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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Chris Teale July 21, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Construction crews have demolished the Cherry Hill Apartments just off Lee Highway, and a new four-story building is set to replace it.

The three-story garden apartments at 2110-2120 N. Monroe Street in Cherrydale have been razed, as well as two single-family homes next door. The former building had 77 units and was built in 1961 near a Safeway grocery store.

Building permits filed with the county indicate that 79 trees have also been removed from the site. Currently, diggers are removing any remaining walls and buildings from the property ahead of clearing the ground.

In its place, property owner Dittmar will build a four-story apartment building with 93 units as a by-right development, meaning it does not require Arlington County Board approval.

Material advertising the former apartments touted them as a “quiet, garden style community” with direct bus service to the Rosslyn Metro station.

by Chris Teale July 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

The Arlington County Board deferred a vote Tuesday on the design of the new Lubber Run Community Center after confusion over the timing of meetings on the project.

But the Board did agree, by a 3-2 vote, to a $37 million contract to replace the center, out of a total project budget of $47.8 million.

The new center will replace the one built in 1956 at 300 N. Park Drive, Arlington’s first purpose-built community center.

The building will provide programs for youth, adults and seniors including a preschool, senior center, gymnasium and fitness center and several multipurpose rooms. It also will house about 70 employees in the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Construction could begin as early as next fall.

A meeting is scheduled for today (July 19) at Barrett Elementary School for residents to give feedback on the new building’s design. That meeting coming a day after the Board’s scheduled design vote left some members perturbed, as they wanted to see the community engagement process play out before taking action.

Before the start of deliberations, County Manager Mark Schwartz apologized for any communications that caused “confusion or anxiety” in the community.

A timeline in May provided by local resident Michael Thomas had the Board likely voting on the design in September. But Jane Rudolph, director of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said the plan was moved up after staff found they could have the construction contract ready for July’s meeting and advertised on July 7. She also apologized for any confusion

“This is really, I think, close to a smoking gun,” said Board member John Vihstadt. “I don’t understand why we couldn’t defer to September to realize and fulfill the original intention of staff to have the board meeting after the next concept presentation and another PFRC meeting as well.”

Vihstadt was joined in voting to defer, while simultaneously approving the construction contract, by chair Jay Fisette and Christian Dorsey. The trio emphasized that no “fundamental changes” should be made to the plan during the review.

Board member Libby Garvey and vice chair Katie Cristol voted against the plan. Cristol said that the consensus on the Board that no major changes should be made, coupled with the support of many in the community for the new center, should be enough to proceed.

Of those who testified on the project, many had concerns around the project’s impact on the environment, including the need to cut down some trees and possible erosion. Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement, reading remarks on behalf of local activist Suzanne Smith Sundburg, said people wanted more open green space and more trees, rather than more pavement and buildings.

“Staff’s perception of the community’s feedback on this project continues to be at odds with the public’s perception of what it has asked for,” Clement said.

Community engagement for the project took a more modern approach than similar efforts in the past. The engagement used more technology like online surveys and looked to reach out to previously under-represented communities like the Spanish-speaking population in the county.

While Board members and staff recognized the foul-up with the timeline, some residents said the majority of community outreach was done well.

“This is textbook on how to do community engagement,” said Nathan Zee, an Arlington Forest resident. “You went above and beyond what would be reasonably expected, and should be commended. The outstanding design reflects this hard work.”

Images via county presentation

by ARLnow.com July 19, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

County Opts to Acquire Hospital Site — Arlington County Board members on Tuesday voted to formally seek a large tract of land along S. Carlin Springs Road in a land swap with Virginia Hospital Center. In exchange, the county is offering to VHC county-owned land next to the hospital, which would allow it to expand. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Bike Thefts Up in Arlington — Bike thefts were up for the first 6 months of 2017, compared to a year prior. No one seems to be safe from the prolific bike thieves, who often target high-end bikes parked in garages and bike lockers; among those reporting recent thefts were Henry Dunbar, the director of BikeArlington and Capital Bikeshare in Arlington, and an ABC 7 employee. [WJLA]

Gondola Project Not Dead — Though Arlington County has moved on from it, D.C. is still budgeting money to advance the proposed Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola project, including $250,000 for an environmental review of a potential gondola site near the C&O canal. One other intriguing factor: should the gondola run north of the Key Bridge, as shown in renderings, it may reach Arlington at the Key Bridge Marriott property, which is in the early stages of a potentially large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment. [Bisnow]

County Buys Office Building — As expected, the Arlington County Board has voted to purchase a low-slung office building at 2920 S. Glebe Road, to house Arlington’s head start program. The program is currently housed in the Edison Center next to Virginia Hospital Center, which is slated to be transferred to VHC in a land swap (see above). Arlington is paying $3.885 million for the Glebe Road property, nearly $1.5 million above its assessed value. [Arlington County]

JBG Has Big Plans for Crystal City — JBG Smith, the newly-formed combination of JBG and the Washington properties of Vornado, says repositioning and enhancing its 7 million square foot portfolio in Crystal City is a “top priority.” Among the changes in the works for the Bethesda-based firm: expanding the vacant office building at 1750 Crystal Drive, converting it to residential, and adding an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]

by Chris Teale July 17, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

A 22-story apartment building has the go-ahead to start construction in Crystal City after the Arlington County Board unanimously approved the project at its Saturday meeting.

The building, with the address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway but located at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S., is set for 302 apartments on top of a podium of the existing two-story retail space. The building is part of the larger Century Center office and retail complex.

The existing ground-floor retail includes Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The existing retail tenants are expected to stay in the property after the project is complete.

The building would have more than 330,000 square feet of floor space and be 270 feet tall, with a total of 242 parking spaces provided for residents. An existing shared garage with a nearby office building will provide another 100 spaces for retail customers.

“This is the sort of mixed-use project that has become an Arlington signature,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “This building will accomplish one of our key goals — to bring more residents to the heart of Crystal City and provide an even better balance of jobs and residents in this neighborhood. This is a very attractive building, putting state-of-the-art new apartments above upgraded retail space that will enhance the neighborhood’s vibrancy.”

And while the project itself received broad support among County Board members and local residents who testified at the meeting, several raised concerns at the effectiveness of the county’s Transportation Impact Analysis.

The TIA is a requirement for new projects that assesses how many new vehicles and users of public transportation will be added, but some residents said it failed to take into account the community’s traffic concerns.

In their own recommendations of the project in Crystal City, both the Planning Commission and Transportation Commission said said staff must engage in a “community conversation” and receive feedback on where TIA studies can be improved.

“What we’re asking is for staff to reach out broader and more deliberately to the community, because they’re currently not feeling heard,” said Planning Commission member Stephen Hughes at the meeting.

County transportation director Dennis Leach said staff in the county’s Department of Environmental Services are already looking at updating the TIA, and that they will look to the community for input on how it can be changed before presenting any updates at a public meeting, as well as to the Planning and Transportation Commissions.

Leach said the county already asks far more of developers to show impacts on traffic and transit than many other jurisdictions. In its announcement of the Board’s approval, county officials said the analysis for this project was more stringent than most:

The applicant conducted a more extensive traffic impact analysis than usually conducted for such a project. The analysis included the effects of the project on multiple modes of transportation, not just vehicle trips. It assessed the development’s projected impact on the adjacent street, sidewalk, transit, and bicycle network and took into account additional traffic generated by approved, but not yet built, projects within the study area, and their associated transportation network improvements. The analysis evaluated 14 intersections along Crystal Drive, South Clark Street, 23rd Street South and 26th Street South and concluded that future intersection level of service will remain the same regardless of the development, due to sufficient capacity within the existing Metrorail and bus system for the additional trips generated by the site, and a high-quality environment that exists adjacent to the site for pedestrians and bicyclists.

There is no specific timeline on when the TIA regulations will be updated and presented to the community, although Leach said it is already in staff’s work plan. Fisette said he hoped to see progress in the “near term,” possibly as early as September.

by ARLnow.com July 17, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]

Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]

Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]

County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]

Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]

Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]

Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

by Chris Teale July 13, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

A 22-story apartment building could arrive soon in Crystal City at the Century Center office and retail complex.

The building, with the address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway but located at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S., is set for 302 apartments on top of a podium of the existing two-story retail space. The Arlington County Board is set to vote on the plan by developer Lowe Enterprises on Saturday (July 15).

The building would have more than 330,000 square feet of floor space and be 270 feet tall, with a total of 242 parking spaces provided for residents. An existing shared garage with a nearby office building will provide another 100 spaces for retail customers.

The new building would be built above existing ground-floor retail, including California Tortilla, Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The existing retail tenants are expected to stay in the property after the project is complete.

Plans also contain provisions for retail and food service kiosks along with a Capital Bikeshare station. It also would reconfigure the eastbound lanes of 23rd Street S., including removing one lane, in keeping with the goal of making it a pedestrian-oriented street.

In a report on the project, county staff recommended approval, including of a proposal to rezone the property to the Crystal City Mixed Use District. The plan had been set for discussion at May’s County Board meeting, but was withdrawn at the applicant’s request.

Photo No. 3 via Google Maps

by Chris Teale July 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

A plan to reconfigure the shopping mall above the Rosslyn Metro station could bring more retail space and add a public plaza on its second level, but its approval is in doubt.

The proposal would add more than 17,000 square feet of additional space for retail at the three-story Rosslyn Metro Center, and redevelop its outside into a four-story building with a public plaza on the second level.

The mall and adjoining office building had been slated for a new 25-story tower directly above the Metro station, but the site plan amendment allowing the plan expired in 2007 before anything was built.

In a report recommending the Arlington County Board deny the project at its meeting Saturday (July 15), county staff said the plaza would “hinder achievement” of the plan to make 18th Street N. a new pedestrian priority corridor known as the 18th Street Corridor. The corridor would extend east to N. Arlington Ridge Road and have a pedestrian-only stretch to replace Rosslyn’s skywalk system.

Staff said the plaza and ground-floor retail would make it harder to access the Metro station from N. Moore Street, and that the extra retail space does not comply with the area’s current zoning. Staff also said the plaza’s 10-foot walkway, while allowing public access, is not wide enough and would create “narrowness and tunnel conditions.”

“The proposal will adversely impact access to Metro by increasing congestion at the North Moore Street frontage,” the report says.

Staff added that it does not conform with the Rosslyn Sector Plan‘s vision for the design and programming an open-air Metro station plaza after the site’s redevelopment.

“The proposed plaza width (approximately 60 feet on the North Moore Street side and approximately 20 feet on the North Fort Myer Drive side) and building mass proposed above the plaza will restrict connectivity and visibility along the 18th Street Corridor,” the report reads. “The plaza’s narrowness and tunnel conditions through the proposed building mass conflict with the Plan’s vision of a linear system of connected public spaces.”

Staff noted that the office building is “near fully leased for the medium term,” and that a timeline on any future development is uncertain.

Images via Arlington County

by ARLnow.com June 29, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

There’s a recent addition to the site of Marymount University’s new mixed-use complex at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive in Ballston.

In a public plaza, next to the buildings, is a sign that commemorates what stood there previously: the distinct but aesthetically controversial Blue Goose building, which was demolished in 2015.

The inscription on the sign, below, notes that there are four additional informational markers in the complex’s courtyard, made from salvaged blue panels from the former building.

Construction of the Marymount complex is expected to wrap up this summer. A Starbucks coffee shop is set to be its first retail tenant.

This site is where the distinctive “Blue Goose” building stood. While the origin of the moniker remains unknown. Arlingtonians recognized the building’s atypical form and striking use of polychromatic blue metal panels. Well-known local architect John M. Walton designed the building for M.T. Broyhill and Sons, which opened the office tower in 1963.

Marymount University welcomes you to walk through the courtyard to the right, which contains four two-sided informational markers. Visitors heading to the west will learn about the transportation history of this site including the streetcar line that followed Fairfax Drive. Visitors walking to the east will read about the history of the Blue Goose and its architect, developer, and tenants. These four markers were partially constructed with salvaged blue panels from the Blue Goose.

Photo courtesy Joel Kirzner 

by Chris Teale June 28, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board and school board agreed Tuesday night to further study three possible scenarios for the Buck and Virginia Hospital Center sites, as recommended by the county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Commission.

Of the options, whittled down from a list of 10, two could allow for a building to be used by Arlington Public Schools. They could also provide space for the Office of Emergency Management and other public safety agencies, while some offer bus parking for both APS and Arlington Transit (ART).

Two scenarios for the VHC property remain under consideration, while just one is now being examined for the Buck site.

JFAC also formally recommended that the county acquire both sites. The Buck property is located near Washington-Lee High School, while the VHC site is at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road, and the county holds options to either buy the land outright or swap for them.

During the further study on the three remaining options, JFAC will explore how best to make the bus parking fit in. But County Manager Mark Schwartz said his preference would be for Arlington to purchase the current ART bus parking area at 2629 Shirlington Road given that bus dispatch is run from that location. Schwartz and staff will assess their options on that site too in a separate process.

JFAC chair Ginger Brown said residents had raised concerns about using one of the two properties for bus parking due to extra noise, traffic impacts and the need for security lights.

“Thank goodness buses don’t have feelings,” joked County Board chair Jay Fisette. Fellow County Board member Christian Dorsey said bus parking is necessary, and it can work within a community.

“These really can fit very well, but I don’t want to give anyone the impression that we’re looking to dump anything in the Nauck or Shirlington area,” Dorsey said. “This is something that can fit in well with a revitalizing area with planned future development…It’s not an evil thing that is going to disrupt how people live their life.”

The possible swap of a swath of industrial land owned by Arcland Property Company in Shirlington remains on the table, and will be studied for possible long-term uses.

“Maybe there’s some negotiations, some things that can make people more comfortable, but we need that land in Shirlington,” said County Board member Libby Garvey.

Members of both boards agreed that the Buck and VHC sites could be used to help ease APS’ capacity needs, with enrollment set to keep growing.

School Board chair Nancy Van Doren asked that staff from the county and APS work together closely to plan for the sites’ futures. But several urged caution as the schools review their enrollment projections. All agreed on the urgent need to manage the enrollment growth and provide a seat for every student.

“We really need to come to grips with how we’re growing as a community, where we’re going and when we’re growing and the criteria we’re growing and what we’re getting in return,” said County Board member John Vihstadt.

JFAC will now evaluate the short list of three remaining options, develop some rough cost estimates and go into finer detail on what can be done there. That next phase is set to begin as early as next month.

by ARLnow.com June 22, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

Alamo Drafthouse Coming to Crystal City — An Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be coming to Crystal City to anchor a residential redevelopment by the JBG Smith. The redevelopment will convert the aging office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a gleaming glass-and-metal residential building while topping it with a six-story addition. Also planned is an as-yet unsigned “specialty grocer” — think: Trader Joe’s or something similar. [Washington Business Journal]

Home Prices Rise in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. says the median selling price in Arlington County last month was $613,500, up 15 percent from May of 2016. The change was based on 350 closed sales in Arlington in May.” [WTOP]

County Looking for More Tech Grant Recipients — Arlington Economic Development is looking for more tech companies to lure to Arlington with its $1 million “Gazelle Grant” program. AED is seeking another 8-13 companies that are growing by at least 30 percent over a three year period and are willing to commit to at least a three year lease. [Technical.ly DC]

Yorktown Principal Says GoodbyeRetiring Yorktown High School principal Dr. Ray Pasi received a standing ovation from the Class of 2017 at YHS’s graduation ceremony yesterday. [Twitter]

It’s Still There — For those who were wondering, the now-famous stick of deodorant atop a Clarendon bus stop is still there two weeks later, despite wind, rain and publicity. [Twitter]

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