plan states. There will approximately 17,500 square feet of ground floor retail space after construction, with nearly 10,000 square feet dedicated to existing restaurant tenants, it says.

The surrounding streetscape is also expected to be improved. The plans contain provisions for retail and food service kiosks along with a Capital Bikeshare station. It also includes new open space at the corner of 23rd Street S. and Crystal Drive that will be home to kiosks, outdoor seating and other activities. While the existing parking garage will continue to be used, the current four entrances will be reduced to one in order to better fulfill the vision of 23rd Street as a pedestrian-oriented street.

by Adrian Cruz — August 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

The renovation of the Ballston Common Mall have forced the closure of a sidewalk near the building, disrupting the flow of pedestrian traffic there.

The aging mall is undergoing a major rehab project and is slated to reopen as the “urban village” known as Ballston Quarter in 2018.

As part of the construction, a fence now blocks off the sidewalk around the former entrance on Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, forcing pedestrians to either walk on the street or cross to the other side — the latter being the safer, recommended course of action, but many pedestrians seem to be choosing the former.

When an ARLnow.com reporter visited the construction site yesterday, numerous pedestrians were spotted walking along Wilson Boulevard in front of the mall,  within a few feet of moving vehicles.

Along with the sidewalk closure, Arlington Transit has had to move one of its bus stops 100-150 feet south of its usual location.

So far, the sidewalk closure has ruffled a few feathers. A tweet from a concerned resident says the ongoing work puts pedestrians in danger and calls for the construction of a temporary walkway.

by Adrian Cruz — August 1, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) held a special ceremony this morning announcing the construction of equipment that would allow for new high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on I-66.

McAuliffe hosted the event at Washington-Lee High School — which overlooks the highway — and was joined by Va. Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne and Arlington County Board chair Libby Garvey.

“Since the beginning of our administration, we made it our top transportation priority to improve Virginia’s infrastructure and unclog the bottlenecks on our most congested highways,” McAuliffe said during the ceremony. “This initiative, coupled with Virginia’s new SMARTSCALE transportation prioritization process, will unlock Northern Virginia from the traffic congestion that was strangling this region’s economic potential.”

Workers will soon begin the $60 million project to install tolling equipment along the interstate from the Beltway to the Lee Highway exit in Rosslyn, according to a press release from McAuliffe’s office.

The new equipment will allow drivers to pay a toll of about $5-6 on average to bypass traffic during morning and afternoon rush hours, according to VDOT. Vehicles with two or more occupants, buses and motorcycles will be exempt from paying the toll.

Toll revenues will go toward funding alternative forms of transportation, McAuliffe said.

“The toll revenues will now fund travel options like ridesharing and enhanced commuter bus service, making those choices more attractive and much more user friendly so more people will leave their cars in the garage to get to work,” McAuliffe explained in his remarks. “We are committed to creating a carpool culture for I-66 travelers.”

Additionally, the Commonwealth Transportation Board will commit nearly $10 million toward projects such as improving commuter buses from Loudoun, Prince William County and Fairfax, local buses in Arlington and Fairfax, new carpool incentives and new bikeshare programs, according to McAuliffe’s office.

Along with the new tolling equipment, I-66 will also be partially widened. The plan calls for an extra lane to be built within the existing eastbound right-of-way from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston.

The new HOT lanes are expected to open some time next summer.

by ARLnow.com — July 22, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Slowly but steadily, the former DoD Inspector General’s Office in Pentagon City is being demolished floor-by-floor.

Also known at the “Paperclip building,” the structure is being torn down to make way for a new 20-story condo tower known at “The Altaire.”

“Bordering Crystal City and Pentagon City, The Altaire, referencing the double star in the constellation Aquila, will offer 450 condominium homes to the growing region,” says an older website for the forthcoming development. “With expected unobstructed views of The District, The Altarie will be one community to not miss.”

The website pegs the price range of Altaire condos at $300,000 to $2.5 million. It’s unclear if those prices have since been updated.

A groundbreaking for the project is expected to be held later this year.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a permit for use of the county-owned “teardrop parcel,” adjacent to the property, for temporary construction storage, staging and parking.

by Lindsay Smith — July 20, 2016 at 4:50 pm 0

After years of construction, work on Courthouse Plaza is finally coming to a conclusion.

Tomorrow, a party is planned for the plaza’s reopening. The metal fencing, barricades and orange-vested workmen that have been plaguing the open area will be gone at last — leaving behind an attractive gathering space for shoppers and pedestrians.

It has been a long time in the making. We first reported that the project was behind schedule in 2011. In January, we reported that “all work is expected to be completed by this April.” Despite the delays, the project is delivering on its other promises.

The plaza now boasts an updated entryway. Trees planted along the brick walkway are surrounded by chairs, tables and wood planters that double as benches. There are potted plants, trees and metal tables. New brick pavers keep the area looking clean and organized.

With renovations to two parking garages and to the AMC movie theater, some of the nearby amenities were also improved during the long plaza project.

To celebrate, Arlington County, Courthouse Plaza owner Vornado and the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association are sponsoring a “Party on the Plaza.” The event is taking place this Thursday, July 21, from 5-7 p.m.

The event will feature music, games, free food and giveaways.

by Adrian Cruz — July 14, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Following last year’s demolition of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston, construction is underway on the building’s replacement, which now has a new name.

The mixed-use development at 1000 N. Glebe Road is now being called “Newside.” Two buildings are under construction on the site, a nine-story office building and a 12-story, 267-unit residential building.

The nine-story building will be owned by Marymount University, with the university using six floors as office and educational space. The top three floors will be leased out as office space.

Along with the two buildings, there will also be a 10,600 square foot public plaza and pedestrian passageway in between them.

The Shooshan Company, the project’s developer, is optimistic about its potential.

“You’ve got this unique blend of all these uses in one spot,” said Kevin Shooshan, the company’s director of leasing and marketing. “There is going to be constant foot traffic every day of the week,” between Marymount students and customers of the on-site retail. “It gives kind of a new life to the site which is why we view it as the new side of Ballston, the new side of Marymount University.”

Government contractors, high profile associations, IT and technology companies are among the potential tenants that Avison Young, the company in charge of leasing office and business space, imagines for the top three floors of the Marymount building.

According to Shooshan, the development’s convenient location just off I-66, between Tysons Corner and D.C., along with its potential for rooftop signage that can be seen from the highway, gives it an advantage in the marketplace.

“It is the only new construction space available in the Ballston market,” he said. “In an era when many tenants are looking to reduce things and right-size their space, doing so in new construction — it’s the only opportunity in the Ballston market and it’s coming within the next year.”

“We’ve also been seeing some good activity from some national retailers,” he added.

At the moment, the excavation and concrete portion of the underground parking garages are complete and work is currently being done of the second floors of the buildings.

Construction is expected to be completed for both buildings around the second quarter of 2017.

by Adrian Cruz — July 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) The Arlington County Board is set to consider a contract for another round of improvements to High View Park’s neighborhood basketball courts and other recreational areas.

The County Board on Saturday is scheduled to vote on a $1.03 million contract for D.C.-based Bennett Group to make several improvements to the park.

The changes this time are expected to include a new North Dinwiddie Street entrance, picnic shelter, permeable paving and lighting, as well as new trees, irrigated fields, restrooms, storage facilities, bleachers and steps to the basketball courts.

In 2014, the John M. Langston Citizens Association and neighbors of the park collaborated to create a design concept for the second stage of the improvements based on the feedback from online surveys.

The first stage of improvements — which included a new play equipment, picnic areas and a path to the park’s amphitheater — were completed in May 2013.

by ARLnow.com — July 12, 2016 at 8:30 am 0

Golden hour in Shirlington

Board to Consider Arts Grants — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider its latest round of annual grants to local arts organizations. Among the 18 organizations being allocated a portion of the $215,810 in financial support for the arts are the Arlington Arts Center ($20,547), Bowen McCauley Dance ($27,237), Encore Stage and Studio ($24,715) and Washington Shakespeare Company ($24,247). [Arlington County]

ACFD Says Thanks for Fire Staffing — The Arlington County Fire Department thanked residents yesterday for fully funding safe fire truck staffing levels and an additional peak-time medic unit with the county’s latest Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The new budget took effect July 1. [Twitter]

Landscapers Volunteer at Arlington National — A group of some 400 professional landscapers from around the country volunteered their time at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to help spruce up the grounds. The annual event is organized by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. [WTOP]

Extended Construction Hours for Ballston Project — The County Board will consider a proposal by Marymount University and developer the Shooshan Company to temporarily extend the construction hours at the “Blue Goose” project in Ballston. The proposal would extend construction hours to 1:30 a.m. for eight weeks, to allow nighttime deliveries of construction materials that would otherwise require lane closures on Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive during the day. [InsideNova]

Lane Closures on GW Parkway — Expect single lane closures on the northbound GW Parkway, 2.5 miles north of Key Bridge, due to repair work on a stone wall along the Parkway. The closures will be in place from 8 p.m.-5 a.m. through Wednesday. [Patch]

by ARLnow.com — June 28, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Anna and David Sculpture in Rosslyn

View from Central Place — An ABC 7 reporter visited one of the top floors of the still under-construction Central Place residential tower in Rosslyn. The residential building is slated to open in 2017 while a twin office tower next door is set for 2018. [Twitter]

Wine in the Waterpark Extended — Crystal City is extending its popular Friday night Wine in the Waterpark events through July. The event offers beer, wine and music in an outdoor setting. [Crystal City]

‘Women in Secularism’ Conference — A Crystal City hotel will be hosting the fourth “Women in Secularism” conference in September. The conference “brings together a diverse lineup of speakers to address what it means to be a ‘woman in secularism’ — not just in theory, but in practice.” [Women in Secularism]

Photo by Jackie Friedman

by ARLnow.com — May 17, 2016 at 10:55 am 0

Here are some words we do not have an opportunity to write often: a construction project in Arlington is running ahead of schedule.

Construction on the new eight-story, 161-room Hyatt Place hotel in Courthouse is entering the home stretch.

Groundbreaking for the hotel, at 2401 Wilson Blvd, took place on a chilly January day last year. Developer Ray Schupp says construction is expected to wrap up mid-summer.

“We are ahead of schedule and now anticipate moving up our opening to mid-August,” Schupp tells ARLnow.com. The opening was previously planned for mid-September.

Also in the works: an unveiling for a new Vivian Beer sculpture, commissioned as part of the development and to be located at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Adams Street. A date for the unveiling has not yet been set.

Schupp says grand opening festivities are also being planned for the hotel and the local community will be invited. He thanked neighbors for their patience during construction.

“Our neighbors in Lyon Village and the surrounding communities have lived through this process while being positive (and sometimes forgiving),” he said. “We want to thank them in our opening.”

Photos by Jackie Friedman

by ARLnow.com — April 7, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

McKinley Elementary School, in Arlington’s Madison Manor neighborhood, will open the next school year 131 percent over capacity due to construction delays, school officials told parents this week.

McKinley is in the midst of a $22 million expansion project that was approved in 2014. The expansion will add 241 seats to the school, which opened this school year with a capacity of 443 and an already-burgeoning enrollment just north of 600 students.

APS is adjusting school boundaries to move students from Glebe and Tuckahoe elementary schools, which are both also well over capacity, to McKinley this fall. The idea was to balance capacity utilization across the schools, taking advantage of McKinley’s expansion.

There’s only one problem: the expansion, which was to wrap up this summer, is now not expected to be completed until November or December. And APS is moving forward with its boundary adjustments regardless, bringing a projected student body of 712 to McKinley in the fall.

In a presentation to parents and the community, APS said its contractor encountered a number of unexpected problems, including the discovery of an underground spring, old building footings and undocumented utility lines.

Those problems are delaying the expected substantial completion of “Phase 3” of the expansion project — a three-story addition with a number of classrooms and other facilities — until late November.

To bridge the gap, over the summer APS will be re-installing a “six-plex” classroom trailer complex that it had removed over spring break, to allow for the installation of an underground storm water management system. APS was able to meet capacity needs without the trailers thanks to the completion of “Phase 2” — a one-story addition with four new classrooms — over the winter.

A few concerned parents have emailed ARLnow.com about the construction snafu, concerned about APS proceeding with the boundary changes. However, APS’ numbers show that capacity utilization will actually be slightly lower even without the Phase 3 addition.

McKinley was 136.6 percent over capacity when it opened last fall, according to APS. It is projected to be 131.1 percent over capacity when it opens this fall, thanks to a 100-student boost in capacity via the completed expansion work.

Once classes move into the three-story addition over winter break, the school will be 104 percent over capacity: a capacity of 684 for 712 students. That compares to the projected 112.4 percent capacity level at Glebe Elementary and 107.5 percent at Tuckahoe Elementary.

“APS believes that moving the students from Tuckahoe and Glebe to McKinley as planned this fall provides the best continuity of instruction and relieves crowding at both Tuckahoe and Glebe,” Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations John Chadwick told ARLnow.com.

Parents are also concerned about a lack of recreation space for students at McKinley. A new gymnasium won’t be ready until Phase 3 is completed and the fields around the school are now not expected to be restored post-construction until April 2017. This fall, physical education classes will take place in a trailer in the school’s parking lot.

by ARLnow.com — April 7, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

What used to be Jay’s Saloon — and a few small, surrounding businesses — is now a big hole in the ground.

The hole along 10th Street N. will soon enough be filled by a 143-unit luxury apartment complex dubbed 10th Street Flats. Ballston-based developer Clark Realty Capital received approval for the mixed-use development, which will include live-work units and ground floor retail, in 2014.

(Clark also developed the adjacent Hyde apartments, which opened in 2015, along 9th Street N.)

“10th Street Flats is positioned to offer its residents the best of what both Arlington and nearby Washington, D.C. have to offer,” the company said in a press release. “Sparing little in terms of luxury amenities and unique conveniences for its residents, the community will feature a rooftop lounge, outdoor kitchen and communal table, ground-floor bike workshop, fitness center and yoga room, teleworking space, eight innovative live/work units, and 3,700 SF of retail space.”

“Each apartment will feature stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, wood-surface flooring, and designer lighting and plumbing fixtures,” the press release continued. “Additionally, each unit will come equipped with Nest thermostats that provide energy-saving, Wi-Fi enabled temperature control capabilities.”

Clark broke ground on the project in January and expects construction to end and residents to move in by next summer.

by ARLnow.com — March 29, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

U.S. government helicopter flying overhead (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Experts: No D.C. Real Estate Bubble — Most experts in a recent Zillow-sponsored survey said there is no significant risk of a real estate bubble in the D.C. region, at least over the next five years. However, a significant portion of experts do believe other hot markets, like San Francisco and Miami, may be at risk of a bubble. The overall value of all residential real estate in the D.C. region, meanwhile, is approaching $1 trillion. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Lane Closures For Crystal City Project — On-street parking, bike lanes and the outside travel lane are currently blocked off on both sides of 18th Street S. between S. Eads and Clark streets for construction of the Crystal City Multimodal Center under the Route 1 bridge. Cyclists in particular are urged to use caution when using 18th Street. [Arlington County]

Cherry Pie Recipe for the Cherry Blossom Bloom — Just in time for the cherry blossom bloom, Chef Jonathan Till of William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike) is sharing his family’s Sour Cherry Pie recipe. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — February 11, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

"Ballston Quarter" mall rendering

(Updated at 11:55 p.m.) It’s still somewhat business as usual at Ballston Common Mall, despite impending major renovations.

A number of stores, restaurants and the much-maligned movie theater remain open. But the scene will be changing this spring, when work on the project to convert aging shopping mall to a modern shopping center with open-air plazas, called Ballston Quarter, begins.

“Our schedule continues to proceed according to plans,” said Gary McManus, spokesman for Cleveland-based Forest City, the mall’s owner. “Forest City has not wavered from its plans and timeline to begin demolition on the Ballston Quarter site in May/June of this year.”

Mass store closures inside the mall were expected after the end of 2015, but many stores have remained open and intend to stay open until just before demolition starts.

“The stores that remain open are doing so at their request and we were able to accommodate that request as we wade through the permitting process leading to demolition in the spring,” McManus said. “It never was and still is not our intention for all stores at the mall to close.”

Businesses with an exterior entrance — Macy’s, Regal Cinemas, Rock Bottom Brewery, Noodles & Co., Panera Bread, Sport&Health Club and CVS Pharmacy — are expected to remain open during the renovations.

Construction is expected to take about two years and Ballston Quarter is expected to open in time for the holiday shopping season of 2018.

by ARLnow.com — February 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Publicly-traded energy tech firm Opower is staying in Arlington, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced at a press conference this morning, marking some good news for a county beset by the departures of large government agencies.

McAuliffe and County Board Chair Libby Garvey were among those making the announcement at Opower’s current headquarters at 1515 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, which President Obama visited in 2010, when the company was still a startup.

Opower will be moving down the street to a new office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse. The building — already approved by the County Board — is set to be constructed over the next two years, replacing a row of restaurants. Developer Carr Properties had been calling the 8-story building the “Clean Technology Center,” which seems consistent with Opower’s sustainability and energy conservation mission.

Virginia and Arlington County had been fighting to keep Opower, which was being courted by the District and by The Wharf, the massive new development on the Southwest D.C. waterfront.

“Keeping Opower in Arlington County has been a high priority of my administration,” McAuliffe said. “This high-profile energy software company is growing rapidly and making a major impact on global challenges, and we are committed to further strengthening this important corporate partnership. The technology industry is booming in Virginia, and wins like this expansion help us continue to build on the momentum in this important sector.”

“Arlington has watched Opower grow from a startup venture to a thriving leader not only in the region, but in the entire clean technology industry,” Garvey said. “Arlington’s highly-educated workforce and easy transportation access were things Opower was looking for as the company continues to grow, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them for a long time to come.”

McAuliffe helped arrange a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help Arlington keep Opower.

“Arlington County will match the state funding with a performance-based local economic development incentive grant,” the county notes in a press release. “Arlington will provide an additional annual performance grant through the remaining years of the lease term subject to job and occupancy requirements. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.”

Opower plans to invest about $10.5 million in its new, 63,000 square foot headquarters and expects to add 70 new employees within three years. The company will also retain 357 jobs that currently pay above the region’s prevailing wage.

“Opower has been with Arlington since the beginning,” said Victor Hoskins, Director of Arlington Economic Development. “The company is a model for the fast-growth technology companies we’re hoping to attract to Arlington, and we simply could not be more pleased that Opower has decided to continue to be a part of Arlington’s business community.”

The building at 2311 Wilson Blvd will have a total of 150,000 square feet of office space plus ground floor retail spaces when it’s completed.

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