Impede Apartments, Get a Self Storage Place — In an editorial, Falls Church’s newspaper of record is warning of “The Lesson of Cube Smart.” The lesson: when Arlington County put up roadblocks to the development of the proposed Shreve Apartments in East Falls Church, developer Mark Silverwood eventually lost patience and figured out that building a “by right” self-storage place would be easier and more lucrative. Separately, Silverwood also proposed an apartment building in Bluemont that was rejected by the community, canceling a proposed revamp of the neighborhood’s Safeway supermarket. [Falls Church News-Press]
More Orange Line Delays — There were morning rush hour delays once again on Metro’s Orange and Silver lines today. A train malfunction at the Virginia Square station prompted single tracking past the station and, once that was cleared, residual delays. [Twitter]
Arlington Man Wins $100,000 — Arlington resident Robert Thomas won $100,000 in a Virginia Lottery Cash 5 drawing last week. Thomas purchased the winning ticket at the Chanda Market at 5550 Columbia Pike. [WJLA]
APS SOL Score Rise — Arlington Public Schools is touting “impressive results” on its students’ 2015 Virginia Standards of Learning tests. Among those achieving significant test score gains were Limited English Proficient and minority students. [Arlington Public Schools]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
ITT Tech Protest Only Included One Student — A protest outside ITT Tech’s shareholder meeting in Rosslyn earlier this week reportedly included only one person who had actually been a student at the for-profit school. The rest were from advocacy groups and a labor union. [Inside Higher Ed]
New Food Delivery Service Comes to Arlington — DoorDash, an online food delivery business that promises to get food to your door in 45 minutes or less, has launched in Arlington. DoorDash joins similar food delivery services like Seamless and Eat24 in entering the Arlington market. [WUSA 9]
Arlington Teacher Recognized at the White House — Arlington Career Center teacher Thomas O’Day was one of 10 educators nationwide to be honored as a 2015 Career and Technical Education Innovator. O’Day, who has been teaching television production at the career center for 27 years, received his recognition at an event hosted by the White House. [Arlington Public Schools]
New Affordable Housing Video — The group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) is producing a series of videos in support of affordable housing efforts in Arlington. The first video profiles Marcos Rubio, a janitor at H-B Woodlawn who currently commutes from the Springfield area. [Vimeo]
House Fire in Alcova Heights — A small house fire broke out on the 3800 block of 6th Street S. in the Alcova Heights neighborhood around 7:00 this morning. The fire was extinguished and no one was hurt. [Twitter]
Fairfax County Approves Seven Corners Plan — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week approved a sweeping redevelopment plan for the Seven Corners area, near Arlington. The plan, which was fought by residents in nearby single family home neighborhoods, calls for several thousand new homes, a revamped street grid and new shops and restaurants. [Washington Post]
(Updated at 5 p.m.) Columbia Pike residents are getting a first look at the development that’s proposed to replace the Food Star grocery store at the the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and Columbia Pike.
Officials will hold an open house to discuss the proposal for a public square that will go next to the planned six-story multi-use building from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 30, at the county’s Parks and Natural Resources Operations Building (2700 S. Taylor Street).
Under the form based code proposal, submitted by Orr Partners, the new building will have five stories of market-rate apartments, and the first floor will have retail and a grocery store. The “major grocer” filling the space has not been finalized. There will also be a public square at the intersection of S. George Mason and Columbia Pike, but the idea is still in a preliminary planning stage.
Preliminary sketches for the project, dubbed “Columbia Pike Village Center,” show retail on the plaza level and the first level with the grocery store on the plaza level. The apartment complex would have an entrance on the plaza level by the public square and an entrance on the first floor.
The building is planned to have about 250 new market-rate apartments and 607 parking spaces in a three-level below-ground garage, in addition to the more than 80,000 square feet of retail.
Of the 607 parking spots, 366 will be for tenants while 245 will be for customers and visitors. There will also be 28 public parking spots on the streets and 126 bicycle rack spots.
The building plans also call for three residential courtyards, one on the first floor, an open one on the second floor and one that is open from the second floor and up. According to preliminary landscape sketches, the courtyard on the second floor could have a pool.
Bailey’s Crossroads Project Canceled — A project that would have redeveloped a vacant office building into an apartment building in Bailey’s Crossroads has been canceled. The project was to take place just over the Arlington County line, on the Fairfax County side of the intersection of Columbia Pike and Carlin Springs Road. [Washington Business Journal]
W-L Turf Project On Track — A joint Arlington County-Arlington Public Schools project to replace the artificial turf at Washington-Lee High School’s stadium remains on track to wrap up early next month, despite the rainy weather that the area has been experiencing. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Airamangel
Nearly 1,100 new apartment units could be coming to Pentagon City as part of a major planned development of the 37-acre RiverHouse apartment complex.
RiverHouse owner Vornado presented the initial development plans to largely skeptical members of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association last night.
The plans call for 934 new market rate apartment units, to be added to the existing 1,670 units on the site across three buildings, which date back to the 1950s and 60s. Vornado is also proposing a 150 unit, stand-alone affordable apartment building, to be developed with a nonprofit affordable housing partner.
The new market rate units will be built across three buildings, each about seven stories tall — half the height of the existing buildings — to preserve the views of condominium residents on Arlington Ridge.
The first two buildings are to be built on what is currently a surface parking lot across from the Pentagon Row courtyard. Between the buildings will run a pedestrian corridor that leads up to the ridge, with 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.
The surface parking will be replaced with a large underground garage. RiverHouse aims to reduce its overall parking ratio from just over one spot per unit to 0.85 spots per unit, as currently only about 70 percent of its parking spots are filled at night. With a total of 2,754 units, RiverHouse would have 2,340 parking space.
The third building will be built on what is now a pool and detached fitness center behind two of the buildings. In place of the current amenities, the new building would have a larger, improved fitness center plus a large, new outdoor pool, for use by residents of all three buildings.
Grace Hopper Park, located on the RiverHouse grounds, would remain untouched. Beside it, in front of the southernmost RiverHouse building on S. Joyce Street and across from county softball fields, Vornado is proposing the 150-unit building, affordable for those making up to 60 percent of area median income.
A new residential tower is planned for the current site of a low-rise office building in Courthouse.
The Bush Construction building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd is slated to be redeveloped as a residential tower, with 14 floors of apartments or condos, a rooftop terrace, ground floor retail and five levels of underground parking and storage.
The developer is scheduled to present its plan to residents of the next-door Odyssey condominium building tonight at 7:30 p.m. So far no formal plans have been filed with Arlington County, according to a Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman. There’s also no word yet on when the project is expected to start.
A presentation emailed to Odyssey residents shows a tan-colored tower with outdoor patios for certain units, a rooftop terrace with an indoor lounge, and a second-floor outdoor pool and patio area.
County to Seek Ballston Mall Partnership — Arlington County is moving quickly to try to come up with a public-private partnership for the redevelopment of Ballston Common Mall. County Board members said Tuesday that they believe the redevelopment will bring important economic benefits. “To not reinvest is to watch the death, I think, of Ballston,” said County Board Chair Mary Hynes. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Crash Near Kenmore Middle School — A five-vehicle crash occurred around 5:30 yesterday evening on S. Carlin Springs Road, just south of Kenmore Middle School. Scanner reports suggest a driver mistook the gas pedal for the brake at an intersection, leading to the multi-vehicle wreck. [Twitter]
Playground Contracts Awarded — The Arlington County Board has voted unanimously to award two contracts, together worth about $2 million, for new playgrounds at Long Bridge Park and Tyrol Hills Park. Construction on both is expected to begin later this summer and will take about four months. [Arlington County]
Panhandlers Stake Out Turf in Arlington — There’s “an ongoing turf war” among panhandlers in Arlington County, who seek to hold certain lucrative, traffic-laden roadsides and medians. The “war” has resulted in the occasional fist fight and accusations that rival panhandlers are making up their sob stories, which often revolve around being a veteran or losing a home. [Falls Church News-Press]
Free Chips and Guac at Cal Tor Today — California Tortilla locations, including the eatery in Courthouse, are offering free chips and guacamole to customers today. A purchase is required. [California Tortilla]
Flickr pool photo by airamangel
A crowd of locals swapped memories, shared beers and even fought back some tears while saying goodbye to longtime neighborhood hangout Jay’s Saloon on Monday.
Jay’s Saloon first opened its doors in the fall of 1993, and became famous throughout Clarendon for $8 pitchers of beer during happy hour, cheap eats and a no-frills dive bar aesthetic.
In 2011, the bar received news that the building that houses it could be demolished and replaced with a mixed-use development. Last summer, that news became reality. The new development, called 10th Street Flats and located at 3132 10th Street N., is planned to have 135 residential units, 3,660 square feet of retail, almost 5,000 square feet of office space and nine live/work units.
Kathi Moore, who co-owned Jay’s with her ex-husband, spent the night slinging beers and hugging old friends.
“This is my life,” said Moore. “I spent half my working life here.”
For Moore, the closure of Jay’s represents an end, but also a new beginning. “[It’s] another phase of my life,” she said. “I’ll get another job.”
Moore’s patrons spent the night toasting the bar’s iconic status as the last dive bar in Clarendon.
Charlie Heitman, who manages the condo across the street from Jay’s, ate lunch there three or four days a week for more than a decade. To Heitman, the bar’s closing means one less place for locals to feel at home.
“It’s not a corporate bar, where everything is pre-programmed,” Heitman said. “I’m more sad about this than my last divorce.”
Last Saturday, Heitman served as auctioneer as bar sold off memorabilia and keepsakes.
“We sold almost everything off the wall. It was a frenzy,” said Heitman. “People [wanted] just a little piece of Jay’s to take home with them.”
“We know all the waitresses, we know all the bartenders,” said longtime regular Elaine Ethier. “There’s no other place in Arlington like this.”
Jacki Barnett, who was a bar regular since 2007, spent the night savoring the minutes before last call. Even though she knew the doors would close for good, Barnett said she will always keep in touch with the people she met over the years.
“I’m going to take a big deep breath, I’m going to shed a tear, realize that all these people are still my friends,” Barnett said. “I’ll see them around the corner in just a minute.”
Renderings of Proposed Ballston High-Rise — Ahead of Wednesday’s Arlington Site Plan Review Committee meeting, developers Lionstone and Penzance have released new renderings of the 22-story, 330-unit apartment tower they’re proposing to build on the Carpool site in Ballston. The tower is sleek metal and glass, with a retail pavilion on the ground floor. In a second phase, the developers are proposing to replace an aging, adjacent office building with another 22-story, 362-unit residential building. [Washington Business Journal]
Free Cone Day at Haagen-Dazs — The Haagen-Dazs store at Pentagon City mall is offering free ice cream today from 4:00-8:00 p.m. as part of the company’s nationwide Free Cone Day. [Facebook]
Coalition for Minority Affairs Honors Students — Eighty-seven African and African-American Arlington Public Schools students were honored last week by the Civic Coalition for Minority Affairs. The Northern Virginia group “endeavors to foster high academic achievement through its annual awards ceremony.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Last year, the average rent in Arlington was $1,834 per month, according to the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development.
That’s a dropoff from $1,934 in 2013 and $1,999 in 2012. It’s the cheapest average apartment rent since 2011, when the price was $1,768 per month, according to county records.
The average rent has declined for two years in a row after consistent, steep increases. A decade ago, in 2005, the average rent in Arlington was $1,270 per month, and the average three-bedroom apartment cost $1,803. Today, the average three-bedroom costs $2,671.
This drop in average rent comes at the same time as soaring assessments for residential properties — the average assessment in the county went up 4.9 percent, with some areas increasing by an average of 11 percent year over year. That jump, concentrated in some of the poorest areas in the county, cost homeowners an additional $400 in tax bills this year compared to last.
The higher assessments also hit the apartment market — existing apartment assessments jumped by 4.7 percent in 2015, but it appears that price bump has not yet been passed on to apartment renters.
It’s unclear if the two-year decline in rents is a trend or a blip. Arlington’s rental vacancy rate is at 3.8 percent — its office vacancy is at 20.4 percent, by comparison — and there are currently 2,055 net new apartment units under construction in the Metro corridors, per planning staff. Some of those units — like the Central Place development in Rosslyn — won’t come online until after 2016.
Since 2000, Arlington has added more than 23,000 residential units in the Metro corridors, many of them upscale rental apartment buildings. Metro ridership continually increased over that time, until recently. From 2010 to 2014, Arlington lost several thousand weekday Metro riders in both of its Metro corridors.
So far, developers aren’t showing signs of being scared off. Arlington still projects its Rosslyn-Ballston and Jefferson Davis Highway corridors will add a combined 35,000 apartment units by 2040.
The proposed building, from developer Orr Partners, would be six stories of mixed-use development — five stories of apartments and ground floor retail. The property would have to redevelop under the Columbia Pike Commercial Form-Based Code, which calls for mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly buildings.
Orr Partners Chairman David Orr said he expects the building to have about 350 market-rate apartments, and for a grocery store and other community-oriented retail — maybe a fast-casual restaurant or two — to occupy the ground floor. He expects to submit a form-based code application in June.
“It’s going to be really great, we’re really excited,” Orr said. His Reston-based company has already built the FDIC headquarters in Ballston and Boeing’s former headquarters in Rosslyn. “We love Arlington, and we love doing business in Arlington.”
In addition to the retail and apartments, the developer plans to include underground parking and to build a public plaza where the large surface lot is now. The plaza, Orr said, would be roughly the same size as the ones at Arlington Mill Community Center and Penrose Square.
“We believe that public plaza has an opportunity to be a wonderful game changer for Columbia Pike because of its visibility and location,” he said. “Certainly the Penrose Square plaza was wonderfully done, but we think we can take it up another notch.”
Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization Executive Director Takis Karantonis is familiar with the plans, and he said the area — one of the major intersections on the Pike — is ripe for a project like this.
“This is a truly important intersection of the Pike and we are very interested in seeing that happen,” he told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “On the other side, we love the Food Star, it has been a staple on the Pike for a very long time. It serves three or four neighborhoods, and it will be a tough transition through the construction phase not to have a grocery store there.”
Karantonis said he would like to see the Food Star come back in the ground floor of the new building, or something similar: an affordable grocery store with a focus on ethnic foods.
The proposal is in its nascent stages, according to Urban Planner Matt Mattauszek with the county’s department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. So far, it is just a draft concept and Orr Partners is beginning to have meetings with the Form-Based Code Advisory Working Group. No official plans or proposals have been submitted to the county.
So far, the only clue as to what the development will look like is a rendering of the building’s general shape and size, submitted to CPHD, that shows a building with frontages along both George Mason Drive and the Pike. Orr said his company has retained KGD Architecture, which designed the Arlington Mill residences on Columbia Pike.
Photo, top, via Google Maps. Image, bottom, courtesy CPHD
(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) The approval process for Ballston Common Mall’s massive renovation plans is still months away, but many stores are likely to close after the end of the year.
Forest City, which owns the mall, has coordinated leases for many of their shops on the mall’s interior to expire by the end of this year. This would pave the way for the mall’s renovation in 2016 once it’s approved, according to spokesman Gary McManus.
“We are currently in the process of positioning the mall for this demolition period by steadily vacating store units by the end of this year that will be impacted by early phases of demolition/redevelopment activity,” McManus told ARLnow.com in an email.
“To that end,” he continued, “we decided more than a year ago to institute lease terms for many of these store tenants that would not stretch into 2016 in order to give us the flexibility to start on the site work sooner than later, once the approvals process has been completed.”
McManus couldn’t specify which stores would be closing because of ongoing negotiations, but he said every business with an outside entrance will remain open throughout the entire renovation. That means Macy’s, Regal Cinemas, Rock Bottom Brewery, Noodles & Co., Panera Bread, Sport&Health Club and the CVS Pharmacy will be able to stay open, but everything else could be on the chopping block.
Forest City submitted three different site plan amendments with Arlington County last summer: one to renovate the mall’s interior, another to construct a 393 unit, 29-story residential tower with ground floor retail at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and N. Randolph Street, and a third to renovate the office building above the mall.
All of those applications are under staff review and no dates have been set for meetings of the Site Plan Review Committee, the Arlington Planning Commission or the County Board. While many site plan amendments take within 12 months to work through the process, the grand scope of Forest City’s plans dictate a longer review period, county planning staff said.
“The timeline has been due to the nature and complexity of the proposal,” Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Gina Wimpey said in an email. ” We want to ensure that, given that there are three separate applications for the redevelopment of the block that are interrelated, an appropriate review process is determined.”
McManus said he can’t speculate on a development timetable until Forest City has its plans approved, but he said it will go before the Board “hopefully by late 2015.”
Before that happens, Forest City will be selling national retailers on the future of Ballston Common Mall — which will be rebranded, but, McManus said, may not carry the previously circulated “Ballston Center” moniker — at industry conventions, in particular the ICSC conference in Las Vegas.
“Many retailers not currently located in the mall have expressed excitement and interest in learning more about our plans at this event,” McManus said. “So overall, the redevelopment plans for Ballston Common are on track and proceeding smoothly. This is a complex process and we are very excited about the anticipated results. Believe me when I say that no one is more eager to complete the redevelopment process at Ballston Common than Forest City Washington.”
Kimco Realty has released the renderings of its plan for Phase I of the redevelopment of the Pentagon Centre mall.
The real estate company will present the renderings to the Site Plan Review Committee tonight as it tries to amend its approved site plan. Its initial plans for the 16.8-acre site that includes the Costco, Best Buy and Nordstrom Rack in Pentagon City were approved in 2008, but those called for constructing the six-structure complex’s office buildings first.
Because of the realities of Arlington’s stagnant office market, Kimco now wants to build residential first, including a 25-story apartment tower at the corner of 12th Street S. and S. Hayes Street. That tower would be steps from the Pentagon City Metro entrance and would include ground floor retail.
Also in Phase I would be two buildings along 15th Street S.: a 10-story residential building with ground floor retail at the corner of S. Hayes Street, and a seven-story parking garage next to a new S. Grant Street, which would alleviate the loss of parking spots in the Costco’s surface lot.
The two residential buildings would give the area an influx of 703 residential units, and the parking garage would supply the area with 394 spots.
Phases II and III of the redevelopment — planned for 20 and 40 years after Phase I — have not been rendered. If approved, those phases of the redevelopment will see the demolition of the main mall building and the Costco, replacing it with three office buildings, a hotel and a park along S. Fern Street.
Australian Restaurant Coming to Clarendon — Oz, a new Australian restaurant, will be opening in the former La Tagliatella space in Clarendon late this summer. The restaurant is owned by Australian native Michael Darby, co-founder of Monument Realty, and his wife Ashley Darby, the 2011 Miss District of Columbia winner. [Washington Business Journal]
New Ballston Apartment Project in the Works — Saul Centers, which developed the Clarendon Center project, is planning a new residential and retail development on the Orange Line. The developer is in the early stages of proposing a 12-story, 431-unit apartment building to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]
Parking Lot Hit-and-Run Case in Court — A court hearing was held Monday for Alexandra Mendez, the woman accused of running over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot and then fleeing the scene. Prosecutors showed the court a cell phone video of the incident, which nearly killed 40-year-old Noormustafa “Noor” Shaikh. A doctor testified that Shaikh’s “bones were like shards” after being run over by Mendez in her SUV. [WJLA]
Arlington Highly Ranked by AARP — Arlington County is the 6th most livable place in the U.S. with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, according to a new survey by AARP. Also in the AARP survey, Arlington ranked No. 1 in the “Best Cities for Staying Healthy” category, thanks to an abundance of exercise opportunities. The survey targeted Americans age 50 and older. [WTOP]
VHC and County Considering Land Swap — Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington County have started discussing a possible land swap. The swap would trade soon-to-be-vacated county properties adjacent to the hospital — which would allow VHC to expand — for hospital property elsewhere in the county. Virginia Hospital Center, meanwhile, is getting kudos from the federal government. According to new hospital rankings from Medicare, VHC is the only “four star” hospital in the D.C. area. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson
Verde Pointe — Arlington’s newest high-end apartment community — is now accepting leases for June 2015 move-ins.
Featuring as many as 41 unique floor plan styles in both tower and townhome buildings, Verde Pointe will be a destination for area residents looking for a new apartment home in the centralized Courthouse neighborhood.
The community — located at the corner of North Veitch Street and Lee Highway — contains 162 apartment homes in a luxe residential tower as well as 36 apartment homes divided into townhome flats, each with a private entrance and the uppermost units with an enormous private rooftop terrace. Additionally, 242 residential parking spaces and the county’s first MOM’s Organic Market grocery store complete the mixed-use development.
Designed to LEED Gold standards, the apartment homes feature floor-to-ceiling windows, glass balconies, quartz countertops, movable kitchen islands, in-unit washer and dryers, programmable thermostats, engineered wood flooring, and panoramic views of the DC and Northern Virginia skyline. Both tower and townhome flats are available in studio, convertible, one bedroom, one bedroom plus den, and two bedroom varieties; pricing begins at $1,650/month.
Because Verde Pointe is an active construction site, interested parties are encouraged to visit the temporary leasing center at 2200 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite #1125, in Courthouse. Prospects receive tailor-made leasing materials, guided neighborhood discussions and details on services presented by the property management team, led by General Manager Charlie Wexell.
“We like to explore the ideal living situation for each prospect,” explains Wexell. “That’s the beauty of having so many unique floor plans and features: we can find the perfect fit for everyone’s specific preferences.”
The 36 townhome flats will deliver first, currently slated for the second week of June 2015. In each townhome are two flats, each with private entrances, easy access to the parking garage and open floor plans. The townhome flats located on the top floor also come complete with a private rooftop terrace. All community amenities, such as personal wine storage, rooftop pool, club room and kitchen, and fitness center will be available to all residents in the complex upon delivery of the tower, in July 2015.
The development is led by award-winning developer McCaffery Interests — who will also be managing the community within the nationally-renowned MI-Home brand — in partnership with Bergmann’s Cleaning, and with strong financial support from Cardinal Bank and Burke and Herbert Bank. In addition to Verde Pointe, McCaffery Interests is known for developing environmentally conscious projects nationwide. Last month, McCaffery Interests announced a new mixed-use development in partnership with Grosvenor Americas, known as Ballpark Square, located in the blooming Navy Yard neighborhood. Ballpark Square is home to First Residences, another new high-end residential community managed by McCaffery Interests.
Verde Pointe has been designed and is being constructed to LEED Gold standards, and will have several major sustainable features such as electric car charging stations and individually remote-controlled thermostats so residents can more closely control and monitor their energy use. In line with the green initiatives, MOM’s Organic Market has a long-running history with environmental advocacy, and has begun plans for engaging the Arlington community with eco-conscious functions and features for residents and neighbors.
All information on the Verde Pointe development and upcoming plans can be found at http://www.verdepointe.com/. Development and contact information for McCaffery Interests can be found at http://www.mccafferyinterests.com/.
The preceding article was sponsored by McCaffery Interests