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by ARLnow.com September 20, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

A planned redevelopment project in Clarendon has yet to have its groundbreaking.

It was nearly two years ago that the Arlington County Board approved developer Shooshan Company’s plan for a two-phase redevelopment of the Red Top Cab headquarters in Clarendon. Billed as an “ambitious redevelopment,” the project will replace low-slung commercial buildings and surface parking lots with up to 580 housing units and 3,477 square feet of retail space while significantly reshaping the western end of Clarendon.

As of today, it is still business as usual at Red Top Cab, which promised to continue serving Arlington after it eventually moves its headquarters. No construction equipment or other signs of progress are visible.

A Shooshan executive did not respond to a request for comment. A Red Top Cab rep said that “work is still being done on development plans.”

by Chris Teale September 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

A new hotel replacing the former Colony House Furniture Store in Rosslyn is starting to take shape, several years after its approval by the Arlington County Board.

The Hilton Homewood Suites at 1700 Lee Highway will be eight stories high with 168 rooms. Below ground will be two levels of parking, containing 102 spaces. The Board approved the plan by developer B.F. Saul in 2013.

As of Tuesday, the hotel’s main structure appeared to be finished, with work continuing inside on the future guest rooms, parking garage, loading bay and front entrance area. The hotel is close to the Rosslyn Vue condo building, but the trees between the two properties act as a shield of sorts between them.

On a web page about the project, B.F. Saul said the hotel is “scheduled to open in the near future.” Representatives with the company did not respond to requests for additional comment.

B.F. Saul said guests can expect “a focus on comfort and functionality” in an extended-stay hotel designed to be “guests’ home away from home while in the DC region for business or pleasure.”

“Sustainability is at the forefront of its design, construction and operation,” the page reads. “The suites offer large work areas, well-appointed bathrooms, digital flat screen televisions, fully-equipped kitchens, and an upscale, yet warm, home-like décor. The hotel will feature 1,400 square feet of highly flexible meeting space, and a best-of-class, 1,100 square foot fitness facility with state of the art equipment. The hotel will also feature a pool, spa, trail bicycles, and an outdoor patio equipped with a gas fireplace and built-in grill.”

by Chris Teale September 13, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Virginia Hospital Center (1701 N. George Mason Drive) is looking to add a major expansion on land it will acquire in a land-swap agreement with Arlington County.

Under a preliminary site plan filed with the county, VHC is proposing a more-than 230,000-square-foot, seven-story outpatient pavilion for walk-in patients.

The plans would also convert around 120,000 square feet of existing outpatient space to 101 hospital beds and build a 10-story parking garage with just over 2,000 spaces. Of those 10 stories, two would be below-grade. VHC would also make improvements to the streets around its campus so pedestrian facilities like sidewalks and crosswalks are better connected.

The extension to its campus would replace the county-owned Edison Center on the 1800 block of N. Edison Street, to the north of VHC’s main site. The Edison Center is currently home to some county offices and an Arlington County Refugee Services location.

The County Board voted in July that it wants to acquire the hospital’s property at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road and use the site on N. Edison Street as part of the purchase price.

A letter dated August 7 from land-use attorney Nan E. Walsh of the Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley & Walsh law firm that represents VHC said it has been undergoing a “comprehensive study” of its services with medical professionals as well as neighbors, and has determined it has to fill several gaps.

“These discussions have helped the applicant identify several critical needs which must be addressed as the hospital complex evolves and grows,” Walsh wrote. “These needs include, among others, adding new hospital beds, creating new spaces for hospital services and outpatient care, creating new parking and improving access to the hospital complex.”

In a further letter on June 16, Walsh said community members will benefit from the increased capacity for medical care and improved service for patients and visitors, as well as utility improvements, provided bicycle parking and a green building design, among others.

An amendment to the county’s overall General Land Use Plan will be required to integrate the Edison site into VHC, as well as rezoning the property, site plan and use permit amendments.

by Chris Teale September 12, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business could expand into two upper floors of a Rosslyn office building.

Under plans before the Arlington County Board for its Saturday (September 16) meeting, building owner Monday Properties wants to convert existing office space at 1100 Wilson Blvd on the 30th and 31st floors to educational use. Just over 39,000 square feet of space would be converted.

“The renovated space will feature classrooms, multi-purpose spaces and supporting office space,” a staff report on the project reads. The report recommends the Board adopt the plans.

Per the application, the 30th floor would get three classrooms, a boardroom, a multi-purpose room, space for catering, conference rooms and break-out areas. The 31st floor would host two tiered classrooms — with auditorium-style seating for lectures, large discussions and the like — as well as a flat classroom and 12 case rooms for small meetings.

The report notes that the Darden School is the “anticipated tenant,” and that classes will be held at the site during off-peak hours and weekends to reduce strain on the building’s parking.

The school already hosts regional staff offices in the building, and provides executive MBA classes at 1000 Wilson Blvd and 1919 N. Lynn Street. It expanded into the D.C. area last year.

County staff said the nearby Radnor/Fort Myer Heights Civic Association president did not raise any objections to the plan, while the North Rosslyn Civic Association did not send any comments before the staff report was published. Staff from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District wrote in support of the proposal.

Disclosure: Monday Properties is an ARLnow.com advertiser. Photo via Google Maps.

by ARLnow.com September 12, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Crystal City Development Plan Filed — Developer JBG Smith has filed a site plan application for what it’s calling “North District” — a multi-block redevelopment in Crystal City that will include a new movie theater, grocery store and Metro station entrance. The residential-heavy development is bounded by Crystal Drive, Route 1, 15th Street and 18th Street S. [Washington Business Journal]

Chamber Backs Staff’s VRE Recommendation — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce says county staff is right to recommend the placement of a revamped Crystal City VRE station closer to Metro. The staff recommendation “best positions Crystal City and greater Arlington County as a regional multi-modal transit hub,” as compared to a placement option preferred by local condo residents who are concerned about train noise. [InsideNova]

DCA Noise Complaints — A total of 36,653 noise complaints were filed in 2016 regarding arrivals to and departures from Reagan National Airport, according to recently-released stats from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The complaints were filed by 836 individuals in 762 households, including one individual who filed 17,273 noise complaints. [MWAA]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com August 31, 2017 at 9:10 am 0

Developer Lands Loan for Ballston Project — Saul Centers has secured a $157 million construction loan for its Rosenthal Mazda/750 N. Glebe project that will replace the former car dealership with nearly 500 apartments and a small-format Target store. [Washington Business Journal]

Carpool to Reopen… In Fair Lakes — The owners of the now-shuttered Carpool bar and restaurant in Ballston, which closed to make way for a new high-rise residential building, are working to open its successor in the Fair Lakes section of Fairfax County. The new bar is expected to open its doors in October. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Civ Fed Wants Younger Crowd — A key goal of the Arlington Civic Federation’s new president is to attract participation from younger residents and to “leave [it] with a more youthful leadership team at the end of my presidency.” [InsideNova]

Dad Doodles on Daughter’s Lunch Bags — Every school day, Arlington dad Mike Jenkins makes lunch for his 16-year-old daughter and places it in a brown paper lunch bag which he fills with cartoon doodles. But Jenkins is not just any dad and his cartoons are not the work of an amateur: Jenkins is a political cartoonist turned freelance caricaturist and the doodles are whimsical works of art. [Washingtonian]

Flickr pool photo by Chris Guyton

by Chris Teale August 30, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

Ballston is prepared to cope with the imminent departure of the National Science Foundation, a major local employer, says Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone.

The NSF is set to finish moving from Stafford Place on Wilson Blvd to Alexandria later this year, and began to move employees earlier this month.

But with a number of new construction projects ongoing in Ballston, and the upcoming opening of the renovated Ballston Quarter mall, Leone said the neighborhood is going to be just fine without a federal tenant and its more than 2,000 employees, even though she said it will add about 1 percent to Arlington’s office vacancy rate.

“This is our first real challenge, I believe,” she said. “Ballston has been very much growing and sustaining organically, it’s always been a place where people can live and work very easily. And now this is probably our first big challenge, I believe.”

Leone said the reason for her optimism lies in the major development projects underway, especially the redeveloping Ballston Common Mall, rebranded as Ballston Quarter.

Demolition of the mall to make way for a new apartment tower and retail space has been ongoing for just over a year, and Leone said once that project is done in 2018 it can anchor the rest of the neighborhood.

Leone also pointed to the likes of Marymount University’s “Newside” building, construction of new mixed-use developments at 750 N. Glebe Road and the former Carpool building, as well as developer Jamestown LP’s revamp of the NSF’s current home for new tenants, as other examples of the neighborhood’s continued growth.

Ballston will also be home to a revamped Central United Methodist Church that will include affordable housing, as well as several other new apartment buildings.

“The Ballston Quarter development has helped spur on these other developments,” Leone said. “Once developers knew that this project was a go, they said, ‘okay, now we can push the button on our projects too.’ Who doesn’t want to live next to a beautiful new open air retail, restaurants, 360,000 square feet of fun? That’s what really pulled the trigger on many of these other developments, for sure.”

(more…)

by Chris Teale August 16, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

(Updated 4:35 p.m.) The first retail tenant at Marymount University’s “Newside” building is getting closer to opening.

Signs are up for the new Starbucks at the property at 1000 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, but the build-out inside still ongoing. Marymount faculty and staff started moving into the new building earlier this month ahead of the new school year.

The coffee giant is the first to commit to moving into the new building’s 5,000 square feet of retail space. The structure replaces the “Blue Goose” that was demolished in 2015.

Marymount is using six floors of the nine-story office building on the site, with the other three floors available for other companies. Next door is a 12-story, 267-apartment residential building.

No word on an exact opening date yet.

by Chris Teale August 15, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

(Updated August 16, 10:40 a.m.) With the summer almost at an end, several construction projects in Rosslyn and Clarendon are moving along.

In Clarendon, despite a small fire in May that prompted a major response from the Arlington County Fire Department, the Ten at Clarendon apartment building is open for business on 10th Street N.

A spokeswoman said the 143-unit luxury residential community was completed last month and residents are moving in. Also in July, the building added virtual reality tours for its new apartments .

In Rosslyn, a new six-story condo building is starting to rise in place of an aging low-rise apartment complex. The project, now called “Key and Nash” in signs posted nearby, will add 63 units at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Nash Street.

The project by Reston-based developer NVR, Inc., the parent company of homebuilder Ryan Homes, looks to be well on the way to completion.

Close by, demolition of the former Wilson School is over, and now workers have cleared the ground to start to lay the foundations for the new building.

The new school at 1601 Wilson Blvd, which will house the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, is scheduled to open in fall 2019 and house 775 students across both programs.

But less than a block away, there appears to have been little progress as of yet on the proposed redevelopment of the 39-unit Queens Court apartment complex at 1801 N. Quinn Street.

The County Board approved in February a project by the local nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to bring 249 committed affordable units in a 12-story building.

And in Radnor-Fort Myer Heights, work is continuing on two new residential buildings and a rebuilt substance-abuse recovery facility. Crews and a variety of heavy machinery are on site at the project, known as Gables Pointe 14, at 1307 N. Rolfe Street. The 370 apartments in two buildings, underground parking and an 8,000-square-foot shared park are set to be complete in 2020.

by ARLnow.com August 15, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Eastern Foundry Expanding Again — Government contracting startup accelerator Eastern Foundry is expanding once again. The accelerator is taking a 6,175-square-foot space directly below its Crystal City offices and dividing it into four suites “to attract larger companies that want a foothold in the co-working world.” [Washington Business Journal]

JBG’s Big Plans for Crystal City, Potomac Yard — The newly-merged JBG Smith sees an opportunity to transform its holdings in Pentagon City, Crystal City, Potomac Yard and North Old Town Alexandria into “24/7 environments” that “feel more like the [Rosslyn-Ballston] Corridor.” In Crystal City, the company wants to add new amenities. “What we want to do there is add retail amenities and residential to convince people who work there to live and play there,” said an executive. [Bisnow]

Real Estate Market Continues Upward Trajectory — “Year-over-year home sales and average sales prices across Northern Virginia were up slightly in July, leading to a 6.6-percent increase in total sales volume, according to new figures.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by Chris Teale August 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement criticized the recent demolitions of more garden apartments in Westover to make way for townhomes.

Clement, a frequent candidate for public office, said the demolition of two more apartment buildings in the neighborhood shows that not enough is being done to protect affordable housing, especially as they are replaced by what she described as “luxury townhomes.”

Much of Westover is currently designated as a national historic district, but that hasn’t prevented redevelopment of some properties. Last year, crews tore down a garden apartment building and replaced it with townhouses in by-right development, meaning County Board approval was not required.

At the time, the Arlington Greens called for the Westover apartments to be designated as a local historic district, something the County Board directed staff to study last year. Since 2013, nine garden apartment buildings have been demolished, Clement said.

Clement criticized developers for razing the properties and the county for cashing in thanks to increased property taxes.

“County records indicate that the sale price of the three Westover garden apartments demolished in 2013 was $4 million,” Clement said. “The total sale price of the 20 luxury town homes that replaced them was $16.8 million dollars or more than 4 times the value of the original properties.”

An advertisement for the Arlington Row townhomes that ran on ARLnow.com earlier this year advertised the homes as being priced in the “mid-$800s.” The townhomes feature up to four bedrooms and four baths, plus private garages and “timeless brick architecture.” The first phase of the development quickly sold out.

Clement said designating the units as a local historic district is the “only way” to save the remaining apartments, but she criticized the Arlington Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board for not moving faster on a petition to do so that was submitted last year.

She added that the demolition of affordable housing units in the county causes numerous problems:

For one thing, there’s a fairness issue. A lot of longstanding, hardworking, responsible tenants are now facing long commutes as a result of displacement from Arlington County.

For another thing, there’s a public health issue. The most recent demolitions were put on hold when it was determined that both buildings were insulated with asbestos, making demolition hazardous for anyone in the nearby.

And there’s an economic issue. While the speculative prices commanded by the developers of Westover Village might be attractive to high income wage earners, they drive up assessments overall, spelling hardship and possible foreclosure for people on fixed incomes, single heads of households, and those who find themselves out of work.

In a fact sheet produced last year, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing said it made some headway in 2016 by purchasing 68 Westover apartments in five buildings. But APAH noted that since the county adopted its Affordable Housing Master Plan in 2015, 60 apartments have been demolished for redevelopment.

Clement promised to speed up approval of historic districts to protect affordable housing if she wins a seat on the County Board in November.

“If elected, I am going to call upon AHALRB to expedite consideration of petitions for local historic designation to preserve Arlington’s remaining affordable housing and stabilize Arlington’s housing market,” Clement said.

Clement is one of three candidates on the ballot for County Board this fall, alongside Democratic nominee Erik Gutshall and fellow independent Charles McCullough II.

by ARLnow.com August 14, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Charlottesville Solidarity Rally Held — Arlington County Board vice chair Katie Cristol was among those who spoke at a “Rally of Solidarity for Charlottesville” in Courthouse yesterday. The rally was intended to “actively condemn bigotry and racial hatred through a series of speeches, songs, actions, and a moment of silence.” [Facebook, WJLA]

Alexandria Considering New Names for Route 1 — An Alexandria group charged with considering new names for Jefferson Davis Highway (Route 1) is soliciting suggestions through an online form and two public hearings. [City of Alexandria]

Flashing Lights on I-66 — If you drove on I-66 this weekend and noticed flashing lights from equipment overhead, don’t worry: you’re not getting a ticket. Instead, VDOT is testing new toll equipment. Non-HOV drivers are expected to begin paying a toll to use I-66 inside the Beltway in December. [VDOT, NBC Washington]

Old Oak Tree Saved — A “mighty” oak tree that pre-dates the Civil War was saved from being removed during the construction of a new home thanks to a petition by neighbors and a developer willing to consider their concerns. The tree, at the corner of N. Nottingham and 27th streets, is 18 feet in circumference and one of Arlington’s 100 designated “champion” trees. [Washington Post]

WeWork Offering Free Space on Mondays — Coworking provider WeWork is offering free workspace at its D.C. and Northern Virginia locations — including its Arlington location in Crystal City — on Mondays as part of a new promotion dubbed “#SummerMondays.” The promotion runs through the end of September. An RSVP is required. [WeWork]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by Chris Teale August 3, 2017 at 11:20 am 0

Plans for the redevelopment of a seven-acre site in Virginia Square — which include a new apartment building, YMCA facility and affordable housing — are slated to come before the Arlington Planning Commission this fall.

The plans, for several properties around the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road, could result in a new six-story apartment building; a rebuilt, 100,000 square foot YMCA building; and a 161-home affordable housing project. The plans call for retaining American Legion Post 139 on the property.

On its property — the largest parcel on the site — the YMCA says it “intends to redevelop its site to allow for an expanded, world class, modern athletic and community YMCA facility as part of a mixed use project which would also allow for new residential uses on, or adjacent to, the Property.”

Within the site is the Ball family burial ground, designated as a local historic district in 1978 and the resting place of several family members. Given the desire to study the site, individual site plans and construction are still years away from coming to fruition.

The county and its Long Range Planning Committee has spent several months discussing land use planning for the parcel and the area as a whole, in advance of a site plan process.

The committee met on July 25 to discuss the latest round of suggestions for land use. Anthony Fusarelli, principal planner in the county’s Department of Community, Planning, Housing and Development, said in an email “it was suggested” that be the final meeting on the topic, and that the study be advanced to the full Planning Commission.

Ahead of that Planning Commission meeting, which could be as early as September, Fusarelli said an updated study document will be released for community review, incorporating the feedback of LRPC members and the public.

At the meeting of the LRPC last month, county staff presented various options for the site’s land use, while taking into account how buildings’ heights decrease as they get further from a Metro station.

Among those options, staff presented two that would create a so-called “Special District,” which would help coordinate development in the area and set clear guidelines for projects. The area would be designated as the Washington/Kirkwood Coordinated Mixed-Use Development District.

And in terms of density, staff has several options left on the table, including several that would allow for varying types of housing, which they said reflected local residents’ desire to have a transition between the dense Metro corridor and the neighborhood.

Staff also provided an option that would not change any land uses on the site, which they said would allow some development, including a hotel by right that would not require Arlington County Board approval. But they said only “limited improvements” could be made to the YMCA under that plan.

by ARLnow.com August 3, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

More School Boundary Changes Ahead — The always-controversial process of changing school boundaries in Arlington is on the School Board agenda during the next school year. The School Board plans to tackle middle school boundaries in the fall and elementary school boundaries in the spring. [InsideNova]

Arlington’s Energy Lending Program Lauded — “Arlington County’s Energy Lending Library program has received the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) 2017 Achievement Award… Through the program, residents can borrow free energy efficiency tools from their local library, along with the information needed to identify and act on energy efficiency opportunities. These tools include: a thermal camera, a sampler kit of 10 different LED lightbulbs, an energy meter to manage home electricity use, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books.” [Arlington County]

Vornado Trying to Offload Rosslyn Plaza — Vornado, which recently spun off most of its Arlington properties to the newly-renamed JBG Smith, retained ownership interests in a number of local properties. Among them is Rosslyn Plaza, which was approved for a massive development last year. Vornado is now trying to sell its share in the 7.65 acre property. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Chris Teale July 28, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

Just feet from the demolition of the Arlington Presbyterian Church on Columbia Pike, officials broke ground Thursday (July 27) on the new affordable housing complex that will replace it.

Gilliam Place at 3507 Columbia Pike will have 173 affordable apartments, with 68 including two or three bedrooms. The ground floor of the property will contain nearly 9,000 square feet of space for retail and community use. It is named for Ronda Gilliam, a member of the church who volunteered in the community and opened a clothing donation center.

It all began in 2012 when members of the church reached out to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing as they wanted to sell their property and create a space for affordable housing.

The new building will incorporate stone from the old church, which APAH board chair John Milliken said will be “instilled with the spirit and compassion that congregation embodied and will pass on to this new generation.”

And while the congregants are displaced from their original space, they have already guaranteed themselves a presence on the site after buying two plots of land for use as green space.

Derrick Weston, the church’s community organizer, said it will be designated as a sanctuary area for meditation. The church may also return to use the new building as a permanent home; during construction they are using a temporary space at the Arlington United Methodist Church (716 S. Glebe Road).

“This is our new front door. This is our front porch,” Weston said. “This is where people are going to visit and see who we are.”

The $71 million project is funded through various sources, including an $18.1 million loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, federal low-income housing tax credits authorized by the Virginia Housing Development Authority, private money from Capital One and Enterprise Community Partners totaling $31 million and donations from church members.

Susan Etherton, the chair of the church’s Moving Forward Team, said that the partnerships between various organizations were key in the church getting to this point.

“God gave us that vision, but without faithful partners, we would have been unable to accomplish that vision,” she said.

“Just think how much can be done when a group of well-meaning people all pull together in the same direction,” added APAH president and CEO Nina Janopaul.

The church, which was hit by a fire last year, is being demolished by construction crews. The building of Gilliam Place is expected to take about two years.

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