(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) Heavy demolition is underway at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street, as portions of the old Ballston Common Mall are demolished to make way for the renovated Ballston Quarter shopping center and apartment tower.
Demolition crews from Celtic Demolition are at work tearing down the corner of the building that contained one of the mall’s main entrances and the former Macy’s furniture store. Crews are hosing down the debris with water to reduce dust.
One tipster who works across the street from the mall, at the National Science Foundation, said yesterday — after demolition started — that the close proximity of the demolition to moving traffic was concerning.
“You have to see the way they are demolishing the Ballston Mall,” the tipster said. “It is such a recipe for disaster. The debris is falling onto [the street] as cars and buses are driving by.”
The extensive renovation project is expected to wrap up in 2018.
Slowly but steadily, the former DoD Inspector General’s Office in Pentagon City is being demolished floor-by-floor.
“Bordering Crystal City and Pentagon City, The Altaire, referencing the double star in the constellation Aquila, will offer 450 condominium homes to the growing region,” says an older website for the forthcoming development. “With expected unobstructed views of The District, The Altarie will be one community to not miss.”
The website pegs the price range of Altaire condos at $300,000 to $2.5 million. It’s unclear if those prices have since been updated.
A groundbreaking for the project is expected to be held later this year.
At its meeting on Wednesday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a permit for use of the county-owned “teardrop parcel,” adjacent to the property, for temporary construction storage, staging and parking.
Groundbreaking for Hotel Project — Developer B.F. Saul broke ground yesterday on a new hotel project. A 10-story Homewood Suites hotel will be replacing the former Colony House Furniture store at 1700 Lee Highway near Rosslyn. Demolition of the store is now proceeding, five years after it closed its doors. [Washington Business Journal]
Kojo Controversy Defused — Arlington County Board candidate Erik Gutshall wasn’t happy with the choice of political operative Ben Tribbett as a call-in guest for a Kojo Nnamdi Show segment on the County Board race — and the candidate made his feelings known via Twitter. Tribbett had done some paid polling work for incumbent Libby Garvey earlier this year, Gutshall pointed out. In the end, Gutshall himself joined the segment as a call-in guest, along with Tribbett and ARLnow.com editor Scott Brodbeck. [Storify]
Arlington Posting FOIA Responses Online — Arlington County is now releasing its responses to Freedom of Information Act requests online, for all to see. The first posted response is documents and emails related to NOVA Armory. Said County Manager Mark Schwartz: “My overarching goal is to increase government transparency. This is one simple way that we can share information that we have already collected… which already has some interest from the community.” [Arlington County]
The former Wendy’s restaurant in Courthouse is no more.
A construction crew demolished the restaurant yesterday, reducing it to a pile of rubble. As of last night, only a couple of newspaper boxes and small brick wall that was in front of the restaurant’s drive-thru lane still stood.
Wendy’s closed in December, as did its next-door neighbor, the Wells Fargo bank. The bank is next in line for demolition.
The site is set to be redeveloped into a 12-story office building that will feature Wells Fargo as its marquee ground floor retail tenant.
There are now three remaining Wendy’s restaurants in Arlington: at 5066 Lee Highway, 3431 Columbia Pike and 5050 S. Chesterfield Road, which is just off of Route 7 on the Fairfax County border.
An architect has been chosen to design a new pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston.
The existing bridge, which connects Ballston Common Mall with the Ballston Metro station, is set to be torn down as part of the redevelopment of the mall. Demolition work on the mall is expected to begin in June. The rebranded “Ballston Quarter” open-air shopping plaza and mall is slated to open in 2018.
Mall owner Forest City formally announced today that Cleveland-based studioTECHNE has been selected as the design architect of a new pedestrian bridge, which will replace the old one. The firm has recently completed two other pedestrian bridges, including one at Case Western Reserve University.
The bridge project is being paid for by Forest City, as part of a public-private partnership on the redevelopment project. In addition to the mall, Forest City is also building a new 22-story, 406-unit residential tower.
“We are very excited to begin the conceptual design process with so much wonderful public input” said Marco Ciccarelli of studioTECHNE. “Our aim is to blend this input into creating a significant piece of functional public art which will perform for the Ballston community in a high profile manner for many years to come.”
“It is our hope and intention that this replacement pedestrian bridge project will be a civic landmark in the Ballston community,” said Kris Krider, planning supervisor for Urban Design & Research at Arlington’s Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development. “We feel we have the right mix of creative talent and demonstrated skill involved to act upon the community input and tight timeframe for this component of the redevelopment of Ballston Common.”
Angela Adams, Arlington’s public art administrator, also weighed in.
“We are confident that this civic design exercise will result in an iconic structure and welcome addition to Arlington’s growing inventory of thoughtfully designed infrastructure,” Adams said.
The proposed new bridge design is expected to be presented to Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz for approval in June.
(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.
McMenamin Leads Cash Race — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Michael McMenamin has the most cash on hand of the four candidates in the race. McMenamin’s campaign reported $13,699 on hand as of Aug. 31, compared to $10,127 for Democrat Katie Cristol, $8,853 for Democrat Christian Dorsey and $1,657 for independent Audrey Clement. Dorsey has thus far spent the most on his campaign: $55,048, compared to McMenamin’s spending of $2,050. [InsideNova]
‘Demolition Derby’ for Old Houses — All over Arlington, older, more modest homes are being torn down and much larger, more lavish homes are being built in their place. The actual number of homes destroyed is low relative to Arlington’s population — the county reported 124 demolition permits for the first six months of 2015 — but it still worries long-time residents. “Can middle-income people in their 30s, first-time buyers, still live in Arlington?” asked one woman. [Falls Church News-Press]
Local Youth Pilgrimage to Philly — Six hundred teenagers from around Northern Virginia, plus 185 students from Arlington’s Bishop O’Connell High School, will be making a pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the visit of Pope Francis. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Death Nears for Man Who Raped, Killed in Arlington — A man suspected of raping and killing a woman in Arlington in 1988 is scheduled to be executed in Virginia in two weeks. Alfredo Prieto has also been convicted of or is suspected in a number of other murders and rape cases in Virginia and California. [Los Angeles Times]
Grants for Serving Those with Disabilities — Arlington County has $111,910 available for grants to groups that provide services to Arlington residents with physical and sensory disabilities. The deadline for grant applications is Oct. 30. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
ACPD Patrolling Trails — Auxiliary officers with the Arlington County Police Department will be increasingly patrolling trails around the county this spring, to help keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe. [InsideNova]
Arlington Transit Survey — Arlington County is conducting an online survey of residents as part of its update of Arlington’s Transit Development Plan. The 10-year-plan is intended to identify transit goals and prioritize improvements. This latest update will include recommendations for future transit on Columbia Pike. [SurveyMonkey]
Forums Shut Down — Due to an influx of uncontrollable spam and an unresolvable technical glitch with the latest version of WordPress, ARLnow.com has made the decision to shut down our message board indefinitely. Thank you to our forum participants for four years of vigorous community discussion.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Demolition of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is ramping up.
While the building at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road has been slowly, methodically taken apart for months, today demolition crews seemed to reach an inflection point.
This morning, construction crews were hacking large pieces off the distinctive, blue Marymount University building using high-reach excavators, similar to the ones used to tear down the building across from the Rosslyn Metro station last December.
When the building’s demolition is complete, it will be replaced by a nine-story office building and 15-story residential building. The redevelopment is a partnership between Shooshan Company and Marymount University. Shooshan has a ground lease for the land and is developing the new buildings, while MU owns the land and will occupy six of the nine floors of the new office building, with plans to fill the other three over time.
The buildings are expected to be completed by summer 2017, Shooshan Company Vice President Kevin Shooshan told ARLnow.com in February.
Photos via Twitter and Facebook, as noted
(Updated at 6:25 p.m.) The distinctive “Blue Goose” building on the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road in Ballston is starting to be torn down.
The building, built in the 1960s, will be replaced by a nine-story office building and 15-story residential building. The redevelopment is a partnership between Shooshan Company and Marymount University. Shooshan has a ground lease for the land and is developing the new buildings, while MU owns the land and will occupy six of the nine floors of the new office building, with plans to fill the other three over time.
The demolition is expected to wrap up May, according to Shooshan Company Director of Leasing and Marketing Kevin Shooshan. The first step of construction will be excavation to create the three levels of underground parking. Shooshan expects the two buildings to be complete in summer 2017.
The entire property — the building and the parking lot in the rear — is fenced off as crews begin to tear out the building’s interior. This morning, workers were tossing pieces of the interior from the fourth floor window onto the ground below.
Panels from the building will be donated to local museums to preserve the building as a model of Modern Movement architecture. Some of the panels, as well as blue elements throughout the 7,600-square-foot public plaza also being built on the site, will be preserved as part of the new development.
Three Arlington Restaurants in ‘Dining Guide’ — Three Arlington restaurants are in Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s annual Fall Dining Guide. The eateries getting the honor: Green Pig Bistro, Thai Square and Water & Wall. [Washington Post]
Arlington Woman Wins Army Ten-Miler — An Arlington woman was the top female finisher in the 30th annual Army Ten-Miler on Sunday. Kerri Gallagher, 25, won the race with a time of 54:50. Two other Arlington women cracked the top 10: eighth place finisher Samantha Diehl, 26, and tenth place finisher Amy Laskowske, 27. [Stars and Stripes, Army Ten-Miler]
Rare Photo of Arlington House Slave — The National Park Service unveiled a rare photo of Selina Norris Gray, a slave at Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House, over the weekend. The photo was purchased on eBay by a Park Service volunteer, who recognized Gray in the photo. It was sold by a seller in England who had found a box of “unwanted” photos at a yard sale. [Washington Post, WJLA]
Home Sales Up, Prices Down — The average home sale price in Arlington slid 2.8 percent in September, compared to one year prior, but the volume of sales rose by about 10 percent. [InsideNova]
Demolitions in Historic Districts — Since the beginning of the year, applications have been filed to demolish at least 25 homes in historic districts in Arlington. “The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy and materials,” the group Preservation Arlington said in a blog post. As previously reported, home demolitions are on pace for a record pace this year. [Preservation Arlington]
Skybridge Demolition Extended — The demolition of the skybridges on N. Lynn and N. Moore Streets in Rosslyn has been extended to another weekend. Drivers should expect N. Lynn Street to be closed from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. March 28-30. N. Moore Street will be closed during the same times April 4-6. The middle lane closures on N. Lynn Street, meanwhile, are expected to last until April 4. [Arlington County]
Yorktown Soccer Team Ranked — Updated at 10:00 a.m. — The Yorktown High School boys soccer team, despite finishing 4-11-3 last year, rank #9 on the Washington Post power rankings. The girls soccer team, meanwhile, is ranked #7.
Civ Fed Wants to Restrict Videotaping — In response to campaign officials videotaping the County Board debate it hosted earlier this month, the Arlington County Civic Federation says it will start to enforce rules against video and audio recording at its meetings. Anyone caught video or audio taping a meeting without prior approval will be kicked out, the Civic Federation said in its April newsletter. [InsideNoVa]
Photo courtesy by Liza Hodskins
Work to Begin Soon on Bergmann’s Development — Developer McCaffery Interests is planning to begin demolition work soon on the former Bergmann’s dry cleaning plant, at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Vietch Street. Workers could be seen surveying the building last week. On the site, McCaffrey will build a mixed-use development now called “Verde Pointe.” The project, which was approved in 2012, includes 177 apartments, 23 townhomes and a 14,000 square foot MOM’s Organic Market grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]
Opower Files for IPO — Courthouse-based energy efficiency company Opower has filed for an initial public stock offering. The company has nearly 500 employees across 5 offices worldwide. It was founded in 2007. President Obama visited the company’s Courthouse headquarters in 2010. [Wall Street Journal]
Bar to Host ‘Condoms and Candy Necklace Party’ — In honor of Valentine’s Day, Wilson Tavern in Courthouse (2403 Wilson Blvd) will be hosting a “Condoms & Candy Necklace Party” tomorrow (Friday) from 8:00 p.m. to close. [Clarendon Nights]
Date Set for County Board Special Election — Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman officially has declared that the Arlington County Board special election will be held on April 8. The special election is being held to replace now-former County Board member Chris Zimmerman. [Sun Gazette]
End of the Road for Seoul Food Truck — The Seoul Food truck, which makes stops in Rosslyn, Courthouse, Ballston and other lunch spots in Arlington, will be retired at the end of this month. The owners say they want to spend more time focusing on their brick-and-mortar store in Silver Spring, Md., next to the Wheaton Metro station. [Food Truck Fiesta]
Bike Boulevard Signs Installed — Arlington has installed signs and sharrows designating 9th Street S. and 12th Street S., which run along either side of Columbia Pike, as “bike boulevards.” The county has not yet, however, installed improved intersection crossings or trail links, leading some to say that the bike boulevards so far do little to improve safety for Pike cyclists. [Greater Greater Washington]
Preservation Arlington Mourns Loss of Homes — The group Preservation Arlington says a total of 14 demolition permits were applied for in January. “In review of the Arlington County tax records, eight of the eleven houses are owned by builders and are speculative redevelopments, and two are being redeveloped by individuals who bought the property within the last year,” the group writes. “The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials.” [Preservation Arlington]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Three houses are being torn down to make way for a new apartment building in the Lyon Park neighborhood.
Developer Clark Realty expects to begin demolition on the vacant houses, on 9th Road N. behind Jay’s Saloon, within the next week. Construction on the new building, which will feature 18 one-to-three bedroom apartments and 33 parking spaces, is expected to take about a year.
The building, dubbed 9th Road Residences, is being built “by right,” meaning County Board approval is not needed. The new structure will be adjacent to another Clark-built apartment building on 9th Road. Both are about the same in scale: 3 stories high with a half-sunken ground floor.
Clark is planning to rent the apartments, but they’re being built with “condo-level finishes” so that the building can be converted to condominiums if market conditions dictate.
The project is adjacent to but separate from Clark’s “10th Street Flats” development, which will eventually result in the closure and demolition of Jay’s Saloon (3114 10th Street N.) and several other small businesses. That development must first go through Arlington’s site plan process.
At an informal neighborhood meeting with the developer last night, Lyon Park residents expressed little objection to the 9th Road project, but raised some concern about traffic that might eventually come from 10th Street Flats.