(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The County Board is set to vote this Saturday (February 24) on a contested residential development in Ballston.
The development is planned around the intersection of N. Vermont and 11th streets, about four blocks from the Ballston Metro station. Developer NVR Inc. intends to build a 72-unit multifamily building with both condos and townhouse-style units on the southern block and 12 townhouse units on the northern parcel of land.
County staff, along with the Arlington’s planning and transportation commissions, are recommending that the Board approves the development, but some neighbors have objected to it.
“Save Our Neighborhood” signs in opposition of the development have been placed around Ballston, urging residents to wear red t-shirts to the County Board meeting to show their solidarity. A Change.org petition has garnered more than 500 signatures.
The petition’s organizer, Dana Gerk, cited a swamped mass transit infrastructure, overcrowding in the schools, concerns about increased traffic, “potential physical damage… from heavy machinery,” and a deviation from the county’s current zoning for the site.
Other opponents cite the proposed height of the condo building as harmful.
“Through the process, local residents vocally opposed the design and placement of the seven story multi-family building,” one resident said in an email to ARLnow.com. “At each public hearing Westview [condo] residents whose properties were built with floor to ceiling window balconies opposed the current design, which will block access to light according to developer-provided shadow studies.
“Other buildings in the area, such as on the corner of Glebe and Fairfax, were sculpted to preserve the access to sunlight for Westview residents, and Westview residents note that, if approved, this new building takes away the views of over 100 residents so that a developer can maximize profits for many fewer.”
Approval from the board would necessitate two exceptions be granted. The lot is currently planned as “low-medium residential,” meaning that it can accommodate 16-36 units per acre, and would need to be changed to “high-medium residential mixed use” in the General Land Use Plan (GLUP).
An additional rezoning request for the 55,667 square foot site would allow developers to build multiple family dwellings and commercial district property. The current status only allows for one family and restricted two-family dwellings.
Demolition is underway on an old office building in Courthouse.
The demolition of the building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd will allow the construction of a new, 15-floor condominium tower. The 18,380 sq. ft. site will also feature ground-level retail and a garage fitting 112 parking spaces.
The site is currently fenced off while the building is torn down.
Photo (third) courtesy @721tv
Murder of Crows Pooping All Over Shirlington — A large contingent of crows have taken up residence in Shirlington, and locals are getting fed up with cars and sidewalks being covered in bird doo-doo. [WTOP, NBC Washington]
Design Contest for 2019 ‘I Voted’ Sticker — “In an effort to gin up voter enthusiasm during what is expected to be a slow 2019, Arlington election officials… plan to hold a competition to design a logo for next year’s election.” [InsideNova]
Arlington No. 3 on ‘Best Counties’ List — A new list of “best counties” in the U.S. ranks Falls Church — a city — No. 1 while Arlington is No. 3 and Fairfax is No. 6. The list was compiled by the website 24/7 Wall Street. [WTOP]
Mitten Given the Boot By Grand Rapids — The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan is restarting its search for a new city manager after an outcry from residents and interest groups. Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten was among the three finalists for the job to speak at a community forum, prior to the city announcing the restart. [Fox 17, MLive]
Police Recruiting for Student Safety Patrol Camp — “The Arlington County Police Department’s School Resource Officer Unit is currently accepting applications to the Summer Safety Patrol Camp. This weeklong camp is offered to incoming 4th and 5th grade students who want to participate in safety patrols during the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year.” [Arlington County]
More on Market Common Redevelopment Approval — The redevelopment of a portion of Market Common Clarendon will widen a narrow sidewalk that was the source of resident complaints, among other community benefits. Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey hopes the project can help “bring a little funkiness back into Clarendon.” [Arlington Connection]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
(Updated at 9:45 p.m.) Two warehouses along S. Eads Street in Pentagon City are being razed to eventually make way for a redevelopment project.
JBG Smith is expected to begin demolition of the warehouses at some point in April or May 2018. The project is scheduled to take six to eight weeks.
At this point, it’s unclear what will replace the buildings, located between 12th and 15th streets. The company is backing away from plans approved by the county in July 2016 to build a 22-story, 577-unit residential tower.
JBG Smith has “no plans at the moment” to build the county-approved project due to uncertain market conditions, said a PR representative for the company.
“It’s unknown and sort of depending on where things go in the market,” the rep said.
On Friday (February 1), the company hosted a community meeting to discuss the demolition project. Several people attended and voiced concerns about noise generated from demolition, we’re told.
Demolition crews will work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays, according to meeting materials. Construction traffic will enter the site through S. Eads Street. The exit point is either north on S. Eads to Army Drive or south on S. Eads Street to 15th Street.
Photos by Fatimah Waseem
Market Common Redevelopment Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved a plan to redevelop a portion of Market Common Clarendon. The project is described as “a major renovation and expansion of a commercial-retail block in the heart of Clarendon,” which will preserve the A&R Engravers building and widen the Wilson Boulevard sidewalk at Edgewood Street. [Arlington County]
Gondola Idea Not Dead Yet — “A gondola connecting Georgetown and Rosslyn adjacent to the Key Bridge is still in the works,” with those on the D.C. side of the Potomac continuing to work on it despite Arlington’s public reticence. However, the project now faces an exceedingly complex Environmental Impact Study. [Washington Business Journal]
Man Shot and Killed in Philly IDed — A local man who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in South Philadelphia after allegedly deliberately striking a pedestrian with his car has been identified. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Khalil Lawal, of the 100 block of South Frederick Street in Arlington, Va., was shot early Monday morning by the officer in the face, torso, and legs, police said.” [Philly.com]
Mitten Under Consideration for Michigan Job — Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten is among three candidates under consideration for the job of City Manager in Grand Rapids, Michigan. [Grand Rapids Business Journal]
Ship’s Hatch Under New Ownership — Long-time military gift store Ship’s Hatch has been sold to a new owner. Founder Mary Beth Cox, 73, is retiring after more than three decades of running the store in the Crystal City Shops. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by GM and MB
The Arlington County Board is set to debate the redevelopment of a section of Market Common in Clarendon, including of the former IOTA Club and Cafe building.
The Board will hear from developer Regency Centers as well as public testimony later today (Tuesday, January 30) on its plans for the area around the 2800 blocks of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds.
Regency Centers is proposing a renovation and extension of the former Education Center building, which would include expanding it into the building that once hosted IOTA and the former home of A&R Engravers (2836 Wilson Blvd).
It would also add a fourth floor and an outdoor terrace to the building; create what county staff described as a “ground level arcade” along N. Edgewood Street; allow buildings to host retail as well as office space; and beautify that section of Clarendon Blvd to make it more appealing.
Across the street, renderings have also shown a revamped courtyard area known as “The Loop,” with several new eateries or other stores in the central median of the shopping center, and seating areas nearby. Currently, that area has a small park with a fountain and benches.
A letter from the Planning Commission noted its unanimous support for the project at its January 17 meeting. The project also received the backing of the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board and Transportation Commission.
HALRB chair Joan Lawrence said the mural for the former Conklyn’s Florist should be preserved for its historical significance. Under the development plan, it will be moved to the building wall above the preserved A & R Engraver’s building.
That building was built in 1941 and is identified as historic. The building that hosted IOTA, the source of some controversy last year as activists worked to save the local music venue, restaurant and bar, is not identified in a similar way.
“The ‘Conklyn’s Florist’ former sign is no longer a sign as defined the Zoning Ordinance and should be treated as a piece of historic art and not as a sign to be regulated,” Lawrence wrote in a letter to the Board. “The HALRB feels strongly that this piece of art should be preserved and its connection to Arlington’s history acknowledged. The use and placement of a historic marker that does this should be included in the project.”
The Board is expected to vote on the project at its recessed meeting tonight.
Images via county staff report
(Updated 8:25 a.m. January 25) A now-demolished funeral home in Virginia Square is set for continued use as a parking lot for crews working on redeveloping the former CarPool site.
The Arlington County Board will consider an extension on the approval of the site plan at 3901 Fairfax Drive, and its interim use for parking, until February 2021.
Construction crews working on the CarPool project use the site as parking while building work is ongoing on a 22-story luxury high rise, which will have up to 330 residential units, 264 underground parking spaces and ground-floor retail.
In its place, a 10-story building with three levels of underground parking is planned. It would include office space and ground floor retail. It had been the planned location of a 150-seat black box theater, but that plan was nixed last year.
In a report on the planned extension, county staff said that developer BDC Crimson LLC has promised that development will be underway by 2021, “once financing is finalized to permit construction.”
Staff recommended the Board approve the extension.
Career Center Redevelopment Could Be Big for Pike — County and school officials are moving forward with a redevelopment of the Arlington Career Center site, which holds the possibility of helping to shape the future of Columbia Pike. “We see this as a huge opportunity to create a crown jewel of Columbia Pike. The only question is the amount of money that might be invested,” said Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization Executive Director Cecelia Cassidy. [InsideNova]
N. Va. Real Estate Continues Upward Trajectory — As illustrated by a table showing the past four decades of Northern Virginia real estate sales and average prices, the local real estate market has been on a long-term upward trend. Last year continued the trend, with a 4.1 percent increase in prices and a 6.9 percent increase in total sales. [InsideNova]
Five Guys at DCA Closed for Renovations — The Five Guys burger restaurant in Terminal C of Reagan National Airport is reportedly closed, temporarily, for renovations. [PoPville]
Some Experts Say Prepaid Property Tax Will Be Deductible — Don’t ask for a refund of your prepaid property taxes, say some tax experts. Despite the IRS stating that taxes prepaid to jurisdictions like Arlington County will not be deductible on your taxes this year, before a cap on state and local tax deductions goes into effect, some experts believe that legal challenges to the IRS determination will prevail. [Washington Post]
Applications Accepted for ‘Neighborhood College’ — “Learn how to become a neighborhood advocate and effect change through Arlington County’s free Neighborhood College program, which meets on eight consecutive Thursday evenings, beginning April 12, 2018.” [Arlington County]
Puerto Rico Pets Coming to Arlington for Adoption — Dogs and cats from Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, were flown from the island to the D.C. area over the weekend by Arlington-based Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. The pets arrived via van convoy to a hero’s welcome in Shirlington and are now up for adoption. [Washington Post]
Arlington Among ‘Best Places to Live’ — City ranker Livability.com is out with its 2018 “Top 100 Best Places To Live” list and Arlington has placed No. 35, one spot below Pittsburgh and one above Asheville, N.C. Arlington previously ranked No. 3 on the list. [Livability]
Lower Property Value Rise Will Cause Budget Challenges — “The year-over-year increase in real-estate assessments throughout Arlington came in lower than government officials had expected, which may cause problems for County Board members trying to avoid either tax increases or budget cuts.” [InsideNova]
More on Key Bridge Marriott Sale — The new owners of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn may benefit from the previous owner’s application to the FAA to construct buildings up to 470 feet tall on the property, which overlooks Georgetown and the Potomac River. The FAA application is “an indication it was setting the stage for the site’s redevelopment.” [Washington Business Journal]
Betsy Franz Leaves Leadership Center — Leadership Center for Excellence (formerly Leadership Arlington) founding President and CEO Betsy Frantz is leaving the organization in April to become President of the Virginia Hospital Center Health System Foundation. Liz Nohra, the COO of LCE, will take over as Acting President and CEO. [Leadership Center for Excellence]
Eviction Notice for TechShop in Crystal City — “A Jan. 18 eviction notice from the Arlington County sheriff’s department now hangs in the storefront of the maker space chain’s Crystal City location. The notice comes more than a month after San Jose, California-based TechShop announced it would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and then, a few weeks later, disclosed in early December it was reaching a deal to be acquired.” [Washington Business Journal]
County to Connect Building Owners and Investors for Sustainability — “All systems are ‘go’ for Arlington’s new ‘C-PACE’ program, a first-in-Virginia public-private partnership to provide affordable, long-term financing to improve energy or water efficiency of commercial buildings.” [Arlington County]
Reminder: Use Salt in Moderation — Prior to this morning’s rain, Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tweeted a reminder to residents to avoid excess application of salt during freezing weather. “Use only as much as needed and no more to melt ice because this will wash into our watershed,” DES said. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The office vacancy rate in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor continued to recover in 2017, with new tenants moving in this year expected to maintain that recovery.
Commercial real estate firm JLL found that the recovery continued for the third straight year, after tenants moved out in droves from 2009 to 2014 following BRAC and sequestration at the federal level. That contributed to Arlington County’s total office vacancy rate being at 22.7 percent in 2017.
And this year, JLL said the arrival of Nestle in Rosslyn as well as the redevelopment of the Ballston Exchange — formerly known as Stafford Place and the previous headquarters of the National Science Foundation — and Ballston Quarter Mall will help drive down that office vacancy rate.
Rosslyn is set to add occupants in 500,000 square feet of vacant office space this year, including the likes of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which is relocating from D.C. Although with a 29 percent office vacancy rate at the extremes of the corridor, it is not all good news.
A previous JLL report found that office rent is highest on Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn and increasing, due to new high-end “trophy class” offices coming online, as well as the unobstructed views of Washington, D.C. and the Potomac River.
And locating close to Metro stations is still pushing rent up on office space across Northern Virginia by up to 34 percent, according to JLL. It also found that all of the new office space being constructed is close to Metro.
But despite the positives, the Northern Virginia region as a whole is still struggling, with a 20-year historical high for office vacancies and not much improvement forecast in the coming years. Fairfax County’s office vacancy rate of 21.1 percent is second behind Arlington, followed by Alexandria (19 percent), Loudoun County (16.6 percent) and Prince William County (15.6 percent).
The lowest vacancy rate close to D.C. is in Frederick County, Maryland, which has a 9.1 percent vacancy rate.
“The forecast broadly is not likely to shift greatly from today as slower demand caused by limited near-term lease expirations, limited economic diversification outside of the core government and contractor drivers and a dysfunctional Congress will keep supply-demand fundamentals relatively flat,” John Sikaitis, managing director for research at JLL, wrote in a presentation on the findings.
PenPlace Plan Revived with Apartments — JBG Smith plans to revive its stalled PenPlace project in Pentagon City by building apartment buildings rather than office buildings in the first phase of the project. The updated plans will be open to community input during a new site plan review process. The original plans were approved in 2013 over the objections of some nearby residents. [Washington Business Journal]
Traffic at DCA to Get Heavier During Construction — “Drivers heading to Reagan National Airport might soon begin to feel the impact of a major project to transform the facility. Construction crews will begin overnight work in the lower-level roadway in the next couple of weeks, and that work will spill into daytime hours come spring.” [WTOP]
More Dirt Coming to DCA — Another portion of the expansion project at Reagan National Airport will bring a big mound of dirt to the airport grounds. The dirt is needed to support the weight of a new regional jet concourse. DCA was built on land reclaimed from the Potomac River. [InsideNova]
Photo by Anna Merod
A proposal to add a major expansion to Virginia Hospital Center has been opened up for public discussion ahead of a possible approval in the near future.
A walk-through of the site by the county’s Site Plan Review Committee had been planned for January 6 but has been postponed, with a new date yet to be confirmed.
SPRC held its first meeting on the project on December 18, 2017. It will review the plans and then make a recommendation to the Planning Commission, and also provide a first forum for public comment.
VHC is proposing a more-than 230,000-square-foot, seven-story outpatient pavilion for walk-in patients.
The plans would also convert around 120,000 square feet of existing outpatient space to 101 hospital beds and build a 10-story parking garage with just over 2,000 spaces.
The extension to its campus would replace the county-owned Edison Center on the 1800 block of N. Edison Street, to the north of VHC’s main site. The Edison Center is currently home to some county offices and an Arlington County Refugee Services location.
The County Board voted in July that it wants to acquire the hospital’s property at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road and use the site on N. Edison Street as part of the purchase price.
The county hosted a kick-off meeting for the project on November 16, 2017. According to a meeting summary posted online, feedback was generally positive, with questions raised about traffic and parking issues but also noting the project’s importance.
“This isn’t just some ordinary expansion,” one commenter wrote on a feedback card. “This is a vital resource to this County. No one wants something in their backyard. The renderings are beautiful and definitely better than what exists on Edison Street.
Images by HDR.
Arlington County is considering buying property owned by local PBS affiliate WETA in the Four Mile Run Valley, as part of a park expansion project and a plan to keep WETA’s headquarters in Shirlington.
Under a deal announced yesterday (Thursday), the county has an option to purchase the WETA studio at 3620 27th Street S., and use the land for the future expansion of Jennie Dean Park. If WETA’s Board of Trustees approves the plan, a sale could happen in the next two years.
Should the sale go through, per a letter of intent signed by both parties, the county would make $500,000 of urban design improvements in the area near WETA’s headquarters (3939 Campbell Ave), including improving pedestrian safety and signs.
The county would also provide WETA with a performance-based Economic Development Incentive grant of up to $150,000 per year based on reaching targets for job creation and square feet used.
WETA will soon “begin design and construction feasibility studies to explore relocating the studio next to the current headquarters located at 3939 Campbell Avenue in Shirlington Village,” according to a county press release. “The planned project would include building a new, state-of-the art studio in space adjacent to their headquarters building.”
“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with WETA, one of our most valuable community partners,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “This agreement allows WETA to move forward with envisioning their ideal television studio and headquarters as we move forward with planning for Jennie Dean Park’s future.”
The property has been identified as a way to expand Jennie Dean Park since 1994, while WETA has been looking throughout the region for new space.
The future of Jennie Dean Park has been a source of controversy among some members of the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group, tasked with making recommendations for the area’s future. An area near the park has been proposed as a possible arts district, a plan that has come in for some criticism from group members and commission chairs.
The full county press release is after the jump.
Long-time Ballston watering hole CarPool closed earlier this year, and now it has been bulldozed to make way for a new development.
Photos show the bar flattened as construction crews prepare to build a new 22-story luxury residential building.
— Lauren Berl (@LaurBerl) December 22, 2017
Photos (top) courtesy Phil McGeehan
New Renderings of Crystal City Development — Property owner JBG Smith “has unveiled never-before-seen concept images of its planned 50,000-square-foot Alamo Drafthouse Cinema fronting Crystal Drive, a yet-unnamed specialty grocer and the future look of an office building it plans to convert to multifamily. The images were presented to Arlington County’s Site Plan Review Committee earlier this month.” [Washington Business Journal]
Pentagon City Mall Holiday Hours — Arlington’s biggest shopping mall, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, will be open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Christmas Eve (Sunday) for last-minute shoppers. The mall will be closed on Christmas and open from 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. on Boxing Day (Tuesday).
Aurora Highlands Chimney Fire — Thankfully happening prior to Santa’s arrival, a smoky fire broke out in the chimney of a home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood last night. Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames before they could potentially spread. [Twitter]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin