Alamo Drafthouse Coming to Crystal City — An Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be coming to Crystal City to anchor a residential redevelopment by the JBG Smith. The redevelopment will convert the aging office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a gleaming glass-and-metal residential building while topping it with a six-story addition. Also planned is an as-yet unsigned “specialty grocer” — think: Trader Joe’s or something similar. [Washington Business Journal]
Home Prices Rise in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. says the median selling price in Arlington County last month was $613,500, up 15 percent from May of 2016. The change was based on 350 closed sales in Arlington in May.” [WTOP]
County Looking for More Tech Grant Recipients — Arlington Economic Development is looking for more tech companies to lure to Arlington with its $1 million “Gazelle Grant” program. AED is seeking another 8-13 companies that are growing by at least 30 percent over a three year period and are willing to commit to at least a three year lease. [Technical.ly DC]
Neighbors of a former church in Ballston have mobilized against a plan that could allow more density at the site for future redevelopment.
The site at 1031 N. Vermont Street was home to the First Baptist Church of Ballston, which leased it to the Grace Community Church. Grace has since relocated its services to 125 S. Old Glebe Road. Full Circle Montessori School uses the space for classrooms, while there is also a parking lot and public children’s playground across 11th Street N. included.
Local resident Dana Gerk said she started the petition to ask the Arlington County Board and planning staff to “protect us and our community.”
Under a plan advanced unanimously by the County Board at its Saturday meeting, the site could be rezoned to allow for approximately 115,000 square feet of mixed-use development, to include a multi-story residential building and townhomes. The new zone could allow up to 105 homes to be built.
Staff said the proposed amendment to the General Land Use Plan (GLUP) for the site — which calls for “high-medium residential mixed use” zoning with a tapering down in height toward the lower-density residential community — would “more closely reflect the built conditions implemented through the County Board’s previous actions to approve numerous special exception site plans and rezonings since 1980.”
Board members said discussions around the planning principles for the site are separate from any new redevelopment plans, but one has already been submitted by a developer.
Earlier this year, Reston-based NVR submitted a preliminary application to turn the site into a seven-story building with 73 apartments and townhomes, and 13 townhomes on the north of 11th Street N.
County Board chair Jay Fisette emphasized the Board’s approval was not related to any potential development, but was instead about making broader plans for how a site may look in the future.
“I think today proved that if we can separate the planning issues from the particular building being proposed, we will have a better opportunity to shape what we want in that building when it comes forward,” Fisette said.
Opponents of upping the density on the site spoke against any changes. Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement bemoaned the approval of several under-construction projects in the area contributing to the “already-congested Ballston neighborhood,” and said neighbors might pursue legal action to prevent more development.
“The impact of these projects has not even been felt, these buildings have not yet been built,” she said. “Yet Ballston is already gridlocked.”
The Board’s approval means it will now hold public hearings on a potential GLUP amendment. Anthony Fusarelli, a staff member in the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, said such hearings could be held before the end of this year.
Northam, Gillespie Win Va. Primary — Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie, establishment figures in the state Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, beat back party insurgents to win the nomination for Virginia governor on Tuesday. The primary was a test of the “Trump effect,” according to political analysts. [Washington Post, Washington Post, Politico]
Python Found in Apartment Hallway — An Arlington animal control officer recovered a python from an apartment hallway Tuesday morning, prompting an article in by the Washington Post’s Martin Weil. In his signature style, Weil notes that “matters appeared to end satisfactorily.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Developer, 91, Wants to Move Into New Building — Longtime local developer Marvin Weissberg is enthusiastic about the 24-story, 407-unit residential tower he’s proposing to replace the RCA building in Rosslyn. So enthusiastic is Weissberg, 91, that he says he wants to move in when it’s completed. [Washington Business Journal]
Nearby: Shooting at Congressional Baseball Practice — A gunman opened fire at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria this morning, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a number of congressional aides and two police officers. The gunman was reportedly shot by U.S. Capitol Police. [Fox News, Twitter]
(Updated 1:10 p.m.) Construction in Rosslyn has led many people on foot to make a dubious choice after the temporary closure of a pedestrian walkway: walking in a busy street.
Crews closed the temporary walkway on Wilson Blvd between N. Lynn and N. Moore streets, adjacent to the Central Place development, where work is ongoing on the new CEB Tower.
And during lunchtime Thursday, numerous people made the risky decision to walk on the outside of the walkway along Wilson Blvd, just inches from cars traveling west on that major thoroughfare.
A reader emailed to say that pedestrians had been “forced” to walk in the street, although the sidewalk on the other side of Wilson Blvd remains open for use.
A spokeswoman for the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services said the closure will last until June 29 for utility work. She said signs direct pedestrians to the opposite sidewalk.
A coffee bar is moving into the RCA building in Rosslyn, in place of an English language school.
Permitting applications indicate that Central Coffee Bar — also known as Cities Coffee and Bar in county filings — will replace part of the Inlingua English Center in the first floor of the building at 1901 N. Moore Street.
Workers will convert the 2,212 square feet of office space back to its original retail use. As of Friday morning, work is underway to tear up the floors and ceilings.
Inlingua will remain in the building, but with a reduced footprint.
The building is set for demolition in the next few years, to be replaced by a residential tower. The Washington Business Journal reported last month that a 407-apartment building with 12,709 square feet of ground-floor retail space has been proposed in its place.
No word yet on an opening date for the new coffee bar.
Hat-tip to Chris H.
Space for police, fire and emergency management, swing space for government offices or Arlington Public Schools, bus storage or parkland might be coming to two sites the county is considering acquiring.
The Buck property off N. Quincy Street near Washington-Lee High School and the Virginia Hospital Center site at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road could both be acquired by the county, which has options to buy or swap for the land and has been going through a review process to determine best future uses for it.
Through that process, there are now five possible scenarios for each on how the county might make use of these sites. Staff outlined those scenarios in a presentation to the commission last week, and the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) will host an interactive public forum on the plans tomorrow (Wednesday).
Both sites are being tapped to potentially include space for the county’s Office of Emergency Management and police and fire departments. Some scenarios would include parking for ART or Arlington Public Schools buses on the site, with varying levels of open space for recreation and community gardens.
One scenario for VHC (Scenario C) would reserve a 130,000 square foot site as temporary swing space for either APS or the county during construction elsewhere. No plan would place permanent school space at the Buck property, something that had been called for by neighbors in the past.
Other neighbors, meanwhile, previously raised opposition to the county buying the Buck site, and accused the county of “barreling ahead” with the acquisition without listening to community feedback.
“JFAC, working with county and schools staff and with the community, has developed five scenarios for how the county might use each of these possible land acquisitions to meet some of our many pressing facility needs,” said JFAC chair Ginger Brown in a statement. “This forum is meant to put those scenarios before all Arlingtonians, to gather their feedback before JFAC makes recommendations to the County Board.”
The forum will be held in the Wakefield High School cafeteria (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) from 7-10 p.m.
An online form will be available on the JFAC website for public feedback on specific use scenarios for the properties, starting on Thursday, May 25, according to a county press release.
(Updated at 3 p.m.) An under-construction replacement for the former Marymount University “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is on fire.
Firefighters are on the scene of a two-alarm apartment fire on the seventh floor of 1008 N. Glebe Road, according to scanner traffic. They’re reportedly having issues with water pressure in the building, though as of 2:55 p.m. the fire is said to have been extinguished. In addition to stairs, firefighters used a ladder truck to reach the apartment that was on fire.
Police have closed the southbound lanes and one northbound lane of N. Glebe Road between 11th Street and Fairfax Drive. Drivers should expect traffic impacts in the area.
The nearly-completed building, with more than 260 apartment units, was expected to be move-in ready this summer, according to the developer’s website.
— Shooshan Company (@ShooshanCompany) May 18, 2017
A small two-story building that’s now in the shadow of a much larger development in Courthouse has been placed on the market.
The owner of SuperStar Tickets and its building at 2305 Wilson Blvd says he is searching for a buyer, with the help of a real estate firm, but will only sell for the right price.
Omar Sider said he’s seeking an above-market price for the building, which he thinks could be attractive to investors given its proximity to the Courthouse Metro station and the new development at 2311 Wilson Blvd, which will house the headquarters of local tech firm Opower.
Sider’s building was grouped into the site plan for its larger neighbor and designated as a “stand alone retail pavilion.” Sider says he’s grandfathered in to keeping the building as-is, housing SuperStar Tickets’ offices, but he could also opt to build a new 6,400 square foot building with additional underground space and a connection to the parking garage of 2311 Wilson.
The latter is what any potential purchaser would likely intend to do. Because of the small size of the lot, a tall building is not possible.
“It’s a diamond in the rough,” Sider said of his property. “I don’t really want to sell it.”
Sider purchased the building in 2010 for $1.2 million and refused to sell it to the developer of 2311 Wilson, who he said made an offer only slightly above its market value. At least one anonymous tipster who reached out to ARLnow.com didn’t think holding on to the building was a good idea.
“They could have sold out at any time and made big bucks, but they refused,” said the tipster.
Sider, an Arlington native, said he thinks Courthouse will continue to be an attractive neighborhood, with more development and changes in the works. He said he is content to keep the building in his family “forever” if need be.
Should the building sell, he hopes to move SuperStar Tickets to another office in Arlington. Even if it doesn’t sell, the business is growing and may eventually require a bigger space, according to Sider.
Target will be opening a new 41,500-square-foot store in Ballston, at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road, the company announced this afternoon.
The new store will be located on the first floor of the 12-story mixed-use development at 750 N. Glebe Road being constructed by Saul Centers, Inc. The development is three blocks from the Ballston Metro station, on the site of a former Mazda dealership.
Customers will be able to buy groceries, clothing and accessories, technology, beauty and home products, and toys and baby care items. There will also be a CVS Pharmacy inside the store.
The new Target will allow guests to order online and pick up products within one hour. It is projected to open in 2021.
“Target’s small-format store near Saul Centers’ mixed-use project at Wilson and Glebe will offer a convenient, one-stop shop for the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Mark Schindele, senior vice president of properties at Target, in a statement. “Local guests as well as visitors to the community will enjoy an easy and inspiring experience, featuring a grocery assortment, exclusive apparel brands, a location to pick up online orders and the convenience of 40 dedicated parking spaces.”
Target officials said small-format stores, geared to dense urban and suburban neighborhoods and college campuses, are a priority. The retailer plans to operate more than 130 small-format stores by the end of 2019; it has an existing small-format store in Rosslyn, which opened in 2015.
“I’m delighted to welcome Target’s expansion into the Ballston area of Arlington,” said Del. Patrick Hope (D) in a statement. “Target has broken the mold with its retail stores specifically tailored to the uniqueness of the neighborhood. The addition of more grocery options and a quick pick-up services is the right fit for the Ballston neighborhood and I can’t wait for their grand opening.”
Image via Target
The developer behind the plan to spruce up Market Common in Clarendon moved to assure residents last night that the IOTA Club and Cafe will stay where it is.
In the latest round of renderings of the project, Regency Centers showed the fixture of the local music scene in its same spot at 2832 Wilson Blvd.
After hearing reports that the venue might be demolished, local residents and IOTA regulars began a “Save IOTA” campaign, and had over a dozen supporters at the open house.
And surrounded by those supporters in front of a copy of the rendering on the wall behind him, Regency’s vice president of investments Devin Corini said IOTA would not be torn down.
“None of this is getting razed,” he said, gesturing to IOTA’s current building.
For those behind the campaign to save IOTA, Corini’s assurances were welcome news, but they are still waiting to see how the plans evolve.
“I think it’s encouraging they’re already including community feedback and they’ve said today they don’t plan on changing IOTA’s building,” said Melissa Mannon, one of the campaign’s organizers.
But another aspect of Regency Centers’ plan raised some questions: the proposal to do away with a permanent playground in the revamped courtyard area on Clarendon Blvd, known as “The Loop.”
John Fitzpatrick, senior construction manager at Regency Centers, said the new courtyard could have temporary amenities like an ice skating rink in the winter, space for outdoor movies or a farmers’ market, or a splash pool in the summer for kids. He said new options would open the space up for different uses.
“We’re creating a different experience,” he said. “We could create multiple kid experiences.”
But on boards and posters set up around the room for people to give their opinions, the plan received some negative feedback.
“We need the tot lot, not free-form seating,” one wrote. “Tot lot remaining is critical! Don’t make it for older children,” wrote another.
“The tot lot as it is now is the single most vibrant part of the complex — it is active all the time and helps people come here to shop – a great marketing tool,” wrote a third.
Under the plan, just over 21,000 square feet of office space would be added at Market Common, along with another 21,000 square feet of new retail space, including a new upper level. The office building at 2801 Clarendon Blvd will receive a drastic makeover, including new retail tenants.
The plans were unveiled last night at a community meeting inside that building. As well as renderings for viewing, attendees watched a promotional video, sampled food from local restaurants, talked to Regency Centers staff and listened to a classical guitarist playing outside.
“What was once strictly office will be reformatted to provide additional shops, restaurants and increased activity,” said the video. Corini said there has already been “remarkable” interest from retailers in moving into the revamped space, and a number of attendees expressed support for the plans, but others were not so convinced.
“Looks like a Mickey Mouse town — devoid of culture — only looking to put khaki pant brands and day cares to get support,” wrote one attendee.
Regency Centers says it is still refining the designs and taking feedback from the public. The company has submitted initial plans to the county but has not yet submitted a final site plan for County Board approval.
With redevelopment just around the corner, the Food Star grocery store on Columbia Pike will close as early as next week according to a sign on its entrance.
Its lease at the property is set to expire on May 25. The grocery store is expected to move to 206 W. Glebe Road in Alexandria’s Arlandria neighborhood and replace the Foodway currently there.
The sign, written in English and Spanish, reads:
Dear Food Star customers:
After 32 years of business it is with sincere regret that we inform you that Food Star supermarket will be closing permanently at this location between April 30 and May 15, 2017. It is our utmost priority to inform you of this decision as you are a very important part of the Food Star family. We appreciate your business and are thankful for your loyalty. We hope to have the opportunity to continue serving you at our new location at: 206 W. Glebe Road (formally Foodway), Alexandria, VA 22305.
We will notify you which day we will open. Thank you for your business and continued support.
The store at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive is set for demolition along with several small retail businesses for the “Columbia Pike Village Center” development. More than 1,800 people who wanted to “Save Food Star” signed a petition against the plan last year.
In its place will be a new 50,000 square foot Harris Teeter grocery store, 31,530 square feet of new ground-floor retail space and a 22,150 square foot public square. The project also includes a six-story apartment building with 365 market-rate units, retail space and a three-level parking garage.
The Harris Teeter is expected to open in late 2019.
Arlington County has posted a list of other food stores in the area, the closest of which is 0.5 miles away from the Food Star, that residents can go to during construction of the new grocery store.
Of the other stores in the plaza, the Para Ti hair salon has already relocated to S. Carlin Springs Road. April was its last month in the strip mall.
More on Proposed Rosslyn Residential Tower — As first reported by ARLnow.com, a residential tower is being proposed to replace the RCA office building in Rosslyn. A new preliminary site plan filing provides some additional details: it will be 24-story residential building with 407 units of both apartments and condos, plus some ground floor retail and three floors of underground parking. [Washington Business Journal]
Caucus Voting Starts Today — Voting in the Democratic caucus for County Board and School Board starts today. The first day of caucus voting will take place between 7-9 p.m. at Key Elementary School, followed by additional caucuses on May 11 and 13. ARLnow recently published “why you should vote for me” essays from each candidate. [Arlington Democrats]
Arlington Couple’s Soccer Devotion Recognized — A local couple “is among three finalists in the international family category for Bayern [Munich]’s Fan Awards, recognizing dedication to the fabled club.” Their devotion includes regular attendance Saturdays at Summers Restaurant in Courthouse for games, and holding up matching husband and wife jerseys following their 2015 nuptials. [Washington Post]
Scalia Son Is an Arlington Priest — Paul Scalia, the sixth child of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is a Catholic priest who serves as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy — an assistant to the Bishop — in the Diocese of Arlington headquarters (200 N. Glebe Road). Scalia just released his first book and NBC 4 used the occasion to ask him about growing up in the Scalia household. [NBC Washington]
Nearby: Amazon Opening Store in Georgetown — Amazon.com will be opening one of its first brick-and-mortar retail stores in Georgetown, at 3040 M Street NW. It has existing physical bookstores in Seattle, Portland and San Diego. [Washington Post]
The demolition of the pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd in Ballston is now expected to begin next weekend.
A spokeswoman for Forest City, which is carrying out the revamp of the Ballston Common Mall, said residents will start to see work being done on the bridge on Saturday, May 13.
That day, she said, crews will remove various trees and strip the bridge down to its barebones. On May 14, the spokeswoman said, a crane will be erected to remove the bridge structure. Then on May 20, final remaining bridge components will be demolished, including its columns and footings.
The bridge between Ballston Common Mall and 4201 Wilson Blvd — which houses the soon-to-be-relocated National Science Foundation — closed last year as part of the mall’s renovation.
Wilson Blvd will be shut for construction between N. Stuart Street and N. Randolph Street, with no cars or pedestrians allowed between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. The parking garage at Stafford Place II will remain accessible, as will the pedestrian entrance to CVS from N. Randolph Street.
“Please note that should an unforeseen unsafe condition be encountered that necessitates the operation to extend beyond these hours, we will require the closure to remain in place until such time that the road and sidewalk can be opened to allow for safe passage,” the spokeswoman said in an email.
The bridge is set to reopen with the revamped and rebranded Ballston Quarter mall in fall 2018.
The American Red Cross building along Route 50 and two single-family homes are set to be torn down and replaced by a five-story affordable housing building and 19 townhouses.
According to a preliminary site plan filed with the county late last month, the new building will have up to 124 units on the southeastern corner of the property on N. Thomas Street, with the townhouses in the northwest along N. Trenton Street.
Apartments would vary in size from studios to three-bedroom units, while the townhomes would all be three stories in height and be a stone’s throw from the new apartment building.
Cars would access the site from two locations on N. Trenton Street and another on N. Thomas Street. There would be no access from the Arlington Blvd service road.
The nearby 63-unit Whitefield Commons apartment complex would be kept and could have six more units added by the developer, the Wesley Housing Corporation, depending on the number of apartments in the new building.
In a letter to county staff dated March 20, an attorney representing Wesley said the project will bring numerous community benefits, including more affordable housing, improvements to sidewalks, curbs, gutters and streetscape, and public art.
A memo from county staff indicated that in prior meetings, staff members have suggested façade embellishments or using the fence of a to-be-built playground for art. Plans for public art are still in the initial planning stages.
Wesley commissioned Bonstra Haresign Architects to design the property. A transportation management plan found traffic impact to be minimal from the site, as it is well served by ART and Metrobus.
Progress on an undeveloped parcel of land in Potomac Yard may not happen for another three years after a recent County Board vote and Virginia General Assembly bill that passed this year.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Board allowed Lidl US, the owner of Land Bay C in Potomac Yard, to withdraw its application to extend the life of its final plan for the site by three years.
The site plan was originally approved in 2007, to include four buildings over an underground parking garage. It includes more than 1 million square feet of office space, 41,000 square feet of retail space and a half-acre park known as North Plaza.
Lidl looked to withdraw its extension after Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed HB 1697 into law. The bill automatically extends certain approvals from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2020 on projects designed to help Virginia recovery from the 2008 housing crisis.
Lidl originally applied for a three-year extension on the site plan last November, before the bill had been debated and passed in Richmond.
The plan is valid until 2020 thanks to the bill’s passage, and at the meeting there was no discussion on a timeline for the project. Representatives with Lidl US did not respond to a request for comment. If construction does not begin before the site plan’s 2020 deadline, the applicant would either need to withdraw the plan or file for another extension.
During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting, local resident Jim Hurysz noted the surrounding community’s concerns about the uncertainty surrounding much of the development at Potomac Yard.
Hurysz noted Alexandria City Council’s worries about a lack of open space in North Potomac Yard during its own planning process, as well as an expected influx of traffic when the Virginia Department of Transportation extends the HOT Lanes on Interstate 395.