Here are some words we do not have an opportunity to write often: a construction project in Arlington is running ahead of schedule.
Construction on the new eight-story, 161-room Hyatt Place hotel in Courthouse is entering the home stretch.
Groundbreaking for the hotel, at 2401 Wilson Blvd, took place on a chilly January day last year. Developer Ray Schupp says construction is expected to wrap up mid-summer.
“We are ahead of schedule and now anticipate moving up our opening to mid-August,” Schupp tells ARLnow.com. The opening was previously planned for mid-September.
Also in the works: an unveiling for a new Vivian Beer sculpture, commissioned as part of the development and to be located at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Adams Street. A date for the unveiling has not yet been set.
Schupp says grand opening festivities are also being planned for the hotel and the local community will be invited. He thanked neighbors for their patience during construction.
“Our neighbors in Lyon Village and the surrounding communities have lived through this process while being positive (and sometimes forgiving),” he said. “We want to thank them in our opening.”
Photos by Jackie Friedman
McKinley Elementary School, in Arlington’s Madison Manor neighborhood, will open the next school year 131 percent over capacity due to construction delays, school officials told parents this week.
McKinley is in the midst of a $22 million expansion project that was approved in 2014. The expansion will add 241 seats to the school, which opened this school year with a capacity of 443 and an already-burgeoning enrollment just north of 600 students.
APS is adjusting school boundaries to move students from Glebe and Tuckahoe elementary schools, which are both also well over capacity, to McKinley this fall. The idea was to balance capacity utilization across the schools, taking advantage of McKinley’s expansion.
There’s only one problem: the expansion, which was to wrap up this summer, is now not expected to be completed until November or December. And APS is moving forward with its boundary adjustments regardless, bringing a projected student body of 712 to McKinley in the fall.
In a presentation to parents and the community, APS said its contractor encountered a number of unexpected problems, including the discovery of an underground spring, old building footings and undocumented utility lines.
Those problems are delaying the expected substantial completion of “Phase 3” of the expansion project — a three-story addition with a number of classrooms and other facilities — until late November.
To bridge the gap, over the summer APS will be re-installing a “six-plex” classroom trailer complex that it had removed over spring break, to allow for the installation of an underground storm water management system. APS was able to meet capacity needs without the trailers thanks to the completion of “Phase 2” — a one-story addition with four new classrooms — over the winter.
A few concerned parents have emailed ARLnow.com about the construction snafu, concerned about APS proceeding with the boundary changes. However, APS’ numbers show that capacity utilization will actually be slightly lower even without the Phase 3 addition.
McKinley was 136.6 percent over capacity when it opened last fall, according to APS. It is projected to be 131.1 percent over capacity when it opens this fall, thanks to a 100-student boost in capacity via the completed expansion work.
Once classes move into the three-story addition over winter break, the school will be 104 percent over capacity: a capacity of 684 for 712 students. That compares to the projected 112.4 percent capacity level at Glebe Elementary and 107.5 percent at Tuckahoe Elementary.
“APS believes that moving the students from Tuckahoe and Glebe to McKinley as planned this fall provides the best continuity of instruction and relieves crowding at both Tuckahoe and Glebe,” Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations John Chadwick told ARLnow.com.
Parents are also concerned about a lack of recreation space for students at McKinley. A new gymnasium won’t be ready until Phase 3 is completed and the fields around the school are now not expected to be restored post-construction until April 2017. This fall, physical education classes will take place in a trailer in the school’s parking lot.
What used to be Jay’s Saloon — and a few small, surrounding businesses — is now a big hole in the ground.
The hole along 10th Street N. will soon enough be filled by a 143-unit luxury apartment complex dubbed 10th Street Flats. Ballston-based developer Clark Realty Capital received approval for the mixed-use development, which will include live-work units and ground floor retail, in 2014.
“10th Street Flats is positioned to offer its residents the best of what both Arlington and nearby Washington, D.C. have to offer,” the company said in a press release. “Sparing little in terms of luxury amenities and unique conveniences for its residents, the community will feature a rooftop lounge, outdoor kitchen and communal table, ground-floor bike workshop, fitness center and yoga room, teleworking space, eight innovative live/work units, and 3,700 SF of retail space.”
“Each apartment will feature stainless steel appliances, quartz countertops, wood-surface flooring, and designer lighting and plumbing fixtures,” the press release continued. “Additionally, each unit will come equipped with Nest thermostats that provide energy-saving, Wi-Fi enabled temperature control capabilities.”
Clark broke ground on the project in January and expects construction to end and residents to move in by next summer.
Experts: No D.C. Real Estate Bubble — Most experts in a recent Zillow-sponsored survey said there is no significant risk of a real estate bubble in the D.C. region, at least over the next five years. However, a significant portion of experts do believe other hot markets, like San Francisco and Miami, may be at risk of a bubble. The overall value of all residential real estate in the D.C. region, meanwhile, is approaching $1 trillion. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Lane Closures For Crystal City Project — On-street parking, bike lanes and the outside travel lane are currently blocked off on both sides of 18th Street S. between S. Eads and Clark streets for construction of the Crystal City Multimodal Center under the Route 1 bridge. Cyclists in particular are urged to use caution when using 18th Street. [Arlington County]
Cherry Pie Recipe for the Cherry Blossom Bloom — Just in time for the cherry blossom bloom, Chef Jonathan Till of William Jeffrey’s Tavern (2301 Columbia Pike) is sharing his family’s Sour Cherry Pie recipe. [ARLnow]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
(Updated at 11:55 p.m.) It’s still somewhat business as usual at Ballston Common Mall, despite impending major renovations.
A number of stores, restaurants and the much-maligned movie theater remain open. But the scene will be changing this spring, when work on the project to convert aging shopping mall to a modern shopping center with open-air plazas, called Ballston Quarter, begins.
“Our schedule continues to proceed according to plans,” said Gary McManus, spokesman for Cleveland-based Forest City, the mall’s owner. “Forest City has not wavered from its plans and timeline to begin demolition on the Ballston Quarter site in May/June of this year.”
Mass store closures inside the mall were expected after the end of 2015, but many stores have remained open and intend to stay open until just before demolition starts.
“The stores that remain open are doing so at their request and we were able to accommodate that request as we wade through the permitting process leading to demolition in the spring,” McManus said. “It never was and still is not our intention for all stores at the mall to close.”
Businesses with an exterior entrance — Macy’s, Regal Cinemas, Rock Bottom Brewery, Noodles & Co., Panera Bread, Sport&Health Club and CVS Pharmacy — are expected to remain open during the renovations.
Construction is expected to take about two years and Ballston Quarter is expected to open in time for the holiday shopping season of 2018.
Publicly-traded energy tech firm Opower is staying in Arlington, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced at a press conference this morning, marking some good news for a county beset by the departures of large government agencies.
McAuliffe and County Board Chair Libby Garvey were among those making the announcement at Opower’s current headquarters at 1515 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, which President Obama visited in 2010, when the company was still a startup.
Opower will be moving down the street to a new office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse. The building — already approved by the County Board — is set to be constructed over the next two years, replacing a row of restaurants. Developer Carr Properties had been calling the 8-story building the “Clean Technology Center,” which seems consistent with Opower’s sustainability and energy conservation mission.
Virginia and Arlington County had been fighting to keep Opower, which was being courted by the District and by The Wharf, the massive new development on the Southwest D.C. waterfront.
“Keeping Opower in Arlington County has been a high priority of my administration,” McAuliffe said. “This high-profile energy software company is growing rapidly and making a major impact on global challenges, and we are committed to further strengthening this important corporate partnership. The technology industry is booming in Virginia, and wins like this expansion help us continue to build on the momentum in this important sector.”
“Arlington has watched Opower grow from a startup venture to a thriving leader not only in the region, but in the entire clean technology industry,” Garvey said. “Arlington’s highly-educated workforce and easy transportation access were things Opower was looking for as the company continues to grow, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them for a long time to come.”
McAuliffe helped arrange a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help Arlington keep Opower.
“Arlington County will match the state funding with a performance-based local economic development incentive grant,” the county notes in a press release. “Arlington will provide an additional annual performance grant through the remaining years of the lease term subject to job and occupancy requirements. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.”
Opower plans to invest about $10.5 million in its new, 63,000 square foot headquarters and expects to add 70 new employees within three years. The company will also retain 357 jobs that currently pay above the region’s prevailing wage.
“Opower has been with Arlington since the beginning,” said Victor Hoskins, Director of Arlington Economic Development. “The company is a model for the fast-growth technology companies we’re hoping to attract to Arlington, and we simply could not be more pleased that Opower has decided to continue to be a part of Arlington’s business community.”
The building at 2311 Wilson Blvd will have a total of 150,000 square feet of office space plus ground floor retail spaces when it’s completed.
The Springs, a new affordable apartment complex in the Buckingham area, near Ballston, celebrated its “topping out” last week.
The five story, 104-unit apartment building, at the corner of Carlin Springs Road and N. Thomas Street, is being developed by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. The project was approved by the Arlington County Board in 2014.
A topping out ceremony was held last Wednesday, after the construction project reached its highest point. Construction is expected to wrap up later this year.
“APAH purchased this site in 1997,” APAH Board member Susan Bell said in a statement. “Nine of APAH’s 14 properties are in North Arlington. The redevelopment of The Springs expands APAH’s presence in this wonderful Ballston location, just 1/2 mile from Metro and close to so many jobs and services.”
As part of the ceremony, more than 40 attendees, including County Board members and local legislators, signed a “commemorative beam” that will be installed on the top floor of the building.
“Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is one of our key community partners,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “Today only 9,600 Arlington apartments are affordable to the 17,000 low income families looking for housing in our community. With the targets set in the County’s Master Plan, we are committed to keeping Arlington a place where people from across the socioeconomic spectrum can live and work comfortably.”
The seemingly endless construction at Courthouse Plaza — the privately-owned, open-air shopping center near the Courthouse Metro station — is finally nearing an end.
The final phase of construction at Courthouse Plaza is underway, we’re told, completing a series of improvement projects to the property that has extended over the course of the last several years.
The project currently under construction will make streetscape improvements along Clarendon Boulevard to “create a new pedestrian experience.” These improvements include installing new pavers — the stone along pedestrian walkways — and updating the entry into the plaza itself.
Once complete, the plaza will have a new, outdoor gathering space with seating. The area will also have contemporary landscaping features.
These outdoor improvements mark the end of the last phase of capital improvement projects for the building, according to Mara Olguin, spokeswoman for the property’s owner, Vornado. She said plans to make these improvements began more than three years ago and have involved multiple projects.
Some of these include the lease renewal and renovations to the AMC movie theater and improvements to the parking garages at 2200 and 2300 Clarendon Blvd. Before that, Vornado also oversaw the installation of new brickwork in the plaza.
Olguin added all the projects mentioned are consistent with the new Courthouse Sector Plan and Retail Action Plan, which the County Board approved last summer.
Construction work on the plaza’s outdoor area will continue through the winter and early spring. All work is expected to be completed by this April.
Photo via Vornado
Major renovations are coming to the ballfields at Tuckahoe Park.
The Dept. of Parks and Recreation released renovation plans in March, making the two baseball/softball fields their focus. Changes include new players’ benches, dugouts, backstops, bleachers for spectators, fencing, drinking fountains, bullpens and batting cages.
Much of the project’s construction will be focused on a new irrigation and drainage system and new sod.
Other additions to the park in the plans include picnic tables, a portable toilet enclosure, storage, landscaping and a new scoreboard. The scoreboard will be shared between the county and Bishop O’Connell High School, which is contributing $18,000 to its purchase
The plans would also make the park and its fields more accessible per Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
According to a county website dedicated to the project, construction on the park is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016.
If approved, the contract will authorize $1.06 million for construction. That includes nearly $100,000 as a contingency. The total estimated cost of the project, with design and soft costs factored in, is $1.25 million.
Saturday’s meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd, Room 307.
Update at 5:20 p.m. — This article has been updated to reflect a CEB spokeswoman’s request that we no longer refer to the company as “Corporate Executive Board.”
A ten-foot-tall, 1,300 pound “moon” has been gracing the Rosslyn skyline for the past two weeks.
The moon, which is illuminated with 936 LED lights, can be seen hanging from a crane that’s part of the Central Place construction project on N. Lynn Street. It was first lit up on Sunday, Sept. 13.
The temporary public art project is the brainchild of Brian Coulter, Managing Partner of Central Place developer JBG.
“[Coulter] and JBG team members worked with Los Angeles-based Custom Prop Shop, which created the prototype design and fabricated it from steel and a fibrous resin in a nearly year-long process from idea to installation,” according to a press release. “The moon will be suspended from the rear span of a Miller and Long Co. crane during construction, for about a year.”
Construction on the Central Place project is continuing at a steady clip. The development consists of CEB Tower, a 350,000 square foot office tower at the corner of Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd; a public observation deck; a 17,000 square foot public plaza; 45,000 square feet of street-level retail space; and Central Place Residences, a 377-unit residential tower.
So far, the office tower — the future global headquarters of CEB, formerly known as Corporate Executive Board, a publicly-traded company that’s currently based down the street in Rosslyn — is still just a big hole in the ground. The steel-and-concrete frame of the residential tower, however, is now several stories high and seemingly getting taller by the week.
A spokeswoman for JBG said construction crews are currently pouring concrete on the 8th floor of the residential building and expect the “topping out” to take place by the second quarter of 2016. Completion of the building is scheduled for early 2017.
Crews are currently working on the garage levels of the office tower, the spokeswoman said. A topping out for the office tower — the point at which the top floor of the unfinished building is in place — is expected by the end of 2016. CEB is expected to move in at the beginning of 2018. The observation deck is also slated to open in early 2018.
(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) It’s slow going for drivers and bicyclists on the stretch of Wilson Blvd between N. Wayne and N. Adams Street in Courthouse, as two construction projects are underway.
Wilson Blvd is currently down to one lane, with cars navigating through traffic cones, due to construction on the new Hyatt Place hotel and a county project to install fiber optic cables below the street, said county spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Driving down the stretch of Wilson puts the cars half on the bicycle lane, while crews access underground wiring for fiber optic cable installation. The utility project is set to finish in the “early part of next week,” Baxter said.
Once the utility work is finished, the left lane and parking lane on Wilson Blvd will reopen to vehicles, she said.
However, the righthand parking lane and possibly one travel lane of Wilson Blvd between N. Wayne and N. Adams Street will remain blocked off until the end of September for hotel construction, Baxter said, and lanes may also be closed periodically after that.
“Each periodic closure will require the issuance of a right-of-way use permit from the Department of Environmental Services, and that closure will only be for the timeframe requested on such permit,” she said.
The new Hyatt Place in Courthouse, the hotel brand’s first in Arlington, is on schedule for an August 2016 opening, according to Jim Villars, a spokesman with Schupp Company, the hotel’s developer. Contrary to information from the county, Villars said the hotel construction project will not require the closure of a travel lane on Wilson Blvd.
The topping out of the eight floor structure is expected to be complete before the end of the month, Villars said. At that point, all eight floors above grade and the two floors below grade for underground parking will have been built.
After sealing the structure, crews will start constructing the hotel’s interior, he said.
Once finished, the Courthouse Hyatt Place will 161 rooms, two restaurants and a bar. The hotel will also be the first hotel with gold LEED certification in Arlington and the first Hyatt Place to receive gold LEED certification, according to Villars.
The company is currently looking for a tenant to fill one of the restaurant spaces, which is almost 1,300 square feet, he said. The hotel is replacing a low-rise commercial building that was formerly home to Wilson Tavern.
A third entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station is slated to open as soon as next month.
Arlington County is wrapping up work on a Metro entrance on the northeast corner of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S., next to the offices of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Transportation Security Administration, the latter of which is moving to Alexandria in two years.
The stairs-only entrance and pedestrian access tunnel connect to what is currently a set of glass doors in the station’s mezzanine. While no official opening date has been set yet, the opening is “tentatively scheduled for the end of September,” according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet.
The entrance and tunnel was actually first built in 1984, but “for a number of reasons, was never opened to the public,” according to the county. In order to open it, the county needed to rehabilitate the tunnel, repairing lighting, electrical connections, leaks, deteriorated doors and gates, floor tiles and other 30-year-old infrastructure. The county also added security cameras, an emergency call box and new signage.
The total cost of the project is $1.3 million. The county says the expense is worth it in order to provide another entrance to a busy station next to the Arlington’s largest shopping center. The new entrance may also help accommodate a coming influx of riders from new development in the area, including a new Whole Foods.
“The opening of the entryway will provide an additional access/egress point to this busy Metrorail station, one of the County’s highest ridership stations, and to the adjacent retail center, Fashion Centre,” the county said in its recent Capital Improvement Plan.
The county, not WMATA, will be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the tunnel.
Construction on the large, eight-building Liberty Center project in Ballston has been wrapping up this week, but just temporarily.
Construction barriers have been removed from the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, a new sidewalk is open and construction cranes have come down. However, the project isn’t quite complete: one of the buildings has yet to be built.
As reported by the Washington Business Journal in January, developer Shooshan Co. decided not to built the eighth and final building — a 20-story office building at 4040 Wilson Blvd — without significant lease commitments. With none apparently forthcoming, Shooshan decided against building on “spec” during a period of high office vacancies in Arlington and the rest of the D.C. region.
“The construction has been paused until we have the right deal in place,” Director of Leasing and Marketing Kevin Shooshan told ARLnow.com. “We could start again in a month, or in a year, it all depends on the market and finding our deal.”
Currently, passersby can see the top of a five-level underground parking garage, behind the chain link fence, on the site of what will eventually be 4040 Wilson Blvd.
The tower will eventually be built on top of the garage. Until then, Shooshan says the company is planning to place wrap signage around the site.
Yesterday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority began work on improving the bus bays at the Pentagon, according to WMATA spokesman Richard Jordan.
Jordan said that the bus bay improvements, which include expanding pedestrian walkways and replacing the pavement with concrete, are the largest component of the transit center renovations, which are intended to move pedestrians more efficiently and make the bus bays more comfortable. Jordan said the project also aimed to improve traffic circulation, access and security, although he was unable to speak to specifics.
Both WMATA and Arlington Transit buses serving the Pentagon will be rerouted beginning Thursday (June 18), said Jordan.
ART spokesman Steve Yaffe said delays are currently expected to be less than five minutes.
According to a service update on ART’s website, ART buses 42, 87 and 92 will enter the Pentagon reservation as usual but will exit via S. Fern Street. Again according to the update, the two bus stops between S. Fern and S. Eads Street will be closed for the duration of the construction; an alternate stop has been set up at the corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Drive.
WMATA buses will also experience delays due to rerouting, but there are no planned changes to where the buses stop.
“[The construction] isn’t going to affect where riders get on and off the bus,” said Jordan.
During morning and evening rush hour times, police will be at the Pentagon to direct buses to their detours. During all other times of the day, flaggers will be present to indicate where the buses should go.
WMATA has listed all affected routes on their website and encourages commuters to plan for slightly longer traveling times.
Part of a $58.8 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation is funding the project. According to Jordan, construction is expected to last about two months and should be completed sometime in August or September.
On Saturday the Arlington County Board approved allocating an additional $140,000 to MTFA Architecture, which is providing administration services for the construction project.
County staff said the expenditure is necessary as “a direct result of the construction contractor’s inability to meet its contractual delivery date.”
The shelter was originally expected to be substantially complete by Feb. 27, with final completion 30 days after that.
Miller Brothers, Inc., the contractor, was awarded a $6.6 million contract in Feb. 2014 to convert two-and-a-half floors of offices space at 2020 14th Street N. into a comprehensive facility for serving the county’s homeless population.
The additional funds for the architecture firm will be at least partially offset by a $1,250 per day charge being assessed by the county against Miller Brothers. The county allocated $116,842 plus a $25,000 contingency for MTFA.
“Given the construction delays experienced to date on this project, an additional three (3) months of construction administration, site visits, and support services are anticipated,” according to the staff report. “The requested contingency amount allows for continuing the contractor’s services for another month should there be further construction delays.”
The County Board approved the allocation without public testimony as part of its Consent Agenda.
The new homeless services center will have up to 80 beds and will replace the county’s emergency winter shelter, located two blocks away in Courthouse.