Arlington, VA

Residents of Arlington will have a number of chances to weigh in on the next steps for the Ballston Harris Teeter redevelopment.

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved scheduling a public hearing related to developer Southeastern’s request to rebuild the grocery store as a ground-floor retail space with five stories of apartments up top — as well as build a second, eight-story apartment building next to it and a half-acre public park.

The upcoming hearing by the county’s Planning Commission is one of several planned to review the project.

A meeting of the Site Plan Review Committee next week will allow residents to learn more about Southeastern’s request to rezone a portion of the land slated for the site as well as view updated renderings. It will be held this upcoming Monday, July 22, from 7-9:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, July 23, the public can attend an open house from 5-6:30 p.m. to ask more questions, particularly about the project’s proposed public spaces, and view the latest project renderings.

Both meetings will be held at county government headquarters, at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse.

Southeastern wants to up-zone the land near N. Thomas Street, which is is currently zoned for “Low-Medium” residential buildings, which would otherwise put a damper on the developer’s plans to build 732 units and include retail space in the buildings.

County Board members approved the request to advertise the public meeting during their meeting this past weekend.

In April, the developers submitted new planning documents the county proposing:

  • increasing the number of housing units from 700 to 732
  • seeking a LEED Silver certification for green energy
  • reducing the number of parking spaces to 1 per unit, excluding the store parking lot

“The proposed development will provide a new, top of the line Harris Teeter grocery store with upgraded features and offerings,” an April letter from the developer noted. “It will also provide additional, much needed housing close to the Ballston Metro station and the Ballston Quarter project.”

Five years ago, the County Board approved changes to increase density on the site, taking into account the neighborhood’s development along Wilson Blvd.

At the time, Board members said they hoped N. Glebe Road could become an “urban boulevard.”

Map via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Officials Pledge Action on Flooding — “Perhaps sensitive to growing community disenchantment over past performance in addressing heavy-rain incidents, County Board members on July 13 pledged to find ways to improve local-government efforts to address the impact of flooding. ‘We have to up our game,’ acknowledged County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey.” [InsideNova]

Residents Demand Stormwater Fixes — “Alexandra Lettow was near tears as she described the losses her family suffered in Monday’s flooding to neighbors and county officials gathered at a home in Arlington’s Waverly Hills neighborhood… It was at least the seventh time the neighborhood had flooded in 19 years.” [Washington Post]

Flood Insurance Doesn’t Cover All Losses — “They have a FEMA-backed flood insurance policy through Liberty Mutual… When the insurance adjuster came Tuesday to assess the damage she dropped a bombshell. Right there in the middle of the policy it reads, for property in a basement, coverage is limited.” [WJLA]

Arlington Man Leads Police on Chase — “At first the Expedition refused to stop for the trooper, but finally pulled off and stopped on the shoulder. A few minutes into the traffic stop, the driver of the Expedition drove off from the trooper and a pursuit was initiated westbound on I-66.” [Press Release]

Board Approved 23rd Street Tunnel Request — “After years of maintaining the little-used 23rd Street pedestrian tunnel that runs under Richmond Highway in Crystal City, Arlington will request its closure from the state.” [Arlington County]

New Renderings of Rosslyn Hotel Development — “The proposed development… would replace the Holiday Inn at 1900 N. Fort Myer Drive with a building which combines residential, hotel and conference center uses along with retail and restaurant space. A 38-story tower fronting N. Fort Myer would contain a four-star hotel with 344 rooms (compared to the previously-proposed 327), and a 25-story residential tower fronting Nash Street would deliver roughly 500 studio-to-three-bedroom units (compared to the previously-proposed 490).” [Urban Turf]

Interim Economic Development Director Named — “Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz has named Alex Iams interim director of Arlington Economic Development. Iams currently serves as assistant director of the department. He succeeds Victor Hoskins, who has served as director since January 2015.” [Arlington County]

Hoskins: Arlington in Good Shape — “Hoskins said that Arlington County has ‘nothing to worry about’ with Amazon coming in, adding that the move to Fairfax County is coming at the right time — ‘Yes, I’m done in Arlington.'” [Tysons Reporter]

Photo courtesy Craig Fingar

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Morning Notes

HQ2 to Include Banana Stand, Local Businesses — “Schoettler said the outdoor areas will likely include elements from its Seattle headquarters, such as a community vegetable garden and a banana stand… Amazon’s in-house food program will only serve about one-quarter of the HQ2 workforce, encouraging the majority of the employees to each lunch at nearby businesses. And because Amazon will own the buildings, Schoettler said it will be able to curate the retail to focus on locally owned businesses.” [Bisnow, WAMU, Washington Business Journal]

County Again Recognized for Tech Savvy — “Arlington County is once again among the top ranked digital counties in the nation. The Center for Digital Government and National Association of Counties 2019 award designated Arlington second place in the 150,000-249,999 population category.” [Arlington County]

Legion Development a National Model? — “Post 139 and APAH’s partnership should serve as an example for addressing the issue of homeless veterans, said Darryl Vincent, chief operating officer of nonprofit U.S.VETS… In 2018, there were 12,806 American Legion posts across the country, a huge inventory of property that could be repurposed as affordable housing.” [Politico]

Helicopter Noise Amendment Passes House — “The House of Representatives adopted a set of amendments to H.R. 2500, the National Defense Authorization Act, including two offered by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) which would address helicopter noise in the National Capital Region.” [Press Release]

ACPD: Lock Your Car and House — “The Arlington County Police Department is joining law enforcement agencies throughout the country in a public safety campaign aimed at promoting crime prevention strategies to reduce and prevent thefts from vehicles and homes. The campaign, known as the 9 P.M. Routine, encourages residents to conduct security checks in their homes and vehicles each evening to ensure their property is secure.” [Arlington County]

APS Teacher Receives National Recognition — “Wilfredo Padilla Melendez, teacher at Claremont Immersion School, received Instructure’s 2019 Educator of the Year Award. Wilfredo was recognized as one of six educators who go above and beyond to redefine traditional classroom activities.” [Press Release]

Photo courtesy Arlington VA/Flickr

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Newly-revised plans for the redevelopment of the Key Bridge Marriott site in Rosslyn include a new bike path.

Los Angeles-based developers Woodridge Capital Partners and Oaktree Capital Management purchased the hotel at 1401 Lee Highway for $190 million last year. Since then, the developers proposed renovating the 582-room hotel and adding three residential buildings to the site — two with condominiums and one with apartments.

On June 11, Woodridge and Oaktree Capital Management LP submitted plans to build a pedestrian and cyclist “esplanade” on the north side of the site, with a connection to Lee Highway. The county noted earlier this month that the developers need to ensure pedestrians and cyclists weren’t hampered by their plan to demolish the footbridge over Lee Highway, which connects the Custis Trail and Gateway Park.

“This area, which will be fully open to the public, will offer spectacular views of the Potomac River and connect to the bike path leading to the Key Bridge,” the developers wrote in the new plans.

“The esplanade, which will not be open to general vehicle traffic, will be fully open to pedestrians and cyclists and offer a new option for cyclists to access and navigate through the site,” the developers added. “It will also offer greater connectivity to the Custis Trail from the Key Bridge through a new bicycle path connection on the northeastern end of the property.”

A February traffic impact analysis indicates that developers plan to close the hotel’s current connection to N. Fort Myer Drive and keep the two entrances off of Lee Highway. The plans also call for several roadways on the site itself, including:

  • an east-west roadway connecting the buildings to be used for pick-ups and drop-offs
  • two north-south roadways on either side of the hotel
  • an emergency vehicle access road along the backside (northside) of the property

“The new streets, combined with esplanade, will provide much improved bicycle and pedestrian circulation through the site,” the developer’s site plan application says.

Woodridge and Oaktree are requesting the County Board’s permission to build 446 rooms in the renovated hotel along with 151 condominium units, 300 apartments units, and 635 parking spaces. The apartment building will sit on the parking garage on the west side of the lot, bringing its total height to 16 stories.

In exchange for increased density, Woodridge and Oaktree are promising to build LEED-certified energy efficient buildings and a yet-to-be-determined public art project.

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Next month, the county will hold a public meeting about Amazon’s first phase of new development for HQ2.

The meeting will “kick off the review process” for Amazon’s first construction project on S. Eads Street, according to a public event notice. The following week, the county’s planning commission will hold a formal review of the development plans.

Amazon’s S. Eads Street development aims to build two, 22-story towers along with retail space, public park space, and parking facilities for bikes and cars. Plans for the 6.2 acre site indicate the buildings will provide 2.1 million square feet of space for the tech and retail giant.

The meeting will be held Wednesday, July 10 from 7-8:30 p.m. As of 4:30 p.m. So far, the meeting location has not been announced.

The county is asking people interested in attending to RSVP but notes seating will not be limited.

Amazon would need the Arlington County Board to approve amendments to plans the Board approved in 2016 for what’s now the tech giant’s lot. The original plans called for 22-story residential towers.

“Learn about the proposed development, planning background and how the review process will work,” the notice for next week’s event reads. “County staff and the applicant will be available to answer questions.”

Amazon tapped Portland-based architecture firm ZGF to design the buildings, reported Curbed.

“These buildings are the first step to creating an urban campus where our future 25,000 employees and the local community can live, work and play,” Amazon wrote in a blog post announcing the development.

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Morning Notes

Auditor Looking at Economic Development Funds — “Are economic-incentive funds provided to corporations by the Arlington County government being doled out in accordance with agreements? The county government’s auditor is going to take a look… The audit, already under way, will look only at whether terms of agreements are being complied with; overall effectiveness of the sometimes controversial economic-incentive policy ‘is not part of the scope.'” [InsideNova]

Suspicious Letter at Fort Myer — “Joint Base Myer Henderson-Hall police and other agencies investigated a suspicious letter this afternoon that was delivered on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base. It was determined to not have any dangerous substance on or in it.” [Twitter]

Lauding Arlington’s Retiring Election Chief — “As her tenure as director of elections approaches its end, Linda Lindberg on June 18 was honored by Arlington County Board members for her service. Lindberg — who has served in Arlington’s elections office since 1994 and has been registrar since 2003 — has delivered ‘an outstanding career of public service,’ County Board Chairman Christian Dorsey said during a ceremony marking her tenure.” [InsideNova]

Arts Group Applauds Arts Plan — “Embracing Arlington Arts – an independent citizens group comprised of Arlington arts supporters – applauds the County Board for formally adopting Arlington’s Strategic Plan for the arts – “Enriching Lives” at their Board meeting [on] June 18. This well-researched plan brought together arts professionals, experts, stakeholders and citizens in its development.” [Press Release]

Arlington Developer Plans Senior Projects — “A multifamily developer is making a $200 million senior living play, with five such projects coming together under the company’s new Aspire brand, and potentially more on the way in the Mid-Atlantic. Arlington, Virginia-based Bonaventure has communities under construction or development across the commonwealth, in Alexandria, Woodbridge, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Richmond.” [Senior Housing News]

New Solar Co-op — “Neighbors in Arlington County (including Alexandria… and Fairfax County) have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, with the help of nonprofit Solar United Neighbors. Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy, EcoAction Arlington, and Virginia Clean Cities are sponsoring the co-op.” [Press Release]

Arlington Tech Co. Gets New CEO — Rosslyn-based Snag, “the country’s largest and fastest-growing platform for hourly work, announced today new changes to its executive leadership team. Mathieu Stevenson has been appointed Chief Executive Officer… Stevenson will lead the company forward, with Rosati’s active involvement, to realize Snag’s mission of revolutionizing how hourly workers and employers connect.” [Snag]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin

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Two apartment communities along the Columbia Pike corridor could soon be getting major facelifts.

Developers are planning to build a new three-to-four story affordable residential building to replace Arlington View Terrace, a 77-unit apartment complex at the 1400 block of S. Rolfe Street, according to a presentation last week to the county’s Form Based Code Advisory Working Group.

In a separate redevelopment proposal, developer Merion Companies wants to remake the 1940s Greenbrier apartment community made up of 179 residential units on S. Greenbrier Street. The project will be split into two phases, with the first phase seeing the north half of the community replaced by a six-story building with ground floor retail and residential above.

Designs for the project indicate the development could convert the drive that partially borders the complex into a “two-way alley” and add new roadways through the development that would potentially connect with S. Frederik Street to the east.

The project is being designed by D.C.-based KGD Architecture, which previously worked on the mixed-use building that replaced the Food Star along the Pike and a tower project in Tysons.

The total number of units planned for the Arlington View Terrace project is unknown, but they will all be affordable units, as per last week’s staff presentation, helping bolster Arlington’s dwindling affordable housing stock.

Arlington View Terrace is bordered by the Army-Navy Country Club to the south. Developers will need to request an amendment to meet county standards regarding setbacks and separation between the two property types, mixed-use residential and golf course residential zoning, the presentation says.

The working group is scheduled to evaluate amendments to the two development plans in July and September. The Form Based Code Advisory Working Group is then scheduled to review the plans again in the winter.

Both developments have to be approved through the Columbia Pike’s Form Based Code, which guides development and favors mixed-use buildings with retail on the ground floor and housing units above.

The developments are expected to apply for LEED Silver certification, unlike the proposed Westmont Shopping Center redevelopment, which staff noted is not seeking the green building designation.

Kim Klingler, the new Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, said the “main theme” from residents who discussed the residential projects last week was “a lot of concern with access to and from Columbia Pike and making sure that these buildings have appropriate access.”

Klingler said that the Greenbrier development, which the developer is dubbing “Pike West,” may have redesigned roads too narrow for fire trucks to access both sides of the building. She told ARLnow today (Thursday) the developer acknowledged the problem and pledged the fix it during the meeting.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt. Images 3 and 7 via Google Maps, others via Arlington County,

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Morning Notes

Arlington Loses Top Economic Development Official — “Christina Winn, one of the lead Arlington officials tasked with luring Amazon to the county, is taking over as Prince William County’s top economic development official.” [Washington Business Journal]

Marymount Prez Wants to Double Enrollment — “Irma Becerra hit the ground running the moment she took over the Marymount University presidency… her chief goal is as straightforward as it is ambitious: Double the school’s size in the next five years.” [Washington Business Journal]

18th Street Headache — “As they wrap up the demolition of the Clark St. bridge over 18th [Street S. in Crystal City], the eastbound side of 18th will be closed Thursday and Friday this week.” [Twitter]

Howell Gets Fall Challenger — “It’s an uphill battle, to be certain, but Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance president Arthur Purves will take on, as a Republican, seven-term incumbent state Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd) in the Nov. 5 election. The district snakes from Howell’s home turf of Reston eastward into portions of Arlington.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Treasurer Leads State Association — “Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava was sworn in as the President of the Treasurers’ Association of Virginia (TAV) at the association’s annual conference in Arlington.” [Press Release]

Boeing’s Space HQ Moving Out of Arlington — “Boeing will move its space headquarters from Arlington, Va., to the Florida Space Coast as it pursues a number of rocket and spacecraft programs, including one that would launch astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle retired in 2011.” [Washington Post]

Townhomes Proposed for Crystal House Property — “The proposed expansion of the Crystal House apartment complex is getting a little larger, with 21 townhomes now part of plans at the Crystal City property… The company has already filed for permission to add 798 units across four new buildings on the 29.8-acre site.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Design of Potomac Yard Metro Revealed — “The city of Alexandria, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Potomac Yard Constructors, the private joint venture picked to build the station, have submitted a design for an upcoming evaluation by the city’s Board of Architectural Review. The station design calls for a stone base, a metal canopy and metal louvers, a glass curtain wall and exo-skeleton system, a standing seam metal roof and roof skylight panels. There will be bathrooms on the eastern side, between a set of elevators and an electrical room.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy Celia Slater

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Two shopping centers along Columbia Pike are slated for redevelopment, according to new county planning documents.

Developers want to replace the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center at the intersection of the Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive with a six-story building with apartments and ground-floor retail, according to a presentation last week to the county’s Form Based Code Advisory Working Group.

Plans indicate the developer would connect S. Cleveland Street to the Pike by building a new road segment for the county as part of the project. The shopping center currently includes a CVS and Metro PCS store, as well as Turkish restaurant Atilla’sthe Salsa Room dance studio, and the beloved Burritos Bros food stand.

A portion of the current CVS parking lot would be ceded to the county to be added to Penrose Square park as part of the redevelopment.

The project is expected to be reviewed in the spring of 2020, according to a preliminary schedule for the working group.

The Fillmore project is similar to plans to tear down the Westmont Shopping Center at the intersection of the Pike and S. Glebe Road and also replace it with a six-story mixed-use building, in a project that include 250 market-rate housing units.

“People are excited and they’re excited to see the Form Based Code in action,” said Kim Klingler, the new leader of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, referring to the corridor’s development guidelines. Two apartment redevelopment projects are also in the works along the Pike.

“Of course with development and change you are going to have hesitancy, and folks really wanted to focus on maintaining diversity as much as possible, safe transportation, and also making sure the neighborhood is well informed,” she said, noting that 15 neighborhood residents who attended last week’s meeting.

Both redevelopment projects are requesting the maximum height (six stories) allowed along most of Columbia Pike per the area’s development guidelines. Both shopping center redevelopments also plan to build only market-rate housing, which was a topic of conversation among residents last week as the county’s stock of affordable housing continues to shrink.

“Staff clarified that based on the neighborhood plan and Form Based Codes those properties do not require affordable housing,” Klinger said.

Documents from last week’s meeting indicate that in addition to the 343 parking spaces for cars, the Westmont development would include 104 parking spaces for bicycles. Ninety bicycle spaces will be reserved for residents. The project will also add two bus stops, one along S. Glebe Road and another along the Pike.

County planners noted in an August report that they believed the Westmont project would only cause “minor increases in delay,” in terms of traffic at the nearby intersections — along a busy route that has seen its share of transportation challenges.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt. Images via Arlington County.

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Morning Notes

Police Nab Sex Assault Suspect — “Following a tip from a member of the public, the suspect has been identified as Wondimagegn Azemach, 19, of Riverdale, Maryland. He has been charged with Abduction with Intent to Defile and Sexual Battery.” [Arlington County]

Fire at Ambar in Clarendon — A small fire temporarily closed Ambar restaurant in Clarendon during prime brunching time on Saturday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Board Approves Va. Square Development — “The Arlington County Board today approved a plan to replace aging commercial buildings on the northwest corner of Washington Boulevard and Kirkwood Road, in the Ballston-Virginia Square neighborhood, with a seven-story apartment building that will include 16 affordable units and achieve LEED Silver energy efficiency.” [Arlington County]

GW Parkway Sinkhole Work Continues — “The repairs to a crumbling section of the George Washington Parkway between Turkey Run Park and the Capital Beltway are now expected to continue through most of the summer. The long-term repairs to a failed drainage inlet will keep at least one right lane on the parkway closed for 10 weeks once the contractor is ready for work, the National Park Service said Friday. Engineers have determined that a 60 year old brick drainage structure buried deep under the parkway needs to be replaced.” [WTOP, Press Release]

Fire Victim Identified — The person killed in an apartment fire in the Ashton Heights neighborhood last week “has been identified as Brian Green, 50, of Arlington. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.” [Arlington County]

Football Team Joins Arlington Chamber — “Welcome new member @Redskins! We are thrilled to have you as part of our membership at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce.” [Twitter]

County Kicks Off Census Effort — Arlington County and its Complete Count Committee (CCC) are gearing up for the 2020 Census – working toward the goal of counting every Arlingtonian… It’s not too early to get acquainted with the Census and what to expect next year.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Development may be surging around the Ball Family Burial Grounds on N. Kirkwood Street, but the fate of the historic site remains uncertain.

The gravesite of the family who is the namesake for Ballston is located in the middle of Virginia Square’s newest development hub, which includes plans to rebuild the YMCA and repurpose American Legion Post 139 as mixed residential buildings.

The Arlington County Board is also set to vote Saturday to approve a third project in the area: a long-standing application by Eleventh Street Development LLC to redevelop the 1.726 acre site located at 1122 N. Kirkwood Road at Washington Boulevard, currently a mix of one-story retail and office uses, into a new 255-unit multifamily residential building.

But when it comes to the plan for the cemetery — which is adjacent to the new development —  the county is at an impasse, according to Richard Woodruff, chairman of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB). The county can’t legally access the land to maintain it or take actions to preserve it because it was deeded to the heirs of John Ball who founded it in the 1700s.

The problem? No one knows who those heirs are.

During a Thursday visit to the grounds, Woodruff pointed out how wild strawberries have overgrown the gravesites’ grass and a secret Samaritan has been mowing the plot.

“It’s sort of now a mystery as to who maintains it,” he said.

However, other site maintenance issues are piling up. Broken branches rest on the dozen mossy grave stones piled in the far corner of the burial ground where the grass grows higher and trash accumulates.

HALRB and the Arlington Planning Commission have asked the county to hire a genealogist to locate the Ball family heirs. They added that the county should also create a fund to maintain the land and study what could be buried in the cemetery because people have moved the graves over time.

These recommendations are not included in the list of actions for the Board members to review this weekend.

A staff report to the Board notes that one of the project’s goals is to “preserve, respect and enhance the historic integrity” of the gravesite. But aside from asking developers to follow protocols if they find artifacts or human remains during construction, the document is short on specifics.

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