by Ethan Rothstein — April 27, 2015 at 1:35 pm 15,105 0

(Updated at 5:00 p.m.) The approval process for Ballston Common Mall’s massive renovation plans is still months away, but many stores are likely to close after the end of the year.

Forest City, which owns the mall, has coordinated leases for many of their shops on the mall’s interior to expire by the end of this year. This would pave the way for the mall’s renovation in 2016 once it’s approved, according to spokesman Gary McManus.

“We are currently in the process of positioning the mall for this demolition period by steadily vacating store units by the end of this year that will be impacted by early phases of demolition/redevelopment activity,” McManus told ARLnow.com in an email.

“To that end,” he continued, “we decided more than a year ago to institute lease terms for many of these store tenants that would not stretch into 2016 in order to give us the flexibility to start on the site work sooner than later, once the approvals process has been completed.”

McManus couldn’t specify which stores would be closing because of ongoing negotiations, but he said every business with an outside entrance will remain open throughout the entire renovation. That means Macy’s, Regal Cinemas, Rock Bottom Brewery, Noodles & Co., Panera Bread, Sport&Health Club and the CVS Pharmacy will be able to stay open, but everything else could be on the chopping block.

Forest City submitted three different site plan amendments with Arlington County last summer: one to renovate the mall’s interior, another to construct a 393 unit, 29-story residential tower with ground floor retail at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and N. Randolph Street, and a third to renovate the office building above the mall.

All of those applications are under staff review and no dates have been set for meetings of the Site Plan Review Committee, the Arlington Planning Commission or the County Board. While many site plan amendments take within 12 months to work through the process, the grand scope of Forest City’s plans dictate a longer review period, county planning staff said.

“The timeline has been due to the nature and complexity of the proposal,” Community Planning, Housing and Development spokeswoman Gina Wimpey said in an email. ” We want to ensure that, given that there are three separate applications for the redevelopment of the block that are interrelated, an appropriate review process is determined.”

McManus said he can’t speculate on a development timetable until Forest City has its plans approved, but he said it will go before the Board “hopefully by late 2015.”

Before that happens, Forest City will be selling national retailers on the future of Ballston Common Mall — which will be rebranded, but, McManus said, may not carry the previously circulated “Ballston Center” moniker — at industry conventions, in particular the ICSC conference in Las Vegas.

“Many retailers not currently located in the mall have expressed excitement and interest in learning more about our plans at this event,” McManus said. “So overall, the redevelopment plans for Ballston Common are on track and proceeding smoothly. This is a complex process and we are very excited about the anticipated results. Believe me when I say that no one is more eager to complete the redevelopment process at Ballston Common than Forest City Washington.”

by Ethan Rothstein — April 23, 2015 at 10:10 am 2,706 0

Kimco Realty has released the renderings of its plan for Phase I of the redevelopment of the Pentagon Centre mall.

The real estate company will present the renderings to the Site Plan Review Committee tonight as it tries to amend its approved site plan. Its initial plans for the 16.8-acre site that includes the Costco, Best Buy and Nordstrom Rack in Pentagon City were approved in 2008, but those called for constructing the six-structure complex’s office buildings first.

Because of the realities of Arlington’s stagnant office market, Kimco now wants to build residential first, including a 25-story apartment tower at the corner of 12th Street S. and S. Hayes Street. That tower would be steps from the Pentagon City Metro entrance and would include ground floor retail.

Also in Phase I would be two buildings along 15th Street S.: a 10-story residential building with ground floor retail at the corner of S. Hayes Street, and a seven-story parking garage next to a new S. Grant Street, which would alleviate the loss of parking spots in the Costco’s surface lot.

The two residential buildings would give the area an influx of 703 residential units, and the parking garage would supply the area with 394 spots.

Phases II and III of the redevelopment — planned for 20 and 40 years after Phase I — have not been rendered. If approved, those phases of the redevelopment will see the demolition of the main mall building and the Costco, replacing it with three office buildings, a hotel and a park along S. Fern Street.

by ARLnow.com — April 21, 2015 at 9:15 am 3,213 0

Lightning over Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson)

Australian Restaurant Coming to Clarendon — Oz, a new Australian restaurant, will be opening in the former La Tagliatella space in Clarendon late this summer. The restaurant is owned by Australian native Michael Darby, co-founder of Monument Realty, and his wife Ashley Darby, the 2011 Miss District of Columbia winner. [Washington Business Journal]

New Ballston Apartment Project in the Works — Saul Centers, which developed the Clarendon Center project, is planning a new residential and retail development on the Orange Line. The developer is in the early stages of proposing a 12-story, 431-unit apartment building to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]

Parking Lot Hit-and-Run Case in Court — A court hearing was held Monday for Alexandra Mendez, the woman accused of running over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot and then fleeing the scene. Prosecutors showed the court a cell phone video of the incident, which nearly killed 40-year-old Noormustafa “Noor” Shaikh. A doctor testified that Shaikh’s “bones were like shards” after being run over by Mendez in her SUV. [WJLA]

Arlington Highly Ranked by AARP — Arlington County is the 6th most livable place in the U.S. with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, according to a new survey by AARP. Also in the AARP survey, Arlington ranked No. 1 in the “Best Cities for Staying Healthy” category, thanks to an abundance of exercise opportunities. The survey targeted Americans age 50 and older. [WTOP]

VHC and County Considering Land Swap — Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington County have started discussing a possible land swap. The swap would trade soon-to-be-vacated county properties adjacent to the hospital — which would allow VHC to expand — for hospital property elsewhere in the county. Virginia Hospital Center, meanwhile, is getting kudos from the federal government. According to new hospital rankings from Medicare, VHC is the only “four star” hospital in the D.C. area. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 7, 2015 at 5:00 am 1,182 0

Verde Pointe — Arlington’s newest high-end apartment community — is now accepting leases for June 2015 move-ins.

Featuring as many as 41 unique floor plan styles in both tower and townhome buildings, Verde Pointe will be a destination for area residents looking for a new apartment home in the centralized Courthouse neighborhood.

The community — located at the corner of North Veitch Street and Lee Highway — contains 162 apartment homes in a luxe residential tower as well as 36 apartment homes divided into townhome flats, each with a private entrance and the uppermost units with an enormous private rooftop terrace. Additionally, 242 residential parking spaces and the county’s first MOM’s Organic Market grocery store complete the mixed-use development.

Designed to LEED Gold standards, the apartment homes feature floor-to-ceiling windows, glass balconies, quartz countertops, movable kitchen islands, in-unit washer and dryers, programmable thermostats, engineered wood flooring, and panoramic views of the DC and Northern Virginia skyline. Both tower and townhome flats are available in studio, convertible, one bedroom, one bedroom plus den, and two bedroom varieties; pricing begins at $1,650/month.

Because Verde Pointe is an active construction site, interested parties are encouraged to visit the temporary leasing center at 2200 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite #1125, in Courthouse. Prospects receive tailor-made leasing materials, guided neighborhood discussions and details on services presented by the property management team, led by General Manager Charlie Wexell.

“We like to explore the ideal living situation for each prospect,” explains Wexell. “That’s the beauty of having so many unique floor plans and features: we can find the perfect fit for everyone’s specific preferences.”

The 36 townhome flats will deliver first, currently slated for the second week of June 2015. In each townhome are two flats, each with private entrances, easy access to the parking garage and open floor plans. The townhome flats located on the top floor also come complete with a private rooftop terrace. All community amenities, such as personal wine storage, rooftop pool, club room and kitchen, and fitness center will be available to all residents in the complex upon delivery of the tower, in July 2015.

The development is led by award-winning developer McCaffery Interests — who will also be managing the community within the nationally-renowned MI-Home brand — in partnership with Bergmann’s Cleaning, and with strong financial support from Cardinal Bank and Burke and Herbert Bank. In addition to Verde Pointe, McCaffery Interests is known for developing environmentally conscious projects nationwide. Last month, McCaffery Interests announced a new mixed-use development in partnership with Grosvenor Americas, known as Ballpark Square, located in the blooming Navy Yard neighborhood. Ballpark Square is home to First Residences, another new high-end residential community managed by McCaffery Interests.

Verde Pointe has been designed and is being constructed to LEED Gold standards, and will have several major sustainable features such as electric car charging stations and individually remote-controlled thermostats so residents can more closely control and monitor their energy use. In line with the green initiatives, MOM’s Organic Market has a long-running history with environmental advocacy, and has begun plans for engaging the Arlington community with eco-conscious functions and features for residents and neighbors.

All information on the Verde Pointe development and upcoming plans can be found at http://www.verdepointe.com/. Development and contact information for McCaffery Interests can be found at http://www.mccafferyinterests.com/.

The preceding article was sponsored by McCaffery Interests

by Ethan Rothstein — April 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm 2,606 0

Demolition of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is ramping up.

While the building at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road has been slowly, methodically taken apart for months, today demolition crews seemed to reach an inflection point.

This morning, construction crews were hacking large pieces off the distinctive, blue Marymount University building using high-reach excavators, similar to the ones used to tear down the building across from the Rosslyn Metro station last December.

When the building’s demolition is complete, it will be replaced by a nine-story office building and 15-story residential building. The redevelopment is a partnership between Shooshan Company and Marymount University. Shooshan has a ground lease for the land and is developing the new buildings, while MU owns the land and will occupy six of the nine floors of the new office building, with plans to fill the other three over time.

The buildings are expected to be completed by summer 2017, Shooshan Company Vice President Kevin Shooshan told ARLnow.com in February.

Photos via Twitter and Facebook, as noted

by Ethan Rothstein — March 16, 2015 at 11:00 am 4,961 0

The last hurdle for the redevelopment of the Wendy’s in Courthouse has been cleared.

The Arlington County Board approved a 12-story office building and public plaza on Saturday to replace the Wendy’s and Wells Fargo at the intersection of N. Courthouse Road and Wilson and Clarendon Blvds. The approval was una

The building will have more than 196,000 square feet of floor area and 6,960 square feet of ground floor retail. The glass column designed to face west is viewed as an “iconic architectural feature,” the developer, Carr Properties, wrote in its site plan application.

The developer agreed to transfer development rights of the Wakefield Manor apartments in exchange for the incoming building’s additional density. The County Board wanted to preserve the market-rate affordable housing complex — buildings County Board member Jay Fisette called “beautiful” and “historic” — which is just a few blocks away from the Courthouse Metro.

In addition to the development rights, Carr Properties has agreed to make the office building LEED Gold-certified, contribute more than $530,000 to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund, and pay $557,250 for open space in the Courthouse area. The county also considers the public plaza Carr Properties plans on building at the intersection — which will sport a seasonal kiosk — a community benefit.

The site will only have 244 parking spaces, less than the county zoning ordinance calls for, and Carr Properties will contribute $450,000 to an enhanced transportation demand management plan to mitigate the effects of loss of parking. It’s reportedly the first redevelopment that has been allowed with less-than-required parking since the County Board made that an option in 2013.

There’s no indication of when the Wendy’s will be torn down. The Wendy’s will follow Taco Bell as fast food options in Courthouse that have made way for new developments. The Wells Fargo will be replaced by a location in the ground floor of the new building.

by ARLnow.com — March 13, 2015 at 10:40 am 1,588 0

Red Top Cab's surface parking lot on N. Irving Street(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) Red Top Cab may be considering selling its headquarters in Clarendon, but it’s not considering ending its service in Arlington, company officials say.

Red Top has signed a purchase agreement with a developer for its properties on Washington Blvd and N. Hudson Street, the Washington Business Journal reported. While that article said Red Top’s future was “unclear” — the reporter was not able to talk to a Red Top rep before publication — Director of Sales and Marketing Von Pelot says the company’s future is secure, even in the age of Uber.

“I was reminded of the words of Mark Twain when his obituary was prematurely published, ‘Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated,'” Pelot said via email. “Our recent development and introduction of the Red Top Select app which provides our customers with the convenience of booking, tracking, and paying for their ride through their mobile phone, is an example of our continuing commitment to our customers and our community.”

“Red Top Cab has served our community for over fifty years and plans to continue to do so,” Pelot continued. “Over the years we have moved our offices from time to time to update our facilities and accommodate a growing staff. Each time careful planning has enabled us to make these moves without any interruption of service to our customers.”

Red Top moved to its N. Hudson Street location in 1970, after its founding in 1964 by Washington-Lee High School graduate Neal Nichols. Before that it had another office in Clarendon, at 10th Street and N. Highland Street. Red Top’s dispatch center moved to a nearby location at 3251 Washington Blvd in 1994, Pelot recounted.

While a redevelopment deal has been struck, with plans to eventually build 584 apartments on Red Top’s property, Pelot said Red Top is staying put for now.

“No move is imminent,” he said. “Planning is very much in the early stages.”

Pelot declined to discuss where Red Top may move its offices next.

“As is often the case in situations such as this, discussions about relocating our facilities are governed by rules of confidentiality and I can only tell you that we plan to continue to provide service to our Arlington community,” he said.

Disclosure: Red Top Cab is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

by ARLnow.com — March 12, 2015 at 9:15 am 2,272 0

Residents take advantage of warm weather on a trail near Shirlington 3/11/15

Red Top Development Deal Struck — A potential deal to redevelop Red Top Cab’s property in Clarendon, which we first reported in September, is closer to becoming reality. The Shooshan Company has reportedly entered a purchase agreement with Red Top that would build three residential properties with 584 units on the 3.44 acre site. [Washington Business Journal]

Spring Yard Waste Collection — Arlington County’s spring yard waste collection is set to start Monday and run through April 24. For homeowners, the collection will take place the next business day after their trash collection. [Patch]

APS ‘Traveling Trolley’ Wins Award — Arlington Public Schools has won a national award for its Traveling Trolley summer reading program . The trolley helps close the student achievement gap, providing “an effective way for low income families to gain access to printed text by providing free transportation to their neighborhood branch of the Arlington Public Library,” according to APS. [Arlington Public Schools]

New Va. Breastfeeding Law — A new law signed by Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe allows mothers to legally breastfeed in public, including in privately-owned buildings and businesses. The law will take effect July 1. [WUSA 9 – WARNING: AUTO-PLAY VIDEO]

by Ethan Rothstein — March 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm 4,964 0

Pentagon Centre, the big-box mall that counts Best Buy and Costco as tenants, could be transformed into an apartment, office and retail complex over the next half-century.

Developer Kimco Realty owns the property, which sets between S. Hayes and Fern Streets and 12th and 15th Streets S. Kimco has applied to redevelop it into six buildings in three phases.

The site, which covers 16.8 acres, was approved for redevelopment in 2008, also with a three-phase plan. Since that plan’s approval, the recession hit and Arlington’s office market has stagnated. Now, Kimco is requesting to build residential buildings first and office last, but is also asking to build more residential and less commercial than previously approved.

First, if approved, Kimco would replace the Sleepy’s store and the loading dock at the corner of S. Hayes and 12th Streets with a 25-story residential tower that would be the tallest building in Pentagon City. The tower would be built adjacent to the Pentagon City Metro station entrance.

Also in Phase I, Kimco plans to build a 10-story residential building at 15th Street S. and Hayes Street, with a seven-story parking garage along 15th Street to replace lost parking spots for Costco. The two apartment buildings would bring a combined 714 units to the area.

The office, hotel and open space components of the plan, if approved, wouldn’t come until decades later. If that construction begins as planned, the mall that holds the Best Buy and Nordstrom Rack would be demolished in about 20 years, during Phase II. Twenty or so years after that, during Phase III, the Costco would be demolished, replaced, along with its parking lot, by a hotel, office building and open space.

When completed, the nearly 17-acre property would have:

  • 606,200 square feet of office space in three buildings
  • 377,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, including a standalone, two-story retail building
  • A 38,720-square-foot, 180-room hotel
  • Two apartment buildings with 714 units combined

In addition to the 1.8 million square feet of buildings, three acres of open space would be added surrounding a new 13th Street S., along Fern Street. The developer would construct other new roads — including portions of S. Grant Street and 14th Street S. — during Phase III, where the Costco now stands.

Recently approved within steps of Pentagon Centre have been the Pentagon City Mall expansion, the massive PenPlace development, the final phases of the Metropolitan Park apartment complex and a 415-unit apartment building at 400 Army Navy Drive. If approved, the Pentagon Centre redevelopment would remove the last big-box store in the area, further cementing Pentagon City’s status as a high-rise, mixed use neighborhood.

The plan was discussed by the county’s Long Range Planning Commission in December and by the Site Plan Review Committee last month. The SPRC will meet again to discuss the proposal at the Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.) on March 16.

by Ethan Rothstein — February 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm 7,759 0

(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) In a matter of months, a Washington Boulevard house thought to have been built in the 1800s will be torn down.

The two-story shingle and frame house at 4210 Washington Blvd will be replaced with a four-story duplex with a rooftop patio. It was built sometime between 1895 and 1910, according to Arlington County records, but little, if anything, is going to be preserved.

American Signature Properties owns the house, and Virginia Division Manager Mark Benas told ARLnow.com that the Arlington Historical Society combed the house for artifacts and he’s offered materials to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The AHS found nothing of value, Benas said, and all the ReStore wanted were some newer small appliances.

“It is literally just an old house,” county Preservation Planner Rebeccah Ballo wrote in an email. “Nothing particularly noteworthy about it.”

Former AHS President Tom Dickinson toured the house, and said it’s “pretty trashed inside.” It has been divided into apartments and there’s nothing “visible” that was in place around the turn of the 20th century.

“All of the radiators have frozen and exploded, spewing black goo everywhere,” Dickinson said via email. “The only interesting ‘original’ part is the exterior furnace room, with old T-111 walls, and old piping.​ It’s a place everyone has seen, and the new duplex going in there will be markedly different. I even climbed up into the attic.. It was interesting to see how the house has had various additions and expansions tied in over the years, i.e, a roof over a roof, rafters, splicing, etc.”

Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark first reported on the planned demolition, writing the house “is now deserted — save for some reported homeless squatters.”

The house, which became infamous for the giant flag that used to hang in the window, was approved for redevelopment in 2013 by the Arlington County Board, and sold to American Signature Properties last December for $827,500. Benas has applied for construction and demolition permits, and expects to tear down the house this spring.

“It’s a landmark in Arlington, for sure,” Dickinson said. “Wish there was more history as to its provenance around.”

by Ethan Rothstein — February 25, 2015 at 5:00 pm 2,577 0

The County Board room during discussion of the Columbia Hills development (photo via @ArlingtonVA)The first two residential developments designed with the Columbia Pike neighborhoods form-based code were approved last night, bringing hundreds of new residences into the Pike’s development pipeline.

The Arlington County Board approved a 229-unit, eight-story affordable housing complex on the western end of Columbia Pike and 50 new townhouses to replace the historic George Washington Carver homes in Arlington View.

The Carver Homes were built in the 1940s for residents displaced by the construction of the Pentagon, and many of the families who lived there when it was built now own residences in the co-operative. While preservationists lament the loss of a piece of the county’s history, the residents urged the County Board to approve the development.

“I know first hand that our co-op has been deteriorating for many years,” Velma Henderson, a Carver Homes owner who has lived in the co-op for 68 of its 70 years in existence, told the Board. “Busted and frozen pipes, leaky roofs and crumbling foundations, to name a few… We have a long and proud history in Arlington, so it was important for Carver Homes to select a developer who had the vision and resources to create a high-quality development. This plan considers Carver Homes’ needs.”

The 44 units will be bulldozed and replaced with 50 townhouses, 23 of which will be duplexes. Six of the duplex units will be committed affordable units, and the developer, Craftmark Homes, also has agreed to build a public park on the property and extend S. Quinn Street through the parcel at the corner of S. Rolfe and 13th Streets.

The George Washington Carver Homes in Arlington HeightsAs part of the redevelopment, the developer will place two historic markers on the property signifying its history. Arlington is also beginning to compile an oral history of the property, which will be available at Arlington Central Library when completed.

“My mother’s dream was that we would benefit from the sale of the property,” said James Dill, a co-op owner whose mother was displaced by the Pentagon construction. “We’ve been banking on it for 50 or 60 years that, at some point in time, Arlington County would grant us our piece of the American dream, and we’ve been holding firm on that.”

The County Board unanimously approved the redevelopment. County Board Chair Mary Hynes thanked the owners — who have been working to sell the property for most of the past decade — and the community for their patience. Board member Libby Garvey remarked that many of the residents were forced out of their homes in the 1940s for the Pentagon to be built, and the Board could, in a very small way, “right that wrong.”

“I think we’re really touching history,” Garvey said. “This was temporary housing 70 years ago. How much temporary housing lasts 70 years? So it’s time.”

The conversation surrounding the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing‘s proposal for its new affordable housing buildings next to its expansive Columbia Grove community on S. Frederick Street was quite different.

Columbia Hills apartments rendering (image via APAH)Dozens of speakers came out to speak on both sides of the issue, and public comment and Board deliberations lasted after midnight. Opponents, many of whom live close to the site, said there is too much concentration of affordable housing on the western end of Columbia Pike.

“Presently our community is home to about 18 affordable housing communities in the immediate area,” Erin Long, a homeowner in the Frederick Courts Condominiums across the street. “What’s become known as the western gateway node of Columbia Pike cannot sustain the affordable housing development as it’s planned.

“It’s clear that plan is for those units lost at the east end of the pike to be relocated to the west end,” she continued. “It’s absolutely inappropriate for every lost unit to be relocated to us. We deserve to benefit from the redevelopment of Columbia Pike, not serve as the repository for those displaced from other nodes.” (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — February 23, 2015 at 3:30 pm 2,921 0

Two new residential buildings and a rebuilt substance-abuse recovery facility have been given the green light by the Arlington County Board.

The development, called Gables North Rolfe Street, will have 395 residential units and a public, 8,000-square-foot park featuring three mature oak trees. The developer, Gables Residential, will also tear down and construct a new building for Independence House, a transitional living facility for those recovering from substance abuse.

The complex will be located on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, near Courthouse.

Thirty-nine of the units will be committed affordable housing and the developer also has the option to install a $75,000 work of public art on the site or donate to the county’s public art fund as a community benefit. The development was approved unanimously on Saturday.

“This redevelopment addresses some of the important priorities that the Fort Myer community identified in the Fort Myer Heights North Plan,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a press release. “It includes on-site affordable housing, brings a new public park to Fort Myer and preserves some beautiful, mature trees. Importantly, it also rebuilds Independence House, the County’s transitional living facility.”

Before approving the development, County Board members inquired about the option for a small, 1,000-square-foot community retail option in the site plan application, a provision the developer was initially hesitant to put in. Real estate attorney Evan Pritchard, representing Gables at the Board hearing, said they would be open to building a retail space if they can find the right vendor to operate a convenience store, serving the residents and park users.

“It remains to be seen, as we go forward with the project, whether it happens or not,” Pritchard said of the retail.

The construction is expected to take two years, and it would include building four levels of parking; two below-grade and two above-grade.

The Independence House would be rebuilt, but not expanded, because more residents might limit the program’s effectiveness. The new building will have 14 single-occupant units, which provides more flexibility with which users can join the program.

“The existing size is ideal for the group work that happens in the evenings, working on life skills and recovery,” county Department of Human Services substance abuse treatment supervisor Nancie Connolly told the Board. “The larger numbers of individuals would make it more institutional rather than transitional living, which has more independence.”

Only one public speaker — frequent Board critic Jim Hurysz — gave testimony at the Board hearing. The lack of speakers and issues with the proposal, which includes three parcels of county land and a number of community benefits, was “remarkable,” Hynes said.

by ARLnow.com — February 18, 2015 at 9:30 am 1,899 0

Snowy sunset at the Air Force Memorial (photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk)

Police Investigating Apartment Break-In, Fire — A man has been arrested and accused of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and starting a small fire. The incident happened on the 1200 block of S. Scott Street, just off of Columbia Pike, Monday morning. [Washington Post]

Arlington Trying to Keep TSA — After losing the National Science Foundation and the Fish and Wildlife Service to Alexandria, Arlington County officials are stepping up their efforts to keep the Transportation Service Administration. The TSA currently has offices in Pentagon City, but at least one office owner is trying to lure the agency to Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]

Name Chosen for New Park — The future, 8,000 square foot park next to the new Gables North Rolfe apartment complex, which is expected to be approved by the County Board this weekend, now has a name. Various community groups and county commissions have approved “Three Oaks Park” as the park’s name, in honor of the three large trees on the site. [InsideNova]

Building Over I-66 Would be Pricey — A new report has found that building office and apartment buildings over I-66 in Rosslyn would be expensive, but might eventually be worth considering. As much as 2.5 million square feet of new development could be possible by decking over open-air portions of the highway around Rosslyn. [Washington Business Journal]

‘How Arlington Are You?’ Quiz — A questionable, 10-question web quiz on the website of a Crystal City apartment building attempts to answer the question, “how Arlington are you?” Questions include “how many people do you know who work in the defense industry?” and “how often do you go to Starbucks?” [Crystal Square]

Photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk

by Ethan Rothstein — February 10, 2015 at 5:10 pm 4,747 0

(Updated at 5:25 p.m.) The last remaining homes built for African-Americans displaced by the construction of the Pentagon could soon be history.

The George Washington Carver Homes on S. Rolfe Street are in the process of being sold to a developer that plans on replacing them with 50 townhouses, including 23 duplexes. The Arlington County Board is expected to decide the proposal’s fate at its meeting later this month.

The Carver Homes are a collection of 44 garden apartments along S. Rolfe Street and 13th Road S. in Arlington View. The development is a co-operative, and the co-op board has an agreement to sell the property to Craftmark Homes pending approval of the redevelopment plans, according to county planning staff.

The apartments were built by the federal government in 1945 and designed by noted architect Albert I. Cassell, who had been the head of architecture at Howard University and designed much of the school’s northwest D.C. campus. County Historic Preservation Planner Rebeccah Ballo said as far as preservation staff are aware, they are the only buildings he designed in Arlington.

If they are redeveloped, the Carver Homes will join the former Dunbar Homes in Nauck as pieces of Arlington’s 20th century African-American history torn down for redevelopment.

“Fully understanding it is their right to sell and dispose of their property as they see fit, this is a loss,” Ballo told ARLnow.com. “This is a loss of cultural and architectural history.”

When the Pentagon, the Navy Annex and the surrounding network of roads were built during World War II, they replaced the neighborhoods East Arlington and Queen City. The areas had been occupied by African Americans, many of whom descended from Arlington’s Freedman’s Village, built for former slaves in 1863. The residents of East Arlington and Queen City were moved elsewhere, including the Dunbar and Carver Homes.

The residents of the Carver Homes bought the property from the government in 1949. Many of the apartments are still owned by the original residents or their families, Ballo wrote in her staff report for the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board.

Multiple attempts to reach the attorney representing the Carver Homes co-op board, Patricia Fettman, have gone unreturned. Fettman also represented the Dunbar Homes co-op board when they sold their property for $37 million 10 years ago, according to a Washington Post article at the time.

The Post’s article featured interviews of residents of the homes who didn’t want to sell. The author, Annie Gowen spoke to Dorothy Rich, at the time the co-op board’s president.

“Basically, we think the time has come to take the next step forward,” Rich told Gowen. Gowen wrote that Rich “declined to detail the discussions to sell, saying only ‘we won’t do anything without a vote and a majority of our homeowners.'”

The exterior of the houses are largely well-maintained, with pink-painted stucco and a pristinely mowed courtyard. The eight buildings sit on a 3.35-acre plot, an easy walk to the Air Force Memorial and less than a half-mile drive from I-395.

County staff attempted to have the homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places when they conducted a review of all potentially historic properties in the county, starting in 1997. They even filled out the application, but Ballo said after meetings with the co-op board and the surrounding community, “the nomination stopped.” (more…)

by ARLnow.com — February 5, 2015 at 10:45 am 4,194 0

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A new 2.17 acre apartment development is likely coming to the Courthouse area.

Gables North Rolfe Street is planned as a two building, 400,000 square feet, 395 unit apartment complex on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, in the Radnor / Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, just off of Route 50.

The tract of land on which the project will be built is steep, wooded and also includes a handful of older single family homes and small apartment complexes. Because Arlington County owns three parcels of land on the site, it has been able to work with developer Gables Residential on a number of public benefits.

Among the the benefits, to be paid for by the developer:

  • A new, 8,000 square foot public park that will include a 200-year-old tree
  • LEED Gold certification for the apartment complex
  • Thirty-nine units of committed affordable housing
  • A stand-alone, 14-unit transitional living facility, for those recovering from substance abuse. This will replace the existing Independence House facility on the site, according to Arlington Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.

The project is expected be considered by the County Board at its February meeting, in two weeks.

Discussing the project at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, County Board Chair Mary Hynes said the benefits from such projects represent key Democratic values.

“Affordable housing furthers diversity, inclusivity and sustainability, all of which are values… that have driven this community,” she said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reflected County Board Chair Mary Hynes’ remarks that the planned transitional living facility was for those who were just getting out of jail. A county spokesman says that is incorrect, and that the facility will be for substance abuse recovery.


Subscribe to our mailing list