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Dorsey: Stop Trying to ‘Protect Neighborhoods’ from Density

County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey is urging people around Arlington to embrace density in their communities and abandon the idea of “protecting” certain neighborhoods from development.

Without that sort of shift in mentality, Dorsey expects the county will never meet its stated goals of bringing down housing costs and making Arlington more accessible for people of all income levels.

“We have to look inward and look at ourselves and some of the things that are holding us back,” Dorsey told the audience at last month’s annual Leckey Forum put on by Arlington’s Alliance for Housing Solutions. “We can’t kid ourselves into thinking we can have it both ways, to tout our progressive bonafides with housing and affordability while also accepting the framework that certain neighborhoods need to be protected. Ask ourselves: protected from what?”

Dorsey would concede that he doesn’t want to “change in any way the notion that neighborhoods are for people who want to grow their families and stay in Arlington for generations.”

But he did challenge people in wealthier neighborhoods to consider that fighting against more dense development often amounts to “preserving a level of unaffordability and segregation” that already exists across the county.

“Often, you hear, ‘We want to mitigate density, we want to concentrate density in certain areas, we want density to be something that we don’t deal with,” Dorsey said. “If that’s our framework and our paradigm, we are losing a key tool to deal with affordability.”

In the past, some critics have charged that the county is facilitating the overdevelopment of affordable housing in places like the western end of Columbia Pike while exempting large swaths of affluent North Arlington from more affordable development.

Dorsey sees the constant churn of redevelopment of small, single-family homes into ever larger homes on the same property as helping to contribute to this problem, arguing that “the whole idea that we have one dwelling per lot and we allow for the increase in footprint on said lots, that absolutely factors into our affordability challenge.”

“It restricts housing supply and increases the pricing of housing on those parcels,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey acknowledges that forcing this sort of shift in attitudes won’t be easy, however, and he lamented that “the pursuit of effective public policies to achieve these outcomes are often thwarted by political considerations.”

Yet he also has hope that “these considerations… are not immutable,” and he believes people in the county will prove to be receptive to his arguments, if they’re framed correctly.

“What I hear as often as, ‘We want to protect our neighborhoods and mitigate density,’ is that ‘I want my neighborhood to be a place where I can interact with people of diverse backgrounds, I want my kids to go to school where they interact with people from diverse communities and diverse life experiences,'” Dorsey said. “We need to hold people to that, and engage them on those levels and expose them to tools to actually make that a reality.”

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State Supreme Court Could Decide Fate of Highlander Motel Redevelopment

The Virginia Supreme Court could soon decide the fate of the Highlander Motel near Virginia Square, as the property’s owner continues to push to redevelop the site.

Arlington County has been locked in a legal battle with local businessman Bill Bayne for nearly two years now over the property at 3336 Wilson Blvd, arguing that Bayne shouldn’t be able to use an existing parking lot for the same purpose after replacing the 55-year-old motel with a CVS Pharmacy.

The matter went before the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals in July 2016, and was twice considered by Arlington’s circuit court, with a judge ultimately deciding last year that Bayne should be able to move ahead with his plans. But Bayne says the county is appealing that ruling to the state’s highest court, which could drag out any redevelopment of the property indefinitely.

“There is no reason for them to fight it,” said Bayne, who also owns the Crystal City Restaurant and co-owns Crystal City Sports Pub. “There’s no upside benefit for them… You’re dealing with an old, outdated property that’s behind its time. It’s much better for a neighborhood to have a CVS than an old, beat-up hotel.”

Bayne hopes the Supreme Court will decide by late August whether or not it will hear the county’s appeal. If the court takes the case, Bayne fears it could drag out the process for “another year” or more, further endangering his already damaged plans to redevelop the property.

But even if the court rejects Arlington’s appeal, Bayne worries his deal with CVS has already likely “fallen apart.” He was set to sign a 50-year lease to bring the pharmacy to the site, bringing him close to $45 million over the term of the lease, and believes he may never engineer a redevelopment of the lot even if he emerges successful in court.

“There would’ve already been a CVS built and open, but they’ve dragged me through a legal process that’s taken years,” Bayne said.

County Attorney Steve MacIsaac did not respond to requests for comment seeking clarity on why the county is appealing the court’s ruling.

The county’s legal filings over the years suggest Arlington officials were concerned with the size of the pharmacy Bayne hoped to build, particularly on a site bordering residential neighborhoods just on the edge of Clarendon, even though county lawyers challenged the project on the basis of some arcane zoning laws.

The legal spat over the Highlander began when Bayne asked for permission from the county to use a parking lot just behind the motel on N. Kenmore Street as parking for the proposed CVS.

A county zoning administrator pointed out that the hotel’s owners received permission when the motel was built back in 1963 to use that lot as “transitional” parking, and never sought any subsequent zoning change. That same lot would help Bayne’s company meet the county’s parking requirement for a retail building of the CVS’s size, a shop that would essentially replace the motel in its entirety.

The county changed its zoning ordinance in 1983 to ban the use of transitional lots for meeting minimum parking requirements, as Arlington moved toward a more transit-focused mentality and officials viewed requests for large parking lots more skeptically. Accordingly, the zoning administrator rejected Bayne’s proposal, setting up a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Board members pressed Bayne’s lawyers on whether he couldn’t simply shrink the proposed CVS and reduce the need for more parking. Land use attorney Evan Pritchard noted in the July 16, 2016 hearing that CVS viewed a smaller location as “no longer worth the trouble” of pursuing.

The Board unanimously denied Bayne’s appeal, arguing that the zoning administrator’s interpretation of the law was the correct one, even if such a distinction over parking lots seemed trivial.

“I’m not saying the proposed commercial use is a bad one, or that it even isn’t in the interest of Arlington County, but the County Board has written the zoning ordinance this way,” Board member Peter Owen said during the hearing.

Bayne appealed that ruling to the county’s circuit court, arguing in an Aug. 11, 2016 complaint that simply using the parking lot for a different establishment would not “change the character or intensity” of the property.

But in motions opposing Bayne’s appeal, county attorneys reiterated their historical zoning arguments and repeatedly cited the size of Bayne’s proposed CVS as a troublesome factor.

“It is as a result of the size of the CVS that all required parking can’t be located on the site,” assistant county attorney Christine Sanders argued in a trial on the matter.

In an Oct. 26, 2017 motion, Sanders also dubbed Bayne’s effort “an end run around the public process of a rezoning” from a residential designation to a commercial one, which “continues to foist upon the neighborhood a noxious use” of the property.

Retired Judge Alfred Swersky sided with Bayne, and denied the county’s subsequent request for another hearing, setting up a potential state Supreme Court fight.

Bayne says he “fully expects” to emerge victorious in the end, whether he’s ultimately able to realize his vision of a CVS on the property or not. He simply remains frustrated that this process has even dragged on for so long in the first place.

“It’s a good thing for the county, how can you argue with it?” Bayne said. “They’ve been told they’re wrong twice by a judge, why do you need to be told a third time?”

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Morning Notes

Motorcycle Crash Closes Columbia Pike — Columbia Pike was closed in both directions for just over two hours this morning while police investigated a serious accident. A motorcycle reportedly crashed into a minivan between S. Frederick and Dinwiddie street, near the Arlington Mill Community Center. The motorcycle rider was seriously hurt and two people in the van were also taken to the hospital. [WJLA, Twitter]

Man Arrested for Threatening FCC Chair’s Family — A California man has been arrested and charged with sending emails that threatened to murder FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s family, over his support of the rollback of net neutrality rules. Pai has two children and lives in Arlington. Per an affidavit, one of the emails “listed the names and addresses of three preschools located in or around Arlington, Virginia, followed by the following sentence: ‘I will find your children and I will kill them.'” [Gizmodo, Washington Post]

Car Fire in Cherrydale — A car caught on fire in the garage of an apartment building in Cherrydale early this morning. No one was hurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation. [Twitter, Twitter]

Plane Evacuated on DCA Tarmac — “Passengers were forced to evacuate a United Airlines plane at Reagan National Airport on Sunday after smoke was reported in the cabin… The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said that about 1 p.m. Sunday, Houston-bound flight 6122 was taxiing for takeoff when emergency crews were called for a report of smoke in the cabin. The plane’s emergency slides were deployed, and all passengers and crew members exited ‘without incident.'” [Washington Post, Fox News]

Lee Highway Planning to Move Forward? — “It’s been delayed, delayed and delayed some more. But, Arlington’s top elected official promises, the long-awaited study of development options along the Lee Highway corridor will be up and running by the end of the year.” [InsideNova]

Photo courtesy R. Johnson

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Morning Notes

RCA Building Redevelopment Nixed — Plans to tear down the aging RCA office building at 1901 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn and replace it with a 24-story residential tower have been placed on hold “indefinitely.” Instead, owner Weissberg Investment Corp. is now seeking to lease up vacant spaces in the building. [Washington Business Journal]

New County Board Clerk Announced —  “The Arlington County Board today named Kendra M. Jacobs the Clerk to the County Board. She will join the County Board Office in her new role on Monday, July 9. Jacobs comes to Arlington County Government from the City of Alexandria, where she has managed the Department of Planning and Zoning’s Boards and Commission Unit since 2003.” [Arlington County]

LWV to Host Gerrymandering Forum — The Arlington League of Women Voters is hosting a forum entitled “Gerrymandering in America and the Future of Popular Sovereignty” on Thursday, July 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Mill Community Center. [League of Women Voters, InsideNova]

More ART Mechanical Issues — The bus serving the ART 43 route today “died on [Route] 50 right before the Crystal City exit,” a rider reports. Per the transit agency, which has been plagued by problems recently: “Due to mechanical issues ART 43 to Court House Metro from Crystal City Metro at 8:51 AM will not operate. We apologize for your inconvenience.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Former NYC, D.C. Official Hired to Help Support Crystal City ‘Transformation’

Tracy Gabriel, a D.C. urban planning official who formerly was a vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, has been hired as the new president and executive director of the Crystal City Business Improvement District.

Gabriel joins the BID as Crystal City is poised for a “dynamic transformation.”

Though saddled with a high office vacancy rate following the loss of large government and military tenants, Crystal City is among the leading contenders for Amazon’s second headquarters, known as HQ2.

Even if Amazon goes elsewhere, Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard are set for significant growth — plus $2 billion in private investment and $1.5 billion in public infrastructure projects over the next decade — which will help it become “the largest walkable downtown in Virginia and of similar scale to major U.S. downtowns such as Indianapolis and Austin,” according to a press release (below).

Meanwhile, an expansion of the Crystal City BID to include adjacent Pentagon City is under consideration.

More on Gabriel’s hiring, via a BID press release, after the jump.

The Board of Directors of the Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) announces that Tracy Sayegh Gabriel has been hired as the new president and executive director of the organization. She will begin at the BID in August.

A nationally recognized urban planner and city-builder, Gabriel brings 15 years of planning, development, and place-based economic development experience in government and private consultancy in the Washington, D.C. and New York City markets. She is former vice president at the New York City Economic Development Corporation under the Bloomberg Administration overseeing neighborhood transformations and managing large-scale public projects. She is  currently associate director at the District of Columbia Office of Planning, where she has led a design-forward, equity-driven planning practice since 2012 including neighborhood plans and place-making throughout the District and directing Anacostia Waterfront development. Her work has typically focused on mixed-use development and neighborhood revitalization, integrating real estate, infrastructure, and capital planning initiatives.

“Hiring Tracy is a strategic move to continue the exciting momentum underway in Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard – Arlington,” said Glenda MacMullin, Crystal City BID Board Chair and chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Consumer Technology Association. “Now is a pivotal time in our organization’s trajectory. We’re so thankful for the comprehensive, collaborative and strategic work that Rob Mandle and Rich Bradley have been doing, and we believe Tracy will help take the Crystal City BID and our entire area to the next level.”

The Crystal City Business Improvement District (BID) is now several months into a multidimensional strategic planning process exploring the nature of the greater submarket that includes Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard – Arlington. The process, called the Future Cities Project, has been led by Rich Bradley of The Urban Partnership serving as the BID’s acting executive director, and Rob Mandle, the BID’s chief operating officer. The process has included an extensive community outreach effort, both in person and online, and is guided by a Steering Committee drawn from the BID’s Board of Directors, civic associations, businesses, and arts groups, and major property owners in the Pentagon City and Potomac Yard areas, along with other public and civic sector leaders and officials. The process will result in an Action Agenda to be released this fall that will drive the area towards becoming a more dynamic, urban, and walkable place.

This greater submarket is the largest walkable downtown in Virginia and of similar scale to major U.S. downtowns such as Indianapolis and Austin. With new private investment totaling $2 billion is in the pipeline and another $1.5 billion in public infrastructure projects slated for the next decade, Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard are poised for a dynamic transformation which will be supported by the BID’s strategy and leadership.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with the Board, as well as the County, residents, businesses, and other stakeholders, to support the repositioning of Crystal City. The sheer scale of what’s happening in the Crystal City area right now will have an impact on the entire region,” Tracy Gabriel said. “I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves to work at this important nexus of design, planning, economic development, and revitalization with the great team that’s already in place.”

While vice president at the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Gabriel was responsible for high-profile development projects and neighborhood-wide initiatives, including the transformation of Long Island City, now the fastest growing neighborhood in New York City, and the development of Hunter’s Point South, one of the most innovative urban waterfront projects. She also served as a consultant on various real estate, downtown, and revitalization projects at Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates. Gabriel earned a degree from George Washington University, received her Master’s in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a Fulbright Scholar in economic development in Damascus, Syria.

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New Arlington Ridge Townhomes Could Prompt Extension of S. Queen Street

Some new condos could be on the way in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood, prompting county officials to weigh a proposal to extend S. Queen Street and make the new development possible.

After branching off from 23rd Street S., the 2400 block of S. Queen Street currently ends in a cul-de-sac and is lined with a series of townhomes as part of the Forest Hills development. But according to a report prepared for the County Board, a developer approached county officials with plans to build 12 additional town homes on some vacant land behind the neighborhood early this year.

To do so, however, the developer needs to build a new road to reach those homes and they’re hoping to construct a 300-foot-long extension of S. Queen Street. The development would sit adjacent to the Club Manor Estates, along S. Pierce Street and 24th Street S., as well as Oak Ridge Elementary School and Haley Park.

Should those plans move forward, the developer would be responsible for constructing the new road, though county staff did note that some Forest Hills homeowners have expressed concerns about the project.

“The street construction will remove landscaped areas in the Forest Hills development that are currently utilized by the residents, and may also include modifications to the existing S. Queen Street roadway in order to accommodate anticipated traffic generated by the new development,” staff wrote in the Board report.

The Board is set to vote at its meeting Saturday (June 16) on whether the road extension can proceed. If Board members give it the green light, the county’s Planning Commission would hold a hearing on the matter July 2, with a County Board hearing set for July 14.

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New Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Bridge Delayed Until 2019

The developer behind the renovated Ballston Quarter mall is pushing back its plans to open a new pedestrian bridge over Wilson Blvd, as part of a host of proposed changes to the project.

Forest City had originally hoped to open the overhauled bridge connecting the mall to 4201 Wilson Blvd and the Metro station in time for stores to begin opening this fall. Yet work on the bridge is “currently behind schedule and is now expected to be completed in the winter or early spring of 2019,” according to a report prepared for the County Board.

Accordingly, Forest City is asking the Board to tweak some of the planning documents governing the project to account for the delay, which county staff believe will allow for “additional time for public engagement” around changes to the bridge’s renovation. Staff are recommending that the Board push off any consideration of that request until next month, though Board members won’t get a chance to vote on that recommendation until Saturday (June 16).

County staff also suggest that the Board wait until its July 14 meeting to consider a request from Forest City to add “large media screens” to the development. The big TV screens would face Wilson Blvd as part of Ballston Quarter’s west plaza. A spokeswoman for Forest City said “nothing is yet confirmed” when it comes to the purpose of the screens.

The Board could take some action related to the development on Saturday, however. Forest City is hoping to open six “outdoor cafes” as the mall welcomes back patrons in September, though construction plans originally called for some additional landscaping and construction work to be completed before those restaurants could open.

Staff noted that Forest City’s plans are “not ideal,” but they also didn’t see any “public safety risk” in letting the cafes open first. They’re recommending that the Board approve the request, then consider individual permits for each restaurant over the course of the next month.

The developer has already unveiled a variety of restaurants and retailers that will open at the mall, with plans to release more information in the coming months.

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Despite Public Pressure, County Unlikely to Press Developers for Schools, Parks Contributions

If large new developments are going to put a strain on Arlington’s schools or eat up more of the county’s green space, why doesn’t the county require developers to chip in some cash to offset those impacts?

It’s a question on the minds of many Arlingtonians, particularly as the county grapples with budget cuts and increasingly overcrowded classrooms. “Peter’s Take” columnist Peter Rousselot even addressed the issue in his May 3 opinion piece, urging county leaders to require that any developer looking to add density to a property through a zoning change first send Arlington money (or even land) for schools and parks.

But county attorney Steve MacIsaac says Arlington isn’t likely to adopt Rousselot’s recommendations any time soon. He believes there’s a lot of nuance that often gets missed in discussions of the issue, starting with the fact that Arlington generally secures money from developers for things like nearby transportation improvements during any negotiation over new construction.

“Think about widened sidewalks and streetscapes you see, new Metro station entrances, things of that nature,” MacIsaac told ARLnow. “The goal of Arlington has been to try to make great places, and that will cause businesses to want to locate here, and then they generate a large amount of tax revenues to offset the cost of other services it has to provide. So if we flipped things around, the county would have to pay more for creating the great place… Things developers pay for now, wouldn’t be paid for, and the county would have to pick up those costs.”

MacIsaac notes that state law limits local governments from exchanging cash or donated land for schools, roads or parks for zoning changes, a process commonly referred to as the “proffer system.” In fact, many other localities across Northern Virginia have chafed at the current state framework for proffers, after a 2016 change to state law set new strictures on what local governments can ask developers to pay for.

MacIsaac points out that Arlington has largely been immune from those headaches, as the law still allows local officials to extract various concessions from developers — from public art contributions to affordable housing commitments to transportation improvements — if they build through the site plan process. (The 2016 changes exempted projects in certain areas, including those around Metro stations.)

Yet MacIsaac believes the proffer law does illustrate the way state lawmakers in Richmond view this issue, and why the county remains broadly limited in how it dictates terms to developers.

“The General Assembly is very stingy in giving us authority to deal with these kinds of things,” MacIsaac said. “New development imposes costs on localities, and the General Assembly believes localities should pay for those costs with the tax revenues they raise from that development.”

Rousselot writes in his column that no state laws or county ordinances “expressly prohibit Arlington County from requesting a reasonable cash or in-kind contribution from a developer as a condition to address these kinds of schools and parks impacts,” and MacIsaac concedes that this point is largely accurate.

Yet he believes moving to such an approach would not only deprive the county of the contributions it currently wins from developers — MacIsaac points out that builders typically pay for everything from transit improvements to public art — but would also fail to make the sort of impact Rousselot and others envision.

MacIsaac says that the construction of large new apartment buildings attract most of the attention from people worried about the impact on county schools, but he believes the practice of replacing small, single-family homes on large lots with multiple new homes tends to drive most of the strain on Arlington’s classrooms.

Since that sort of development tends to be classified as “by-right,” requiring minimal approvals from county officials, MacIsaac says the county can’t require developers to chip in for parks and schools on those projects, even though “that’s where largest impact comes from.”

“That can be counterintuitive,” said County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “You know your kids are in trailers and their classrooms are overcrowded, and simultaneously you see high rises going up in Ballston and Clarendon, and one seems to follow the other. It’s one of those issues in growth that we’re always talking about.”

At the very least, however, Rousselot would like to see this debate move more into the open.

In his column, he urged MacIsaac to release “a detailed public explanation” of his rationale on the subject, “so that independent legal experts can examine his reasoning.” MacIsaac says he has written a legal opinion for the County Board on the subject, though the Board has so far declined to release it publicly, as it contains some discussions of legal matters the county would rather not share.

But MacIsaac says the Board is currently considering releasing some version of his memo, perhaps with sections redacted, given the public interest around this topic.

“The Board understands the issue and wants to show the public they’re thinking about this,” MacIsaac said.

File photo

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Bishop Considering Redevelopment for St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church

A push to overhaul Clarendon’s St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church for the first time in nearly 30 years is gaining steam.

The church’s pastor, the Rev. Don Planty, wrote to parishioners in a newsletter Sunday (May 13) that St. Charles is moving forward with a proposal to “redevelop” the parish site, which is located on prime land at 3304 Washington Blvd. The next step is to get approval for a redevelopment from the diocese and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.

Planty wrote that the parish has spent the last 10 months or so gathering feedback on the issue. One town hall meeting asked parishioners: “If our parish had an empty city block-if we could start from scratch — what structures would you envision that would best support our mission?”

Church leaders found a “consensus that a timely redevelopment of the St. Charles parish campus would better serve the church’s mission in general and the parish’s mission in particular.”

The church’s website says the building was last overhauled in 1990. More from Planty’s letter:

I am happy to report that the consultation phase regarding a potential parish site redevelopment has concluded and that I have submitted a report to Bishop Burbidge. The consultation process revealed a consensus that a timely redevelopment of the St. Charles Parish campus would better serve the Church’s mission in general and the parish’s mission in particular. A strong majority of parish stakeholders, and all diocesan stakeholders, are enthusiastic about the possibilities that a future redevelopment of the St. Charles campus could bring. Having spent ten months soliciting broad feedback from representative parishioners and diocesan officials, according to the plan approved by Bishop Burbidge, I am confident that there is a great desire to redevelop the St. Charles Parish site, and therefore have requested that Bishop Burbidge formally approve further redevelopment efforts.

Other churches in Arlington have funded new facilities through redevelopment of the church property, including Arlington Presbyterian along Columbia Pike and the Church at Clarendon in Clarendon, both of which approved affordable housing developments that were built on top of the new church spaces.

St. Charles leaders are interested in addressing “an aging parish infrastructure,” “the projected growth in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor” and “the need for facilities which better support the parish mission now and in the future,” according to its website.

File photo

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Red Top Cab Redevelopment in Clarendon Could Soon Move Ahead

Long-delayed plans to transform Red Top Cab’s properties in western Clarendon into three new mixed-use buildings could soon move ahead.

The Arlington County Board is set to consider a series of zoning changes this weekend to let Ballston-based developer The Shooshan Company start re-developing the lots, which sit behind Clarendon’s main strip of bars along Wilson Boulevard.

In all, the developer is hoping to build a total of 584 multifamily units across the three buildings, with 1,295 square feet of retail space included as well. The new development would replace Red Top’s headquarters (located where Washington Boulevard meets 13th Street N.), in addition to the lot the company once used for vehicle maintenance at 1200 N. Hudson Street.

The County Board first approved the project in October 2015. But work hasn’t moved ahead on the project as the developer has tweaked its construction plans, according to a staff report prepared for the Board.

Originally, The Shooshan Company planned to start work on the building along N. Ivy Street first. But that location is also home to a daycare center, NOVA KinderCare, and the developer wanted to let that business stay open, staff wrote. Accordingly, they want to move forward with work on the property at the N. Hudson Street — originally the second phase of the project — to kick things off instead.

In exchange for clearing the way for the development by vacating several properties in the area, Shooshan has agreed to donate four parcels of land along the 1100 block of N. Jackson Street, valued at about $3 million, to the county. That will help the county move ahead with its plans to do away with the reversible lanes on Washington Boulevard and create “a more conventional ‘T’ intersection” with 13th Street N., staff wrote.

The developer also plans to donate land to the county to help it build a park in the area, and will include at least six affordable housing units in the new buildings. Red Top plans to move its headquarters elsewhere in Arlington, if these plans go forward, and has already moved its maintenance operations to Falls Church.

County staff is recommending that the Board approve these changes. The Board is scheduled to take up the matter at its Saturday (May 19) meeting.

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County Board Plans ‘Big Idea Roundtables’ to Gather Feedback on Arlington’s Future

The Arlington County Board wants to hear directly from you about how the county should grow in the coming years.

The Board is convening a series of “Big Idea Roundtables” next month, in order to have “big picture conversations about our county’s future,” according to a news release.

“These roundtables, framed around some critical issues, are open-ended and not limited to any one issue, policy or site proposal,” County Board Chair Katie Cristol wrote in a statement. “Our goal is to create a space for and spark a conversation among civic leaders and residents of all backgrounds about their hopes for our county’s future as we grow and change. We look forward to lively conversations about diversity, density, affordability, traffic and beyond.”

Chairs of Arlington’s citizen commissions will help facilitate the seven discussions, in conjunction with Board members. The roundtables are planned for the following days:

  • Saturday, June 2 from 2-4 p.m. —  Langston-Brown Community Center, Rooms 108 and 109 (2121 N. Culpeper Street)
  • Monday, June 4 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. — Drew Community Center, Room 118 (3500 23rd Street S.)
  • Saturday, June 9 from 9-11 a.m. — Arlington Mill Community Center, Rooms 411 and 413 (909 S. Dinwiddie Street). Translation services available for Spanish-speaking residents at this session.
  • Monday, June 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. — Ellen M. Bozman Government Center, Room 311 (2100 Clarendon Blvd)
  • Wednesday, June 20 from 9-11 a.m. — Lubber Run Community Center Multipurpose Room (300 N. Park Drive)

The Board is asking anyone interested in attending to register for just one roundtable each, as space will be limited. Registration is open on the county’s website.

Anyone with questions about the project can email [email protected].

Photo via Arlington County

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Five Retailers Announce Plans to Open in Ballston Quarter

Ballston Quarter is naming 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

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Morning Notes

Hotel Planned for Pike Development — Attendees at yesterday’s Columbia Pike Progress Luncheon learned that Orr Partners — which 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

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Civic Groups Plan Meeting on Potential Cherrydale Senior Living Center

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

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Morning Notes

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]

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