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by Kalina Newman July 17, 2017 at 6:30 pm 0

STAR, Arlington’s bus service for disabled residents, will move to a new call center on Columbia Pike after County Board approval of the plan at its meeting Saturday.

Specialized Transit for Arlington Residents will move to 2301 Columbia Pike, Suite 120, near Penrose Square, after the Board agreed to rent the property from the landlord.

STAR’s existing call center is located at 2300 9th Street S. in the same neighborhood. Its lease on the property expired on June 30, and while it can be renewed on a monthly basis, the landlord plans to redevelop the office building and no longer wanted a long-term tenant.

In a report on the project, county staff noted various positives for the move.

“It is accessible and near a major transit stop with weekend service,” staff wrote. “Because it has its own separately-powered HVAC system, the call center can operate on weekends without incurring the cost of heating and cooling the entire floor. This will yield significant savings for the County in comparison with conventional office space.”

STAR is a paratransit branch of the ART bus system and provides transportation options to the disabled and handicapped who are unable to use public transportation. Those who ride with STAR call ahead to make reservations to be picked up from their home. STAR then routes the ride to pick up other residents who use the system along the way.

The Board will rent 2,337 square foot property for an initial period of 10.5 years (126 months), with a base rent of $4,944.70 per month. That rent will be free for the first six months. Staff estimate it will take three months for the office to be built out and readied to be the call center, during which time STAR will stay in its current location.

The total cost of construction for the new property is estimated at $300,000, part of which will be paid for by the landlord.

by Chris Teale July 17, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

A 22-story apartment building has the go-ahead to start construction in Crystal City after the Arlington County Board unanimously approved the project at its Saturday meeting.

The building, with the address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway but located at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S., is set for 302 apartments on top of a podium of the existing two-story retail space. The building is part of the larger Century Center office and retail complex.

The existing ground-floor retail includes Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The existing retail tenants are expected to stay in the property after the project is complete.

The building would have more than 330,000 square feet of floor space and be 270 feet tall, with a total of 242 parking spaces provided for residents. An existing shared garage with a nearby office building will provide another 100 spaces for retail customers.

“This is the sort of mixed-use project that has become an Arlington signature,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “This building will accomplish one of our key goals — to bring more residents to the heart of Crystal City and provide an even better balance of jobs and residents in this neighborhood. This is a very attractive building, putting state-of-the-art new apartments above upgraded retail space that will enhance the neighborhood’s vibrancy.”

And while the project itself received broad support among County Board members and local residents who testified at the meeting, several raised concerns at the effectiveness of the county’s Transportation Impact Analysis.

The TIA is a requirement for new projects that assesses how many new vehicles and users of public transportation will be added, but some residents said it failed to take into account the community’s traffic concerns.

In their own recommendations of the project in Crystal City, both the Planning Commission and Transportation Commission said said staff must engage in a “community conversation” and receive feedback on where TIA studies can be improved.

“What we’re asking is for staff to reach out broader and more deliberately to the community, because they’re currently not feeling heard,” said Planning Commission member Stephen Hughes at the meeting.

County transportation director Dennis Leach said staff in the county’s Department of Environmental Services are already looking at updating the TIA, and that they will look to the community for input on how it can be changed before presenting any updates at a public meeting, as well as to the Planning and Transportation Commissions.

Leach said the county already asks far more of developers to show impacts on traffic and transit than many other jurisdictions. In its announcement of the Board’s approval, county officials said the analysis for this project was more stringent than most:

The applicant conducted a more extensive traffic impact analysis than usually conducted for such a project. The analysis included the effects of the project on multiple modes of transportation, not just vehicle trips. It assessed the development’s projected impact on the adjacent street, sidewalk, transit, and bicycle network and took into account additional traffic generated by approved, but not yet built, projects within the study area, and their associated transportation network improvements. The analysis evaluated 14 intersections along Crystal Drive, South Clark Street, 23rd Street South and 26th Street South and concluded that future intersection level of service will remain the same regardless of the development, due to sufficient capacity within the existing Metrorail and bus system for the additional trips generated by the site, and a high-quality environment that exists adjacent to the site for pedestrians and bicyclists.

There is no specific timeline on when the TIA regulations will be updated and presented to the community, although Leach said it is already in staff’s work plan. Fisette said he hoped to see progress in the “near term,” possibly as early as September.

by ARLnow.com July 17, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]

Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]

County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]

Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]

Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]

Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by Chris Teale July 14, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Arlingtonians will be able to own non-venomous snakes regardless of size under the latest version of the proposed “wild and exotic” pets ban.

In the new text, there are no prohibitions on owning non-venomous snakes, a change from the previous iteration in March, which said that owners are limited to snakes that weigh 10 pounds or less.

County staff said they made that change, having also previously discussed to ban non-venomous snakes that measured more than 4 feet in length, after further community input and putting together regulations on enclosure, care and handling with residents, animal control officials and veterinarians.

Each snake must have a microchip and have an enclosure that prevents escape but allows freedom of movement within it. There are also stringent rules for any non-venomous snake weighing more than 25 pounds, while constricting snakes are still banned.

Elsewhere in the proposal, hedgehogs and gliders are allowed, while an ambiguity is removed as previous language could have suggested that owning birds or fish as companion animals was not allowed. Ownership of flightless birds like ostriches and emus is still specifically prohibited.

And those wishing to own harmless spiders, scorpions and centipedes are free to do so after more language tweaks, while prohibiting ownership of those that are, as staff put it “harmful and therefore unsuitable in Arlington homes.”

Certain county agencies would now be excluded, if they are using the wild and exotic animals for educational purposes, or for rescue or animal welfare. Arlington Public Schools, for example, would be able to operate an animal program, while zoological animal exhibitions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums are allowed too.

As proposed, the updated ordinance calls for fines of up to $250 a day for violations.

Staff noted that some members of the community said that circuses should not be allowed in the county, but they said that Arlington does not have the legal authority to ban such performances.

The Arlington County Board is set to vote Saturday on whether to advertise a public hearing on the proposed ban, which would be held in September.

File photo via Facebook/Animal Welfare League of Arlington

by Chris Teale July 13, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Arlington Public Schools will look to temporarily add more space to try to cope with its rising enrollment by adding temporary classrooms and making interior adjustments at several schools.

The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on a slew of proposals across eight schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels at its meeting Saturday (July 15). The temporary solutions are all recommended for approval by county staff, as “student enrollment is growing at a faster rate than APS can provide new schools and classrooms.”

Some are looking to add more temporary, trailer classrooms — known in APS parlance as “relocatables” — while others will make interior adjustments to add more space.

The following schools are applying to add relocatables:

The following schools will look to make interior adjustments and modifications:

Photos Nos. 6, 7 and 8 via Google Maps

by Brooke Giles July 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The turf fields at Thomas Jefferson Middle School are set to be replaced in the next year.

The Arlington County Board will vote Saturday (July 15) on a plan to replace the fields with synthetic turf. Staff from the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a report that the current fields are “worn beyond reasonable repair.”

For the past eight years, the turf fields at TJ have been used in the neighborhood and for scheduled use by affiliated sports leagues and school programs.

The upgrades at the field are part of the county’s Synthetic Turf Program, aimed at replacing heavily-used natural grass fields. Currently, there are 15 synthetic turf fields in Arlington, although the move to add more has come in for some criticism from some.

In addition to the new turf, the fields would get new corner flags and goals for soccer games, as well as new bleachers.

The upgrades would coincide with the construction of the county’s new elementary school on the west end of the site, and staff said Arlington Public Schools will plan out activities with the two projects in mind.

APS will share the cost of the upgrades with the county. Just under $475,000 would be spent on the new field, with an extra $47,000 held as a contingency.

by Chris Teale July 12, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

Arlington County Board members wrestled last night with a plan to substitute car parking spaces for spots for bike and car-sharing at new apartment and condo buildings near Metro stations.

The proposal, put together by county staff as part of a number of changes to parking policy under discussion at a Tuesday work session, is meant to encourage developers to contribute to other transit options.

Staff recommended that a developer providing a Capital Bikeshare station could substitute that for for up to four car parking spaces, depending on its size, or bike parking could be exchanged for two parking spaces. One car-sharing space, provided for a private company like Zipcar, could be in place of five spots.

But Board members questioned why the provision for different transit means is tied to reducing car parking spaces, especially near Metro stations, as adding such amenities is becoming a more standard practice in developments across the region.

“It bothers me that going to suggest that we’re not going to get these things until we go down to the minimum [parking ratio],” said Board chair Jay Fisette. “These are things that should be part of every site plan.”

Among the other recommendations put forward by staff, developers could request fewer parking spaces the closer a property is to a Metro station, with some committed affordable housing units not being required to have any parking spaces if they are within an eighth of a mile of a station.

Board member John Vihstadt argued that orienting the changes in parking policy around Metro, which would allow developers to provide fewer spaces at new buildings if they are close to a station, might be misguided given the drop in ridership due to the system’s ongoing safety concerns and year-long SafeTrack rebuilding program.

Vihstadt said that drop in ridership was “casting a pall” over the discussion, but county transportation director Dennis Leach said it was important to attract residents to such buildings who “build a lifestyle” around Metro. Vihstadt requested further data on the county’s declining ridership, which Leach said has also been hampered by more teleworking and other factors.

A major addition by staff to a report in March, by a residential parking working group on the new parking policy, is a requirement that developers provide for dedicated visitor parking.

Stephen Crim, a parking planner in the county’s Department of Environmental Services, said that change came after concerns from nearby residents that cars would park on their residential streets, especially those of visitors who have few options.

Leach noted that the parking garages in neighborhoods like Crystal City and Pentagon City are under-utilized, especially by visitors, and that DES could do even more to promote use of those spaces alongside the various Business Improvement Districts in the county.

Staff and County Board members agreed that while the policy still needs work before approval, it is aspirational and designed to attract residents who would prefer to have minimal, if any, car use.

“We are all seeking to hasten a future that we are interested in, which is a more multimodal corridor especially with fewer cars and more people taking alternatives to the extent that it suits them and choices that allow them to do so,” said Board vice chair Katie Cristol.

by Chris Teale July 12, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

(Updated at 10:20 a.m.) Homeowners could find it considerably easier to add an “accessory dwelling unit” to their property under changes set to be made to the ordinance in the fall.

Only 20 ADUs — defined as a second living space with a kitchen, a bathroom and a separate entrance — have been approved in Arlington since the ordinance first came into effect in 2009. Advocates have said they can help ease the county’s lack of affordable housing.

Staff is recommending that the Board allow detached ADUs, set back from the main house, and bump up the maximum occupancy from two to three. Currently in Arlington ADUs are only allowed within a single-family home.

At a work session Tuesday with county staff, Arlington County Board members debated various other recommendations, focusing in on a few.

Board members discussed staff’s recommendation of maintaining the current cap of ADU approvals at 28 a year countywide. Chair Jay Fisette and member Christian Dorsey suggested removing the cap altogether.

“Even at the likely installation rates, we’re not talking about a big impact on our community,” said Dorsey. “And who’s to say that if the 29th application is really the ideal, textbook accessory dwelling location and circumstance, we have to say no because we’re going to cap it? … It just really seems insane.”

But others were not so sure about removing the cap. Board member John Vihstadt suggested looking into capping new ADUs by civic association or neighborhood to prevent a concentration in one place, something others were happy to go along with in lieu of abolishing the cap altogether.

Joel Franklin, a housing planner at the county department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, added that staff will undertake an annual survey to try and find any issues that may arise.

The Board also explored raising the maximum number of people allowed to live in an ADU. The current maximum is two, with staff recommending that be increased to three, but several wanted more work to be done to explore whether that limit could be raised further.

Vice chair Katie Cristol said consistency is key, and that it becomes difficult when “governing the number of people in a bedroom.” But Vihstadt and Fisette were not so sure, and inclined to stick with the staff recommendation.

“It’s one thing to stay one or two nights in a crowded hotel room when you’re on vacation with the kids or friends or whatever,” Vihstadt said. “It’s another thing to have that crowded condition on a monthly or long-term basis.”

Staff suggested various rules for the units, including that their front doors can be on the same side as long as they do not face, and that exterior stairways must not face the street, among others.

Those rules are designed to protect the character of neighborhoods dominated by single-family homes. County staff members will continue to study the various policies governing aesthetics, they said.

“This is really a significant body of work. This is a use that I think we should be welcoming in our community while being cognizant of impacts on neighborhoods and protecting and planning against them,” said Cristol. “I would hate to lose this opportunity in any house or lot because somebody’s front door is placed in the wrong place.”

A slight change to the parking requirements for properties with ADUs has also been proposed.

Staff will compile the results of the survey on accessory dwellings this month, then finalize its recommendations. The Zoning and Housing Commissions will examine staff’s plans, with the Planning Commission and County Board expected to take final action in November.

by Chris Teale July 11, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

A plan to host a polling place at a condo building in Crystal City has been nixed, but elections officials said they are confident of finding a new location before November.

County staff had planned to move the polling station for the Crystal City 006 Precinct to the Crystal Gateway condo building at 1300 Crystal Drive from Crystal Place (1801 Crystal Drive) in time for November’s elections.

But a staff report on various changes to voting locations ahead of the elections said the Crystal Gateway “no longer wishes” to host a polling place. Likewise, the report notes that Crystal Place “no longer wished” to do the same.

Arlingtonians will go to the polls to elect a Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and local members of the Virginia House of Delegates, as well as representatives on the Arlington County Board and School Board.

Gretchen Reinemeyer, the county’s deputy director of elections, said the building “did not provide any information on why they would not like to be a polling place.” Crystal Gateway’s property manager and a spokesman for Equity Apartments, which owns both the Crystal Gateway and Crystal Place, did not return calls requesting comment.

Reinemeyer said staff is “in the process” of finding a new polling place for the precinct, and they are “optimistic that we will have a new location soon.” She said that when looking for new polling places, staff try and find county-owned buildings in the precinct first before assessing other options.

“If there is not a suitable county facility available, we look at other buildings used by the community that have a ground level meeting room such as churches or community rooms in apartment or condo buildings,” she said. “Once we find a location that we think will work, we begin negotiating with the management of the space.”

The County Board will vote on the proposed voting changes at its meeting Saturday (July 15). Also on the table is a change for the Rosslyn Precinct to move its voting place to the 1800 Oak Apartments from the soon-to-be-redeveloped Fire Station 10, and a technical change for the Virginia Highlands Precinct to reflect that votes are cast at the recently reopened Aurora Hills Community Center.

Photo via Google Maps.

by Kalina Newman July 11, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Replacement of the Carlin Springs Road bridge will be up for discussion at the Arlington County Board’s meeting Saturday.

The Board will consider a construction project that would remove the 65-foot-wide bridge and replace it with a 69-foot-wide structure. The bridge takes N. Carlin Springs Road over N. George Mason Drive near Barrett Elementary School and Lubber Run Park on the border of the Arlington Forest and Bluemont neighborhoods.

In a report on the project, county staff said that while still structurally sound, the bridge was built in 1961 and is the most deteriorated county-owned bridge.

The Rustler Construction company submitted the winning bid on the project, which would combine the bridge replacement with a new sewer line along N. Carlin Springs Road between N. Abingdon Street and N. George Mason Drive. The bridge will also receive the following additions:

  • Wider sidewalks
  • Bike lanes
  • Four vehicular travel lanes
  • A facade arch and decorative railing
  • Enhanced lighting on and under the bridge
  • The street name on the bridge facade

Staff estimates the entire project will cost just over $5.8 million, with another $1.1 million set aside in contingency funds. The project for the bridge will be funded from the county’s capital improvement program, as well as with bonds, grant funding and money from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority.

Additional bonds from the project to revamp the Shirlington Road Bridge will be used to make up a funding gap of $775,000, as that is progressing slower than expected, according to the staff report.

The sewer project will also be funded from the capital improvement program, and from funds carried over from another project in the Sanitary Sewer System improvement program that has been put on hold several times.

by Brooke Giles July 11, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The county could gain control of a section of Fairfax Drive under a plan before the Arlington County Board.

The Board will vote Saturday on whether to request that the Virginia Department of Transportation and Commonwealth Transportation Board transfer control of the road between its intersections with N. Glebe Road and N. Barton Street. Both bodies would then have to approve the transfer, but VDOT has already tentatively agreed to the deal.

If Arlington gains control of the section of Fairfax Drive and 10th Street N. between Ballston and Courthouse, also known as Route 237, it would limit VDOT’s involvement in construction projects.

Currently, roads under VDOT’s control require extensive review before any construction can be done. Making the portion of the roadway a part of Arlington’s local road system would streamline such reviews and give the county more flexibility to implement multimodal improvements.

“Since many of the County’s projects on Route 237 utilize urban standards that are not typical of VDOT plans, this often requires obtaining design exceptions in order to implement the project,” said a staff report. “This cumbersome design-exception process adds time and expense to each project.”

The report recommends the Board approve the proposal, arguing that added flexibility in managing several streets that run in parallel to Interstate 66, which is being widened under the “Transform 66” project, is worth the extra expense.

The move is expected to cost the county upwards of $60,000 a year, according to a fiscal impact statement.

Unlike many other counties in Virginia, Arlington County staff performs the full range of road maintenance functions on the 1,051 lane miles of road and would accept conveyance and responsibility for the maintenance of the additional 6.61 lane miles constituting this portion of Route 237. Per Section 33.2-366 of the Virginia Code, Arlington County receives a per lane-mile payment each fiscal year for the maintenance of its secondary road system. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 rate, approved by the CTB on June 20, 2017, is $18,515.71 per lane-mile; the rate typically escalates each year. Maintenance responsibilities include landscaping, sidewalk repair, street sweeping, paving, plowing, signage, and pavement markings, which cost the County roughly $28,000 per lane-mile of roadway, based on the County’s most recently reported average maintenance cost per lane-mile.

… This equates to $60,000 – $70,000 in additional net tax support to the County. The precise level of service for this portion of Route 237 and associated costs would be determined during the FY 2019 budget deliberations.

The CTB would likely vote on the transfer in September if it is approved by the County Board.

by Chris Teale July 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A plan to reconfigure the shopping mall above the Rosslyn Metro station could bring more retail space and add a public plaza on its second level, but its approval is in doubt.

The proposal would add more than 17,000 square feet of additional space for retail at the three-story Rosslyn Metro Center, and redevelop its outside into a four-story building with a public plaza on the second level.

The mall and adjoining office building had been slated for a new 25-story tower directly above the Metro station, but the site plan amendment allowing the plan expired in 2007 before anything was built.

In a report recommending the Arlington County Board deny the project at its meeting Saturday (July 15), county staff said the plaza would “hinder achievement” of the plan to make 18th Street N. a new pedestrian priority corridor known as the 18th Street Corridor. The corridor would extend east to N. Arlington Ridge Road and have a pedestrian-only stretch to replace Rosslyn’s skywalk system.

Staff said the plaza and ground-floor retail would make it harder to access the Metro station from N. Moore Street, and that the extra retail space does not comply with the area’s current zoning. Staff also said the plaza’s 10-foot walkway, while allowing public access, is not wide enough and would create “narrowness and tunnel conditions.”

“The proposal will adversely impact access to Metro by increasing congestion at the North Moore Street frontage,” the report says.

Staff added that it does not conform with the Rosslyn Sector Plan‘s vision for the design and programming an open-air Metro station plaza after the site’s redevelopment.

“The proposed plaza width (approximately 60 feet on the North Moore Street side and approximately 20 feet on the North Fort Myer Drive side) and building mass proposed above the plaza will restrict connectivity and visibility along the 18th Street Corridor,” the report reads. “The plaza’s narrowness and tunnel conditions through the proposed building mass conflict with the Plan’s vision of a linear system of connected public spaces.”

Staff noted that the office building is “near fully leased for the medium term,” and that a timeline on any future development is uncertain.

Images via Arlington County

by Chris Teale July 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

With a criminal case pending and various code violations, county staff is recommending the Arlington County Board not extend the live entertainment permit for Chester’s Billiards, Bar & Grill.

The billiards hall and neighborhood bar at 2620 S. Shirlington Road in Nauck has the annual review of its permit for live entertainment and dancing at the recessed County Board meeting on Tuesday, July 18.

But staff said the Board should not grant a renewal after a slew of problems this past year, for the bar that opened in 2015. The Arlington County Police Department said they were called 16 times during the past year, including during the bar’s live entertainment hours.

The report said several police calls involved “violent altercations or assaults, including incidents directly involving Chester’s manager and co-owner,” including disputes with employees and an accusation of vandalism on the phone lines of another nearby restaurant.

The Fire Marshal, Code and Zoning Enforcement all issued violation notices, while staff had not received required TIPS training for serving alcohol. The Virginia ABC also has pending charges that could result in Chester’s liquor license being suspended due to inadequate food sales and false figures for alcohol purchases, the report says.

The building’s elevator is under “active criminal investigation” for being unsafe, after a violation notice was first issued last August, according to the report. Since then, staff said it has not been corrected, with their report describing the elevator as “dangerous to the health, safety, and welfare of the building’s occupants.”

The report notes that the president of the Nauck Civic Association said the group had no “issues or concerns” with Chester’s, while the president of the nearby Shirlington Crest Homeowners’ Association did not respond to requests for comment.

The live entertainment permit allows Chester’s to host “a variety of live entertainment types, including music, comedy, and magicians.” The staff report says the elevator issue may also prompt the county’s building maintenance official to “seek revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy for disregard and/or refusal to correct violation.”

Chester’s is located in the building that formerly was home to Lucy’s ARL and Champion Billiards.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt. Photo via Google Maps.

by Chris Teale July 10, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Arlington’s Head Start program for low-income families could be getting a new home under a plan before the Arlington County Board this weekend.

Head Start, which provides early childhood education, health and nutrition services to low-income families, could be forced from its current building at 1800 N. George Mason Drive as early as next August. It currently leases space at the Edison Complex that previously housed behavioral health care offices in the county’s Department of Human Services.

The move is part of the terms of the county’s planned exchange of the Edison property for the Virginia Hospital Center site at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road, a plan endorsed by the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission.

County staff proposed the program move to a 15,649-square-foot space at 2920 S. Glebe Road, which would be bought by the county for just over $3.8 million and leased to Northern Virginia Family Service, which was selected by the federal government to run the Head Start program in Arlington.

County staff noted in its report on the plan that the price tag is higher than the $2.4 million that the property is appraised at, but the owner, GCP South Glebe LLC, is “unwilling to accept less than the $3.885 million purchase price.”

Staff projected it would then cost another $6.6 million to build out the property for use by Head Start, and construction would take a year and a half.

In recommending buying the building, staff said it is big enough for Head Start, is located close enough to the majority of families who participate in Head Start and has enough parking, among other positives.

In their report, staff noted the problems the county faces in finding facilities for daycare use, including the need for parking, an outdoor play area and a pick-up/drop-off zone for cars and other vehicles. They added that office buildings are expensive to lease and are “typically not good fits” for daycares.

The county is set to explore ways to add new child care options under the FY 2018 budget, including a full-time employee being charged with suggesting changes to Arlington’s zoning ordinance that would help child care centers open.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com July 10, 2017 at 9:05 am 0

County to Opt for VHC Land Acquisition — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to affirm the county’s desire to acquire land along N. Carlin Springs Road from Virginia Hospital Center, in exchange for a parcel of county land near N. Edison Street, which will allow the hospital to expand. [InsideNova, Arlington County]

ART Discount for Elementary Students — As of June 25, elementary students can get the same student discount on ART bus fares — $1 vs. the regular $2 fare — as middle and high school students. [Arlington Transit]

SoberRide Sets July 4 Record — SoberRide served a record 559 riders on the Fourth of July this year, exceeding the previous July 4 record of 455 riders set in 2003. The regional service, which provides a free ride home on holidays to help prevent DUI crashes, recently began partnering with Lyft rather than offering rides via taxi services. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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