The restoration of Ballston Wetlands Park is officially complete and the park is now open to the public.
Arlington County officials and community members marked the occasion today (Tuesday) with a ribbon-cutting.
The rain-soaked event marked the end of a $4 million renovation project that transformed what was formerly known as Ballston Beaver Pond — until the departure of the beavers — from a sludge-filled area into a natural stormwater filtration system and wildlife refuge.
“Over the years, sediment, trash, and invasive plants essentially filled the pond,” County Board Chair Christian Dorsey told a crowd of attendees. “Now, cleared of that sediment and other debris, this retrofitted wetland system not only improves stormwater flow and filtration but also captures trash, serving as both a wildlife refuge and a natural respite within our urban village of Ballston.”
Initially built in 1980 as a stormwater detention facility for runoff from I-66, the pond gradually evolved into a haven for local wildlife. By the 1990s, species such as beavers, muskrats, geese, herons, egrets, red-winged blackbirds, fish and turtles had migrated to the area.
Dam-building activities by the beavers, however, interfered with the site’s original drainage systems. When the beavers eventually left, the county took the opportunity to make necessary improvements.
Planning for the renovations dates back to 2011 but it took a decade for the work to kick off in December 2021. Acquiring the necessary easements took about eight years and Covid further delayed the project.
The site now features new informative signage, educational exhibits and thousands of native trees and plants. Logs for turtles to sun themselves, dubbed “basking stations,” have also been added.
There is also a hidden feature to manage beaver activity going forward. The county installed a secondary, concealed pathway for water to flow out and bypass their dams, a solution known as a “beaver baffle.”
That may be prescient, given some reported beaver sightings, Lily Whitesell, a stormwater outreach specialist with Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES), told ARLnow. Perhaps the beavers moved back to enjoy the upgrades to their old habitat.
Jason Papacosma, a DES wetlands project manager, said the project extends beyond local restoration efforts and contributes to the broader clean-up of Chesapeake Bay.
“This is a project that gives us credit for our obligations to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. And in terms of all the progress we’ve made to date, this project gives us at least 10% of that overall progress,” Papacosma said.
Demetra McBride, bureau chief of the county’s Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management, acknowledged that while the site was not originally an “environmental asset,” it has now become one.
“I realize that this is not a natural asset… But the community, going back as far as 10 years, wanted more. The leadership of Arlington inspired more. And your public servants and their contractors delivered more,” she said during the ceremony.
Costs are creeping up for a courtroom makeover in Arlington.
County Board members approved an extra $200,000 this past Saturday to complete renovations in Courtroom 10B, a project ambitiously dubbed the “courtroom of the future.”
The Board had initially approved a $1.9 million budget for the project, encompassing not only tech enhancements and layout modifications but also administrative costs and a $755,000 fee for Michigan-based contractor Sorensen Gross Company. A $135,000 contingency for unexpected construction hiccups was set aside, bringing the contract’s total value to $890,000.
The contingency is nearly gone, county staff said, prompting County Board action. Damaged stonework, deteriorating fabric wall panels and worn-out carpeting all brought unexpected costs and, as a result, additional funding was sought as the project enters its final phase.
Once completed, the oft-used courtroom will feature new capabilities, such as enabling police to upload and display body-camera and smartphone footage, simplified equipment mobility, and compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Arlington courtrooms have not had a major renovation since 1994, per a 2022 county report.
While construction was initially slated for completion in July, ARLnow saw signs of ongoing work during a recent courthouse visit, including plastic tarp over doors and covered windows.
A county spokeswoman said construction is now expected to wrap up in November.
New apartments along N. Glebe Road in Ballston are nearing completion.
Developer Southeastern Real Estate Group, LLC tells ARLnow construction on the residential redevelopment, near the Harris Teeter store, should be done in the next couple months.
Construction work on the apartments began in 2020. Although the units at the complex, dubbed URBA, are not quite finished, people are already signing leases, says Southeastern Vice President Mary Senn.
“Our first phase at URBA is currently in lease up,” she said.
The full redevelopment project is far from over, however. The next phase, of three, includes more apartments and a roughly 0.6-acre public park.
Senn says this phase will start “next summer.”
After that, a temporary parking lot will become the third apartment building: a 227-unit residential building ground-floor retail and below-grade parking.
Arlington County approved the redevelopment of 600 N. Glebe Road back in 2019. The proposal includes three residential buildings, with a total of 732 units, a new Harris Teeter and 77,575 square feet of ground-level retail.
There will also be below-grade parking garages, with 942 parking spaces total. Southeastern will also extend the existing N. Tazewell and N. Randolph streets into the site.
It is too early to tell whether this grocery store could potentially become a Piggly Wiggly, as the Washington Business Journal reported is a possibility after an ownership change of 10 local — but so far unidentified — Harris Teeter stores.
For years, parts of Columbia Pike have been under construction, resulting in wider sidewalks, newly-planted trees and underground utilities, among other changes.
Now, work on the penultimate phase of the years-long Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements project is slated to begin in September, according to the county. Work could begin on the final phase early next year.
Starting in September, the county will upgrade the Pike’s streetscape, enhance transit infrastructure, replace aging water and sewer mains and bury utility lines between S. Garfield Street and S. Courthouse Road.
The final segment, from S. Courthouse Road to S. Quinn Street, could begin in early 2024 and wrap up in late 2025, according to Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.
A contract for this phase was approved earlier this summer, the Gazette Leader reported.
Streetscape improvements to the Pike have been ongoing for nearly two decades.
The first segment was completed back in 2009, Pors said. The next two segments were completed in 2015, one by the county and the other by the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.
Last year, the county started working on improvements between S. Wakefield Street and S. Oakland Street and S. Orme Street and S. Oak Street. The federal government is handling similar upgrades east of S. Oak Street as part of its project to realign the road to accommodate the expansion of Arlington National Cemetery.
Before getting started on the S. Garfield Street to S. Courthouse Road segment, county staff will hold pop-ups and open houses in the area to inform community members of the changes, Pors said.
She added that the team has not yet come up with a final work schedule, though work will likely be less intense than the currently under construction portion of the Pike between S. Quincy Street and S. Oakland Street.
Work hours will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to the county website.
“Residents should expect to see and hear dust, mud, noise, debris, and temporary traffic and parking restrictions,” the website says. “In locations where parking will be prohibited during work, no parking signs will be posted.”
“These roadway changes are essential for the contractors to construct a safer and more accessible Columbia Pike in an efficient and safe manner while maintaining access to residences and businesses along the corridor,” Arlington County says on its website.
National Airport is set to get some sweeping changes intended to make it easier to get around, park and rent a car.
Prompted by such issues, and a projected increase in travelers, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), which operates National Airport and Dulles International Airport, has spent several years mulling how to reduce traffic and meet future demand.
It proposes to realign roads and improve signage, while building a new public parking lot. Immediately south would be a new multi-use facility for a rental car center, with more parking and corporate office space.
“The proposed improvements are needed to address congestion along the Airport roadway network that affects safety, while also addressing space constraints for employee and public parking, rental car facilities, and the Airports Authority administrative offices,” a report says.
MWAA proposes changes to several roads and ramps that unfurl from the airport access road connecting drivers to Crystal City and Route 1.
This includes realigning West Entrance Road to “allow for clear, concise wayfinding that would help reduce the need for drivers to make quick decisions and maneuvers in short periods of time,” the report said.
Another change includes widening a ramp for northbound traffic traveling onto the GW Parkway so drivers have more merging distance. Rapid-flashing beacons and other signage would be added to improve safety for those crossing the onramp via the Mount Vernon Trail.
A new pedestrian path from the Mount Vernon Trail to the airport would replace an existing tunnel that will be displaced during the work.
One road would connect to the future public parking lot in what MWAA calls a “connector garage and ground transportation center.” This is sandwiched between existing garages and the future proposed multi-use center. Just south of the building, there will be a new staging area for ride-share cars.
The airports authority projects it will take some nine years to make all these changes. It underscored, however, the need for them in a presentation during a meeting last night (Tuesday).
Despite the Covid-era drop in travel rates, the airports authority says travel is rebounding and passenger rates may exceed pre-2020 levels by this year or next year.
It predicts current public and employee parking will not meet this future demand. Currently, its 8,909 public parking spaces across three facilities and 3,200 employee spaces across several lots are at capacity or hard to access.
The rental car center, meanwhile, is small, “operationally inefficient” and also projected not to meet future demand. By building a new center, with room for corporate offices, MWAA can move out of leased space in Crystal City and into a rent-free facility.
MWAA nixxed two other alternatives before landing on its current proposal. One would have relocated the multi-use center farther south.
Another option would not have included any parking in the multi-use center. MWAA concluded neither would reduce traffic congestion, enhance safety or improve wayfinding.
One year and three days ago, a rideshare vehicle plowed into Ireland’s Four Courts, seriously injuring several patrons and sparking a devastating fire.
Six months after the crash, the pub began to rebuild and has since targeted reopening in August. With construction still in progress as of mid-August, managing partner Dave Cahill tells ARLnow he aims to throw open the doors in early September.
Cahill says the interior is getting its final finishes. Photos he shared show a cozy interior with a large stone fireplace, dark wood paneling and brass light fixtures. A large wood fireplace and some stained glass survived the fire and are prominently featured as well.
We are working on finishes and pass our inspections towards end of month. It will be just after Labor Day hopefully . pic.twitter.com/aQEOic8rGG
— Irelands Four Courts (@irelands4courts) August 11, 2023
A greenish-blue and gold exterior will replace the old red-and-black façade. Inside, the layout of the pub will be more or less the same, though there will be some new features, including a new draft beer system.
The pub marked the anniversary of the crash in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Today is the one-year anniversary of the accident which closed the pub. In that time the level of support that we have received from our local community in Arlington and our friends across the country has been heartwarming.
We want to thank all of you. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the pub soon. Please continue to follow our social media pages for updates on our reopening date.
The driver, who was reportedly suffering a medical emergency, was not charged. All three pub-goers who suffered serious, potentially life-threatening injuries in the August crash were released from the hospital by the next month.
A number of first responders who responded to the chaotic scene were recently recognized for their heroism.
VDOT has started planned rehabilitation work on a bridge over I-66.
The state transportation department says the 21st Street N. bridge, built in 1980, is “deteriorating” and needs concrete repairs and other TLC. The bridge is located near the Mom’s Organic Market along Langston Blvd; it connects drivers going between Courthouse, the North Highlands neighborhood, and Rosslyn.
The $4.1 million project will prompt some temporary lane closures on I-66 during construction, as well as temporary closures of a sidewalk along the bridge.
More, below, from a VDOT press release.
Work is underway to rehabilitate the 21st Street North bridge over I-66 to improve driver, bicyclist and pedestrian safety and extend the overall life of the bridge, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation. The bridge, located between the Spout Run Parkway (Exit 72) and eastbound I-66 Route 29 Rosslyn/Key Bridge (Exit 73) interchanges, was built in 1980.
The project includes:
- Resurfacing the concrete bridge deck
- Closing deck joints
- Repairing concrete piers and abutments
- Replacing bearings
- The width of the existing lanes and sidewalks on the bridge will remain the same.
- Daytime lane closures may be scheduled along I-66 and 21st Street North
- Overnight lane closures may be scheduled on I-66
- When one sidewalk along the bridge is closed, pedestrians will be detoured to the sidewalk on the opposite side
- The Custis Trail under the bridge will remain open to bicyclists and pedestrians
- Parking will not be allowed on the bridge or approaches
Starting in mid-2024, 21st Street North will be temporarily reduced to one lane on the bridge and open to northbound traffic only. Further information will be provided closer to the start of the partial bridge closure, which will be in place for several months while work occurs on the bridge deck.
The $4.1 million 21st Street North over I-66 Bridge Rehabilitation Project is financed with federal and state funding, including State of Good Repair funds used for bridges. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2024.
Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to use caution when traveling in active work zones. Be alert to new traffic patterns and limit distractions.
Houses at the former site of the Febrey-Lothrop House are set to go on sale this fall, with a delivery set for early next year.
Toll Brothers announced last week that the “boutique community” off of Wilson Blvd in Dominion Hills, dubbed The Grove at Dominion Hills, is nearing the finish line.
It will feature 40 single-family homes on more than nine acres, with houses ranging from 3,470 to 5,834 square feet. They all appear to have five bedrooms and up to six bathrooms, per the website.
Sales are set to begin this fall with pricing starting at $2.1 million, said a Toll Brothers spokesperson in an email. The houses are expected to be move-in ready by “early 2024.”
The site where houses now stand was once where the historic Febrey-Lothrop House stood before it was demolished more than two years ago, much to the dismay of local preservationists, the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB), and the Arlington Historical Society.
Also known as the Rouse estate, the original house was built before the Civil War but was largely replaced in the early 20th century. Historians cited the estate’s role in hosting Civil War encampments, past residents including business mogul Howard Hughes, and the likelihood it was built by enslaved peoples as for reasons to preserve the site. The land it was on was also potentially a hunting ground for Indigenous peoples.
But its future became in doubt when its last owner, sportsman Randy Rouse, died in 2017. The property hit the market in 2020, with some pushing the county to purchase it and turn it into a public park, a school, or another public facility.
However, Rouse’s trust ended up selling the property to a developer intent on building single-family homes on the site.
The HALRB voted to consider a historic designation for the property in late 2020, but it came too late, and the County Board ended up denying the recommendation anyway. The house was demolished in March 2021 and construction began on the new houses shortly thereafter.
ARLnow asked Toll Brothers whether anything came from a preservationist’s request to partner with archeologists on potential artifacts at the site. The company did not respond to the inquiry.
In a new twist, the now-razed Broyhill estate in the Donaldson Run neighborhood is again on the market, billed as a development opportunity for anywhere between six and 36 homes.
Less than a year after its last sale, for $2.55 million, the estate near the Washington Golf and Country Club is once more on the market — this time as a 1.43-acre vacant lot, coming in at a cool $10 million asking price.
The agent, Leesburg-based Serafin Real Estate, says in a listing it “is pleased to present what is perhaps the single largest land offering to come available in Northern Virginia’s most desirable North Arlington (22207) within the last two decades.”
A brochure notes this property is ready for “streamline development” with up to six single-family residences — the way of the Febrey-Lothrop estate — or up to 36 Expanded Housing Option housing units, across two parcels, 11,145 square feet and 51,062 square feet in size.
Neither the agent nor the owners responded to a request for comment.
A video tour of the property at 2561 N. Vermont Street shows that construction fencing remains, as do some remnants of the former 10-bedroom home: brick steps, a wrought iron gate, and a small building corner.
It’s a far cry from the home husband-and-wife duo Mustaq Hamza and Amanda Maldonado told ARLnow they would build after buying the property earlier this year.
Shortly into demolition, they were fending off at least one vigilante preservationist who nicked pieces of the home on his way out. They also had had sharp words for neighbors they said alleged the duo would take advantage of the freshly-passed Missing Middle zoning code updates.
“They don’t believe two minorities can buy a lot for $2.5 million and build another single family house,” Maldonado said at the time. “They believe we’re going to flip it and build a bunch of condos.”
Donaldson Run Civic Association President Bill Richardson says a lingering concern for neighbors is how much of the property will be covered with an impervious surface, with elements such as a house or a driveway.
“Members are very concerned about that, generally, and as it relates to this property,” he said. “It applies whether it’s [developed with] single-family or Missing Middle… Nobody really knows. it’s being marketed for either purpose.”
Work is underway to make a 53-year-old bridge S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395 safer and extend its overall life, per the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.
The 53-year-old bridge is located between the I-395 interchanges for King Street and Shirlington Circle in the Fairlington neighborhood. It was last rehabilitated in 1994 and is in need of attention, according to a press release from the state transportation department.
The planned repairs will use $8.4 million in federal and state funding and will wrap up in late 2024, the press release said.
Work includes rehabilitating the bridge deck, repairing deteriorating concrete, replacing all steel bearings and eliminating bridge joints, per a project overview video.
Arlington County also identified S. Abingdon Street, from 34th Street S. to Fire Station 7, for resurfacing. It is coordinating with the state on those changes, including a buffered bike lane to improve the cycling experience and narrower travel lanes to manage vehicle speeds.
Bridge deck rehabilitation work will last about 12 weeks and occur in three stages, the video says.
In the first phase, all traffic will be shifted to the east side of the bridge, with two shared bicycle and traffic lanes and one five-foot-wide sidewalk. A temporary crosswalk will be added near 36th Street S. In the second phase, all traffic will be shifted to west side of the bridge.
In the third stage, traffic will be split on both sides of the work zones and the crosswalk will be removed.
“When one sidewalk along the bridge is closed, pedestrians will be detoured to the sidewalk on the opposite side,” VDOT said in the press release. “Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to use caution when traveling in active work zones. Be alert to new traffic patterns and limit distractions.”
The I-395 main and express lanes may see periodic daytime and overnight lane closures, VDOT says.
“Most of the work below the bridge will be performed during nighttime operation to avoid impact to normal daytime traffic particularly peak hour traffic,” the project video says.
What remains of the RCA building in Rosslyn looks like something pulled from a post-apocalyptic film.
Now, passers-by can see a narrowed shell of the building with rebar, pipes and wires drooping from it.
The website also projects a sanitary and storm sewer system will be installed by mid-July or by the end of this month. Once this is done, and electrical infrastructure is relocated, workers will begin installing a retaining wall that will keep the ground in place as they excavate.
“Once at the subgrade, we’ll excavate for the new building’s footings and erect two tower cranes to start pouring concrete,” the website says.
The construction company overseeing the project, CBG Building Company, has “a light pollution reduction and rainwater management plan in order to protect the community’s natural habitat and minimize the project’s environmental impact,” the website adds.
The developer, Jefferson Apartment Group (JAG), will replace the RCA building with a 27-story apartment complex composed of two towers that share a podium and are joined at the rooftop by a sky bridge.
The building, one block from the Rosslyn Metro station, will also have 11,444 square feet of retail space. Planned amenities for residents include a fitness center, pet spa, landscaped patio, green rooftop terrace and a pool.
JAG is aiming to complete the new structure in January 2026.