53°Rain

by ARLnow.com — April 20, 2016 at 8:45 am 0

Pedestrian bridge over Four Mile Run, near Shirlington (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

Times Lauds Crystal City’s ‘Reboot’ — Arlington’s Crystal City community is “is quietly and persistently reinventing itself,” with tech startups and co-working spaces moving in and taking advantage of office space left vacant by departed federal and military tenants. Crystal City stakeholders are positioning it as a less expensive but still amenity-filled alternative to the District. “Think Brooklyn and Manhattan,” said Mitchell Schear, president of property owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith. [New York Times]

Ballston Named One of the Area’s ‘Hottest Neighborhoods’ — Ballston is among the top 5 “hottest neighborhoods in Washington,” according to Washingtonian. The magazine notes that Ballston’s median home price rose by nearby 10 percent last year, and that the forthcoming renovation of Ballston Common Mall will convert it into “an airy, downtown-like destination, akin to Fairfax’s Mosaic district.” The other four hot neighborhoods are Mount Pleasant, Trinidad, Shaw and Hyattsville. [Washingtonian]

Archaeological Dig Unearths History — An Arlington County-supervised archaeological dig at Dawson Terrace, near Rosslyn, has unearthed “243 ceramic objects, 1,603 glass objects, 74 metal objects and 13 others.” Most of the objects are believed to be from the 18th and 19th centuries. Dawson Terrace is Arlington’s oldest stone house, dating back to around the Revolutionary War. [Falls Church News-Press]

County Recognizes ‘Notable Trees’ — At yesterday’s Arlington County Board meeting, the county recognized this year’s batch of “notable trees.” Among the record 23 trees bestowed the honor for “their importance to our community, our environment and our sense of identity” was a Southern magnolia in Clarendon, planted in 1965 in honor of a fallen firefighter. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Four Mile Run Initiative Advances — The County Board yesterday appointed a working group, charged with “providing advice, guidance and feedback to the Board and County staff on developing a comprehensive vision for Four Mile Run Valley.” The 95 acre area between Shirlington and Nauck, also known as Shirlington Crescent, is currently home to various light industrial businesses but may be ripe for redevelopment. [Arlington County]

Tickets Available to W-L Theater Production — Tickets to the Washington-Lee High School production of “Dark of the Moon” are available online. The show runs from April 28-30. [Tix.com]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

by ARLnow.com — April 18, 2016 at 11:50 am 0

Tenant relocation payment increase

Arlington residents getting displaced from their apartments due to redevelopment, renovations or other work will be getting a bigger payout from their landlords starting July 1.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved the county’s first increase in tenant relocation payments since 2004.

The change applies only to those living in unfurnished apartments. County staff say that moving costs have increased substantially since 2004, and the hike in relocation payments will help cover those costs.

Households that qualify as Very Low Income under Dept. of Housing and Urban Development guidelines will receive a payment 50 percent higher than the standard payment.

Residents living in furnished apartments also are eligible for relocation assistance, but those rates are lower — there’s ostensibly no furniture to move, after all — and will not change.

“Tenant displacements result in personal hardship for those directly affected and also impact the surrounding neighborhoods and other communities within the County,” notes a county staff report. “The fundamental goal of the County’s relocation policy is to enable displaced tenants to move directly to decent, structurally safe and affordable replacement housing convenient to their place of employment and/or education.”

The payments are voluntarily for owners of by-right developments, but are required if a development is a site plan project or receiving a form of financial assistance from the county.

The press release from Arlington County, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — April 15, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Rosenthal Arlington Mazda, at 750 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, is holding a store closing sale.

That’s according to an email sent by the dealership to customers, announcing its “last sales event,” which ends after the end of the month.

Rosenthal Arlington Mazda closing sale graphicAn employee confirmed to ARLnow.com this morning that the dealership is, in fact, closing to customers after April 30.

“A few of us will be around to wind down the accounting operations for a few more days,” he said.

The dealership is set to be redeveloped into a 483 unit apartment building, which will include a new grocery store that may or may not be a Whole Foods Market.

“The applicant proposes to… redevelop the Rosenthal Mazda dealership and adjacent parcels with a 12-story building consisting of 483 dwelling units and 68,185 square feet of retail including a new grocery store and a car rental business,” notes Arlington County’s page on the project. “Building heights will range from 155 feet at Wilson Boulevard and N. Glebe Road, tapering to the south and west to 53 feet along N. Tazewell Street.”

Mary Beth Avedesian, a senior vice president for developer B.F. Saul Company, said that so far no lease has been signed for the grocery store space.

“We have not yet signed a lease with an anchor tenant, but there are a number of prospects who are very interested in our project,” she said.

The county’s Site Plan Review Committee is scheduled to discuss the project on Monday. It’s tentatively scheduled to be considered by the County Board in June.

by ARLnow.com — March 31, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Image from the draft Lee Highway Visioning Plan (via Arlington County)Today is the final day for online comments on the current draft of the Lee Highway Community Vision.

The draft plan envisions a tree-lined Lee Highway that’s more pedestrian- and bike-friendly, with mid-rise development concentrated in “mixed-use activity nodes.”

The rationale behind the plan, and the community process that helped inform it, is to set an aspirational vision for future development and transportation improvements along the Lee Highway corridor. The community can thus have more of a voice than if it were to just let piecemeal development take place along the corridor without a unified plan.

So, what do you think of the plan?

by ARLnow.com — March 23, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

(Updated at 1 p.m.) A community meeting has been scheduled to discuss the proposed redevelopment of a group of low-slung commercial buildings along Columbia Pike’s main business district.

The trio of buildings at 2330, 2342 and 2406 Columbia Pike is better known as the Rappahannock Coffee site, for the long-time Pike coffee shop housed in one of the buildings, which are slated to be torn down to make way for new apartments or condos.

Developer B.M. Smith, which was also behind the Penrose Square development across the street, is proposing a six-story mixed-use building known as 2400 Columbia Pike, with 105 new residential units, 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail space and a 140-space parking garage.

B.M Smith is also proposing streetscape improvements, 45 reserved bicycle parking spaces and the preservation of the “historic facades” of two existing buildings, according to an Arlington County project information page.

The community meeting about the development is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 7, at the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S.).

The Arlington Planning Commission and County Board are expected to consider the proposal at their respective meetings in May.

by ARLnow.com — March 15, 2016 at 9:45 am 0

Dress rehearsal for the St. Peter's Players production of Godspell (Flickr pool photo by Eric)

Vida Fitness Coming to Ballston? — D.C.-based Vida Fitness is reportedly planning a 30,000 square foot gym in Ballston. The plan depends on County Board approval of a site plan amendment for the as-yet-unbuilt final building in the Liberty Center development. Given the high office vacancy rate, local developer Shooshan Co. is proposing to reconfigure what would have been a 20-story office building into a 22-story building that mixes residential, office and retail space. [Washington Business Journal]

‘WeLive’ Close to Opening in Crystal City — WeWork recently opened its new coworking space at 2221 S. Clark Street in Crystal City. Now, the company is nearing an opening for “WeLive,” a communal living space in the same building. WeLive is opening “very soon” and the company is now giving tours to prospective tenants, we hear. A second WeLive location, in Manhattan, recently opened for “beta testing.” [Fast Company]

Rail Was Once Planned for Columbia Pike — In the 1950s planners envisioned Columbia Pike as a rail corridor. That plan was scrapped when Metro was built and the Blue and Yellow lines ran south instead of west. In 2014, of course, a planned streetcar system for the Pike was also nixed. [InsideNova]

County Board Campaign Gets Underway — County Board Chair Libby Garvey and her Democratic primary challenger, Erik Gutshall, both held campaign events on Columbia Pike over the weekend. Garvey said getting out the vote will be the key to victory in the June 14 primary. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

by ARLnow.com — March 14, 2016 at 11:35 am 0

Gray skies over Rosslyn and the Potomac (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Major Rosslyn Development Approved — A sweeping five-phase redevelopment of 7.65 acres of prime Rosslyn real estate was approved unanimously by the Arlington County Board on Saturday. The Board approved the framework for the development, though final approval will be necessary for each phase. Developers Vornado and Gould Property Company expect to complete the project over the course of 25 years. [Arlington County]

Gun Store Saga Continues — Who owns NOVA Armory, the gun store that’s planning to open in Lyon Park despite community opposition? The man who speaks on behalf of the business and holds its federal firearms sales license isn’t saying, exactly. Dennis Pratte declined further questions after describing it as “a female, minority-owned business” and stating “I may or may not be the owner.” Meanwhile, county leaders say there’s nothing they can legally do to prevent the store from opening. NOVA Armory is planning to a grand opening on March 26. [Washington Post, InsideNova]

Teen Tourist Scammed at Pentagon City Mall — A California teenager on a school trip to Washington was reportedly scammed out of $97 by an armed man at the Pentagon City mall. The man compelled the teen to give him $97 in exchange for what turned out to be a counterfeit $100 bill. [NBC Washington]

Arlington Natives Live Blog Day at Ballston Common Mall — Two friends who grew up in Arlington’s Bluemont neighborhood decided to spend all of Saturday at Ballston Common Mall, ahead of its imminent demise, and live-blog their experience. The blog mixes nostalgia for time spent shopping and working at the mall with observations about the current mix of largely chain restaurants and small, quirky stores. [Things Remembered: A Day at Ballston]

Other County Board Action — On Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding to partner with Virginia Tech and join the national MetroLab Network, and voted to accept $731,813 in state funding to support the county’s permanent supportive housing program. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — March 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm 0

The Arlington County Board this weekend is scheduled to consider a massive 7.65 acre redevelopment project that would reshape the Rosslyn skyline.

Developers Vornado and Gould Property Company are proposing a five-phase project that would eventually replace seven existing buildings — the Rosslyn Spectrum Theater, the London Apartments, the Normandy Apartments and four office buildings.

In its place would be 2.5 million square feet of space across five buildings, including 1.8 million square feet of office, 550 residential units, 200 hotel rooms and 45,000 square feet of retail space. Also planned area new, nearly one acre Rosslyn Plaza Park, an Esplanade and two new east-west streets breaking up the super block between N. Kent Street and N. Arlington Ridge Road.

County staff is recommending approval of a Phased Development Site Plan and a rezoning for the project. Each of the five phases will still need its own final site plan approved by the Board.

“The applicant’s proposed redevelopment of the Rosslyn Plaza property will permit the redevelopment of a critical site in
Rosslyn and introduce new elements of public infrastructure identified in the Rosslyn Sector Plan,” wrote county staff, “including the construction of improvements to Wilson Boulevard and N. Kent Street along with two new streets to break up the superblock, creation of the Rosslyn Plaza Park and other public open space improvements, a reconfigured N. Arlington Ridge Road, and bicycle trail improvements including portions of the Esplanade.”

The developers are also proposing a public pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-66 and the GW Parkway, connecting one of the new roads with the Mt. Vernon Trail.

“The Mount Vernon Trail is used by over 3,000 cyclists on an average day, and provides a trail exit and connection to Rosslyn at Lee Highway near North Lynn Street,” county staff wrote. “The PDSP envisions a pedestrian and bicycle connection to the Mount Vernon Trail, via a bridge at the end of 18th or 19th Street over Interstate 66 and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Its feasibility has not been determined and will be discussed during future final site plan applications.”

Currently, the apartments in the Rosslyn Plaza site supply fewer than 10 students to Arlington Public Schools. County staff estimate that once completed, the new development will generate a total of 42 APS students — attending Key Elementary School or Arlington Science Focus Elementary School, Williamsburg Middle School and Yorktown High School.

The first phase of the project would demolish the London Apartments, the Spectrum Theater and one of the office buildings. County commissions and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District have been supportive of the project, although some local neighborhood groups have expressed concerns about the height of the proposed buildings and the impact on traffic.

The Board is set to consider the development plan at its meeting on Saturday.

by ARLnow.com — March 1, 2016 at 5:15 pm 0

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.

The bridge design process includes extensive public outreach as well as collaboration with Arlington County public art and urban design staff. A blog has been created to document the process.

“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.

by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

A big new development is coming to the corner of Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved the redevelopment, which includes new six-story apartment building with 365 market-rate residential units, new retail spaces and a three-level parking garage.

The “Columbia Pike Village Center” development will close and demolish the Food Star grocery store, along with several small retail businesses. In its place will be a new 50,000 square foot grocery store, 31,530 square feet of new ground-floor retail space and a 22,150 square foot public square.

The public square will “serve residents of the apartment, and the community, as a place to sit, enjoy the surrounding, or hold small-scale events and gatherings,” a county press release notes. “A garden, public art and a water feature are planned for the square.”

In order to accommodate residents, park-goers and shoppers, the parking garage will have 604 vehicle spaces and 152 bike spaces. Additionally, developer Orr Partners will help build new six-foot wide sidewalks and will make streetscape improvements along the Pike and George Mason Drive.

by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Murals at Courthouse Plaza (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Home Values Jump 14 Percent — Arlington County saw a big bump in the sale price of homes, at least according to one data set from January. Long & Foster says the median price of a home sold in Arlington last month was $590,000, up 14 percent from one year prior. [WTOP]

Wakefield Boys Win Conference — The Wakefield High School boys varsity basketball team captured the Conference 13 championship on Saturday, after defeating Marshall 50-47. [Twitter, Twitter]

Caps Hold Fundraiser for Young Cancer Victim — The Washington Capitals held a fundraiser at Don Tito in Clarendon on Friday for the family of a three-year-old girl who just died of an inoperable brain tumor. The family has more than $100,000 in medical bills to pay and hopes to also raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. [NBC Washington]

Problems Persist at Arlington National Cemetery — More than 5 years after major problems were revealed at Arlington National Cemetery, there’s word of new problems. The cemetery’s burial backlog has increased, it’s taking longer to get headstones approved and previously unenforced rules are now being enforced, frustrating some families, reports a local TV station. [WJLA]

Arlington Students Serving as White House Interns — Three college students who hail from Arlington are on the list of spring 2016 White House interns. The interns are: Jeremy Brown, who attends the University of Michigan; Ryan Cowdin, who attends George Washington University; and Caitlin O’Grady, who attends Pepperdine.

County Board Approves Rosslyn Changes — At a relatively uneventful meeting on Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a series of land use, transportation and zoning changes as part of the Western Rosslyn Area Plan. The changes will allow a new school and new development. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by Andrew Ramonas — February 9, 2016 at 2:15 pm 0

Walkway to Ballston Common Mall (photo by m01229)

Plans for a revamped pedestrian walkway over Wilson Boulevard in Ballston are up for discussion tonight.

Arlington County is scheduled to host a community meeting on the redesign of the pedestrian bridge at Ballston Common Mall (4328 Wilson Blvd) from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The gathering is slated to happen in the mall’s second floor retail area across from the Payless shoe store.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the walkway’s designer and give feedback on the project.

A new bridge is part of a $317 million plan to redevelop the mall, which is being rebranded as Ballston Quarter. The walkway provides an elevated, indoor pathway to the Ballston Metro station.

Final plans for bridge are expected to go to the county manager for consideration in late June.

Flickr photo by m01229

by ARLnow.com — February 8, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Lee Highway at N. Glebe RoadDemocratic County Board candidate Erik Gutshall would like to see further progress on the planning process for the future of the Lee Highway corridor.

Gutshall, a small business owner who serves on the Arlington Planning Commission, warned in a statement (below) that Lee Highway could experience “crazy-quilt development” if not for “a thoughtful, community-led planning process.” He called on the County Board to prioritize long-range planning for Lee Highway this year.

Gutshall is challenging County Board Chair Libby Garvey in the June 14 Democratic primary.

Erik Gutshall called today for the Arlington County Board to make development of a long-range plan for Lee Highway a priority for the County Manager for the coming year.

Gutshall, who is challenging the incumbent Board Chair in the Democratic Primary, congratulated the Lee Highway Alliance, a collaborative effort of all neighborhood civic associations abutting Lee Highway from Arlington’s North Highlands community along the Potomac River to the Falls Church line, noting, “…the Lee Highway community has shown uncommon leadership in developing a vision for the future of Lee Highway.”

Gutshall called on the County Board to appoint a citizen-led task force quickly to undertake the development of a Lee Highway Plan, provide the task force with significant staff support and outside expert resources, and develop a scope of work that allows the task force to think big about the Lee Highway of the future. “Lee Highway,” Gutshall said, “is the last major unplanned commercial corridor in Arlington. Similar plans for the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor have been a central reason for that area’s great success.”

Gutshall, as a task force member, was engaged in the development of today’s plan for Clarendon.  “Without a plan,” he said, “we can expect crazy-quilt development along Lee Highway; changes that aren’t the result of a thoughtful, community-led planning process are much less likely to meet Arlingtonians’ needs and are likely to detract from, rather than add value to, surrounding neighborhoods.”

Gutshall noted that long-range plans are extraordinarily valuable to the community and have underpinned much of Arlington’s standout prosperity. These plans are a concrete expression of the community’s hopes for the future and provide property owners with the policy guidance needed to encourage thoughtful, responsible and responsive development. “Unfortunately,” Gutshall said, “County Board leadership looks at the County’s long-term plans as merely advisory, something that can be easily dismissed. In my view, these plans are a compact between our elected representatives, developers and the community and embody the collective vision for the neighborhoods where we live, work, learn, and play.”

 

by ARLnow.com — February 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm 0

An aging low-rise apartment complex in Rosslyn will be replaced with a new condominium development.

The Arlington County Board on Thursday approved the condo project from Reston-based developer NVR, Inc., the parent company of homebuilder Ryan Homes. The Board approved NVR’s plan for a six-story building with a total of 63 units, which will replace a four-story, 33-unit apartment complex built in 1955, along with a two story house.

The new building, at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Nash Street, is across from a planned — but stalled — redevelopment that was to include a 28-story residential building and ground floor grocery store.

“Washington Vista,” as the condo development is referred to in public documents, will include four affordable two-bedroom units that will be offered to qualified moderate-income buyers. Other community benefits include a contribution of more than $100,000 to Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $75,000 worth of public art.

Residents of the Metro Rosslyn apartment building, which is being torn down to make way for the condos, initially complained that the developer had not offered relocation assistance after notices to vacate were posted on the property. A relocation plan was subsequently approved by Arlington’s Tenant-Landlord Commission on Dec. 16.

After the jump: the county press release about the development’s approval.

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by ARLnow.com — January 19, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Robin Stombler, a Nauck resident, business owner and past chair of the Arlington Committee of 100, regarding revitalization plans for the Shirlington Crescent area.

Dear Editor:

Over 80 Arlington residents and elected officials joined the Nauck-Shirlington Crescent neighborhood launch on Sunday, January 10, 2016. Nauck residents led groups of citizens on walking tours throughout the Crescent. We anticipated some of the reactions:

  • Arlington is home to a concrete factory?
  • Floods up to 19 feet have occurred at Four Mile Run?
  • Jennie Dean Park honors the founder of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth?
  • Arlington’s first distribution brewery since 1916 opened this week in the Crescent?
  • Artists from Stephen Sondheim to Dave Grohl have walked the Crescent streets?

The answers are yes. Beyond the auto repair stores, towing facilities, and ART bus storage, many people pass the Crescent without really seeing what it has to offer. We have a vision to change that perception.

The Nauck-Shirlington Crescent is unique for many reasons, and chief among them is its diversity. We aim to embrace the economic, social and cultural diversity of our neighborhood from our nonprofit neighbors to our commercial entrepreneurs and from our established citizens to our newer residents.

We also see a significant opportunity to revitalize the Crescent into a creative, industry and arts cluster. This cluster would build and support an environment that encourages businesses and workforce development, protects and preserves the natural resources of the area, and fosters innovation. Space for new housing, tree-lined vistas, and parking also figure into our design.

The Arlington County Board has declared the Nauck-Shirlington Crescent a top priority for 2016. Our ideas, expressed briefly here, will be part of a fuller conversation on the future of the Crescent. The energy and excitement expressed at the launch portends well what that future holds.

Sincerely,

Robin Stombler

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

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