Vornado Scraps Development Proposals — Ahead of the closing of its merger with JBG, Vornado has indefinitely put on hold a number of development proposals, including: all but one building of its proposed RiverHouse development in Pentagon City; a revamp of the shops at 1750 Crystal Drive that was to include a new 12-screen multiplex; and a pair of retail pavilions at 2101 and 2201 Crystal Drive. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington a ‘Best City’ to Go Car-Free — According to a new list in Forbes, Arlington County is one of the top 25 U.S. cities for one to live without a car. Arlington was also one of nine places whose walkable neighborhoods were profiled in the magazine. [Forbes]
Video of Apartment Fire — The weekend fire at the Serrano apartments on Columbia Pike was caught on video. The dramatic video shows firefighters arriving and starting to douse the flames with water. [Statter 911]
‘Taming of the Shrew’ Review — A review of Synetic Theater’s new production of Taming of the Shrew says the physical theater performance “speaks colorful volumes” despite the lack of dialogue. [Broadway World]
Leadership Change at Community Foundation — Arlington Community Foundation Executive Director Wanda Pierce is stepping down next month after eight years of leading the local nonprofit.
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
The redevelopment plan, first reported by ARLnow.com, would tear down IOTA’s existing building at 2832 Wilson Blvd. In response, a “Save IOTA” Facebook page has been created and flyers are being distributed around Clarendon, encouraging supporters to attend a Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association meeting on Thursday, Feb. 23.
Organizers say they want to block the redevelopment, which requires approval from the Arlington County Board.
A spokesman for Market Common Clarendon owner Regency Centers, however, says that it is working to ensure that IOTA — a staple of the local live music scene — remains open.
“Keeping IOTA has always been part of our plans,” said Eric Davidson, communication manager for the Florida-based company.
“We’ve been aware of IOTA’s importance to the community since before we bought the property,” said Davidson. “There’s no reason [to run the campaign.] If they want to show up and show their support for IOTA, that’s great, but we don’t plan on closing it.”
Regency has been “been doing what we can” to work with IOTA owner Jane Negrey Inge, according to Davidson, but he declined to specify how IOTA might remain open during the proposed demolition. A community meeting regarding the plans is being scheduled for March 29 at 2801 Clarendon Blvd from 6-9 p.m., he said.
Photo via Facebook
A new apartment building could rise from a lot in Crystal City.
Crystal House Apartments Investors filed a preliminary site plan for an infill development that would construct a new apartment building called “Crystal House III” near the corner of S. Eads Street and 18th Street. The proposed construction site is adjacent to the existing Crystal House apartment buildings, which are two 12-story residential towers that were built in 1961.
Under the proposed plan, the developer would build a new five-story building on a parking lot next to those towers with 252 new residential units. The plan also calls for a two-level underground parking lot with space for 424 vehicles and the construction of a new public park, streetscape improvements and public art.
“Through the proposed development, the applicant will be providing new residential units in a building with high-quality architecture and within walking distance to many community amenities, such as the Crystal City Metro station, Pentagon City Mall and 23rd Street retail businesses,” the filing reads.
The new filing is a revision of a former plan that called for the construction of two four-story residential buildings and a parking garage. That was never built, however.
The proposal is listed as preliminary, pending a final filing, on the Arlington County projects and planning website.
Second photo via Google Maps
The new owner of Market Common Clarendon is proposing major changes to the sprawling development.
Regency Centers has filed a preliminary site plan to rezone and redevelop a group of buildings along the 2800 blocks of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds. The affected properties include an office building, IOTA Club and Cafe, the former A&R Engravers storefront and the Baja Fresh restaurant.
The redevelopment would mean the partial demolition of the building that holds IOTA and the former engraver’s shop, while preserving and restoring the shop’s “historic facade.” The work would likely force IOTA — a well-loved cafe, outdoor bar and live music venue — to close its doors or relocate.
When asked about the plans, IOTA co-owner Jane Negrey Inge said she did not expect the renovations to happen “any time… soon.”
Over the years we’ve seen a lot of excitement around us. In our first couple years Arlington County sold the public alley behind us to the owners of the Sears Building and we became landlocked! It was disappointing but we worked things out and over the years we’ve maintained a spirit of cooperation with our neighbors and various land-owners. As far as we know changes are coming again with new owners but I don’t think 2832 Wilson will come crashing down on our heads any time real soon. Spring is going [to] spring into gear, and we’ll be glad to re-open the IOTA Back Alley for the season and enjoy good weather, good beer, good friends — which sounds like a good development plan to me!
Additionally, under the plan, the renovation would add a fourth floor and approximately 26,784 square feet of additional space to the office building at 2801 Clarendon Blvd. Regency seeks to upgrade the office building’s facade, redesign the first two floors for office or retail use, add new storefronts on the ground floor and possibly use the basement for public self-storage.
The plan also calls for improvements to the open space at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Edgewood Street, new private outdoor roof terraces and the installation of a “partial green roof.”
“The design and condition of the existing office building, which predates Market Common Clarendon redevelopment by many years, is not consistent with the remainder of the development,” the preliminary site plan filing says. “With the improvements proposed by the Applicant, the office building will be more effectively integrated into Market Common Clarendon and will allow for the much-needed repositioning of the vacant office space in order to attract new commercial tenants.”
“This [proposed redevelopment] creates newly competitive office and retail space in a building with high-quality architecture within easy walking distance to many community amenities in Clarendon,” the filing adds.
A representative for Regency Centers didn’t immediately provide more information about the proposed redevelopment, which is still in its early stages.
To move forward, the plan must be reviewed by the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC), then be presented to both the Arlington Planning Commission and the County Board.
(Updated at 4 p.m.) More than two dozen new townhomes could soon go up at the site of an East Falls Church bank.
Homebuilder NVR, Inc. has filed a preliminary site plan to construct 27 new townhomes at 6711 Lee Highway, a 1.69-acre plot of land currently occupied by a SunTrust bank.
According to the site plan, the new development would consist of single-family units in buildings up to four stories tall. The new buildings are designed in a “classic, urban, Georgetown style” and will be primarily composed of brick. NVR also calls for new trees and landscaping along Lee Highway and an internal private street for residents.
Additionally, the Suntrust Bank would be relocated under the plan. NVR said in its application it plans to “work with SunTrust to facilitate their orderly relocation.”
The planned redevelopment is still in its early stages. The project must be reviewed by the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC), then be presented to both the Arlington Planning Commission and the County Board.
Photos (1-3) may appear slightly warped. Photo (4) via Google Maps.
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) It’s now possible to live in Rosslyn’s long-awaited Central Place development.
JBG announced today the opening of the residential portion of its Central Place project in Rosslyn, which is one of the tallest apartment buildings in the region. Prospective tenants can now rent studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments, and tours will be available starting next week.
The 31-story mixed-use building, which is located on N. Lynn Street across from the Rosslyn Metro station, features 377 apartments with access to amenities such as a swimming pool, private cabanas and grilling areas, an outdoor fire pit and lounge, a fitness center and massage rooms. The building also has billiard tables, a library, a dog washing station and direct access to the Metro.
“The magnificent residences feature open floor plans with epicurean kitchens, fine cabinetry and expansive windows that welcome abundant light and spectacular views,” a press release for Central Place reads. “Built for entertaining, relaxation and comfort, the residences at Central Place set a new standard for sophisticated living.”
Restaurants coming to the ground floor of the apartment building include Sweetgreen, The Little Beet and Nando’s Peri-Peri. Those eateries have not yet announced their opening dates.
The residential tower is just one half of the Central Place development. Construction crews are also busy putting the finishing touches on the CEB Tower, a 350,000 square foot office building that is slated to open next to Central Place Residences early next year. The building’s main tenant and namesake is CEB, a publicly-traded company that’s currently based out of a building down the street.
When it opens, the new office building will include a public observation deck once hyped as a possible “game-changer” for Rosslyn. Cava Grill and Compass Coffee also have both signed leases to open in the office tower. It’s not clear whether those businesses will open at the same time as the office building or at a later date.
Workers first broke ground on the massive construction project a little over two years ago.
“The development of Central Place is one of Rosslyn’s most important milestones since the Metro came to town. It’s an embodiment of our community’s transformation from a commercial district into an active, mixed-use center,” said Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick in a statement. “The observation deck and public plaza, key components of the Central Place development, are set to immediately become important community gathering places and iconic features in our neighborhood.”
Read the full press release from JBG, after the jump.
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Arlington County is adjusting its plan to upgrade and renovate Mosaic Park, the green space situated along N. Quincy Street in Ballston.
Though the county was slated to potentially break ground on the project last year — adding a public plaza, interactive water feature, multipurpose court, tree plantings and walkways — the plan hit a snag after its estimated construction costs overran its budget.
“The bids we received were higher than our budget, so staff is looking for ways to adjust the project in a manner that supports both our budget and our design,” said Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish. “We will be rebidding construction later this year.”
The overhaul’s timeline for construction is currently listed as “TBA” on the county website.
More on the project’s original design from Arlington County:
The Mosaic Park Design includes the following work as approved by Arlington County based on the approved 2009 master plan:
Development of a large flexible urban plaza, centrally located casual plaza, an interactive water feature, children’s play area, multi-purpose court, flexible use lawn area, half-court basketball area, rain garden, walkways and sidewalks, site furnishings, and landscaping, lighting for main pedestrian paths throughout, fencing, associated storm water management, drainage and grading for site improvements in compliance with the erosion and sediment control/storm water management ordinances as well as the Chesapeake Bay Ordinance.
A major feature of the park design will be to incorporate sustainable practices and features including use of solar power as well as innovative stormwater management techniques.
A local developer is proposing to build a 325-foot Space Needle-like tourist destination, dubbed the Spirit of America Tower, in Rosslyn.
The tower would be built on VDOT land alongside Route 110, near the junction with I-66, and would be designed to be a first stop for visitors to the nation’s capital, according to developer James H. Burch.
From a description of the project:
The Spirit of America Tower is going to be an interactive, introductory museum about Washington, D.C. and the founding principals of our country. People come to Washington, D.C. and rarely get an introduction to the whole city; rather, they see it piece-meal. The Spirit of America Tower will not only give that introduction to the city and its founding principles, but also take note of the fact that every individual has a unique talent or gift, and that this country was founded so that they could fulfill their dream. This monument will be one in which they see the radical beauty in those plans and that they have the opportunity to live up to the founders’ hopes for America.
Burch was a former owner of the land on which National Harbor now sits; he sold it after proposing a mixed-use townhouse-and-office project called the “Bay of America.” Burch also recently bid, unsuccessfully, on the redevelopment of the World Trade Center in New Orleans.
The Spirit of America Tower, Burch says, will feature a modern design — “lofty yet very real, and a visceral experience” — from the firm behind the One World Observatory on the top of One World Trade Center in New York City. Early concept sketches show at least three levels on the tower: an observation deck, a landing deck and an event facility deck.
“It will be designed by the best visionary firms available… with interactive depictions of historic events, and then guides/storytellers who tell the stories of Washington, D.C.,” Burch told ARLnow.com. “It is also a spectacular view.”
“The Tower is projected to be on a VDOT property just outside Rosslyn at the foot of Wilson Boulevard, between River Place and the Potomac River,” he said via email. “It will be 325′ tall, about 100′ lower than the Rosslyn skyline, and below the National Airport height limitation of 328′. It will be one floor of parking (all parking on site), one floor of introductory experiences on top of the garage, and all covered by a 4-acre landscaped public park, with walking and bike paths. There will be one 10,000 sq. ft. floor at the top of a spindle, accessed by glass elevators, and another 10,000 sq. ft. floor at that elevation for events — 650 sit-down dinner or 1,000 for a standing reception.”
“The only way in or out will be via Wilson Boulevard, where a new road will go under the tunnel and into the property via a bridge or a tunnel,” he continued. “The Commissioner of VDOT has said that this will not be an engineering problem, and our traffic engineer has said that we will not cause noticeable traffic congestion.”
Another part of the plan: a possible connection to the Potomac River.
(Updated at 4:17 p.m.) A historic graveyard could get a new lease on life thanks to newly updated plans to redevelop a Ballston church.
The graveyard is located next to Ballston’s Central United Methodist Church, which has filed a site plan application to redevelop its property at 4201 Fairfax Drive into an eight-story building with a new house of worship, 119 apartments (48 would be affordable units), a daycare and preschool facility and charitable facilities.
The site the developer wants to build on includes the Robert Ball Graveyard, the final resting place of some members of the family behind the Ballston name. The 150-year-old, 325-square foot burial ground includes several white headstones originally for members of the Ball family and may even contain some of their remains, though no one knows for sure whether the remains are still there or have been moved.
The plan to move the graveyard has ruffled some feathers. Residents urged the developer behind the project not to move the graveyard last October. The Arlington County Board has also considered granting the graveyard a special historic designation.
Members of the Ball family said that, although they do not want to prevent the redevelopment of the church, they do want the church to honor its century-old commitment to preserve the graveyard. In a Dec. 15 letter to the chair of Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee, Ball family attorney Alexander Berger wrote that “further design evolution is required to preserve the historical integrity of the cemetery.”
The cemetery merits more “breathing room,” green space and separation from the building, Berger wrote.
Now, it looks as though the family might get their wish. Fairly recent renderings show the graveyard would be preserved next to the church inside a larger, fenced-in grassy area.
A low-rise Best Western hotel along Route 50, in Rosslyn, could be slated for a big redevelopment project.
Alliance Hospitality, which owns the Best Western Iwo Jima hotel at 1501 Arlington Blvd, has filed a preliminary site plan for the property. The company proposes to redevelop the hotel and an adjacent garden apartment building it also owns — the Ellis Arms Apartments at 1523 Fairfax Drive — into a 250-room “dual brand hotel” and a 64-unit residential building.
Sketches included in the filing appear to show a hotel building that is 12-13 stories tall. According to the site plan, the redevelopment would also include a five- or six-level parking garage and amenities like public art; sidewalk, curb and gutter improvements; streetscape improvements and bicycle parking.
The Best Western, which would be torn down, currently houses a Ledo Pizza restaurant on the first floor.
The planned redevelopment is still in its early stages. The project must be reviewed by the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC), then be presented to both the Arlington Planning Commission and the County Board.
Photo (5) via Google Maps
The petition decries what it describes as a “high rise” development; a seven-story condo building and four story townhomes are proposed for the current Grace Community Church site at the 11th and N. Vermont streets.
The development, the petition says, will exacerbate traffic and school crowding issues. Supporters’ reasons for signing the petition also include “too much dense, high-rise development in Arlington already,” “harming the property values and diminishing the quality of life of those who already live here,” and “Arlington has become unaffordable.”
From the petition:
We request that you DENY the proposal for special use exception to change the zoning on 11th Street North and North Vermont Street from Low-Medium Residential to High-Medium Residential Mixed-Use to prevent several negative consequences to the immediately surrounding Ballston area and the broader Arlington communities.
Specifically, we ask that the zoning committee and county board not approve a deviation from the current zoning designations to a much higher density of development and instead maintain the current, well thought-out zoning plan to avoid:
- increasing the traffic problems in the already highly congested Ballston area (Glebe & Fairfax and proximate streets and main thorough fares),
- exacerbating the overcrowding in the Arlington Public Schools (Washington-Lee HS, etc.),
- clearly deviating from and frustrating the existing plan and layout of a graduated reduction in heights and density in transitioning from the metro rail stations, a detrimental precedent to establish for existing neighborhoods and residents, and
- introducing significant more disruption, potential physical damage, and nuisance to the closely surrounding residents that comes from heavy machinery, pile driving and heavy construction compared with the lighter construction associated with the current zoning.
Reston-based developer NVR describes the project as “a relatively modest in-fill development” that’s in keeping with the “urban townhouse” neighborhood that surrounds it.
The Arlington Planning Commission and County Board are expected to consider a site plan for the project later this year.
A new mixed-income apartment building that provides the amenities of market-rate residences, even though 40 percent of its units are committed affordable housing, has opened near Rosslyn.
The Union on Queen building is located at 1515 N. Queen Street, in the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, roughly equidistant to the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations. It was partially funded with $6.8 million from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.
Work on the 12-story, 193-unit structure, built as a public-private partnership, began at the end of 2014. It was touted as a way to provide affordable housing for those who need it — those making up to 50-60 percent of area median income are eligible for the committed units — while also providing attractive apartments for market-rate tenants.
“What makes Union on Queen so unique is that it offers ALL residents the same award-winning levels of innovation, convenience, amenities and design synonymous with the Bozzuto name in some of DC’s most premier apartments,” a PR rep said. “While most mixed-income communities often lack the luxuries and appointments of market-rate residences, Union on Queen delivers outstanding levels of service and detail for everyone.”
“There are a lot of places that would say, ‘Dumb it down, cheaper, less efficient. It’s affordable housing in there,'” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said during the groundbreaking ceremony two years ago. “But that’s not the way this community works. We want every building to be indistinguishable from the next.”
More on the project, via a press release from developers Bozzuto and Wesley Housing Development Corporation, after the jump.
Hunt Loses Mansion Legal Battle — Rodney P. Hunt, once one of the D.C. area’s wealthiest businessmen, has lost a legal battle to keep his $24 million Chain Bridge Road mansion. Hunt, who represented himself in court, asserted that the entity that bought the mansion at a foreclosure auction this summer was not its real owner. While Hunt was living there, the 20,000 square foot property hosted large “#RHPMansion” parties, one of which led to a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
‘Loss of Historic Architecture’ — The historic George Washington Carver Cooperative Apartments in the Arlington View neighborhood were torn down in February. The apartments’ 70-year history as a centerpiece of the working-class African American community there was, however, preserved via oral histories and historic markets. The property is now the Carver Place townhomes, which start at $689,000. So far, 38 of 73 have sold. [Falls Church News-Press]
Road Closure in Lyon Park — Washington Gas pipeline work is prompting a road closure in Lyon Park today and tomorrow. Cyclists who use the Arlington Blvd trail may also be affected. [BikeArlington Forum]
First Day of Winter — Today is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also known as the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight. [Capital Weather Gang]
(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Following the rush hour mess at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Lynn Street earlier this week, the Arlington County Police Department says it’s working to better coordinate its response to construction-related traffic issues.
This week’s issues, the police department explained, were caused in part by road paving that’s part of a big development project.
“Heavy traffic in Rosslyn this week was [exacerbated] by street paving as part of the ongoing construction at Central Place,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.com. “The paving is now complete and we are seeing a return to normal traffic volume in the area.”
Savage said the department has a detail that directs traffic at the congested intersection on weekday mornings, but doesn’t have a similar detail for the evening rush hour.
“As part of our ongoing efforts to address traffic issues in Rosslyn, the police department funds a special detail in which two officers direct traffic during the morning rush hour at the intersection of Wilson Boulevard and Lynn Street in order to keep traffic from blocking the box,” she said. “This has a positive impact on the immediate area but traffic still backs up at the intersections west of that location due to infrastructure capacity.”
“While our detail has specific hours, our officers do conduct additional enforcement at the intersection on a random rotating basis with the goal of compliance with traffic laws even when police are not present,” Savage added.
ACPD says it is working with county development officials to improve the department’s construction traffic response.
“The police department is coordinating with the Development Services Bureau to better address traffic issues related to the construction,” said Savage.
However, Savage added, “We must balance our available police resources with all requests for traffic enforcement throughout the County.”
Rosslyn is getting a new $1 million, developer-funded public art installation.
The County Board on Saturday awarded a contract $968,000 contract to California artist Cliff Garten to fabricate and install “four stainless steel, LED-lighted Luminous Body sculptures” that will be placed on the four corners of the Lynn Street bridge over I-66, near the entrance to the Key Bridge.
It’s the second phase in a larger public art project to create a “Corridor of Light” down N. Lynn Street.
“This is an exciting project that will help us achieve our vision for Rosslyn,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a press release. “The ‘Corridor of Light’ is a beautiful design that will create a memorable public space for all our residents, commuters and visitors who move through this heavily-travelled corridor.”
“Garten was selected by a panel of specialists and stakeholders and his design was unanimously approved by the Public Art Committee and the Arlington Arts Commission,” noted the press release. “The artwork will create an easily recognized and iconic entrance to the County from Key Bridge, Lee Highway and westbound I-66.”
The project is being paid for developers, via “public art contributions pooled from various site plan projects in Rosslyn,” said Arlington Public Art Marketing Director Jim Byers.
Though the installation approved Saturday is considered the project’s second phase, the first phase — to be built as part of JBG’s Central Place project along Lynn Street — is still under development. Early plans for some 60 light sculptures have since, apparently, been scaled back.
“The middle section of Corridor of Light was reconsidered in response to right-of-way engineering challenges along Lynn Street,” Byers said. “The plans for the Central Place portion of the project are still in development.”
The third phase of the project is to consist of four “Luminous Body sculptures,” like those just approved by the Board, on either corner of the Meade Street Bridge over Route 50. Those will be built as part of a bridge improvement project that’s currently in the design phase.
On Saturday the County Board also approved transferring construction work on its Lynn Street Esplanade Project to the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.