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Demolition Work Starts on Crystal City Office Building Set for Amazon-Related Redevelopment

(Updated Wednesday at 10:20 a.m.) Demolition work is kicking off ahead of the development of a new apartment complex in Crystal City, set to be located immediately adjacent to some of Amazon’s new office space in the area.

JBG Smith, the area’s dominant property owner, started work yesterday (Monday) to tear down an office building at 1900 Crystal Drive. Eventually, the company hopes to add two buildings to the site, with room for 750 apartments and some ground-floor retail.

JBG is aiming to kick off construction on the project next year, and it specifically identified the effort as one it hopes to accelerate now that Amazon is officially Arlington-bound. Crystal City currently has a slightly higher than average residential vacancy rate, and hasn’t seen much in the way of new apartment development recently, but local property owners are racing to offer new options to the thousands of Amazon workers set to descend on the neighborhood in the coming years.

The developer has yet to secure county approval for the 1900 Crystal Drive project, however. Vornado/Charles E. Smith previously secured permission to build a 24-story building on the property, but that approval lapsed in 2015. The company spun off its local property holdings in a merger with JBG the next year.

But JBG can pursue demolition of the building as “by right” work in the meantime, meaning it doesn’t require any approval from the county until new construction starts.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District is warning that the demolition will prompt a few sidewalk closures, near Crystal Drive’s intersection with both 18th Street S. and 20th Street S. JBG will also build a covered walkway over the sidewalk along Crystal Drive to allow pedestrian access as the work continues.

The BID says the garage entrances on both 18th Street S. and 20th Street S. will remain open during the construction. Additionally, JBG plans to keep offering the collection of basketball hoops and other games it maintains in one of the building’s parking lots, but will move those over to the plaza behind the 1900 Crystal Drive building, along S. Bell Street.

The building’s demolition will also mark the disappearance of one of the most colorful structures in Crystal City. JBG affixed brightly colored artwork to several buildings in the neighborhood as it mulled how to revitalize the area, and do away with its more outdated facades.

Photo 1 via Google Maps

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Fire Station 8 Home Demolitions Start Next Week

The demolition for Fire Station 8 is still a long ways away, but two homes behind the building are being prepared for demolition to eventually make way for a temporary station.

According to Peter Golkin, a spokesman with the Arlington Department of Environmental Services, the homes at 2211 and 2215 N. Culpeper Street will be demolished at the beginning of next week.

Currently, contractors at the site are putting up sediment and erosion control barriers around the buildings.

The buildings were purchased by Arlington County in December 2016 for $1.6 million.

According to Ben O’Bryant, spokesman for the Arlington Fire Department, demolition of Fire Station 8 is still at least a year away. O’Bryant says the Fire Department wants to have the temporary station built and running before they start to tear down the existing station.

Photos via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Flash Flood Watch Issued for Arlington — Arlington, D.C. and points west are under a Flash Flood Watch today, starting at 10 a.m., as the remnants of Hurricane Florence drop heavy rain on the area. [Twitter]

New Food Distribution Site in Ballston — “The Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) has joined with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to open a new food-distribution site at The Springs, an apartment complex in the Ballston area. The site will distribute food on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m., and will serve eligible residents from the apartment as well as neighboring APAH communities.” [InsideNova]

Rosslyn Fire Station Leveled — Rosslyn’s Fire Station 10 has been demolished as construction proceeds on a new fire station on the ground floor of a new development. [Twitter]

‘Coffee With a Cop’ Planned — “Wednesday, October 3 is National Coffee with a Cop Day and the Arlington County Police Department is hosting two events with our Community Outreach Teams to celebrate. Community members are invited to join police at this informal event to ask questions, voice concerns, get to know their neighbors, interact with the Community Outreach Teams and meet officers from other sections of the department.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Video: Demolition Work Starts at Powhatan Springs Skate Park

Demolition work is now fully underway at the Powhatan Springs Skate Park, as part of an effort to fully overhaul the 14-year-old facility.

The park, located at 6020 Wilson Boulevard in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood, is the county’s only park designed specifically for skateboarders. The County Board gave the green light for construction to get started back in May, as the facility had started to deteriorate and needed a facelift, and workers started tearing down the park earlier this month.

In all, crews will “remove some 500 cubic yards of poured concrete weighing nearly 2 million pounds,” according to a news release, and then transport that concrete to a county facility in Shirlington to crush it up. The county plans to use the rubble that remains “as the base layer of crushed rock beneath rebuilt county roads, providing drainage and stability for the asphalt that sits on top.”

“While recycling the concrete rubble of the old park won’t save the county a lot of money, it will reduce waste, consistent with Arlington’s commitment to environmental consciousness and stewardship,” the county wrote in the release.

Workers hope to finish removing all the concrete from the site by the time the month is up, then plan to start work on some stormwater management upgrades and electrical work. By mid-September, the county hopes to have a contractor starting work on the new park features, which include a completely new set of bowls and half pipes for skaters.

The county hopes to have the new park open by early next year.

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Demolition Set to Start on Overpass in Crystal City Next Week

(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Demolition work is set to get started next week on the S. Clark Street overpass in Crystal City, and that will prompt a handful of traffic detours through the end of the month.

Workers will begin removing the elevated section of the road over 15th Street S. next Monday (July 16) and the demolition is set to run through July 26. The county doesn’t plan to use any explosives in this process, and will merely remove the overpass in sections.

The work will impact eastbound 15th Street S. from July 16-17, with detours set to help drivers reach Route 1 and 18th Street S. Then, the demolition will cause problems on the westbound section of the road from July 18-26, with similar detours planned.

The demolition work will run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, though detours will continue on weekends. At least one sidewalk under the bridge will remain open at all times as the work progresses.

The county closed the S. Clark Street overpass to traffic in February to kick off work on this project, with the ultimate goal of easing traffic patterns in the area and encouraging more development along Route 1. Ultimately, the county plans to re-align S. Clark Street in the area to open up more green space in the area, projecting to wrap up that effort in 2022.

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Morning Notes

What Arlington Residents Think About Arlington — “Arlington residents of all ages are concerned about housing costs. Many like new urban amenities and denser development but are worried about displacing lower-income neighbors. Others point to the county’s affluence and pockets of racially homogenous communities and wonder what that says about their progressive values.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Salt Storage Facility to Be Torn Down — Arlington County is planning to dismantle the rusted-out road salt storage tank on Old Dominion Drive near 25th Road N. later this year, deeming it unsafe for use during the upcoming winter season. In its place, the county hopes to build a temporary facility that could remain functional for several years. [InsideNova]

New Restaurant Kiosks Planned in Crystal City — “Two new funky restaurant spaces could be coming to Crystal City in 2019… JBG Smith wants to build two unusual standalone restaurant buildings, one that resembles a green house and one that calls to mind a tree house, in green space that sits in front of 2121 Crystal Drive. The green is currently a mix of walking paths, open seating, trees and lawn.” [Washington Business Journal]

How Critics Could Fight W-L Name Change — Those opposed to changing the name of Washington-Lee High School have floated the idea of a community-wide referendum, though state law does not currently allow Arlington to hold an advisory referendum. One more fruitful path may be convincing the Republican-controlled state legislature to block the name change, though any such action would likely not survive Gov. Ralph Northam (D)’s veto pen. [InsideNova]

Employer Moving Out of Rosslyn — Amid a series of economic wins for Rosslyn and Arlington, there are also some losses. Among them, The Carlyle Group is planning to consolidate its Rosslyn office — with some 300 employees — into its larger D.C. office on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, after striking a deal to expand its lease and modernize its space. [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy StardogCZ

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Retail Kiosk at Pentagon Row to be Demolished

Demolition permits have been issued for one of the freestanding retail kiosks at Pentagon Row.

The kiosk is one of two built in Pentagon Row’s central plaza during its 2013 renovations. A frozen yogurt store operated out of the kiosk until it closed in November 2015.

We’re told the kiosk is being torn down to provide additional outdoor seating for the forthcoming Basic Burger location and “pop-up” street taco eatery.

Pentagon Row’s other retail kiosk is currently home to Bread and Water cafe, which opened in February.

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Another 7-Eleven to Open Along Lee Highway

(Updated at 10:50 a.m.) As rumored, a 7-Eleven store will be replacing the former Lee-Lex Service Center along Lee Highway.

The service center closed in 2016 and is currently being torn down. A recently-posted sign on the fence surrounding the property says that a new 7-Eleven store will be coming soon.

Property records show that the property at 5747 Lee Highway was purchased in January 2017 for $1.65 million by an LLC associated with the home address of the owner of a D.C.-based architecture firm.

According to the chain’s website, there are existing 7-Eleven stores at 2525, 3901, 4505, 5030 and 6730 Lee Highway.

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Nauck Demolition Includes Previously Bee Beset Building

Demolition has begun in preparation for the Nauck Town Center project, and the neighbors might not be the only ones buzzing with interest.

The building torn down last week is none other than the former home of about 70,000 honey bees, which the county relocated in July 2017 after realizing they had not only purchased a former office building but an apiary abode as well.

The aging building had only been vacant for about four months, according to the county, but about 100 pounds of honey were already generated by the time that local beekeepers swooped in to relocate move the hive.

The demolition is one of the final steps in the project’s first pre-construction phase. Utility undergrounding and site perimeter streetscaping will start fall 2018 and end spring 2019.

The second phase of Nauck Town Square project construction is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2019 and wrap up by the winter of 2020. Pre-construction for phase two will begin spring 2018 and last through winter 2019.

The Nauck Town Center project, which has been years in the making, includes an open plaza, outdoor stage, public art, tables and seating and sidewalk improvements, along with displays about the history of the community, which was settled by free African-Americans in 1844. The design includes a large sculpture of the word “FREED.”

Photo courtesy Daniel Wanke

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Demolition Underway at 2000 Clarendon Blvd

Demolition is underway on an old office building in Courthouse.

The demolition of the building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd will allow the construction of a new, 15-floor condominium tower. The 18,380 sq. ft. site will also feature ground-level retail and a garage fitting 112 parking spaces.

The site is currently fenced off while the building is torn down.

Photo (third) courtesy @721tv

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JBG Smith Plans Warehouse Demolition on S. Eads Street

(Updated at 9:45 p.m.) Two warehouses along S. Eads Street in Pentagon City are being razed to eventually make way for a redevelopment project.

JBG Smith is expected to begin demolition of  the warehouses at some point in April or May 2018. The project is scheduled to take six to eight weeks.

At this point, it’s unclear what will replace the buildings, located between 12th and 15th streets. The company is backing away from plans approved by the county in July 2016 to build a 22-story, 577-unit residential tower.

JBG Smith has “no plans at the moment” to build the county-approved project due to uncertain market conditions, said a PR representative for the company.

“It’s unknown and sort of depending on where things go in the market,” the rep said.

On Friday (February 1), the company hosted a community meeting to discuss the demolition project. Several people attended and voiced concerns about noise generated from demolition, we’re told.

Demolition crews will work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays, according to meeting materials. Construction traffic will enter the site through S. Eads Street. The exit point is either north on S. Eads to Army Drive or south on S. Eads Street to 15th Street.

Photos by Fatimah Waseem

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End of the Road for Elevated Portion of S. Clark Street

An elevated portion of S. Clark Street is closing today ahead of a planned demolition project.

The $6.3 million project will remove the existing roadway and create new open space, sidewalks, landscaping and lighting, while also creating new development opportunities adjacent to Route 1.

The S. Clark Street overpass was underutilized, according to county traffic studies, but it was useful for those seeking a faster way to get from one side of Crystal City to the other.

Major work on the demolition project is expected to begin in March and wrap up in the summer of 2019. More from Arlington County about what to expect during the project:

The demolition project will generally work from north to south starting with the removal of the 15th Street overpass, scheduled to start in March.

  • Throughout the project, some detours will be in place to accommodate removal of the bridge structure. The first of these closures will be on 15th Street in early spring 2018. Details will be shared on the project webpage and in this email update as the temporary street closures are scheduled.
  • The at-grade portions of 14th Road South (between 12th and 15th Streets) and South Bell Street (between 15th and 18th Streets) will remain open throughout and after the demolition.
  • East-west pedestrian access under elevated Clark Street will be maintained throughout the duration of this project.
  • During removal of the bridges over 15th Street and 18th Street, one side of the sidewalk under the bridge will be closed but the other side will remain open.

Photo via Google Maps

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Arlington Experiencing Downward Trend in Total Home Demolitions

Single-family home demolitions dropped in 2017, hitting the lowest point since 2012, according to statistics from the group Preservation Arlington.

A new report from Preservation Arlington says there were 158 single-family home demolition permits issued last year, making it the second year in a row with demolition permits falling from the year prior. Demolitions peaked in 2015 at 204, according to the data.

The downward trend may seem like a “mission accomplished” moment for Eric Dobson of Preservation Arlington, but instead he thinks it reflects changing market dynamics, not a new-found interest in preserving older homes.

“I was afraid someone would ask,” he joked after being contacted by ARLnow.com.

Dobson said that the number of homes in Arlington that are attractive candidates for demolition — those that have been poorly maintained, that sit on a lot that can be subdivided, or that are worth substantially less than the underlying property — is finite and shrinking.

But there’s another trend in play that may explain why demolition permits are falling: a trend towards gut renovations that keep just enough of the structure to not be classified as a demolition under county code.

“People are getting creative as supply dries up,” Dobson wrote. For example, “someone buys a house that is on a substandard lot — a lot that has a small side yard or something that would not be permitted today. So they cannot ‘tear it down’ because they would need to meet today’s code for setback. Instead [they] keep that exterior wall that gives them more building room and tear the rest of the house down.”

“The definition of teardown somewhat hides the fact that dozens of more houses are essentially torn down,” he added. “As lots become more scarce, people are becoming innovative/creative.”

Local realtor and ARLnow columnist Eli Tucker largely echoed Dobson’s analysis.

“The sale of single family marked as new construction increased slightly from 121 to 130 homes in 2017,” he said. “New construction can be considered a total demo or building on top of/expanding [an] existing foundation. I’m seeing more of this lately so it’s possible that we’re seeing fewer complete demolitions, but just as many or more new construction with higher numbers of new homes on existing structure.”

Meanwhile, it’s not uncommon for buyers to demolish million-dollar homes. There were a total of 12 demo permits issued in 2017 for homes purchased for more than $1 million, according to Preservation Arlington.

Image via Preservation Arlington

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Morning Notes

Chamber Calls for Pause on Housing Conservation District — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is calling for the Arlington County Board to pump the brakes on a proposed Housing Conservation District policy, set for a vote at tomorrow’s Board meeting. The Chamber says the policy would affect more than 450 privately-owned properties. “The County’s failure to provide any notice to property owners that would be affected by the Framework is inconsistent with Arlington’s established government process and the level of transparency the community has come to depend on,” said Chamber President Kate Bates. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Carlin Springs Bridge Work to ResumeDemolition of the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over George Mason Drive was curtailed by winter weather last weekend, but is set to resume this weekend. Drivers should expect a number of detours in the area. [Twitter]

Fisette Tribute Packs Local Church — “A Dec. 13 tribute to departing Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette was about 90 percent heartfelt thanks for his 20 years of service in elected office. And about 10 percent celebrity roast.” The event was so well-attended that the parking lot of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington was filled to capacity by those whom Fisette has not yet convinced to take the Car-Free Diet. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Gossip: Britt McHenry Back on Local Airwaves? — A noted local Twitter user who goes by the name “Clarendon Bros” shared some local TV gossip last night, claiming that Britt McHenry was seen auditioning for a job at Fox 5. McHenry at one point lived in Arlington — it is unclear if she still does — and had a well-publicized run-in with local towing company Advanced Towing. [Twitter]

Fox Leaves Crystal City BID — “After more than a decade running the Crystal City Business Improvement District, Angela Fox is stepping down. The BID’s board of directors announced Fox’s departure Thursday, but has not named a permanent replacement.” [Bisnow]

Local Homebuilder Getting Bigger — “Arlington-based homebuilder CalAtlantic Homes is purchasing Home South Communities, a privately held homebuilder based in the Atlanta area. CalAtlantic itself is in the midst of a $9.3 billion merger with Miami’s Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), expected to close early next year.” [Washington Business Journal]

Realtor Group Extends Clothing and Food Drive — “Despite the weather, the first community wide drop off for the Arlington Realtors Care (ARC) initiative, held on Saturday, Dec. 9 was a great success. ARC is sponsoring a second community wide drop off date scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16 at RGS Title.” [Press Release]

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