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Arlington National Cemetery’s restored Ord and Weitzel Gate was unveiled to the public earlier this week, after more than four decades in storage.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, the historic gate was officially reopened at the north entrance of the cemetery’s hallowed ground.

The iron gate dates to 1879 when it was first designed by Montgomery Meigs, also known for his work on the U.S. Capitol dome and what’s today the National Building Museum. The columns on top, decorated with “elaborately sculpted urns,” are two centuries old and were originally part of the War Department building prior to its demolition.

In 1902, the names of Civil War officers Gen. Edward Ord and Gen. Godfrey Weitzel were inscribed on the columns, thus giving the gate its name.

As the years went on, though, the cemetery expanded and the gate became weathered. It was also too small for modern vehicles to fit through. So, in 1979, it was disassembled and put into storage.

Forty-three years later, it’s back in its original location, restored, and reopened to the public. Now, though, it’s a pedestrian-only gate.

“The opening of the restored Ord and Weitzel Gate marks an important milestone in Arlington National Cemetery’s long-range plan to preserve our priceless monumental and architectural history,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director of the Office of Army Cemeteries, said in a press release. “Our historic gates are among the cemetery’s most unique and meaningful cultural resources, yet their stories often remain untold.”

The restored gate also came with a number of improvements to the Custis walking path, including updating the sidewalk, security features, and making other visitor-friendly infrastructure changes.

The sidewalk was changed from asphalt to concrete for design and safety reasons, per a cemetery spokesperson. A new, updated guardhouse was also added, plus a water fountain, benches, trash cans, and street lamps. There’s a new pull-off location for the ANC tram as well.

ANC is in the midst of undergoing an expansion that will add 60,000 burial sites and space for the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center.

This will require realigning Columbia Pike and moving it closer to I-395 so that gravesites can be placed where it currently curves around the Air Force Memorial. That portion of the project just got underway this past spring. The construction will eventually result in the closing of a portion of Columbia Pike near Pentagon City, which could happen as soon as early next year.

With the expansion, as well as the restoration of the historic Ord and Weitzel Gate, Arlington National Cemetery is looking to preserve, modernize, and grow.

“Just yesterday I was giving a briefing on our Southern Expansion Project, and I discussed how we were building history, a project that will last as long as there is a United States of America,” ANC’s Director of Engineering Col. Thomas Austin said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “Now, here at Ord and Weitzel, we have the honor of rebuilding history, reviving a structure with elements that go back nearly 200 years. What an honor it is and how lucky we all are to be a part of it.”

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Early site work appears to have started at the long-vacant former Wendy’s lot in Courthouse.

Greystar Real Estate Partners is building an apartment building at 2025 Clarendon Blvd, about a block from the Courthouse Metro station, where the fast food spot and a bank used to be.

And this week, people nearby have observed that a fence has gone up and digging has started.

This June, Greystar has applied for permits for sheeting and shoring work as well as for construction of a two-level underground parking garage and the 16-story apartment building with an in-ground, rooftop pool, according to Arlington County permit records.

Those plans are still being reviewed.

Permits for 2025 Clarendon Blvd (via Arlington County)

Representatives from Greystar were not able to respond by deadline to comment with a construction timeline.

Greystar will turn the 0.57-acre lot into a 16-story apartment building with 231 residential units and 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. Residents will have 75 vehicle parking spaces and one bike parking spot for every unit.

As part of the project, Greystar is adding a public plaza at the tip of western edge of the site — in a prominent location a block from the Metro station, where N. Courthouse Road and Wilson and Clarendon Blvd intersect — as well as an alley along the eastern edge.

Before and after Greystar removed columns on the ground to open up the plaza proposed for 2025 Clarendon Blvd (via Arlington County)

The planned building will be taller than what plans for the neighborhood recommend. Greystar was able to nearly double the number of units and increase the building height by six stories by transferring development rights from Wakefield Manor, a small garden-apartment complex deemed to be historic, less than a half-mile away.

The Wendy’s and bank were torn down and initially set to be replaced with a 12-story office building, which was never built because the developer, Carr Properties, couldn’t find a tenant.

For years, the lot sat vacant. It most recently was used as a staging area for 2000 Clarendon, a condo project across the street, while Greystar bought the site and worked up apartment plans.

Meanwhile, construction continues across the street at “The Commodore” apartments. Construction crews officially broke ground on the project in October 2021 and has been adding floors at a relatively quick pace as of late.

“The Commodore” replaces low-slung brick commercial buildings that housed Jerry’s SubsCosiBoston Market and Summers Restaurant. Completion of the 20-story, 423-unit building is expected next fall, Greystar previously said in a press release.

The Commodore’s ground floor retail space is close to being leased out, according to CBRE. Five businesses have struck preliminary agreements to move into the building, while one retail space is still available for leasing.

The real estate company says it’s focused on attracting “a mix of local and regional food & beverage offerings as well as daily goods & service offerings, from conveniences to luxuries, for the [Courthouse] and Clarendon communities.”

The project, located in the “Landmark Block” in Courthouse, is poised to realize a significant portion of a 2015 vision to redevelop a portion of the neighborhood dubbed “Courthouse Square” and centered around the county’s surface parking lot.

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The parking garage over I-66 near Ballston is falling apart and needs repairs, says the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The garage sits above I-66 between N. Stafford and Quincy streets, next to Washington-Liberty High School. It serves as the primary parking area for the school and is the site of a seasonal flea market, called the Arlington Civitan Open Air Market.

VDOT has launched a public engagement period to brief locals on the garage’s deteriorating condition and the $2.7 million in planned improvements. Through next Monday, Nov. 7, people can provide comments online in a survey and by email or postal mail.

The state transportation department says it aims to minimize traffic disruptions and keep most parking spaces available during construction. VDOT expects to send out the project for bid next summer and to start work in the fall of 2023, with construction wrapping up in about six months.

“The purpose of this project is to address various conditions identified through routine inspections that are likely to deteriorate further if not repaired soon,” a VDOT staff member said in a presentation. “Delaying action could allow some of them to become critical requiring much more extensive, expensive and disruptive repairs down the road. The repairs will ensure the structure remains safe for all users for years to come.”

The garage was built in 1982, and since then, there has been no major work performed beyond routine maintenance, VDOT Communications Coordinator Mike Murphy tells ARLnow.

After 40 years of exposure to the elements — including cycles of freezing and thawing, anti-icing salts, and high temperatures — the garage’s columns and surfaces are worse for wear, according to the state transportation department’s presentation. The presenter said these signs of deterioration are typical of structures this age.

Slides showing deterioration of the I-66 overpass and parking lot (via VDOT)

Some columns on the garage’s lower level need significant repairs to ensure its structural integrity, the presenter said. Leaking water has caused the reinforcing steel within the concrete to corrode, causing the concrete to break in flakes.

Slides showing deterioration of the I-66 overpass and parking lot (via VDOT)

In one phase of the project, traffic lanes on I-66 will be shifted to the outside lane and the shoulder to allow work along the median, per the presentation. Lane closures are expected to be limited to single lanes.

“The majority of repair work occurs on the lower level along I-66, which is isolated from parking areas of the garage,” the VDOT staff member said. “There will be no changes to local traffic patterns or pedestrian flow on N. Quincy Street, N. Stafford Street, or 15th Street N.”

No impacts to the Custis Trail — which runs parallel to I-66 under the garage — are anticipated at this time, Murphy said.

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Work is underway to take down the aging RCA building in Rosslyn — but a demolition schedule has yet to be set.

The forthcoming residential redevelopment for 1901 N. Moore Street, by McLean-based developer Jefferson Apartment Group, was approved in June 2021.

Sixteen months later, JAG Senior Vice President Greg Van Wie tells ARLnow that “the crews are removing cell tower equipment from the roof in preparation for demolition.”

As of now, though, there is no set date for the demolition, Van Wie said.

“We will have more updates on the schedule in the coming weeks,” he said.

A reader noted to ARLnow that he noticed the cell towers were gone in late September. This month, he described a large crane clearing the roof of HVAC units and other equipment, while down below, N. Lynn Street was closed down to one lane.

Before cell towers, circled in red, were removed from the roof of the RCA building (courtesy of anonymous)

Those who were hoping for a dramatic implosion may be disappointed.

“We will be dismantling the existing building rather than imploding it so there won’t quite be the same show as with the old Holiday Inn, unfortunately,” Van Wie said.

One December morning in 2020, the 18-story hotel in Rosslyn came down during a controlled demolition that closed local roads and I-66. A new development with a 25-story residential tower an a 36-story hotel tower are being built in its place.

After taking apart the 13-story, 1960s-era RCA building, JAG will build a 27-story, 423-unit apartment complex. The planned 260-foot tall building is composed of a north and a south tower joined at the base and at the rooftop with an “amenity bridge.”

The fourth floor will feature a landscaped terrace and the roof will also have garden elements. There will be two levels of retail and 286 parking spaces spread across garages on the third and fourth floors and underground.

As part of the project, the developer will remove inner loop roads around the Rosslyn Metro station, as well as the skywalk connection between the RCA building and the Rosslyn Gateway building.

The developer will also donate $2.2 million toward improvements within Rosslyn, such as for Gateway Park, and add a mix of buffered, protected and unprotected bike lanes, colorized bus lanes, new intersections, a relocated red-light camera and a new Capital Bikeshare station.

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Ground floor of the planned Hilton hotel in Rosslyn (courtesy Hilton)

A 36-story, 331-room “state of the art” Hilton hotel is coming to Rosslyn.

The hospitality giant this morning announced the signing of an agreement to operate the high-rise hotel on the former Holiday Inn site. With rooms overlooking D.C. and the Potomac River, the hotel will also feature a rooftop event space and 28,000 square feet of meeting space.

More from a press release:

Today, Hilton announces the signing of Hilton at The Key, Arlington-Rosslyn, providing even more options to travelers looking for a state of the art, full-service hotel just minutes from Washington, D.C. Located at the foot of the Potomac River’s historic Francis Scott Key Bridge in Arlington, Virginia, the 36-story, 331-room property is surrounded by numerous corporate headquarters based in Rosslyn’s business district and minutes from the 11-acre riverfront Fort Bennett Park and Palisades Trail.

The modern hotel is under development as part of The Key, a project that includes a destination restaurant, street-level retail, and 517 luxury apartments with panoramas of the water and the nation’s capital. Once completed, Hilton at The Key will feature approximately 28,000 square feet of flexible and modern meeting spaces, including an event space on the 36th floor with sweeping 360-degree views of the Washington, D.C., skyline, the Potomac River and Arlington, Virginia.

“Dittmar Company is proud to partner with Hilton as we bring a true destination meeting and event facility to Arlington, Virginia, and the surrounding DMV area,” said Greg Raines, an executive at Dittmar Company.

The 18-story, 50-year-old Holiday Inn was imploded two years ago to make way for the massive new development, which has since been dubbed The Key. A construction update last month noted that crews were preparing to pour concrete for the tenth floor of the building.

Implosion of the Rosslyn Holiday Inn hotel in Dec. 2020

The development’s 500+ unit rental apartment building has been christened “Rosslyn Towers.”

“Rosslyn Towers is the latest in the Dittmar Company portfolio of Arlington Luxury Multi-Family deliveries,” says The Key’s website. “The residences will have first class finishes to rival the unmatched location and views present at this iconic location.”

The apartment’s “uplifting live/work/play environment” will feature “an amenity package that is second to none.”

Read More

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I-66 Rosslyn tunnel (photo courtesy VDOT)

VDOT has kicked off work on its I-66 Rosslyn Tunnel Rehabilitation project.

The nearly $38 million project is expected to stretch well into 2025, retrofitting the tunnel under Rosslyn’s Gateway Park that was built some 40 years ago.

The construction will prompt some lane closures on I-66, but mostly during overnight hours.

More from a VDOT press release:

Construction is underway on the rehabilitation and improvements to the Rosslyn Tunnel that carries I-66 under North Nash Street, Fort Myer Drive, North Lynn Street and Gateway Park, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. The project’s purpose is to improve safety and extend the overall life of the tunnel.

The project includes removing the existing tunnel ceiling to improve long-term maintenance; upgrading electrical systems; installing a new fireproofing system; repairing steel beams, abutment and pier concrete, and joints; cleaning and repairing bearings; and replacing the tunnel lighting system.

Lane closures on I-66 associated with the project will mainly occur overnights, with at least one lane of I-66 in each direction open at all times.

The tunnel, which opened to traffic in 1983, is nearly a fifth of a mile long and averages 64,000 vehicles a day.

The $37.7 million project is financed with state funding and is scheduled for completion in summer 2025.

For the most recent updates and to learn more, visit the VDOT project webpage.

Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are reminded to use caution when traveling in active work zones. Be alert to new traffic patterns and limit distractions.

You can get real-time traffic, work zone and incident information online at 511virginia.org, via the free mobile 511Virginia app, or by calling 511 in Virginia anywhere anytime.

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An art installation in the shadow of the under-construction first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 is getting taller.

Last month, crews began laying the groundwork to build “Queen City” by Nekisha Durrett, per Clark Construction, the group building out the first phase, dubbed “Met Park” and located at the corner of 13th Street S. and S. Eads Street.

The tower, situated in the park south of 12th Street S., will pay tribute to the former Black community by the same name, which was located nearby before it was razed by the federal government to make way for the Pentagon.

“We are excited to give you a closer look at our progress over the last few weeks,” Clark Construction said in an email on Friday. “The structure is starting to take shape. The installation will stand approximately thirty-five feet tall, when complete.”

The structure’s reclaimed brick façade will highlight the area’s past as a hub for brick production, while park-goers will be able to explore its decorative interior.

Construction of “Queen City” is expected to deliver with the rest of Met Park in 2023, Richard said.

When asked about a timeline for completing the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2, Richard said, “We’ll share more information [about the opening] in the coming months.”

The structure will be located in Met Park’s forthcoming green space. There is disagreement, however, over what it should be named.

Survey respondents, area civic associations and the National Landing Business Improvement District voted to name the 2.5-acre green space “Met Park” — the old name for the grassy patch that Amazon is paying $14 million to revamp.

They voted for the name “Pen Place” for the park in the second phase of Amazon’s HQ2, also dubbed Pen Place.

A majority of members of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, however, recommend naming Met Park’s green space Elm Park and Pen Place’s, Fern Park.

The least popular options, both in the survey and in the HALRB meeting in August, were Goldfinch and Chickadee Park.

Meanwhile, Clark Construction reported that crews made “a lot of progress” on the park and surrounding buildings last month. In an update from Sept. 16, the company said crews poured concrete on the “overlook,” which is the highest walkable point inside the park.

“Rubber surfacing is being installed under playground equipment,” the email said. “Additionally, we recently received the first stone shipment for seat walls that will be featured along pathways throughout the park.”

This time last year, workers placed the timber first beam in Met Park’s event center and began pouring the 10th floor of concrete.

This summer, Amazon announced four additional local businesses, including two restaurants, to open at Amazon HQ2. The tech company celebrated the “topping out” of Met Park in March.

The tech giant has, at this point, assigned “more than 5,000 employees” to its HQ2, Amazon spokeswoman Hayley Richard told ARLnow yesterday (Monday). It was first announced in April that Amazon had hired its 5,000th HQ2 employee.

To kick off the new school year, Amazon donated more than $250,000 to Arlington Public Schools and two D.C.-area nonprofits addressing food insecurity, to open food pantries at a handful of public schools in Arlington.

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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.

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(Updated 11/07/22 at 2:30 p.m.) Ongoing foundation work at the new Fire Station No. 8 is slated to wrap up in two months.

Construction on the long-anticipated new station at 4845 Langston Blvd began this summer, after the old station was demolished in June.

Now, workers are pouring the concrete footings and laying masonry foundation walls for the 20,522 square-foot building, says Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. They are also laying the conduits for the underground electrical, plumbing and other systems.

So far, the recent rain “has not adversely affected the schedule,” O’Brien said.

Next, construction crews will begin making the building’s steel floors and roof next month, and framing the walls sometime around next March.

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing work will begin sometime after January 2023 and continue through the summer, while building finishes will be installed next summer and fall.

O’Brien says the county expects to complete the project near the end of 2023.

Work hours are 7 a.m to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday. There will be some Saturday work scheduled between 10 a.m and 3 p.m.

Since December 2021, firefighters have been working from a temporary station next door, at 2217 N. Culpeper Street. The permanent station is located where the old station formerly stood.

In addition to updated amenities, the new fire station will boast sustainable features such as a “green” (vegetated) roof and rooftop solar panels.

The building’s design includes a “legacy plaza” and a historic pathway, and other features, to recognize the history of the station.

During Segregation, Fire Station No. 8 was the only station in Arlington staffed by African-Americans — members of the Hall’s Hill Volunteer Fire Department. The volunteers served the historically Black neighborhood, which was walled off from an adjacent white neighborhood until the 1960s.

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An end date is in sight for construction work around the Ballston Metro station.

After two years of navigating the active work site and catching the bus from temporarily relocated stops, transit riders could have access to the updated transit facilities and adjacent public areas sometime next month.

“Right now we have our sights on completion in late October,” said Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

Over the course of four phases, Arlington County aimed to improve the experience of waiting for a bus, getting dropped off by a car, and walking and cycling around the transit hub. The project added:

  • New bus shelters, sidewalks, landscaped planters and benches
  • More bike parking
  • An expanded public space along Fairfax Drive
  • A dedicated “kiss-and-ride” curb space
  • A dedicated shuttle bus curb space and bus shelter
  • Bus stop flag poles
  • Real-time bus information displays

Construction on the four-phase project started in June 2020 and was expected to end in November 2021. But a half dozen “unforeseen conditions” came up during construction, delaying completion by nearly a year, according to a county report.

Before it can sign off on the project, the county says the following three intersections need to be repaved “due to design changes and unforeseen utility work,” per the report.

  • Fairfax Drive and N. Stuart Street
  • Fairfax Drive and N. Stafford Street
  • 9th Street N. and N. Stuart Street

This will cost about $249,000, bringing the total cost of the project to around $5.7 million. The Arlington County Board is set to review a request to authorize this additional spending during its meeting on Saturday.

Contingency funding approved in the initial budget covered the cost of the other surprises. Staff said electric and telecom lines along Fairfax Drive had to be relocated and it took longer than expected to get Dominion Energy to remove existing street light poles.

The underground Metro platform and garages were also closer to the surface than staff initially estimated. To avoid hitting these structures, construction plans had to be updated and one planter had to be redesigned.

Other planters had to be remade because of how the site slopes, while additional pre-made planters had to be purchased because original estimates fell short.

A curb along N. Stafford Street needed to be realigned and a bus landing rebuilt to ensure getting on and off the bus was safe and accessible to people with disabilities.

Pors said county staff are looking forward to wrapping up.

“Obviously, we’re very excited for the completion of this project,” Pors said.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has also finalized where buses will depart from. The listed changes are set to go into effect this Sunday, Sept. 18:

1A to Vienna: Bay F
1B to Dunn Loring: Bay F
2A to Dunn Loring: Bay C
10B to Hunting Point: Bay G
22A to Pentagon: Bay G
23A, 23B, 23T to Shirlington/Crystal City: Bay H
23A, 23T to Tysons: Bay A
25B to Southern Towers/Mark Center: Bay D
38B to Farragut Square: Bay B

Meanwhile, the county is currently working to design proposed west entrance to the Ballston Metro station, located at N. Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street, almost a quarter of a mile west of the existing entrance.

Arlington has sought alternative funding sources to cover the ballooning cost of the project, which it attributes to inflation and having more complete designs.

Some transit advocates have argued that funding for the section entrance should be redirected to cheaper upgrades with greater impact, such as sidewalks, protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes.

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A vacant, county-owned building in Glencarlyn could start coming down this fall, pending approval from the Arlington County Board this weekend.

This Saturday, the Board is slated to consider awarding a contract to tear down the old Virginia Hospital Center urgent care facility at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road.

“If approved, the contractor will begin mobilizing in the fall,” according to the project’s page on the county website. “Expected completion of the demolition is summer 2023.”

Arlington County acquired the old VHC Urgent Care in a land swap with the hospital. VHC received county-owned land at N. Edison Street for its expansion project, interior work on which is ongoing until this December.

While a private medical office building continues to operate next door at 611 S. Carlin Springs Road, the VHC building has sat vacant since the acquisition. Come winter, thrill-seekers take to the hill on the grounds for a sledding spot.

In order to use the land, the county needs to tear the VHC building down, as it “is not fit for further use due to mold and other issues,” according to a county presentation to neighbors of the building last September.

To do so, while continuing operations at the medical office building, the county had to separate the shared water, power and gas utility lines.

“This work began in February 2022 and is close to completion,” county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter told ARLnow in an email. “Throughout this project, we have been working closely with the adjacent medical office building to allow ample time for them to accommodate their patient/client schedules with the start of the demolition.”

Later this month, the county will install install solar-powered lights in the parking lot as “a temporary solution” once power to the site is disconnected in the fall, she said yesterday (Tuesday).

Boarded up windows and signs forbidding entry are visible from the perimeter of the site. These are in place and county staff check the perimeter of the site daily “to deter intruders,” according to the county’s 2021 project update to the neighborhood.

An aerial view of 601 and 611 S. Carlin Springs Road, with Long Branch Creek indicated in blue (via Arlington County)

Arlington experienced a few delays getting to this point. Besides having to accommodate the medical offices next door, Baxter previously told ARLnow the project had to repeat its solicitation of bids, after a first round did not net any interested contractors.

A complete demolition is still a ways off, as are plans for how the county will use the site.

“Future uses of the site will be determined at a later time,” Baxter said this week. “After demolition, grass will be planted and maintained.”

Many Glencarlyn residents hope to see an expanded nature area, says neighbor Julie Lee.

“The site borders Glencarlyn Park and the Long Branch Nature Center,” she tells ARLnow. “It would provide additional outdoor recreational opportunities, as well as additional outdoor learning space for Campbell Elementary School which has a nature focus.”

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