Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Hospital Construction Starting Soon — “Around the time most local residents are firing up the grills for mid-summer barbecues, Virginia Hospital Center will be firing up the bulldozers as it moves forward with a long-awaited expansion. Hospital officials aim to have their land-swap agreement with the county government in place by the end of July, and ‘the plan is to begin construction shortly thereafter.'” [InsideNova]

Swastika in S. Arlington Park — “From a local Nextdoor group: someone drew swastikas on a sign board in Troy Park near S. Glebe Road. A parks department spokeswoman says the graffiti has been covered up and no other incidents of this kind have been reported recently.” [Twitter]

When To Report an Oily Sheen on the Water — “A rainbow sheen can result from iron-oxidizing bacteria or from petroleum. To differentiate, trail a stick through the film. It it readily breaks up, it’s most likely bacteria. If it swirls together, it’s most likely petroleum and should be reported.” [Arlington County]

When to Call 911 for a Medical Issue — “The Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) is initiating a public information campaign to help individuals, facilities and communities develop the know-how to ‘Make the Right Call.’ The effort aims to empower the community to help maintain EMS system readiness by learning appropriate utilization of the medical 911 system.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) The Arlington County Board is set to vote on planned renovations to Madison Manor Park.

Board members will decide whether to approve a $2.82 million contract for upgrades to the 5.4 acre park at 6225 12th Road N., in the Madison Manor neighborhood, along the W&OD Trail.

County staff members have discussed the upgrades with residents since 2017. The final version of the plans shared in a staff report to the Board include:

  • Renovating and painting the basketball court for basketball and volleyball
  • Renovating the combination athletic field, picnic shelter and playground
  • Installing some fencing around the playground, athletic field, and basketball court
  • Landscaping improvements with 70 percent native species

If approved, the Board would award the contract to Gaithersburg, Maryland-based construction company Highway and Safety Services, Inc.

The playground, picnic area, walkways, signage, and parking area are also listed in the project’s description but no details were shared on the intended changes to those parts of the park.

The county has said one goal of the renovations is to better comply with the standards from the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation designed the new park upgrades, according to its website on the project.

Photo via Arlington County

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Arlington County is in the midst of a number of major projects, from road construction to new recreational facilities, and a newly-published county video provides updates on eight of those projects.

The projects included in the video on the Arlington TV YouTube channel include:

  1. Demolition along S. Clark Street in Crystal City to make a more open, and walkable streetscape
  2. Construction in Clarendon Circle to simplify and shrink the intersection between Wilson Blvd, Clarendon Blvd, and Washington Blvd
  3. Repaving a section of Washington Blvd in Westover and removing brick crosswalks
  4. Green streets” improvements along 22nd Street N. to add gutters, curbs, and a rain garden, a project county staff said in the video should be completed later this month.
  5. Water main replacement under 1 mile of S. Arlington Ridge Road to increase water pressure for residents and first responders during emergencies.
  6. Re-building the Lubber Run Community Center, which is expected to open in 2021.
  7. Constructing the foundation of the long-awaited and controversial Long Bridge Aquatic & Fitness Center. But don’t hold your breath: staff says construction is still scheduled into 2021
  8. Converting the natural field at the baseball field in Gunston Park to synthetic turf.

“Note that these projects are all actively underway, so they might be further along now than they appear in the video,” a description below the video reads.

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Construction is coming along on the J Sol Apartments in Ballston, but the project is still a long way from completion.

According to an employee at the Jefferson Apartment Group, the company developing the project, the project’s expected completion date is 18 months away.

The project at 4000 Fairfax Drive is planned to be a 22-story luxury complex with 330 units. Plans include a swimming pool and sundeck on the roof of the project.

Street retail — totaling 8,260 square feet — is also planned for the project along an outdoor plaza, but no tenants have been announced.

The apartment building broke ground in December 2017, replacing CarPool, a popular local bar that closed in April 2017.

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By next summer, the formerly 2-3 story office building across from the Whole Foods in Clarendon is slated to reopen as a four-story, mixed office-retail building called The Loft.

Today, however, it’s a noisy demolition — one that briefly caught on fire last week.

The project is in the later phases of demolition, according to Eric Davidson, a communications manager for shopping center operator Regency Center, with construction set to follow. The Loft is planned to open in the second quarter of 2020.

The building is part of Market Common Clarendon, and was also once home to the beloved Iota Club and Cafe. Straddling Clarendon and Wilson boulevards, the building has 86,000 square feet of office space and 23,000 square feet of retail space available, according to a leasing flyer.

Most of the tenants of the 145,000 square foot building remain unannounced, but high-end fitness company Equinox is expected to be among the retail tenants. Davidson said additional tenant announcements are likely over the next few weeks.

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(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) Wilson Blvd is closed between N. Quincy and Randolph streets, just east of Ballston Quarter mall, for the removal of a massive construction crane.

Crews appear to be in the process of disassembling the crane piece-by-piece and hauling away the pieces.

Police are on scene and traffic is being re-routed to roads parallel to Wilson. As of 11 a.m., traffic was light in the area. The westbound lanes of Wilson are expected to reopen in time for the evening rush hour, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage, while the eastbound lanes are set to remain closed through Sunday.

The crane was in place to assist with the construction of the new Liberty Center building at 4040 Wilson Blvd.

The mixed-use residential, retail, and office space is scheduled to open later this year 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 the end of 2019, while publicly-traded apartment developer AvalonBay is expected to move from its current Ballston office to the new building.

The road closure is not the only notable closure on the block. The Sweetgreen restaurant at 4075 Wilson Blvd is closed for the second day in a row, for unspecified reasons. Some sort of a clean-up effort appears to be underway in the store, though a county spokesman noted that the temporary closure is “not related to any Health Department action.”

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Construction is proceeding as planned on The Heights Building, the name of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program’s new home at the former Wilson School site in Rosslyn.

Located at 1601 Wilson Blvd, The Heights Building will include an estimated 775 seats for students, at a cost of around $100 million. The Leo A. Daly– and BIG-designed building, with its unique stacked-rectangle design, will house both H-B Woodlawn and the Stratford Program.

H-B Woodlawn, an arts-oriented high school program with a focus on self-discipline, was once known as “hippie high.” Stratford is a secondary school for students with special needs.

Demolition for the project started in 2017.

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow that the project remains “on schedule to open in September,” though he offered no other details on the construction progress so far.

Meanwhile, next to The Heights Building, another large construction project is underway. Excavation for the massive project — which will feature three towers, a park and a new road as part of a mixed-use development called The Highlands — appears to be mostly complete.

More from our prior coverage in October:

Work is kicking off on a massive new development in West Rosslyn, and its developer is offering a first look at its plans to build three new residential towers, a new fire station and an improved Rosslyn Highlands Park.

The D.C. developer Penzance announced today (Monday) that it would be dubbing the project “The Highlands,” which will be located at 1555 Wilson Blvd.

In all, the development will include 104 condos, 780 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space, including a new CVS pharmacy replacing the old shop at the location that closed earlier this year.

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Morning Notes

New APS Verification System — “For the 2019-20 school year, Arlington Public Schools will implement a new annual online verification process for updating and maintaining accurate student information. This will replace the First Day Packet students used to receive on the first day of school.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Garvey: Board Should Get Full-Time Pay — From Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, who has previously spoken out about the issue: “To expect 5 Board members to hold outside jobs to supplement our $55k salary while maintaining Arlington’s presence in the region and the Board’s connection to the multitude of civic associations, commissions, and organizations we have is, I believe, unreasonable and not healthy for our County.” [Libby Garvey, Blue Virginia]

Border Wall May Cost Local Projects — Arlington may lose out on more than $50 million in military construction projects — including a road project and Pentagon exterior and security upgrades — if the money is diverted to President Trump’s southern border wall project. In all, nearly a half billion dollars worth of projects are at risk in Virginia. [WUSA 9]

Cyclist Struck in Shirlington — “ACFD on scene of a cyclist struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Shirlington Road at Arlington Mill, in Shirlington. Victim is being transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, per scanner. Several lanes blocked.” [Twitter]

Wardian Does it Again — “Running from south to north, Michael Wardian of Arlington, Virginia has set an FKT on the 631-mile (1,009K) Israel National Trail of 10 days, 16 hours and 36 minutes (unofficially). That’s like running a 100K race every day for 10 days.” [Trail Running]

Ride Hailing Service for Kids Comes to Arlington — “A California transportation service is looking to make life easier for Greater Washington families — by driving their kids. Los Angeles-based HopSkipDrive Inc., whose service chauffeurs kids between school and other activities much like a family-friendly Uber or Lyft, is launching in the D.C. area, now live in Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Arlington’s Crystal City neighborhood is echoing with the sounds of demolition today as work gets underway on Amazon’s new, temporary offices.

Loud, heavy demolition is underway at 1800 S. Bell Street and 1770 Crystal Drive, two of three buildings near the Crystal City Metro station that Amazon plans to lease from JBG Smith. The aging office buildings are being refurbished prior to Amazon’s arrival.

Lighter construction is underway at 241 18th Street S., which is also part of Amazon’s plans but which has other, existing tenants.

The space — around 500,000 square feet in total — is planned to only be temporary for the tech giant, which is set to eventually move to a brand new office campus near the Pentagon City. JBG Smith, which plans to sell Amazon that property for its permanent campus, is rehabilitating Amazon’s Crystal City office buildings as part of a “big bet” on the area’s future with Amazon on board.

The arrival of “HQ2” is not only prestigious for Arlington and the combined Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yard area now being called National Landing, but also for the contractors working on the project. On Friday, one contractor even sent out a press release, below, and posted on Facebook about its work on the Crystal City project.

Arlington’s best-known project is currently under construction. Muller Erosion & Site Services has begun work on the highly anticipated Amazon’s new HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia. Amazon is building its second headquarters in the Crystal City, and Muller Erosion & Site Services is proud and excited to be associated with the project.

Amazon has said it is committed to create 25,000 jobs in Arlington, a region it considers to be a great fit for putting in place the needed talent pool. The company will invest $2.5 billion in Northern Virginia, and plans are also in place to build 4 million sq. ft of energy efficient office space. […]

For Muller Erosion & Site Services Inc, this is a prestigious project and affirms the company’s high standards of services. The company is considered to be a leading site construction business in the Mid-Atlantic region and works on several high-profile projects throughout the region.

“We are thrilled and honored to be part of Amazon’s new plans to build its second headquarters in Arlington. Our best service will be delivered by our experienced team, and we look forward to contributing to the project however we can,” said a spokesperson for Muller Erosion & Site Services.

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Construction is now underway at “The Lot,” a long-awaited outdoor beer garden in Clarendon.

A red, enclosed deck and pine picnic tables are being built at the site, at the corner of Wilson Blvd and 10th Street N. The Rebel Taco food truck is now parked on the site behind a fence.

The site has been in the works for two years on a former used car lot in Clarendon. Since then progress has been slow: a wooden fence erected in October last year was the first major work. In February, crews replaced the site’s old Prime Auto Group signs with two black billboard-style signs reading “The Lot: Beer Garden.”

The company behind The Lot is Social Restaurant Group, which also opened Pamplona and Bar Bao. Originally, they planned to open The Lot in March 2017 but were delayed until the summer, then the following spring, citing a lengthy permitting process.

The Lot’s permit application asked for at least 150 seats, an enclosed deck, and a kitchen.

Social Restaurant Group co-founder Mike Bramson told ARLnow last year he hoped The Lot would offer “a vast variety, from Belgian to German to local craft beers” as well as frozen drinks, food from the Rebel Taco food truck, and games like cornhole and giant Jenga.

The beer garden’s website is currently blank and its Facebook page has no information yet on when it may open.

 

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Morning Notes

Experts See More Amazon Jobs Heading Here — “Given Amazon’s Northern Virginia incentives allowing for as many as 38,000 jobs over 15 years, CoStar Managing Consultant and Senior Real Estate Economist Paul Leonard expects it will absorb much of the planned New York payroll, despite Amazon’s company line that ‘nothing has changed’ for National Landing.” [Bisnow]

More on I-395 Incident — Arlington County Police say it was a juvenile suspect, driving a stolen car without a driver’s license, who caused a big crash on I-395 before leading police on a foot chase during Tuesday’s evening rush hour. [Arlington County]

Inside Look at Memorial Bridge Work — Workers are laboring to restore the Arlington Memorial Bridge to its former glory, one piece of 90-year-old granite at a time. [NBC Washington]

Copa Kitchen & Bar Opening Today — The latest restaurant to open at Ballston Quarter is Copa Kitchen & Bar, which is expected to serve customers from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. today, according to a social media post. [Instagram]

Where’s the Weather? — Our faithful weather bar, which has graced the top of our site for many years, is out of commission, for now. IBM, in its infinite wisdom, killed the source of our data. Why, Watson, why? We’re working to restore the current conditions display with a new data source, but it’s probably going to take a few months. [Weather Underground]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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