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by Bridget Reed Morawski April 23, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board has approved a site plan that would bring 97 affordable housing units and two rows of townhouses to Buckingham.

The “100 percent affordable” multi-family building and townhouses will replace the former local Red Cross headquarters.

The approved development comes despite complaints from nearby residents about the proposal. The new development’s density, potentially increased traffic, and “the desecration of the tree canopy” were all cited as dealbreakers for some locals, though supporters asserted that the building was vacant, the affordable housing is “badly needed” and complaints were overblown.

A partial rezoning of the site was approved alongside the site plan at Saturday’s County Board meeting (April 21). There are currently two single family homes on the site, in addition to the former headquarters and an existing playground.

The townhouses will be built in the first phase of the project, with construction on the multi-family building, which is required to “achieve Earthcraft Gold or LEED v4 Homes and Multifamily Midrise Gold certification,” following in a second phase.

The developer, Wesley Housing Development Corporation, agreed to preserve the on-site apartments, known historically as the Windsor Apartments but now called the Whitefield Commons, which the county says were built in 1943. Unit incomes will average 80 percent of the average median income, and the building will average 60 percent of that figure.

Whitefield Commons’ interior will be reconfigured to add five units, bringing the total units inside that complex to 68. The multi-family building will have 97 units, and the townhouses will have 19.

There will be 187 parking spaces between the developments — 45 at Whitefield Commons, 88 at the multi-family building, and 42 for the townhouses. The townhouses have the highest parking ratio per unit, at 2.26 spots per unit plus four visitor spots.

Wesley Housing Development Corporation will be required to “encourage transportation alternatives.”

That will be done via a transportation management plan, which includes a provision to give “each new tenant in the multi-family building… a choice of a SmartTrip card preloaded with a $65 balance or a bikeshare or car share membership,” according to a county project website.

A Google Maps estimate shows that the site is approximately a 22 minute walk to the Ballston Metro station. The 3.95 acre parcel is bordered by N. Thomas and N. Trenton streets, 2nd Road N., and Arlington Boulevard.

Plans estimate that 60 trees will be removed, three of which are dead or dying and another 17 of which are located on top of or near an existing storm pipe.

An estimated 132 tree credits will be granted, according to the site plan. One credit is given for each planted shade tree or large evergreen tree, or for every three deciduous, ornamental, or small evergreen trees.

Map via Google Maps

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 17, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

The contract for renovations at Dawson Terrace Park in North Highlands, northwest of Rosslyn, is set for approval, per a county staff report.

The work will renovate areas of extensive use, including a multi-use court, playground, walkways, and picnic areas. D.C.’s Bennett Group, beating out five other bidders, is expected to be awarded the $1,507,500.45 contract.

Landscaping, stormwater management, and ADA improvements will also be part of the project, but a small field along 21st Road N. will not be within the project’s scope.

The County Manager’s office has recommended awarding the contract and approving a $150,750.05 contingency for change orders.

The Dawson-Bailey House, believed to be the county’s second oldest house, is located at the park, at 2133 N. Taft Street.

The Dept. of Parks and Recreation has submitted documentation to the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board “to ensure the project respected and complimented the historic nature of the site.”

by ARLnow.com April 13, 2018 at 8:55 am 0

Fund Bets on Amazon HQ2 Coming to Crystal City — A New York-based asset manager is making a $10 million bet that Crystal City will be the location chosen for Amazon’s HQ2. The company cited a high concentration of millennials and housing in the area, as well as proximity to Metro stations, commuter rail and Reagan National Airport. [Bloomberg, ZeroHedge]

Chamber Wants Extended Parking Meter Hours Paused — “Leadership of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce wants the county government to hit the brakes on a proposal to increase parking-meter fees and extend the hours meters must be fed. In a letter to County Board Chairman Katie Cristol, Arlington Chamber president Kate Bates said the government failed to do proper outreach before proposing the alterations to existing policy.” [InsideNova]

Grumbles About Ballston Construction — “Like many who venture to the kingdom of Ballston, I am impatient for the never-ending renovations to be over. Tina Leone, CEO of the Ballston Business Improvement District, was happy to promise me that the rewards for us patrons of Arlington’s most central community will unfold in September–with staggered openings continuing through May 2019.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Average Single-Family Home Sale: $1 Million — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington in March was $1,066,368, up 6.9 percent from a year prior. [InsideNova]

Ribbon Cutting for Abingdon Renovations — A ribbon cutting ceremony is being held at 9:30 this morning to celebrate the recently-completed addition and renovations at Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. [Twitter]

Lopez Talks Medicaid Expansion — Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) was a guest on Politico’s healthcare podcast to discuss the possibility of expanding Medicaid in Virginia. [Simplecast, Twitter]

Photo by Anna Merod

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 12, 2018 at 11:00 am 0

Rehabilitation work on the I-66 bridge between the Rosslyn tunnel and D.C. has begun, according to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.

Crews began setting out concrete barriers and pavement markings overnight on Wednesday, and will continue to do so through tonight (Thursday).

Lane closures on eastbound I-66 will be scheduled Monday-Friday from 9:30 p.m.-5 a.m., while westbound I-66 closures will be scheduled from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. on the same days.

VDOT expects traffic impacts to be minimal throughout the construction, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2019.

For the next day or two, VDOT will periodically close the ramp from the southbound GW Parkway to the Roosevelt Bridge and westbound Route 50. The closures will take place between midnight and 5 a.m. to “allow for the installation of concrete barriers under the I-66 bridge,” according to the National Park Service.

The $5.7 million construction project will resurface the bridge’s deck, repair piers and abutments, and repave I-66 approaching the bridge.

According to VDOT, the bridge averages 54,000 vehicles a day eastbound and 44,000 westbound.

Photo courtesy VDOT

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 2, 2018 at 10:55 am 0

Construction on the renovated Ballston Quarter mall is coming along.

Signs up at the site still point to a fall 2018 opening for the redeveloped and rebuilt space, formerly known as the Ballston Common Mall.

Recent weeks have seen the announcement that several “experiential tenants,” like cooking class company Cookology and live action adventure venue 5 Wits, have signed on as tenants.

The 360,000 square foot retail space will also include a 25,000 square foot food hall, which reportedly will have 18 restaurants, including Timber Pizza Co. and Buredo. Trendy D.C. spots Himitsu and Gravitas are also said to be considering opening up eateries at the mall.

At least 400 residential units are being constructed as well, though leasing will begin next year.

Ballston Quarter is just one of a number of major construction projects currently underway in the neighborhood. Crews were seen working on Friday directly across the street from another construction site, Liberty Center, at 4040 Wilson Boulevard.

The mixed-use residential, retail, and office space is scheduled to open for mid-2020 and will be the final piece of a five-building development. VIDA Fitness, a “high end fitness center and spa,” is set to open its first non-D.C. location in the building.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 23, 2018 at 3:55 pm 0

The Arlington School Board reviewed the design and proposed construction contract for the Stratford School building renovation at its meeting last night (March 22).

In a presentation, Arlington Public Schools staff said that the guaranteed maximum price of the renovation and three-story addition — which will prepare the building to host a new neighborhood middle school as the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program moves to Rosslyn — “exceeded previous estimates by several million dollars.” A vote to approve the revised price ceiling is slated for next month.

“Much of the overage was because market escalation has outpaced the rate included in design estimates – consequences of unexpected increases in material costs and subcontractor labor shortages,” the presentation said.

The price ceiling submission was $4.68 million over the target value, according to the presentation, or about 17 percent over. The new project total is approximately $39.15 million.

To keep costs down, APS refined estimated soft costs, underwent selective rebidding, and undertook value engineering and scope reductions. The interior design and suggested roofing materials were modified to find low-to-no-impact ways to cut costs, the document stated.

Over 160 separate items were evaluated to find ways to cut costs for the project while making the smallest impact on teaching, learning, and “community improvements discussed during the public process.”

Other potential savings were found but would require undesirable revisions, including the elimination of an arts and technology suite and new gymnasium bleachers, among other educational amenities deemed necessary.

Most of the funding for the $39 million project will come from school bonds, but $2.3 million will come from the county government under a joint funding agreement.

The project may also be eligible for a Virginia Historic Tax Credit of between $1.5-2 million, which would be used to replenish APS’ capital reserve, according to the presentation. The Stratford School was the first Virginia public school to integrate.

Construction at the site, which is expected to add 310 seats for a total of 1,000 seats, is set to begin in April. Officials are expecting to welcome students for the first day of school in September 2019.

Screenshots via Arlington School Board

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 20, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

Slug lines at the Pentagon are being temporarily relocated as part of ongoing work that includes creating new bus-only travel lanes.

The relocation was slated to start Monday at the Pentagon’s South Parking Lot “Pork Chop.”

More from a VDOT press release:

Work to reconfigure slug lines and create new bus-only travel lanes at the Pentagon Reservation’s South Parking Lot “Pork Chop,” located east of Eads Street and north of I-395, will begin on or about Monday, March 19. Pedestrians and motorists should exercise caution while traveling in the area.

The work is part of the I-395 Express Lanes Project, a public-private partnership project between VDOT and Transurban that is extending the existing I-95/I-395 Express Lanes eight miles from Turkeycock Run near Edsall Road in Alexandria to the Washington, D.C. line.

As part of this change, crews will temporarily relocate the slug lines in the order shown in the diagram. Temporary signage will direct drivers and pedestrians.

Privately owned vehicles will no longer be able to use the exit to VA-110 and will enter and exit the “Pork Chop” from Eads Street.

In addition to the South Parking Lot work, the 395 Express Lanes Project will convert the South Rotary Road drop-off/pick-up lane to a right-turn Express Lane entrance ramp. As part of the South Rotary Road work, crews will install gates along the South Rotary turn lane, and install traffic signals on Eads Street at North and South Rotary Roads.

The I-395 Express Lanes are scheduled to open in fall 2019, while other elements of the project are expected to be completed by summer 2020. For additional information about the project, go to www.395expresslanes.com and www.virginiadot.org/395express.

Map via Virginia Department of Transportation

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 15, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

The County Board is set to vote to approve a contract that would rehabilitate Arlington’s manholes and large commercial meter water vaults.

County staff is recommending that the $709,315 contract with Capitol Heights, Md.-based Midas Utilities LLC be approved.

AM-Liner East Inc., which was contracted out for similar work in previous years in a different Arlington neighborhood, was outbid by Midas Utilities by just under $260,000.

The county’s Capital Improvement Program funds the infiltration and inflow program that rehabilitates manholes and sanitary sewer main lining.

Rehabilitating means coating “the inside of manholes to prevent groundwater from infiltrating into the sewer system.” The county rehabs about 200 manholes each year under this program, and will also be “rehabilitating and sealing water vaults.”

File photo

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

The County Board is set to approve a construction contract that would install the final “missing link” of sidewalk along Old Dominion Drive.

Sidewalk installation would run along the eastbound side of Old Dominion Drive, between N. Thomas Street and Fire Station No. 3. The fire station is approximately 440 feet from Military Road.

Proposed sidewalk enhancements include “ADA curb ramps, crosswalks, and provisions for future streetlights.”

This is the last section of sidewalk installed on Old Dominion Drive east of 37th Street N. County documents note that the project has been coordinated with the nearby Stratford School Project.

Tree removal along Old Dominion Road began earlier this year in anticipation of sidewalk construction.

The County Manager’s office has recommended approving the $789,324 contract to the Capitol Heights, Md.-based Sagres Construction Corporation.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 12, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board is set to approve a $2.6 million contract for the design of interior upgrades to the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center in Courthouse.

County staff has recommended awarding the contract, including a five percent contingency, to Architecture, Inc., a Reston, Va., company. County Board members are expected to consider the approval during its Saturday, March 17 meeting.

The project will be funded by the landlord, JBG Smith, which provided a $23.7 million tenant improvement allowance following lease extension negotiations last year. The County will also occupy the 2100 Clarendon Boulevard building rent-free from Nov. 1, 2018 through Oct. 31, 2019, which the county estimates will save $9.9 million.

There is also an expected broker rebate of $2.5 million.

The 235,000-square-foot building sits at the intersection of a new pedestrian safety improvement project. According to county documents, it has been 12 years since the building’s last renovation.

File photo

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 6, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

Demolition has begun in preparation for the Nauck Town Center project, and the neighbors might not be the only ones buzzing with interest.

The building torn down last week is none other than the former home of about 70,000 honey bees, which the county relocated in July 2017 after realizing they had not only purchased a former office building but an apiary abode as well.

The aging building had only been vacant for about four months, according to the county, but about 100 pounds of honey were already generated by the time that local beekeepers swooped in to relocate move the hive.

The demolition is one of the final steps in the project’s first pre-construction phase. Utility undergrounding and site perimeter streetscaping will start fall 2018 and end spring 2019.

The second phase of Nauck Town Square project construction is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2019 and wrap up by the winter of 2020. Pre-construction for phase two will begin spring 2018 and last through winter 2019.

The Nauck Town Center project, which has been years in the making, includes an open plaza, outdoor stage, public art, tables and seating and sidewalk improvements, along with displays about the history of the community, which was settled by free African-Americans in 1844. The design includes a large sculpture of the word “FREED.”

Photo courtesy Daniel Wanke

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 1, 2018 at 12:00 pm 0

Safety improvements on three Custis Trail intersections have begun.

The project will reconfigure bike lanes at N. Quinn and N. Scott streets, as well as widen the Custis Trail. Other safety improvements include curb extensions, ADA-compliant curb ramps, trail separation from Lee Highway, and crosswalks with higher visibility.

Construction has temporarily closed a lane of Lee Highway. Jersey barriers have been erected to form a bike detour along the right-hand, westbound lane of Lee Highway between N. Scott Street and N. Oak Street.

At least one Arlington bicyclist took to social media to cheer on the bicycling infrastructure, saying the jersey barriers were “better than 99 percent of bike facilities in the U.S.”

In addition to the Lee Highway lane closure, the north legs of the intersection at both N. Scott Street and N. Oak Street will be restricted to one lane. Northbound traffic will be permitted only at the N. Scott Street intersection, while southbound traffic will be permitted only at N. Oak Street intersection, according to the county.

Detour signs will be present to guide drivers out of the North Highlands neighborhood.

The bus stop for the ART 55 and WMATA 3Y buses will be relocated from the construction zone to the west side of the N. Scott Street and Lee Highway intersection. Part of the construction includes plans for an improved bus stop with a bench.

Project funding comes from a Federal Highway Administration bicycle and pedestrian safety program grant.

Work hours are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday through Thursday, and between  9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays. The project web page notes that construction is anticipated to wrap up at all three points in May.

The Custis Trail project is being done in concert with the N. Lynn Street esplanade project, for which the Arlington County approved additional funding this week.

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 28, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board approved $1.4 million in additional funding for the N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway esplanade and safety enhancement project.

The Virginia Department of Transportation came to county officials with a cost estimate significantly higher than the initial $7.95 million price tag, which was approved by the Board in December 2016.

The increase is due to lengthened construction time, increased materials and labor costs since the 2016 estimate and design changes relating to traffic plans, according to the county manager’s report. Initially, the call for construction bids in March 2017 only received one bidder, which was rejected “due to previous established restriction on the bidder by VDOT,” according to the manager’s recommendation.

The project will bring pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements, such as wider sidewalks and on-street bike lanes, as well as traffic management and street beautification to the N. Lynn Street and Custis Trail area. A public arts project, the long-delayed Corridor of Light project, will also be installed, but only at the four corners of the I-66 bridge.

Safety is a significant component of the project. The intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway, once dubbed the “Intersection of Doom,” has been the scene of numerous vehicle vs. pedestrian crashes over the past few years, though collisions are down since interim safety improvements have been installed

The Board unanimously approved the increase in budget at its Tuesday meeting. Project construction should wrap up by May 2020.

File photos

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 27, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

A new residential development is under construction just south of Columbia Pike.

The development, first approved in 2009, is described as “a residential project for 36 condominium units within 12 townhouse structures.” It is currently under construction at 1100 S. Highland Street, behind the Audi dealership, and along what it planned as a future extension of 11th Street S.

The permit holder is listed as the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), which has offices at 901 S. Highland Street, about two blocks away from the construction site. Construction permits were first approved in late September last year.

ECDC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ARLnow.

by ARLnow.com February 27, 2018 at 8:55 am 0

Spokes Etc. to Take Over Freshbikes Store — Northern Virginia bike retailer Spokes Etc. is expected to open in the former Freshbikes location in Ballston by the end of March. “[Spokes Etc. President Jim] Strang said the store will stock his main brands, which are Specialized and Trek, and he plans to pick up one or two boutique bike brands to complement them.” [Bicycle Retailer, Spokes Etc.]

Arlington Near Last for Snowfall on East Coast — Based on a chart from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Arlington and D.C. ranked 65th among 68 eastern U.S. cities for snowfall this season, with a measly 3.3 inches. Only three deep south cities recorded less snowfall than has been reported at Reagan National Airport. [Patch]

More DCA Construction Impacts — Due to construction, Metro walkway airline kiosks and bag drops for Delta and American Airlines at Reagan National Airport are being relocated to the National Hall in Terminal B/C today. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo Lisa Novak

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