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by Alex Koma April 26, 2018 at 11:00 am 0

Ballston Quarter is adding five more shops ahead of its planned opening this fall, with both local and national retailers signing up for space in the new development.

Forest City, the company that owns and manages the former Ballston Common Mall, announced the site’s first round of retail tenants on April 26.

The stores set to move into the 850,000-square-foot development include:

  • Francesca’s: ​A national clothing and jewelry boutique with more than a dozen locations in the D.C. region. The store will be located in a roughly 1,700-square-foot space in Ballston Quarter.
  • Gossip: A women’s fashion boutique “with a West Coast vibe” offering clothing and accessories priced under $100. The store will move out of a Crystal City storefront to set up shop in a 760-square-foot space.
  • Potomac River Running: ​A family-owned, Virginia-based running specialty store. The company plans to relocate its current Ballston location along N. Fairfax Drive to a 1,430-square-foot space in Ballston Quarter.
  • Steadfast Supply: ​A D.C.-based creative retail shop and curated events hub. The store will be the company’s second location in the D.C. region, with a 1,025-square-foot space.
  • Scout and Molly’s: ​A North Carolina-based fashion boutique with 35 locations nationwide. The company will occupy a 1,141-square-foot space at Ballston Quarter.

Some stores at Ballston Quarter are set to start opening this fall, to go alongside holdovers from the old Ballston Common Mall, like the Regal Cinemas and Sport & Health club.

Forest City previously announced that the new development will also feature an 18-restaurant “food hall” and several “experience-oriented” businesses, like a recreational culinary school and an indoor play space.

By the time it’s finished, Ballston Quarter is also set to feature a 22-story, 406-unit apartment building and 176,000 square feet of office space.

Photo courtesy of Forest City

by ARLnow.com April 26, 2018 at 8:30 am 0

Hotel Planned for Pike Development — Attendees at yesterday’s Columbia Pike Progress Luncheon learned that Orr Partners — who is redeveloping the Food Star grocery store and adjacent sites at Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive — has partnered with WhyHotel for the mixed-use project. WhyHotel touts itself as an operator of “pop-up hotels in newly built, luxury apartment buildings.” [Twitter]

County Launches LGBTQ Resource Website — Arlington County has partnered with the Human Rights Commission to develop a website with local, state and national resources for the LGBTQ community. The resources cover a range of topics including housing, domestic violence, sexual assault, health and youth needs. [Arlington County]

Mitten Departing for Illinois — Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten has accepted the job of City Administrator for Urbana, Ill. “I look forward to advancing common goals for a safe, healthy, sustainable city through thoughtful growth,” she said in a statement. [Smile Politely]

Location Named for Dominion Pint — The owners of Dominion Pint, the new restaurant from the team behind the District’s Meridian Pint and Brookland Pint, have signed a lease for their Northern Virginia establishment. The restaurant is scheduled to open in December at 6035 Wilson Blvd. in Dominion Hills. [PoPville]

VHC Employee Earns ‘4 Under 40’ Award — Virginia Hospital Center’s Taryn Overman, MSN, RN, CEN, has received this year’s “4 Under 40” Emerging Leader Award from the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. Overman is recognized for going beyond her management responsibilities to help her community, such as during a collaboration with A-Span in which two tons of cereal was collected, and in directing a program that helped train community members in hands-only CPR.

Man Struck, Killed by Blue Line Train — A man was struck and killed by a train at the Arlington Cemetery Metro station last night. Video appears to show that the man was intentionally on the tracks at the time he was struck, according to Metro. [Washington Post, WUSA 9]

Flickr pool photo by Jennifer Presser

by Alex Koma April 25, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

A new senior living center could be coming to Cherrydale on a property along Lee Highway.

McLean-based Artis Senior Living is considering building a new facility on the north side of Lee Highway near the intersection with N. Taylor Street. Representatives intend to bring some development ideas to an April 26 community meeting convened by several civic associations.

The Lee Highway Alliance will play host to that gathering at its headquarters (4620 Lee Highway) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (April 26), and the Cherrydale and Waverly Hills Civic Associations will help coordinate the discussion.

Sandra Chesrown, president of the Lee Highway Alliance and vice president of the Waverly Hills Civic Association, says Artis has yet to divulge many details of what the new facility might look like so it can first hear the community’s concerns.

Indeed, county real estate records show that Artis, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has yet to even buy the 2.7-acre property.

A message sent out on the Cherrydale Civic Association listserv suggested that Artis is considering a “seven-story, 184-room assisted living residence” on the property.

“The facility would allow Cherrydalers and their family members to age right in our neighborhood,” the message read. “It would have a sizable workforce. There might be some issues with parking. We certainly want it to be welcome addition to the neighborhood.”

Made up of five separate parcels of land along the 4300 block of Lee Highway, the property was owned for decades by Louis Courembis, records show. Courembis transferred those parcels to William Murray, a local estate attorney, in September 2015, and the county hasn’t recorded any other sale of the land. Murray did not respond to a request for comment.

The property is currently home to a single-family house and several other structures. All of the land is valued quite highly — county assessments pegged one parcel as worth nearly $3.5 million in 2018, while the other four are assessed from $687,000 to $880,000.

Photo via Google Maps

by ARLnow.com April 20, 2018 at 8:55 am 0

Clement to Face Kanninen Again — “The 2018 Arlington School Board race is likely to be a rerun of 2014. Audrey Clement and incumbent Barbara Kanninen have qualified for ballot access, county elections chief Linda Lindberg told the Sun Gazette, setting up a reprise of their campaign from four years ago.” [InsideNova]

PenPlace Sketches Released — JBG Smith has released new sketches of its planned PenPlace development in Pentagon City. The development includes “two seven-story apartment buildings totaling 300 units, 40,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a future park.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Palooza Set for Saturday — The second annual Arlington Palooza,”a free outdoor program for all ages with live music, art, games and more,” is set to take place Saturday from 1-4 p.m. at Alcova Heights Park. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Arlington Historical Society Getting Donation — Per a press release: “The Arlington Historical Society will receive a significant donation this spring as Arlington welcomes National Capital Bank to the Courthouse/Clarendon area on Wilson Blvd. National Capital Bank President Randy Anderson, who grew up in Arlington, called to inform AHS President Johnathan Thomas that the Society was chosen as one of the charities the Bank will support with a grant award.”

Real Estate Inventory Crunch — “Long & Foster says… the number of houses and condos on the market, in D.C., Loudoun County and Arlington County was down 22 percent in March compared to a year ago.” [WTOP]

Live Construction Cam in Ballston — The new 672 Flats apartment building (an ARLnow.com advertiser) in Ballston set up a live camera to track the construction progress. The camera is viewable online and shows an aerial view of the apartments and a portion of the neighborhood. [OxBlue]

by ARLnow.com April 19, 2018 at 9:55 am 0

Petition in Support of Affordable Housing Project — The website Greater Greater Washington is helping to promote a petition that intends to counter resident complaints about a proposed affordable housing project on the former Red Cross site along Route 50. Neighbors are concerned that the project might “defile” the Buckingham neighborhood, with increased traffic and school overcrowding and a loss of green space. [GGW, GGW]

‘A Friend’ Writes Thank You Note to ACPD — From the Arlington County Police Department Twitter account: “To the citizen who left this unexpected note on one of our cruisers, thank you. ACPD is grateful for the support we receive from the community and small gestures like this mean a lot to our officers.” [Twitter]

Arlingtonian Places 23rd at Boston — Among other impressive finishes by Arlington residents at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Graham Tribble finished 23rd with a time of 2:30:06, the fastest among the D.C. area contingent at the prestigious race. [RunWashington, Patch]

High Schools Students Learning How to Spot Fake News — “At Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, some high school seniors are bent over their laptops, engaged in a digital course called Checkology that helps them figure out what makes news and information real, misleading or just plain false.” [Voice of America]

Elementary Girls Heading to Int’l Problem Solving Competition — “An all-girls engineering team from Glebe Elementary School is heading to the 2018 Odyssey of the Mind World Finals where they will compete with students from nearly 25 countries… The team of fourth graders from Glebe, who are all ages 9 or 10, became state champions last weekend at the Virginia Odyssey of the Mind competition, which was held April 14 in Newport News.” [Arlington Public Schools]

ACPD Forms ‘Restaurant Liaison Unit’ — The Arlington County Police Department has formed a “Restaurant Liaison Unit” to work with local bars to tamp down on drunken and sometimes violent incidents. One Clarendon bar in particular had police responding to it for a call almost every other day in 2017. [Washington City Paper, Twitter]

Glebe Lane Closure Causes Backups — Commuters heading northbound on Glebe Road today faced major backups due to a lane closure near Ballston. Washington Gas has been performing emergency repairs in the roadway since Wednesday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Rex Block

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 18, 2018 at 2:55 pm 0

A black box theater is expected to be formally removed from the plans for a development in Virginia Square at this weekend’s Arlington County Board meeting.

The County Manager’s office has recommended that a new site plan amendment be approved that would remove the theater from the development’s required community amenities.

Mark Schwartz, the County Manager, moved to absolve the developer of the black box theater requirement last year. Though the theater was in line with the Virginia Square sector plan, its initial operational and financial costs, as well as ongoing operational costs that would rely on tax support, were deemed too high.

Considering those costs, the project didn’t align with “a shift in strategy which talks about delivering cultural programming with low-cost, high-impact investments,” said Schwartz.

The new site plan will convert a previously approved 3,180 square feet of ground floor retail space into office space, 2,725 square feet of retail space to office space, and add 2,725 square feet of office space at the penthouse level.

The proposed plan would also lower the building’s height by eight feet, eliminate a mezzanine level, and add an outdoor terrace at the penthouse level.

The mezzanine level is no longer necessary, as it was intended to support the black box theater. County staff found that “the proposed site plan amendments are reasonable adjustments in the approved site plan and respond to the removal of the black box theater.”

The site was previously home of the Arlington Funeral Home, which closed in 2011 after 55 years in business.

by Bridget Reed Morawski April 2, 2018 at 10:55 am 0

Construction on the renovated Ballston Quarter mall is coming along.

Signs up at the site still point to a fall 2018 opening for the redeveloped and rebuilt space, formerly known as the Ballston Common Mall.

Recent weeks have seen the announcement that several “experiential tenants,” like cooking class company Cookology and live action adventure venue 5 Wits, have signed on as tenants.

The 360,000 square foot retail space will also include a 25,000 square foot food hall, which reportedly will have 18 restaurants, including Timber Pizza Co. and Buredo. Trendy D.C. spots Himitsu and Gravitas are also said to be considering opening up eateries at the mall.

At least 400 residential units are being constructed as well, though leasing will begin next year.

Ballston Quarter is just one of a number of major construction projects currently underway in the neighborhood. Crews were seen working on Friday directly across the street from another construction site, Liberty Center, at 4040 Wilson Boulevard.

The mixed-use residential, retail, and office space is scheduled to open for mid-2020 and will be the final piece of a five-building development. VIDA Fitness, a “high end fitness center and spa,” is set to open its first non-D.C. location in the building.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 19, 2018 at 9:45 am 0

After initially fighting hard for increased density, an amended site plan for Pentagon City’s proposed PenPlace features drastically scaled back development desires.

The initial office-oriented plan called for five buildings between 16 and 22 stories high on a 10.2 acre parcel, including a 300-room hotel. Now, the plan calls for a more minuscule residential development of 300 apartments between two buildings at a height of seven stories.

A west building would have 171 apartments; an eastern building, 129. The density is much less than some on county staff desire, ARLnow.com was told.

“We will have to look at… in terms of height and scale and density, if this is appropriate,” said a county planner, adding that it was “highly unusual to see site plans coming in below an approved or allocated figure.”

According to the county planner, the applicant has said that they will reallocate the density, but has not yet explained how. The company could shift the approved density from one area to another, but will have to be more specific as to the impact on land use before getting county staff approval.

Another county employee familiar with the updated site plan noted that the plan would be less expensive for JBG Smith, which merged with original site plan applicant Vornado, to construct.

The employee explained that since steel reinforcement is only necessary on buildings that are more than five stories high, the building’s framework could be wood. The employee added that the first two floors in the site plan are concrete, so the additional five floors could legally be built atop of that with wood.

Matt Ginivan, JBG Smith’s senior vice president of real estate development, told ARLnow.com in an interview that he wasn’t aware of some county staff’s skepticism of the diminished density and that JBG Smith has not formally received any feedback or questions yet.

Ginivan said that rather than maxing out the PenPlace site’s capacity, they wanted to “improve the pedestrian experience” with a mix of ground floor options that aren’t just the larger projects that are already prevalent in Crystal City and Pentagon City.

Photos via Arlington County

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 15, 2018 at 10:00 am 0

(Updated at 8:30 p.m.) An older office building in Crystal City may be converted into apartments, and developer JBG Smith is soliciting public feedback on the project.

JBG Smith is looking to convert a 12-story office building at 1750 Crystal Drive into a 21-story residential building. The building, across from the Crystal City Water Park, would be 257 feet in height.

In the first phase of the “Central District” project, a new 74,000 square foot, street facing retail area would be built, reportedly anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. The retail area may also include a smaller-format grocery store, like a Trader Joe’s.

A JBG Smith presentation says the project would include “delivery of nine screen Alamo Drafthouse Theater that shows first run and art house films as well as dining, entertainment, and event space hosting.” According to the feedback website, JBG is hoping to start construction in the fall and to have the theater open by the spring of 2020.

As part of the project, a two story, 16,000 square foot retail building would be built at the corner of 18th Street S. and Crystal Drive — next to a proposed second Crystal City Metro entrance — with renderings showing an sizable outdoor dining area adjacent to it.

Feedback from JBG’s online portal is helping to shape the development, said a representative for the company that created the portal.

“It’s a new approach for the developer, which added online outreach to the traditional process involving community meetings,” said the rep. “Over 1,600 people have interacted with the Central District at Crystal City website… Based on the feedback, JBG Smith has committed to providing seating, plantings, and seasonal events in the plaza.”

“The developer is also recruiting a full-service grocery store, which online voters said was the most important element to make the spot a neighborhood destination,” he added.

An open house on the Crystal City Block Plan “G” and Metro Market Square, which will plan open space and retail around the existing and new Metro entrances, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21.

by ARLnow.com March 13, 2018 at 10:55 am 0

The long-time Red Top Cab maintenance facility in Clarendon is now idle.

No longer are taxicabs busy coming and going from the facility, which is located along N. Hudson Street, just back from Clarendon’s main strip of bars. The facility’s parking lot, meanwhile, is largely empty.

Red Top spokesman Von Pelot said the company has moved maintenance to Falls Church as a cost-cutting measure.

“Half of the offices at Hudson Street were unused and we had additional capacity for maintenance at our shop in Falls Church, where painting and body repairs have always been done,” Pelot tells ARLnow.com. “It was not economical to carry the operating expenses of occupying a building we don’t really need.”

As recently as 2012 Red Top was seeking new taxi licenses from the county in an effort to expand its fleet. Pelot acknowledged that app-based ride services like Uber and Lyft have significantly curtailed its business.

“With the unfettered competition from unregulated cab substitute companies, we decided to cost costs by relocating staff to other available space,” he said. Red Top’s headquarters, however, is remaining at 3251 Washington Blvd, a block away from the maintenance facility.

A plan to redevelop the Red Top site and adjacent properties into hundreds of units of housing is currently on hold.

Hat tip to Mike K.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 12, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board is set to approve a $2.6 million contract for the design of interior upgrades to the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center in Courthouse.

County staff has recommended awarding the contract, including a five percent contingency, to Architecture, Inc., a Reston, Va., company. County Board members are expected to consider the approval during its Saturday, March 17 meeting.

The project will be funded by the landlord, JBG Smith, which provided a $23.7 million tenant improvement allowance following lease extension negotiations last year. The County will also occupy the 2100 Clarendon Boulevard building rent-free from Nov. 1, 2018 through Oct. 31, 2019, which the county estimates will save $9.9 million.

There is also an expected broker rebate of $2.5 million.

The 235,000-square-foot building sits at the intersection of a new pedestrian safety improvement project. According to county documents, it has been 12 years since the building’s last renovation.

File photo

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 7, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

The final design of Yorktown High School modifications that will increase the building’s capacity to 2,189 seats is set to be approved at the Arlington School Board meeting on Thursday (March 8).

Per the plan, at least six classrooms will be created by converting a computer lab, a computer alcove, and several teacher work rooms. A copy room will turn into a new “teacher collaboration space,” and other teacher work space and offices will also be reconfigured.

Existing storage will be turned into bicycle storage, and charging stations will be added throughout the school, including in the cafeteria and atrium. The current gym lockers will be replaced.

The larger seating capacity comes weeks after the proposed Arlington Public Schools budget was announced with class size increases.

The project’s estimated $4 million cost will be funded by the capital reserve, according to School Board documents.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 6, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

Demolition has begun in preparation for the Nauck Town Center project, and the neighbors might not be the only ones buzzing with interest.

The building torn down last week is none other than the former home of about 70,000 honey bees, which the county relocated in July 2017 after realizing they had not only purchased a former office building but an apiary abode as well.

The aging building had only been vacant for about four months, according to the county, but about 100 pounds of honey were already generated by the time that local beekeepers swooped in to relocate move the hive.

The demolition is one of the final steps in the project’s first pre-construction phase. Utility undergrounding and site perimeter streetscaping will start fall 2018 and end spring 2019.

The second phase of Nauck Town Square project construction is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2019 and wrap up by the winter of 2020. Pre-construction for phase two will begin spring 2018 and last through winter 2019.

The Nauck Town Center project, which has been years in the making, includes an open plaza, outdoor stage, public art, tables and seating and sidewalk improvements, along with displays about the history of the community, which was settled by free African-Americans in 1844. The design includes a large sculpture of the word “FREED.”

Photo courtesy Daniel Wanke

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 6, 2018 at 12:45 pm 0

Crystal City will be getting a new, 43,900 square foot plaza called Metro Market Square, according to county planning documents.

Plans for the plaza cite Boston’s Faneuil Hall as inspiration and include retail businesses, small water features, chess tables, and a options for outdoor entertainment.

The market building’s roof would include solar panels and “artistic wind turbines,” and the park’s sidewalks would range from 17.5-19 feet wide. A new Crystal City Metro station east entrance at the plaza would be located at Crystal Drive and 18 Street S.

The parcel, referred to as “block G,” is “generally bounded by 15th Street S. to the north, Crystal Drive to the east, 18th Street S. to the south and U.S. Route 1 to the west,” according to the county website.

Planners are cognizant of shadow issues as well, calling for no more than 55 percent of the park to be in shadow between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on equinoxes and no more than 59% in shadow in the fall.

A community open house will be held on March 21 from 7-9 p.m. for residents to view the details. An online feedback survey will be conducted from March 19-28, though a link to the survey is not yet available.

The block plan is part of the larger Crystal City Sector Plan, passed in 2010, which includes a new two-acre park called Center Park, 7,500 new residential units, and a “transformation of Jefferson Davis Highway into an urban boulevard.”

Screenshots via Arlington County

by ARLnow.com March 1, 2018 at 9:00 am 0

ACPD Cameo on ‘Homeland’ — The Arlington County Police Department made a brief appearance last week on the TV show “Homeland.” [Twitter]

High Wind Watch Upgraded to Warning — The threat of a damaging wind storm Friday has become more likely. The National Weather Service has upgraded the previous High Wind Watch to a warning. [Twitter]

EFC Development Stalled — “Seven years ago, the county blessed a vision of new ‘transitown’ development of stores, greenery and new pedestrian access around the East Falls Church Metro. But that utilitarian commuter site is largely unchanged.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Logo, Website for AAC — Thanks to a philanthropic grant, the Arlington Arts Center has new branding and a “new, mobile-friendly site reflecting our enduring commitment to excellent contemporary art, quality educational programs, and our artist residency program.” [Arlington Arts Center]

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