Arlington, VA

Construction has started in Ballston on the future site of a new Harris Teeter, three apartment buildings and a new green space.

Excavation and sheeting and shoring work started this past week at 600 N. Glebe Road, said Mary Senn, the vice-president of Georgia-based developer Southeastern Real Estate Group, LLC, the developer overseeing the project.

“We are underway,” she said.

Work began last year with utility relocation and demolition of the vacant American Service Center building, Southeastern president Mark Senn told ARLnow in October.

The current phase is the first of three for the site, approved in 2019. In phase one, a new 310-unit apartment building with a new Harris Teeter space on the ground floor will replace the former American Service Center building.

In this phase, customers still have access to parking and the current Harris Teeter, which was the company’s first in Virginia.

“Harris Teeter and Southeastern are very excited to be moving forward with the construction, and the community will be excited to have the new store,” Mary Senn said. “[Harris Teeter] will really do this one up as the latest and the greatest, as far as the store goes.”

The grocery store may have a bar, among other new features, and will also have covered parking, she said.

“People in Arlington, given the weather the past couple of weeks, will appreciate the covered parking, which will definitely be an improvement,” said Senn.

The timeline for the construction of the project has not changed, the vice-president said. Phase one is expected to be complete in 2023.

“But we’ll be open before then,” she said.

During the second phase, the old Harris Teeter will be demolished for new temporary surface parking. The second apartment building, with 195 units, and the public open space will be constructed in phase two.

In the third phase, the temporary parking lot will become the third apartment building: a 227-unit residential building with retail on the ground floor and two levels of below-grade parking.

The park will include a pedestrian path, a dog run, a picnic area, as well as natural vegetation to support pollinator insects and birds.

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New Arlington construction is helping the Commonwealth become more green.

Virginia is ranked eighth in the country for LEED-certified space per capita, the U.S. Green Building Council announced earlier this month. This is in large part because of Arlington County, which accounted for more than 15% of the newly LEED-certified buildings in the state in 2020.

Some newly-certified buildings in Arlington include:

  • The Waycroft at 750 N. Glebe Road (LEED Gold, apartment)
  • 400 Army Navy Drive (LEED Gold, apartment)
  • Landbay D West at 3400 S. Clark Street (LEED Silver, apartment)
  • 4040 Wilson Blvd (LEED Gold)
  • 4000 N. Fairfax Drive (LEED Gold, apartment)
  • 4250 N. Fairfax Drive (LEED Platinum, office)
  • 1400 Crystal Drive (LEED Gold, office)
  • 1777 N. Kent Street (LEED Silver, office)
  • Jefferson Plaza at 1401 S. Clark Street (LEED Silver, office)
  • Wilson School at 1601 Wilson Blvd (LEED Gold, K-12)
  • 1440 N. Edgewood Street (LEED Gold, office)
  • AHRI at 2311 Wilson Blvd (LEED Silver, office)
  • Arlington County DHS Head Start at 2920 S. Glebe Road (LEED Gold, K-12)

There’s also one project that’s “confidential,” according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Much of the increase in LEED-certified development is a result of the county’s voluntary green building program, which offers developers bonus density in exchange for their building meeting certain LEED certification standards, the council said.

Arlington, far and away, is definitely the most progressive county in the state when it comes to certification,” says Mark Bryan, U.S. Green Building Council’s director for the National Capital Region. “That’s really because of [county] policy, which is one of the first and most successful voluntary incentive programs in the country.”

LEED certification is, admittingly, a bit complex. It’s essentially a system of points that are given for adhering to meeting certain standards mainly focused on energy, water waste, indoor air quality, transportation, materials, and site selection of the building.

The highest certification is LEED Platinum, followed by Gold, Silver, and Certified.

Just this past December, the county updated its program so that buildings now need to meet LEED Gold certification standards to receive the bonus density incentive.

County zoning ordinances place density and height restrictions on developments. Bonus density means they can add additional space to the development that they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed to have.

The reason the county wants more LEED-certification buildings is, as noted in a December 2020 report, to lower carbon emissions.

“The Green Building Incentive Policy is the primary tool currently available to encourage the private sector to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in new construction to help achieve Arlington’s long-term carbon emission goals,” reads the report.

Bryan says the county is succeeding in its goals because they are trading something that developers want.

Arlington has done this quite successfully by providing something that’s extremely valuable to developers, particularly those in Northern Virginia,” says Bryan. “And that’s bonus density… and height.”

Offering bonus density is also something the county has done to encourage more affordable housing construction.

In Arlington, the structures receiving LEED certification in 2020 included six office buildings, five apartment buildings, two schools, and one retail building.

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Arlington County is looking to overhaul the reversible lanes and the triangle-shaped intersection at Washington Blvd and 13th Street N., near Clarendon.

Washington Blvd would be widened to create a four-lane road between Clarendon Circle and N. Kirkwood Road, while 13th Street N. would be realigned to form a “T” intersection with Washington Blvd, according to a county staff report.

“The project will improve pedestrian safety and accessibility along Washington Boulevard and 13th Street North to provide a safe, and practical pedestrian route,” staff said.

The County Board is slated to hear proposed changes to the traffic patterns and pedestrian infrastructure at this intersection — which staff call a “porkchop” — during its regular meeting on Saturday.

As a part of the project, utilities would be moved underground, and revamped sidewalks, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramps, and other streetscape elements will be constructed to match improvements at Clarendon Circle.

The county’s Washington Blvd plans, made in conjunction with the Clarendon Circle work and the redevelopment of the nearby Red Top Cab properties, were delayed by more than a year.

“[The project] required coordination with Dominion Power on the utility undergrounding part of the project and staff work to improve the plans for walking pathways during construction, to make it safer for people walking around the construction area,” Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet tells ARLnow. “Both of these items have been worked on for over a year, and needed to be completed before we issued the construction contract for bid in December.”

Arlington County has selected Sagres Construction — which bid just over $2.5 million, to which the county is adding $500,000 for contingency — as the contractor.

Taking the utilities underground means the project will take about 18 months, a timeline that, according to the county, concerned some stakeholders.

Still, “there is a general understanding of the technical difficulties associated with the undergrounding of utilities along Washington Boulevard” and “members of the community have expressed full support for the project,” staff said in the report.

This project is a part of the 2006 Clarendon Sector Plan. In the intervening years, Arlington County said it has acquired three lots at Washington Boulevard and N. Johnson Street needed to make the intersection a “T.”

These changes are moving forward amid a county-led review of the Clarendon Sector Plan to accommodate a handful of major redevelopment projects. One such project is to update the St. Charles Church campus, which also includes changes to the walking and biking experience along Fairfax Drive between Clarendon Circle and Kirkwood Road.

Images via Google Maps

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Metro’s entire Blue Line is being shut down for more than three months starting Saturday.

The closing of the Blue Line, which runs through parts of Arlington, is due to platform reconstruction work being performed at the Arlington Cemetery station. Additionally, work is being done at the Addison Road station in Maryland. The project was announced last year.

Both the station and the Blue Line are planning to reopen on May 23.

A shuttle bus will run between the Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations during the project. The shuttles will run every 12 minutes Monday through Friday and every 15 minutes on the weekends. They will not stop at Arlington Cemetery after 7 p.m.

The construction work is part of a massive effort to reconstruct, modernize, and update station platforms throughout the system.

The work being done at the Arlington Cemetery station will include adding slip-resistant tiles, brighter LED canopy lighting, and lighted handrails on stairs. There will also be new platform shelters equipped with charging ports, improved platform speakers and PA system, better information screens, and renovated bathrooms.

This is the same type of work that closed down parts of the Orange Line and the entire Silver Line over the summer.

Normally, this type of work and necessary shutdown happens during the summer time when Metro ridership is historically lower. But with ridership down as much as 90% due to the pandemic, the Blue Line shut down is being initiated earlier in the year.

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Amazon has unveiled plans for the PenPlace site in the second phase of its $2.5 billion HQ2 in Pentagon City, including a lush office building shaped like a double helix.

The company will build 2.8 million square feet of office space across three 22-story buildings, an amenity building with a community gathering space and daycare center, and three retail pavilions. The focal point will be The Helix: a 350-foot tall spiraling office building that recreates a climb in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

PenPlace will also have three acres of open space with a dog run and a 250-seat amphitheater, for public use.

Amazon will start filing designs and technical documents with Arlington County Tuesday morning, Amazon spokesperson Adam Sedó said during a call with journalists on Monday.

The tech giant aims to go before the Arlington County Board by the end of 2021, with construction starting in 2022 and ending in 2025, said John Schoettler, Amazon Vice President Global Real Estate and Facilities, during the call. He affirmed that so far, HQ2 remains on-schedule.

PenPlace is bounded by Army Navy Drive, S. Fern Street, 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street. Amazon owns the entire block after it bought a hotel on the site in September. The hotel is currently being torn down.

Schoettler said Arlington County has given Amazon more flexibility for this phase than for the first phase of development on the Metropolitan Park site, which includes two, 22-story concrete office buildings, retail and open space.

“The County Board told us for PenPlace, we really want you to push the envelope,” he said. “It really gave us a clean canvas to try new things.”

The Helix will be the highlight of the site and the tallest building, said Lead Architect Dale Alberda, who works for the international architecture firm NBBJ and helped to design The Spheres within the company’s Seattle headquarters. Throughout PenPlace, he said, the designs keep employees, who will number 25,000 across HQ2, close to nature and the community.

“Amazon has been challenging us to think about how people can connect to nature not just outside when the weather is good, but inside as well, so that it’s available all day, all the time,” Alberda said.

Schoettler said Amazon is also working hard to use sustainable energy. As part of its goal of LEED Platinum certifications — and to meet its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040 — the buildings will be powered by a solar farm in southern Virginia.

The headquarters will feature one-quarter mile of new protected bike lanes and more than 950 onsite bike spaces as well as below-ground parking for about 2,100 cars and underground loading zones for trucks. There will also be a new bus platform on 12th Street S. near the main entrance to PenPlace.

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The second of two residential towers at Pentagon Centre, in Pentagon City, is taking shape at 15th Street S. and S. Hayes Street.

This past spring, work began on The Milton, an 11-story building with 253 residential units and 15,541 square feet of ground-floor retail. It follows on the heels of a 26-story, 440-unit residential tower with 7,000 square feet of ground-floor retail called The Witmer (710 12th Street S.), which opened in July 2019.

The Milton is set to be completed in 2023, said Geoffrey Glazer, the Senior Vice President for National Development of Kimco Realty, owner of the shopping center.

The County Board approved the buildings in 2015 as part of Kimco’s three-phase, 30-year development of Pentagon Centre. Phase one began with a parking garage near Costco. The project also includes a 9,000-square foot open space, according to a staff report.

Construction crews worked from spring to fall relocating utility lines for the new building, and the project is still on-schedule, Glazer said. Right now, they are doing preliminary foundation work and will eventually start digging.

“We’re very close to where we were [supposed to be] when we started that project,” he said. “We worked through most of the pandemic, and construction on the site work all kept moving forward.”

He does not anticipate the construction causing any disruptions to shopping at Costco, Nordstrom Rack or Marshalls.

“Access to our existing parking structures and fields will all be open and operational,” he said. “There will be additional signage for people to have clarity for how to move around.”

In later phases, scheduled out about two decades, leases will be up for the big-box stores, making way for public open space and new development.

“It’s out there,” Glazer said. “Everybody’s leases have lots more term.”

Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A and a Chase Bank branch are moving into the ground floor of The Witmer, joining Arlington’s second outpost of Wiseguy Pizza. The local D.C. pizza chain opened the Pentagon location in June.

Ultimately, as currently configured, the site will have 346,000 square feet of retail, 705,000 square feet of office space and a 200-room hotel. With the residential buildings, that brings the total project size to nearly 2 million square feet, according to Kimco.

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Morning Notes

DCA Expansion to Open Mid-2021 — “The 230,000-square-foot concourse on the north side of Reagan National Airport looks ready for passengers. The exterior walls are up. The roof is on. The terrazzo floor is almost in. And 11 of the 14 new jet bridges are being installed… The concourse is slated to open in July, but plans are in the works to do a ‘soft opening’ ahead of that date. An announcement is expected early next year.” [Washington Post]

Local Homeless Org Seeking Donations — “An organization in Arlington who helps the homeless now needs your help. Bridges to Independence in Arlington is a family shelter that has had to reduce the number of people they help due to COVID, but the need for help remains high. ‘We’ve served at least 22 new families since the pandemic and we are expecting an increase going into the new year,’ Whitfield said. [WJLA]

County Board to Meet with CivFed — “Immediately following the Jan. 4 organizational meeting of the Arlington County Board, the five members will hold an online gathering with the Arlington County Civic Federation. The 90-minute confab is designed as the opportunity for elected officials to expound on their priorities for the coming year, and for Civic Federation delegates to give feedback to pre-screened questions and, if time is available, questions from the floor.” [InsideNova]

Missing Woman Found — An Arlington woman reported as missing by county police a few days ago had been found, the department says. [Twitter]

It’s New Year’s Eve — ARLnow hopes you and yours have a happy new year. We are on a limited publishing schedule today; our news coverage will return in full on Monday. County offices and facilities, meanwhile, will be closed tomorrow, on New Year’s Day.

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Construction has wrapped up on one of Amazon’s new, temporary office buildings in Crystal City.

The renovation project, part of developer JBG Smith’s extensive development plan for the area, helped to modernize the office building’s 273,000 square feet of space while giving the exterior a shiny new glass-and-steel look.

Amazon is temporarily leasing the 14-story building while the first phase of its permanent HQ2 is under construction. Amazon currently leases 857,000 square feet of temporary space in five local JBG Smith buildings, the developer says.

“The opening of the newly reimagined 1770 Crystal Drive coincides with the two-year anniversary of Amazon’s selection of National Landing as the location of its second headquarters and JBG SMITH as its partner to house and develop the project,” JBG said in a press release. “The building was completed two quarters ahead of schedule and under budget.”

The construction started shortly after Amazon announced that National Landing — the collective term for the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods — was getting the new HQ2.

“The return to productive use of 1770 Crystal Drive represents yet another significant milestone in National Landing’s ongoing transformation into a vibrant 18-hour neighborhood,” said Matt Kelly, CEO of JBG Smith, in a statement. “We are thrilled to partner with Amazon and accommodate its growing presence in the region as we continue to make progress on its modern new headquarters.”

The building is a short walk from the Crystal City Metro station and has “expansive views” of the D.C. skyline and the Potomac River from the top floors, the press release notes. It will be part of a new retail district that is expected to feature new stores, buzzy restaurants and an Alamo Drafthouse movie theater.

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Morning Notes

Arlingtonian to Join Administration — “President-elect Joe Biden said Monday he will nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who served as the top U.S. diplomat overseeing African affairs in the Obama administration, to be his ambassador to the United Nations.” Thomas-Greenfield is a long-time Arlington resident. [USA Today]

Arlington’s Average Income Falls — “The county’s weekly wage averaged $1,926 in the second quarter of 2020, according to figures reported Nov. 18 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up slightly more than 12 percent from the rate recorded a year before, but down from the $2,018 reported for the first quarter of 2020, which had placed Arlington in the rare company of just a handful of localities with incomes that high.” [InsideNova]

Police Investigating Stabbing Near the Pike — “At approximately 6:18 p.m. on November 20, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined the witness was running in the park when the victim approached him and fell to the ground. Medics arrived on scene, began treating the victim and determined he was suffering from a stab wound. He was transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries.” [ACPD]

Airport Construction Continues — “Anticipating the day passenger traffic returns to a semblance of normalcy, the new 14-gate concourse at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport continues to make progress toward a planned opening next year. The new concourse, attached as a pier off of Terminal C at the airport, is now fully enclosed, with half the passenger jet-bridges on site, according to a recent update from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.” [InsideNova]

Changes for Drivers at DCA — “Construction has reduced lanes on Baggage Claim (lower) level in front of Terminal B/C. Drivers should use any door on the Ticketing (upper) level to pick up and drop off holiday travelers. Taxis are still available downstairs.” [Twitter]

Thanksgiving Travel Tips from VSP — “This year overall, state police have seen fewer crashes on Virginia highways but those crashes have been more deadly. Making sure you are driving the posted speed limit, driving for conditions and wearing your seatbelt are the best ways to stay safe on the road.” [Press Release]

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(Updated at 10 a.m.) An injured worker was rescued from the Amazon construction site in Pentagon City this morning.

The initial call for a worker injured at the bottom of the construction site was made at 8:08 a.m.

Emergency vehicles blocked roads around the site along S. Eads Street as firefighters used a construction crane and a stokes basket to hoist the worker to safety.

“We sent paramedics as well as our technical rescue team to the scene in order to set up a crane operation to remove the worker,” said Arlington County Fire Department spokesperson Taylor Blunt. “After the patient was hoisted from the trench, we transported him to a hospital in stable condition. The operation took about 15 minutes. “

It was not immediately clear how the worker was hurt.

The construction site will eventually be home to the 2.1-million-square-foot first phase of Amazon’s permanent HQ2, which set to open in 2023.

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