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by Chris Teale — April 25, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

The redeveloped Market Common in Clarendon will include a revamped courtyard area known as “The Loop,” according to a rendering released by the project’s developer and architect.

The rendering by architect Antunovich Associates shows several new eateries or other stores in the central median of the shopping center, with some seating areas nearby. Currently, that area has a small park with a fountain and benches.

It also appears, based on the rendering, that the sidewalks could be widened in the central space and that some on-street parking spaces could be removed.

A spokesman for Regency Centers, the developer behind the Market Common revamp, said they want to create a “gathering space for the local community.”

“As it sits now, the space is really just an environment to walk or sit in,” said spokesman Eric Davidson. “We want to activate it and take advantage of its design.”

The site plan is still in the preliminary review stage with the county. Regency Center’s plan is to rezone and redevelop a group of buildings along the 2800 blocks of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds.

The renovation would add a fourth floor and approximately 26,784 square feet of additional space to the office building at 2801 Clarendon Blvd. 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.”

Community members have previously expressed concerns about an aspect of the redevelopment plan, which could spell the end of Clarendon’s IOTA Club and Cafe.

A campaign to save IOTA is underway, although Regency has said previously it has wants to keep the music venue in place.

Regency will host an open house on the future of Market Common on May 10 from 6-9 p.m. at 2801 Clarendon Blvd.

by Katie Pyzyk — April 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

(Updated at 10:45 a.m. on 4/19/17) CarPool only has been closed for two weeks, but we’re now getting a closer look at the building that will replace the long-time Ballston establishment.

Developer Jefferson Apartment Group has released new renderings and information about the structure that will occupy 4000 Fairfax Drive.

The 22-story luxury high rise will have up to 330 residential units and 264 underground parking spaces, along with a rooftop swimming pool and sundeck. The ground level will house 8,260 square feet of retail. Plans for the surrounding outdoor area include a landscaped plaza with seating.

Penzance originally had been the developer for this project when the County Board approved it in 2015, but it sold the site to Jefferson Apartment Group, who has partnered with Mitsui Fudosan America.

The property will be built and maintained to LEED Gold standards. The developers expect to break ground late this year.

by Chris Teale — April 18, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

(Updated 4:10 p.m.) A new McDonald’s in Rosslyn appears close to opening in the new Central Place building.

External signage is up for the fast food restaurant, and on Tuesday morning construction crews were installing signs inside the windows too. Preparations continue inside the ground-floor space, while the sidewalks around the property appear largely complete.

Rosslyn’s previous McDonald’s at 1823 N. Moore Street closed in 2014 to make way for the Central Place development. At that time, a sign in the McDonald’s window stated it would be closed “indefinitely,” which left open the possibility that the eatery would return to Rosslyn in the future.

A company spokeswoman said the eatery is set to open this spring, although an exact date is to be determined.

by Chris Teale — April 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Construction is almost complete at Marymount University’s “Newside” building, and it has landed its first retail tenant.

Permit applications filed with the county indicate that Starbucks will move into the property at 1000 N. Glebe Road in Ballston.

The coffee giant would be 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.

Two buildings are under construction on the site: a nine-story office building and a 12-story, 267-unit residential building.

The former will be owned by Marymount University, with the university using six floors as office and educational space. The top three floors will be leased out as office space.

Between the two buildings, there will also be a 10,600-square-foot public plaza and pedestrian passageway.

Construction is expected to be completed this summer.

by Chris Teale — April 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Ground has been broken at the site of two new residential buildings and a rebuilt substance-abuse recovery facility in Courthouse.

Approved in 2015 by the County Board, Gables Pointe 14 at 1307 N. Rolfe Street by developer Gables Residential will have 370 apartments in two buildings, underground parking and an 8,000-square-foot shared park.

As of Tuesday, crews were in the early stages of clearing ground for the new development. A pick-up point for school buses is located close to the construction zone, which is fenced off to the public. Cars are still able to park on both sides of N. Rolfe Street, with dump trucks and other construction vehicles also using it as an access road.

The buildings will be six and 12 stories in height, respectively, and include studio as well as one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. 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 Rosslyn-Ballston corridor is a highly desirable area,” Gables Residential regional vice president Jorgen Punda said in a prepared statement distributed to multiple outlets. “Our site involved the assemblage of thirteen lots, owned by both private individuals and Arlington County. It was a successful collaboration and we believe it is a great opportunity to deliver a ‘best in class’ apartment home community, with unparalleled amenities within walking distance to the Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations and a variety of dining and entertainment options.”

Also on the 2.7-acre site will be a new building for Independence House, a transitional living facility for those recovering from substance abuse.

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.

The project is set to be completed in winter 2020.

by Chris Teale — April 5, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

New apartment and condo buildings close to Metro stations in Arlington could have fewer parking spaces, and more spaces for bikes and car-sharing services, under a recommendation by a county working group.

The county’s residential parking work group made a series of recommendations on future parking for new buildings and released its final report this week.

The group is made up of residents and other stakeholders, and came together in 2016 to work on a policy to guide county staff on required parking for new apartment and condo buildings.

Staff is now asking for feedback on those recommendations in an online survey, which is open through April 18.

The group’s first recommendation was to reduce the number of spaces available depending on how close a new building is to a Metro station. According to the final report, members were split evenly on how low that parking ratio of units to spaces should be.

One proposal would have 0.4 parking spaces per unit for a building less than one-eighth of a mile from a Metro station, and up to 0.8 parking spaces per unit for a building less than a mile away. The other would have even fewer spaces per unit.

The working group also recommended that if developers provide parking spaces for bicycles and car-sharing, they should be permitted to reduce vehicle parking spaces. The group said that providing 10 bicycle parking spaces should allow two fewer vehicle spots, while adding a Capital Bikeshare station and paying for its upkeep should mean up to four fewer spaces.

Meanwhile, every space for car-sharing services like Zipcar or Enterprise CarShare guaranteed for at least three years should mean up to five fewer parking spots, the report said.

Committed affordable housing units would also see lower parking ratios if close to Metro, due to what the report said is lower demand for parking spaces.

Units priced at 40 percent of area median income would not be required to provide any parking spaces, while affordable homes at 60 percent AMI would be required to provide 0.7 spaces per unit.

Other recommendations include a one-time payment by developers for “excess” parking, expanding shared parking on-site, and permitting developers to provide 100 percent of parking off-site, provided it is no further than 800 feet from the building and is secured for at least 10 years.

File photo

by Chris Teale — April 4, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Three Arlington School Board candidates looked to ease neighborhood fears about the future Reed Elementary School at a forum Monday night.

A presentation last month by Arlington Public Schools staff suggested the 725-seat elementary school offer the International Baccalaureate as a countywide choice program when it opens in 2021.

But neighbors have raised concerns about the traffic impact of students being bussed in, and neighborhood children having to be educated elsewhere.

And at a candidate forum hosted by the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association, incumbent James Lander and challengers Maura McMahon and Monique O’Grady all agreed the IB designation was just a suggestion and not set in stone. A fourth candidate, Mike Webb, was absent.

“There is no decision, there is no proposal, it’s a concept,” said Lander. “It’s a concept I don’t support, but it was a way to get the conversation started with the community.”

The school currently hosts The Children’s School, a nonprofit that provides education and child care for the children of APS parents, and the Integration Station, which helps students with disabilities integrate with those without disabilities.

But it is set to be the temporary location for the Stratford program while the Stratford School building is renovated.

The Stratford program will then relocate in 2019 with H-B Woodlawn to the redeveloping Wilson site in Rosslyn.

The Reed School site would then be revamped as an elementary school, with construction likely to begin that year once Wilson is open, Lander said.

And rather than be an IB choice program, the majority of those present appeared more supportive of Reed being a neighborhood school. O’Grady encouraged neighbors to make their voices heard on that point.

“I keep hearing from the community that a neighborhood school is important,” she said. “If that’s what you want, I suggest you come together and advocate for that.”

McMahon, meanwhile, said APS must be strategic to combat its growing enrollment and ensure the programs it already has are of a high standard. She cited previous conversations with parents about adding schools with immersion programs in world languages like French and Mandarin.

“My opinion is they would be great, but we have a lot of other things we need to focus on first, like do we have enough schools?” she said.

Transportation and traffic also weighed heavily on the discussions around Reed. Lander said he wanted to revisit adding an exit on the back of the site, a plan that has not been supported in the past. McMahon said discussions on bussing must also involve catering to low-income families who use public transportation to get to and from school.

And while several attendees said the community is often consulted too late in the planning process for such projects, O’Grady said getting involved early would be a good way to shape the future.

“I think it’s an exciting time for your community, and it’s the perfect time to step up and say, ‘This is what we want,'” she said.

by Chris Teale — March 29, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

The proposed elementary school on the site of Thomas Jefferson Middle School is on track for County Board approval next month.

The project will be discussed by the county Planning Commission on April 5. It is slated to be heard by the County Board on April 22.

The new elementary school at 125 S. Old Glebe Road would house the current Patrick Henry Elementary School at 701 S. Highland Street and provide 725 seats. A naming process for the new school is underway. It is projected to cost $59 million and be open in September 2019.

A previous report by county staff noted the unique nature of the project as it was evaluated by both Arlington Public Schools’ Building Level Planning Committee and the county’s Public Facilities Review Committee.

But concerns remain over the project, particularly the impact of construction on the 3.85-acre site.

A tipster emailed ARLnow to say that while construction is underway, a large portion of the western parcel of the campus will be unavailable for public use, limiting access to the middle school. The tipster said this may put the programs at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theater “at risk of failure.”

Meanwhile, parking at the community center along 2nd Street S. will be reduced during the day, as portions will be used as drop-off and pick-up points for the middle school. And school staff will park in the east lot at S. Irving Street and 2nd Street S.

Previously, community members have also raised concerns about the impact of construction on nearby homes and the effect moving a sidewalk north will have on existing mature trees and green space.

In the last few weeks, the project has been examined by the Urban Forestry Commission; the Environment and Energy Conservation Commission; and the Park and Recreation Commission. It will also go before the Transportation Commission in April 3, before heading to the Planning Commission two days later.

by Chris Teale — March 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The parking garage is complete and ground is being cleared in the first phase of redeveloping Pentagon Centre.

The plan by Kimco Realty calls for a 450-space parking garage, two residential towers with 690 units and 25,000 square feet of new retail space.

And the projected completion date of early 2019 appears to be within the company’s grasp.

The garage was completed last year, and now attention shifts to building the residential towers. One will be 25 stories, while another will be 11 stories. Cranes and diggers dot the area as workers get closer to laying the foundations for those towers. Meanwhile, the Pentagon City Metro station entrance nearby remains open as normal under the scaffolding.

Originally, Kimco had planned to construct the complex’s office space first. But the high office vacancy rate in the county convinced the firm to build the residential portion before.

Future phases of the project — planned to begin at least 20 years after this first phase — would 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. Site plans for those phases have not been submitted.

by ARLnow.com — March 17, 2017 at 10:25 am 0

Director of Community Housing, Planning and Development Steven CoverArlington’s planning director has accepted a job with the city of Sarasota, Florida, a move seen by some as a blow to the local business community.

Steven Cover joined Arlington County as director of Community Planning, Housing and Development in March 2015. He won the respect of many in Arlington’s business community by trying to streamline processes in CPHD, which has gained a reputation for a heavy-handed, intransigent approach to enforcing county regulations, sources tell ARLnow.com.

The City of Sarasota announced Cover’s hiring yesterday.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Steven Cover to Sarasota,” said City Manager Tom Barwin. “Steve has extensive and highly successful experience in two of America’s great communities: Arlington, Virginia and Madison, Wisconsin. Steve’s experience and passion for walkable communities, cutting edge bicycle and transportation planning, appreciation for great architecture, innovative zoning codes, and commitment to affordable housing collaborations will serve our community well.”

In a statement released to ARLnow.com, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said the search for Cover’s replacement will be starting soon.

After more than two years of service as our Director of Community Planning, Housing and Development, Steve Cover is leaving to take another job. We wish him well. With the guidance of the County Board, Steve, together with our excellent staff of CPHD professionals, and in coordination with Arlington Economic Development, helped make improvements in service during his tenure. We will begin a search soon for a new director to lead this vital department.

by Chris Teale — March 16, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The campaign to save the IOTA Club and Cafe is gaining support, but organizers said there’s still much uncertainty about the redevelopment plan for IOTA’s building.

Organizers of the “Save IOTA” campaign — local residents and IOTA regulars Harry Blackwood and Melissa Mannon — said the lack of public, detailed plans from the developer is making them nervous.

Already, the pair launched a Facebook page for their efforts and have circulated paper petitions at the venue, in addition to an online petition.

“Right now, we’re in such early stages of the process that all we can really do is express concern about it and ask for more information,” Blackwood said.

A community meeting to discuss the redevelopment of a group of buildings on the 2800 block of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds by Regency Centers has been rescheduled from March 29 to May 10.

Eric Davidson, spokesman for Regency Centers, said the delay is because the firm has new renderings and video materials for the project, which includes IOTA’s current location.

“We just got some new visuals we want to get ready so we can tell the story of what we want to do here more clearly and get more community feedback on this project,” Davidson told ARLnow.com Wednesday morning.

The campaign brought more than 70 supporters to a meeting of the Clarendon/Courthouse Civic Association, where those present heard a presentation from Regency Centers vice president of investments Devin Corini.

And at that meeting, Mannon said, Corini emphasized that the company wants to keep IOTA in place. But organizers said those assurances are not enough to calm their fears.

“He [Corini] said some nice things about how they don’t want IOTA to go away, they want to work with the community and want them to stay,” Mannon said. “We like that sentiment, we just haven’t seen that proven in their actions yet. That’s very frustrating.”

Mannon and Blackwood said the petitions are just a first step, and they plan to continue to mobilize as the site plan moves through the county’s approvals process. The pair added they are seeking a private meeting with Regency Centers representatives to discuss the plans, but have been unsuccessful so far in scheduling one.

They said they have engaged not only local residents but those in the local music community, who all want to make sure the building and its mission are preserved.

“You have all these regulars and musicians and people who listen to music speaking from this very emotional place,” Blackwood said. “They have a lot of emotional attachment and affection for a building and a place and a location.”

by ARLnow.com — March 13, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

The Rosslyn parking garage in which a Washington Post reporter met a source dubbed “Deep Throat” to discuss the Watergate scandal looks like it may not be relegated to the history books quite yet.

The garage and the two office buildings atop it were set for a major redevelopment. Approved in 2014, the plan was to build a 24-story office tower and a 28-story, 274-unit apartment building on the site.

But the original County Board approval for the plan expires in June and property owner Monday Properties is asking for a three-year extension at the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday.

Other than the extension, no other changes to the development’s site plan have been proposed. County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the Board approve the extension.

by Chris Teale — March 9, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

With the National Science Foundation moving out of Ballston this year, its current building is slated for renovations.

The NSF will relocate to Alexandria, starting no later than September 1, and leave its present headquarters at Stafford Place on Wilson Boulevard.

And with its federal tenant on the way out, property owner Jamestown LP is looking ahead to the future of its buildings, which it bought for a combined $300 million in 2015.

The two buildings will be renamed the Ballston Exchange, with the 12-story atrium in 4201 Wilson Blvd set for a revamp in addition to new electronic systems and elevators and new tenants for the upper and lower levels.

All told, the renovation work will cost approximately $140 million, and will include new retail space on the ground floor.

Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, said the firm is looking to take advantage of the growth in high-tech and cybersecurity jobs in Northern Virginia when searching for new tenants.

“We have specialties in internet security and in technology around that sort of process, but we also have the associations and the lobbying groups and the private industry that have all started to make Northern Virginia home,” he said. “To provide an environment for that for both small companies to incubate ideas and large companies to be part of the campus is our goal.”

To attract those tenants, Phillips said, Jamestown will make sure the renovated space embraces the new “interactive culture” of the workplace. Phillips said the redone space will include an interactive conference center and communal spaces, as well as amenities like yoga and spin classes to help with employees’ health and wellbeing.

And despite the departure of a federal tenant and the departure of more than 2,000 NSF employees, Phillips said Jamestown relishes the opportunity to revamp its property given the apparent region-wide trend away from government work.

“We bought the building knowing they [the NSF] were going, with the intent to do what we’re doing,” Phillips said. “I think there was a time that submarket was a very high percentage of government contractors and agencies, and I think that is shrinking and being replaced by private sector companies.”

Phillips said the renovation should be complete by next spring or summer, given that it will not begin until the NSF vacates.

Helen Duong, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, said the last permit application submitted for the NSF property was last August to remove the existing sky bridge.

Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell said the organization is looking forward to seeing what Jamestown will do.

“We’re excited about the significant new investment Jamestown is making that will deliver high quality Class A office space as well as new ground floor retail frontage in the heart of Ballston,” she said. “Additionally, this ideally-located property is located just across the street from the new Ballston Quarter public-private redevelopment.”

The redevelopment of Ballston Common Mall across the street — and its rebranding as Ballston Quarter — means there is plenty going on in that part of the county.

Demolition of portions of the mall to make way for the new apartment tower and retail center began last year.

by Chris Teale — March 3, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

The redevelopment of North Potomac Yard in Alexandria gathered more steam last week, and residents in Crystal City are keeping an eye on its potential impacts.

North Potomac Yard is in the northeast corner of Alexandria, just across the Arlington County line, near a planned Potomac Yard Metro station. It is currently occupied by a Regal movie theater, a Target and other big box stores and restaurants.

The City of Alexandria is in the planning process for a massive mixed-use development at the 69-acre site, to include retail, residential units, a hotel and office space.

On February 22, city staff released the first draft three chapters of the updated plan, then the following day met with the Crystal City Civic Association at its general meeting.

Association president Christer Ahl told ARLnow.com that his members are most concerned that Crystal City will be left behind as nearby developments spring up in Arlington and Alexandria.

“Perhaps the larger issue which the project raises is whether it could contribute to the notion of Crystal City becoming a ‘backwater,’ stuck with many old buildings which at best might be renovated, while the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor and Potomac Yard in two very different ways will be full of exciting new development,” he said.

“Of course, this depends a lot on the attitude and priorities of the county, JBG/Smith and other developers, together with the near-term market situation.”

Ahl added that many in the area are also concerned with the impact on traffic along Crystal Drive and Route 1 from the new development, which could total as much as 7.5 million square feet.

The Alexandria City Council voted to approve the new Metro station in May 2015, to be located on the Yellow and Blue lines between the Braddock Road and National Airport stops.

While the new Metro station and the Metroway bus rapid transit route along Route 1 could take care of a lot of traffic impact, Ahl said, there were still concerns about the number of cars to hit the roads with the new development.

“If we assume that the new development goes hand-in-hand with the new Metro station, that should take care of a lot of the concerns,” Ahl said. “Alexandria very strongly focuses on being as pedestrian, bike and transit-friendly as possible, and conversely avoiding car dependency. In terms of vehicular traffic on U.S. Route 1 or Potomac Avenue leading into Crystal City, I guess the proof in the pudding is hard to predict.”

One other aspect that Ahl said troubled some association members is the potential loss of amenities like the movie theater and Target, which are major draws. But he said members will continue to monitor the situation and see how it evolves.

“To some extent, it becomes wait and see,” Ahl said. “Depending on their own inclinations and their own preferences, we’re speculating on whether it will be positive or negative in some sense. Some people would hate to see losing some of their existing favorite places, although they emphasized in our meeting that Target has a lease in place until 2028, so that might be the last thing that happens down there.”

According to a timeline, an advisory group tasked with updating the North Potomac Yard plan will present its final recommendations in April.

Images via City of Alexandria

by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Metro train (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Gutshall Running for County Board — As predicted, business owner Erik Gutshall is running for County Board this year, seeking the seat being vacated by Jay Fisette. Gutshall says on his website that his candidacy will be announced at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Wednesday. Gutshall unsuccessfully challenged County Board member Libby Garvey in last year’s Democratic primary. [Erik Gutshall for County Board]

Oscars Flub Involved W-L Grad — Warren Beatty is back atop the national consciousness, after an envelope mix-up led to perhaps the worst mistake in Oscars history, with Beatty and Best Picture co-presenter Faye Dunaway at the center of the fiasco. As many long-time Arlingtonians remember, Beatty spent his teenage years in Arlington, reportedly living on N. Huntington Street. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School and, as noted in a yearbook photo, was a star football player and the senior class president. [InsideNova]

Arlington Elementary Schools Top Rankings — In new rankings of D.C. area public elementary schools, Arlington elementary schools tallied a sweep of all the top 10 spots. [NicheWashington Business Journal]

ACPD Trying Out Uber Lane — This past weekend in Clarendon, the Arlington County Police Department set up a designated rideshare pickup lane to improve safety for those using Uber and Lyft to get a ride home from the bars. The police department described the action as a “pilot program” that was the result of “creative problem solving.” [Twitter]

Arlington’s ‘Segregation Wall’ — A new historic marker notes the significance of a 1930s-era wall in north Arlington. The wall was built by white residents of the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood to provide a physical barrier between them and the historically black Hall’s Hill (High View Park) neighborhood. [InsideNova]

Loan for Affordable Apartments Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $7.4 million loan to help build 125 new affordable apartments at the Berkeley on S. Glebe Road. Nonprofit developer AHC is expected to seek another loan for the redevelopment, from the county’s affordable housing fund, next fiscal year. [Arlington County]

Per-Student Spending to Rise — Under a new budget proposed by Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, per-student spending would rise 2.9 percent to $19,521. APS has been straining to keep up with rising enrollment, issuing bonds to build new schools and renovate others. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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