Arlington, VA

(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) Construction on a row of new townhomes is expected to start this spring in the Buckingham neighborhood.

Los Angeles-based Resmark Companies and Tysons-based Madison Homes is developing “an upscale enclave of 19 single-family townhomes” at 19 N. Trenton Street, a half block from Route 50.

“The project is fully entitled with construction on the first homes expected to start in spring of 2020,” the companies noted in a press release. “Designed in a traditional style, the four-level townhomes at Trenton Square will sit on a tree-lined street, just over three miles from Washington, DC.”

The townhomes will each be just over 2,000 square feet, with 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths, as well as a two-car garage and a “walk-out terrace” on the fourth floor. Construction on the first nine homes is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, with the other 10 expected to be built by the summer of 2021.

Also in the press release, the developer touted proximity to Ballston and to Amazon’s HQ2.

“Positive economic and demographic trends in the greater D.C. region continue to drive demand for new for-sale housing in Northern Virginia,” said Resmark’s Stephen O’Neil, Vice President, Investments. “Trenton Square enjoys an exceptional infill location in Arlington and provides easy access to employers in the District and Tysons, and to future Amazon offices in National Landing,” he added. O’Neil also noted that future homeowners at Trenton Square will be a mile from the Ballston Metro and diverse shopping, dining and entertainment options at Ballston Quarter.

Andrew Rosenberger, Vice President of Madison Homes, stated that Trenton Square is anticipated to be one of the only townhome communities to be actively selling in Arlington County during 2020. “There is strong pent-up demand for new home communities in this coveted area. The Ballston submarket, along with other Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor submarkets, have experienced considerable economic growth in the last decade, yet the housing supply hasn’t kept pace. We’re thrilled to have Resmark as our partner on this project.”

The lack of new townhomes for sale in Arlington, referenced in the quote above, is notable as officials consider ways to add more “missing middle” housing in the county. Housing advocates have urged Arlington County to facilitate the production of more townhomes, duplexes and other small-scale forms of multi-family housing, to provide more affordable housing options that meet the needs of residents looking for something in-between apartments and traditional single-family detached homes.

The townhouses will be replacing a pair of aging, single-family homes. The project is part of the redevelopment of the adjacent Red Cross site, which will also build affordable apartments along the Arlington Blvd service road.

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Demolition on the Amazon HQ2 site in Pentagon City is expected to begin soon.

The 2.1 million square foot office-and-retail development along S. Eads Street, the first phase of Amazon’s permanent second headquarters in Arlington, was approved by the County Board in December.

Now, construction equipment is being staged ahead of demolition of the two-story warehouse building and parking lot currently on the site. According to an off-the-record presentation given to local civic associations earlier this week, a slide from which was obtained by ARLnow, demolition and site preparation is scheduled to start within the next month or two.

Excavation will run from the second quarter of 2020 to the end of the year, while construction of the above-ground portion of the complex is expected to start in the second half of 2021. Construction and interior work is expected to wrap up by the middle of 2023, according to the presentation.

In the meantime, the growing contingent of Amazon employees in Arlington will work out of temporary office space in Crystal City.

“We’re looking forward to beginning demolition at the Metropolitan Park site in the very near future; some staging activity has already begun,” an Amazon spokeswoman told ARLnow. “Amazon is already here and we’re hiring. As the MetPark site takes shape, we will continue to grow the teams in our leased space in Crystal City, where we now have nearly 450 employees.”

It’s not yet clear whether Amazon will hold a groundbreaking ceremony as work at the Pentagon City site gets underway.

Some local residents, particularly those who live in apartment buildings across the street, have expressed concerns about construction noise from the project. Permitted working hours extend until 9 p.m. on weekdays, we’re told.

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Just over two years after construction started, a new residential development near Courthouse has opened and is welcoming new residents.

Staff at the Gables Pointe 14 apartment complex at 1351 N. Rolfe Street said there are 370 units spread out across two towers, with one and two-bedroom options available. Sizes range from a small one-bedroom at $1,873 per month to a two-bedroom and a den apartment for $5,516 per month.

Amenities at Gables Pointe include a rooftop pool deck and lounge, fitness facility, business bar, conference rooms, dog wash station, resident lounge with free Wi-Fi, theater room, underground parking and bike storage. A large, outdoor courtyard with hammocks separates the two buildings.

A leasing agent said the first move-ins started in the second half of 2019 and they’ve had a steady stream of new residents since then that are roughly on par with what the company had been projecting. A grand opening ceremony will likely be scheduled sometime in the spring or early summer, but the agent said no specific date had been set yet.

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After years of study and community conversations, Arlington County is just about ready for its plans to reshape Lee Highway to step into the spotlight.

The plan, generally, involves gradually — through zoning and other policy changes — transforming the car-oriented strips of businesses along Lee Highway into clusters of mixed-use development. It’s a goal of increasing importance as Amazon moves in and puts a strain on the county’s supply of available homes.

Questions have arisen in the planning process about how to simultaneously protect small, local businesses long Lee Highway while redeveloping outdated strip malls that line the road. The process of new development might not only force those businesses to close or relocate, but new development could create higher rents for small businesses.

On Friday, Jan 31, Arlington officials are planning to answer questions from and hear feedback from residents and business owners, as the county hosts a workshop marking the end of the first phase of the planning process. The meeting is event to run from 6:30-8 p.m. at Washington-Liberty High School (1301 N. Stafford Street).

A second workshop is scheduled to be held Saturday, Feb. 1, from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m, also at W-L.

“Come meet with us to learn more about progress and the information we’ve uncovered so far, and share new ideas,” the county said on its website. “Be a voice of your neighborhood as we learn more about community perspectives and priorities by geography.”

“All residents, businesses, community groups and stakeholders that live, work and play along Lee Highway are encouraged to attend,” the county noted.

Image via Arlington County 

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Morning Notes

Changes to Stalled Ballston Development — “An Arlington homebuilder is reviving plans to redevelop a church in Ballston with a new proposal for a mix of townhomes and condos on the site… The site is currently home to the Portico Church, but the developer [BCN Homes] could someday replace it with 10 townhomes and 98 condo units.” [Washington Business Journal]

Beloved Former County Official Dies — “Ann Bisson, a long-time resident and former Deputy Commissioner of the Revenue for Arlington County, passed away peacefully on January 7, 2020… In addition to her work in the Commissioner’s office, Ann was very active in the community.” [Dignity Memorial]

History of Royal Visits to Arlington — “If Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ever decided to make their home in the DC area, they’d be in good company. Many members of the royal family have made their way to Arlington over the years.” [Arlington Public Library, Twitter]

Bill Proposes Funding for Local Cemeteries — “Three Arlington cemeteries would receive state funding under a program designed to preserve burial places of African-American Virginians. Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax-Arlington) has patroned legislation to add the three graveyards – at Calloway, Lomax and Mount Salvation churches – to the more than two dozen statewide that already receive support from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.” [InsideNova]

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Construction is starting to wrap up at “The Waycroft,” a new apartment-and-retail development at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd.

The development is notably set to include a nearly 500-unit apartment building, private-entrance townhomes, a rooftop pool and fitness center, a new 41,000 square foot Target store and a new Silver Diner, but there are a handful of other retail tenants that are also on the way.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Visual Health Optometry recently filed construction permits for retail spaces at the development. Visual Health has an existing location nearby, at 3012 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon.

Also signed to fill the new retail spaces, according to a leasing plan, are a 2,200 square foot Grill Kabob restaurant and Mint Nail Salon. The former will be located along Wilson Blvd, next to the future Silver Diner. Additional storefronts on either end of the development are still listed as available.

As of mid-2019, construction the apartment building was expected to wrap up in the first three months of 2020. The storefronts will likely take longer to build out.

While Target and Silver Diner are expected to be major draws, small retailers and restaurants have often struggled on the western side of Glebe Road, which is separated by six busy lanes from most of Ballston.

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Morning Notes

Developer Pitches New Clarendon Apartment Building — “Orr Partners is pitching a new mixed-use building in Clarendon, seeking to redevelop a small property behind the neighborhood’s popular Silver Diner… the project will not include the redevelopment of the nearby The Lot beer garden or the Silver Diner, though rumors have long persisted that those have been targeted for changes.” [Washington Business Journal]

Most County Offices, Facilities Closed Today — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed Tues. Dec. 24 – Weds., Dec. 25, 2019, for Christmas, as well as New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, 2020… Metered [parking] areas not enforced.” [Arlington County]

Story of a Neighborhood Christmas Tree — This year, the Williamsburg Traffic Circle Christmas tree is back, thanks to contributions from local merchants. [Washington Post]

What Local Papers Were Reporting on in 1957 — “The Arlington Council of Churches was deploring grocery stores open on Sundays. A teen advice column titled ‘Help Unpopular Girls When They Cling’ was published alongside a puzzling comic strip called ‘Scorchy Smith.’ Ads touted ‘Exciting new rambler and split-level’ homes for $14,250 and 1957 Ford sedans for $239.50.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Media Spotlight on Arlington Buttigieg Supporter — “In a recent email exchange with a wealthy prospective donor, a top fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg made an offer that was unusually blunt — even by modern pay-to-play standards. ‘If you want to get on the campaign’s radar now before he is flooded with donations after winning Iowa and New Hampshire, you can use the link below for donations,’ the fundraiser” wrote. [Axios]

UPS Driver Saves Christmas — “Darryl found my son’s phone and saved Xmas! He reminded my son to have faith in the many good people in the world.” [Twitter]

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As The Children’s School gets closer to building a three-story daycare facility at 4700 Lee Highway, the Arlington County Board has approved a request to eliminate off-site parking and modify initial architectural plans.

During its meeting last night the Board approved a request to alter the site’s requirements for an off-site parking lot, and instead have a total of 36 on-site parking spaces, 12 more than required under updated zoning code. Thirty of the spaces will be in an underground garage, while 6 will be surface parking.

“At the time of use permit approval [in 2018, the Zoning Ordinance required one (1) parking space per employee for a child care use,” a county staff report explains. “Since that approval, Section 14.3 of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance has been updated to require one (1) parking space per ten children.”

The new facility is being built where the shuttered Alpine Restaurant now stands.

Architectural changes include extension of the third-story rear play deck, expansion of the front landscape, and the addition of windows to the rear of the building.

The Board also moved to expand the site’s rear wall so car headlights will not shine into neighboring houses, which was subject of concern from residents at the meeting.

Eight spaces in the site’s parking garage will used for child pick-up and drop-off. Parents will also be able to use a teacher-assisted curb loop right off Lee Highway for similar purposes.

When complete, the child care center will oversee up to 235 children between the ages of two months to five years old. The final number of children permitted will “be subject to approval” by the county Child Care Office and the county’s Inspection Services Division, per a staff report.

The co-op program for the children of Arlington Public Schools employees has long operated out of the Reed School building in Westover, but with APS planning to open a new elementary school at that site in 2021, the Children’s School has been forced to relocate elsewhere. The new facility will also be home to Integration Station, a program for kids with developmental or other disabilities that intermingles with The Children’s School.

Until its permanent location is complete, the facility is temporarily located in the second and third floors of a Ballston office building located at 4420 N. Fairfax Drive.

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Morning Notes

Metro Tests New Tech in Pentagon City — The Transportation Security Administration and Metro rolled out new security technology at the Pentagon City Metro station on Tuesday. The system “can detect an individual concealing an improvised explosive device, such as a suicide vest or another weapon.” [Fox 5, Twitter]

HQ2 Leads to Development Boom — “Arlington officials, developers, market researchers — everyone, really — predicted that Amazon.com Inc.’s arrival in the county would generate a development boom in the company’s neighborhood. So far, they’ve been right.” [Washington Business Journal]

Tafti Sworn in as Prosecutor — Parisa Dehghani-Tafti was sworn in Monday as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington and Falls Church. On Tuesday she warned a crowd at a progressive think tank there has been a “growing narrative in pretty extreme circles that trying to reimagine the criminal-legal system is somehow going to make us less safe…somehow disrespects victims.” [Twitter, Blue Virginia]

Airport Authority Voting on $15 Wage — After years of protests, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is set to vote today on a new policy that would increase the hourly wages of contracted workers — baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, lobby agents, skycaps, cabin cleaners, airport concessions and airline catering workers — from $12.75 to $15 by 2023. [Press Release]

Beyer Pushing for Quieter Airplanes — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who has long advocated against excessive noise from aircraft landing at and taking off from Reagan National Airport, is calling on NASA to study ways to make commercial jetliners quieter and cleaner in a new bill. [Press Release]

Northam Proposes Nixing Vehicle Inspections — “Gov. Ralph Northam wants to end state-mandated vehicle safety inspections and cut vehicle registration fees in half, proposals his administration says would eventually save Virginians more than $280 million per year. But motorists would have to pay a few dollars more each time they fill up on gas under a proposal to increase the state’s motor vehicle fuels tax from about 22 cents per gallon to 34 cents per gallon over three years.” [Virginia Mercury]

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Morning Notes

Thieves Hit Three Local Car Dealerships — A group of thieves stole a dozen cars from three car dealerships in Arlington. Some of the thefts were caught on surveillance video. In one instance, five vehicles were damaged as the thieves made their getaway. [WJLA, Arlington County]

Some Amazon Neighbors Wanted More — “Amazon.com Inc. easily won approval this weekend to start work on its first new HQ2 construction in Arlington, yet many of the company’s new neighbors remain exasperated over the benefits the community will receive… Though Amazon’s proposed investments may seem substantial, some people residing close Met Park feel that these benefits will inevitably fall short in mitigating the impacts of the construction.” [Washington Business Journal]

Spotted: Albino Squirrel — An albino squirrel was caught on video in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood. [Facebook]

Accounting Firm Touts ‘Zero-Waste’ Office in Rosslyn — “Grant Thornton LLP has consolidated its workforce in the Washington, D.C., area in the firm’s MetroDC office – its first zero-waste office in the country. The office, located at 1000 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, unites staff from other Washington-area locations and is the firm’s largest, by headcount, in the United States.” [Grant Thornton]

Nearby: Alexandria Bans Scooters from Sidewalk — The Alexandria City Council has voted to ban electronic scooters from sidewalks across the city. [ALXnow]

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No work is happening yet, but there are signs that plans to replace the Highlander Motel in Virginia Square with a new CVS store are getting closer to fruition.

A permit application was filed last month for the property at 3336 Wilson Blvd for a new building, to house CVS. Thus far no permits have been issued.

The application follows years of legal wrangling between Arlington County and local businessman Bill Bayne. In 2018 the Virginia Supreme Court cleared the way for Bayne to redevelop the 56-year-old budget hotel, after the county refused to allow him to use the parking lot behind the motel for store parking.

Bayne subsequently sued the county in federal court for alleged civil rights violations, but that suit was dismissed in October, with the judge citing Arlington County’s sovereign immunity as a reason for the dismissal.

Bayne told ARLnow that the legal fight cost him at least $250,000, if not more.

“It’s over… it is what it is,” he said.

As of Monday morning, no bookings were available online for the Highlander’s $69/night rooms past January, but Bayne told ARLnow that was an error that would be corrected; rooms could be booked past then if you call the hotel, he said.

Bayne said the hotel is planning to stay open for at least another year and there’s no set closing date, though he acknowledged that he’s continuing to pursue the redevelopment.

Bayne is also the owner and co-owner, respectively, of two other long-time local businesses: the Crystal City Restaurant gentlemen’s club and Crystal City Sports Pub, both on 23rd Street S. Changes may be on the way for the former — Bayne said he’s considering changing the name of Crystal City Restaurant to “National Landing Strip,” given the new branding for the collective Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard area in the wake of Amazon’s HQ2.

“I’ve thought about doing it… it’s certainly crossed my mind,” Bayne said of the possible name change.

The only thing keeping Bayne from changing the name, he said, is sentimentality. Bayne’s father bought the business in 1963 and renamed it “Crystal City Restaurant” from “Arlington Luncheon” to reflect what was then the new name for the neighborhood along Route 1.

Flickr pool photo (1) by Maryland Nomadic

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