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by Bridget Reed Morawski March 7, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

The final design of Yorktown High School modifications that will increase the building’s capacity to 2,189 seats is set to be approved at the Arlington School Board meeting on Thursday (March 8).

Per the plan, at least six classrooms will be created by converting a computer lab, a computer alcove, and several teacher work rooms. A copy room will turn into a new “teacher collaboration space,” and other teacher work space and offices will also be reconfigured.

Existing storage will be turned into bicycle storage, and charging stations will be added throughout the school, including in the cafeteria and atrium. The current gym lockers will be replaced.

The larger seating capacity comes weeks after the proposed Arlington Public Schools budget was announced with class size increases.

The project’s estimated $4 million cost will be funded by the capital reserve, according to School Board documents.

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 6, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

Demolition has begun in preparation for the Nauck Town Center project, and the neighbors might not be the only ones buzzing with interest.

The building torn down last week is none other than the former home of about 70,000 honey bees, which the county relocated in July 2017 after realizing they had not only purchased a former office building but an apiary abode as well.

The aging building had only been vacant for about four months, according to the county, but about 100 pounds of honey were already generated by the time that local beekeepers swooped in to relocate move the hive.

The demolition is one of the final steps in the project’s first pre-construction phase. Utility undergrounding and site perimeter streetscaping will start fall 2018 and end spring 2019.

The second phase of Nauck Town Square project construction is scheduled to begin in the spring or summer of 2019 and wrap up by the winter of 2020. Pre-construction for phase two will begin spring 2018 and last through winter 2019.

The Nauck Town Center project, which has been years in the making, includes an open plaza, outdoor stage, public art, tables and seating and sidewalk improvements, along with displays about the history of the community, which was settled by free African-Americans in 1844. The design includes a large sculpture of the word “FREED.”

Photo courtesy Daniel Wanke

by Bridget Reed Morawski March 6, 2018 at 12:45 pm 0

Crystal City will be getting a new, 43,900 square foot plaza called Metro Market Square, according to county planning documents.

Plans for the plaza cite Boston’s Faneuil Hall as inspiration and include retail businesses, small water features, chess tables, and a options for outdoor entertainment.

The market building’s roof would include solar panels and “artistic wind turbines,” and the park’s sidewalks would range from 17.5-19 feet wide. A new Crystal City Metro station east entrance at the plaza would be located at Crystal Drive and 18 Street S.

The parcel, referred to as “block G,” is “generally bounded by 15th Street S. to the north, Crystal Drive to the east, 18th Street S. to the south and U.S. Route 1 to the west,” according to the county website.

Planners are cognizant of shadow issues as well, calling for no more than 55 percent of the park to be in shadow between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on equinoxes and no more than 59% in shadow in the fall.

A community open house will be held on March 21 from 7-9 p.m. for residents to view the details. An online feedback survey will be conducted from March 19-28, though a link to the survey is not yet available.

The block plan is part of the larger Crystal City Sector Plan, passed in 2010, which includes a new two-acre park called Center Park, 7,500 new residential units, and a “transformation of Jefferson Davis Highway into an urban boulevard.”

Screenshots via Arlington County

by ARLnow.com March 1, 2018 at 9:00 am 0

ACPD Cameo on ‘Homeland’ — The Arlington County Police Department made a brief appearance last week on the TV show “Homeland.” [Twitter]

High Wind Watch Upgraded to Warning — The threat of a damaging wind storm Friday has become more likely. The National Weather Service has upgraded the previous High Wind Watch to a warning. [Twitter]

EFC Development Stalled — “Seven years ago, the county blessed a vision of new ‘transitown’ development of stores, greenery and new pedestrian access around the East Falls Church Metro. But that utilitarian commuter site is largely unchanged.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Logo, Website for AAC — Thanks to a philanthropic grant, the Arlington Arts Center has new branding and a “new, mobile-friendly site reflecting our enduring commitment to excellent contemporary art, quality educational programs, and our artist residency program.” [Arlington Arts Center]

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 28, 2018 at 5:30 pm 0

What is the future of retail in Arlington?

The county has seen dozens of restaurants close their doors in recent years, but major redevelopments along the corridor could breathe new life into its struggling dining scene. Bisnow’s Future of Arlington County will explore the issue further.

Since Regency Centers acquired Market Common Clarendon in spring 2016, two of the restaurants in the development have closed. Regency Centers is working to re-lease the retail center as the REIT prepares to launch a $50M-plus redevelopment of the property. They are being very selective with restaurant operators, and limiting the second-level space to non-food users, such as fitness studio Barre3.

Beyond Market Common, at least 10 other Clarendon restaurants have closed since 2016. Restaurateur Scott Parker, who co-owns Clarendon’s Don Tito and The G.O.A.T, said he has been surprised to see the string of recent closings. But Parker said he still has a strong outlook on Clarendon’s future, given its nightlife atmosphere and popularity with millennials.

Ballston has also experienced a large string of restaurant closings over the last two years. However, Forest City is preparing to deliver its $330M overhaul of the Ballston Common Mall, rebranding it as Ballston Quarter.

The development will feature four experiential retail concepts, including a Punch Bowl Social, live-action entertainment venue 5 Wits and recreational culinary school Cookology. Forest City Senior Vice President Will Voegele believes bringing all of these concepts together will create a regional destination that will benefit the entire Ballston neighborhood.

“I truly believe in a couple years, Ballston is going to be maybe the hotspot of the Orange Line,” said Parker. “I do deeply believe it’s going to be [the] next big thing. I think they’re going to knock it out of the park and I think people are going to be blown away by how busy Ballston gets and the type of hub it becomes in the next couple years.”

Will these redevelopments save Arlington’s retail? Find out at Bisnow’s Future of Arlington County on March 8!

by ARLnow.com February 28, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

A community meeting is being held tomorrow night to discuss a proposed development that would bring The Children’s School to the former Alpine Restaurant site on Lee Highway.

The Children’s School, a subsidized daycare center for Arlington County teachers, is planning to relocate as its long-time home — the Reed School building in Westover — is renovated and turned into a new elementary school.

A flyer for the meeting — to be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Lee Highway Alliance (4620 Lee Highway) — says a three-story building has been proposed for the Alpine site, which has sat largely unused for the past eight years.

“Two-hundred thirty-five children, aged 0-5, would be housed in a three story building that tapers at the rear towards the Glebewood townhouses, with rooftop play areas,” says the flyer. “Integration Station, which is a pre-school for kids with special needs, would also be part of the application (about 30% of 235 children).”

“Daycare would open at 6:45 a.m. and close by 5 p.m — not open on weekends,” the flyer continues. “The site is approximately 19,400 square feet. This is a by-right application under a use permit. The preliminary drawings illustrate an attractive, glass-paneled contemporary and playful design for the school.”

The site is owned by Arlington businessman Brian Normile, of BCN Homes and Liberty Tavern, and would be leased to The Children’s School, according to the flyer. The Children’s School would temporarily move to Ballston during the approval and construction process, it says.

The flyer lists “impacts to Glebewood Historic District,” green space and tree coverage, and parking — the plan calls for 40 mostly underground parking spaces plus drop-off spaces — as some of the issues for further community discussion.

Photo via Google Maps

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 27, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

A new residential development is under construction just south of Columbia Pike.

The development, first approved in 2009, is described as “a residential project for 36 condominium units within 12 townhouse structures.” It is currently under construction at 1100 S. Highland Street, behind the Audi dealership, and along what it planned as a future extension of 11th Street S.

The permit holder is listed as the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), which has offices at 901 S. Highland Street, about two blocks away from the construction site. Construction permits were first approved in late September last year.

ECDC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from ARLnow.

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 26, 2018 at 3:05 pm 0

A proposal to build a 72-unit multifamily building in Ballston that met resistance from neighbors is moving forward.

In a 4-1 vote, the Arlington County Board approved a land use variance that will allow the Ballston condo and townhouse development to move forward. The development includes a total of 84 residential units, including 12 townhouses.

Many residents who spoke during the public comments section took issue with the height of the future residential buildings, as well as the the loss of property value and quality of life from the new building blocking sunlight.

“We will have nine floors of units that currently enjoy will now be limited to fully dark most of the year — a maximum of one and a half hours during the summer solstice,” said Dana Hofferber, a resident of the nearby Westview condominium tower, citing a shadow study produced by the developer, NVR. Inc.

Another resident, Justin Heminger, noted that the community isn’t against all development, just this particular plan.

“The community is not against the development of this project, the community is against what has been proposed,” said Heminger. “And I think it boils down to: it’s too big, it’s too tall, and it’s too close.”

Many of the 26 public comments were from immediate Ballston neighbors, who wore matching t-shirts and held signs. A number of speakers noted in remarks that they purchased condominiums based on the current General Land Use Plan (GLUP), which the Board was voting to modify. Others said they were concerned about traffic, school overcrowding and the impact of the development on mass transit.

A motion by County Board member John Vihstadt to delay the amendment to the GLUP failed. Vihstadt voted against the proposal.

“We’ve talked a lot about process and substance today, but in my view we fall too short of where we need to be and too short of where we could be with more discussion,” said Vihstadt, noting “hand-wringing” among the Board members.

It took about four hours for the development to be discussed and for the Board to vote.

Other Board members cited their concern with various aspects of the plan. Board members who voted for the development said those issues could be addressed at another point in the planning process.

Katie Cristol, the County Board chair, said that this was not a matter of developers versus residents, but of balancing “resident’s interests with resident’s interests” and not pulling “the ladder up from behind us.”

“There are things that [are] reasonable to expect,” added Cristol. “We will strive to seek to balance the interests of residents, of homeowners to homeowners or renters to renters… this project, which adds new ownership housing steps from a Metro center, is an example of that.”

“The redevelopment of this site will provide much-needed ownership housing in the heart of Ballston, including affordable units, within walking distance of Metro,” Cristol said in a press release. “We heard from some in the neighborhood who have had strong differences of opinion about the development’s appropriateness, but the Board, in partnership with staff and the Planning and Transportation Commissions, believes that it is consistent with the long-held goals of the Ballston Sector Plan.”

At least one resident during the public comment period questioned whether elected officials had received any campaign contributions from developers, which several County Board members denied, including board member Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol.

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 23, 2018 at 2:15 pm 0

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) The County Board is set to vote this Saturday (February 24) on a contested residential development in Ballston.

The development is planned around the intersection of N. Vermont and 11th streets, about four blocks from the Ballston Metro station. Developer NVR Inc. intends to build a 72-unit multifamily building with both condos and townhouse-style units on the southern block and 12 townhouse units on the northern parcel of land.

County staff, along with the Arlington’s planning and transportation commissions, are recommending that the Board approves the development, but some neighbors have objected to it.

“Save Our Neighborhood” signs in opposition of the development have been placed around Ballston, urging residents to wear red t-shirts to the County Board meeting to show their solidarity. A Change.org petition has garnered more than 500 signatures.

The petition’s organizer, Dana Gerk, cited a swamped mass transit infrastructure, overcrowding in the schools, concerns about increased traffic, “potential physical damage… from heavy machinery,” and a deviation from the county’s current zoning for the site.

Other opponents cite the proposed height of the condo building as harmful.

“Through the process, local residents vocally opposed the design and placement of the seven story multi-family building,” one resident said in an email to ARLnow.com. “At each public hearing Westview [condo] residents whose properties were built with floor to ceiling window balconies opposed the current design, which will block access to light according to developer-provided shadow studies.

“Other buildings in the area, such as on the corner of Glebe and Fairfax, were sculpted to preserve the access to sunlight for Westview residents, and Westview residents note that, if approved, this new building takes away the views of over 100 residents so that a developer can maximize profits for many fewer.”

Approval from the board would necessitate two exceptions be granted. The lot is currently planned as “low-medium residential,” meaning that it can accommodate 16-36 units per acre, and would need to be changed to “high-medium residential mixed use” in the General Land Use Plan (GLUP).

An additional rezoning request for the 55,667 square foot site would allow developers to build multiple family dwellings and commercial district property. The current status only allows for one family and restricted two-family dwellings.

The final plans were released earlier this month for the redevelopment, which would replace the Grace Community Church building and a parking lot.

by Anna Merod February 16, 2018 at 10:15 am 0

Demolition is underway on an old office building in Courthouse.

The demolition of the building at 2000 Clarendon Blvd will allow the construction of a new, 15-floor condominium tower. The 18,380 sq. ft. site will also feature ground-level retail and a garage fitting 112 parking spaces.

The site is currently fenced off while the building is torn down.

Photo (third) courtesy @721tv

by ARLnow.com February 7, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

Murder of Crows Pooping All Over Shirlington — A large contingent of crows have taken up residence in Shirlington, and locals are getting fed up with cars and sidewalks being covered in bird doo-doo. [WTOP, NBC Washington]

Design Contest for 2019 ‘I Voted’ Sticker — “In an effort to gin up voter enthusiasm during what is expected to be a slow 2019, Arlington election officials… plan to hold a competition to design a logo for next year’s election.” [InsideNova]

Arlington No. 3 on ‘Best Counties’ List — A new list of “best counties” in the U.S. ranks Falls Church — a city — No. 1 while Arlington is No. 3 and Fairfax is No. 6. The list was compiled by the website 24/7 Wall Street. [WTOP]

Mitten Given the Boot By Grand Rapids — The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan is restarting its search for a new city manager after an outcry from residents and interest groups. Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten was among the three finalists for the job to speak at a community forum, prior to the city announcing the restart. [Fox 17, MLive]

Police Recruiting for Student Safety Patrol Camp — “The Arlington County Police Department’s School Resource Officer Unit is currently accepting applications to the Summer Safety Patrol Camp. This weeklong camp is offered to incoming 4th and 5th grade students who want to participate in safety patrols during the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year.” [Arlington County]

More on Market Common Redevelopment Approval — The redevelopment of a portion of Market Common Clarendon will widen a narrow sidewalk that was the source of resident complaints, among other community benefits. Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey hopes the project can help “bring a little funkiness back into Clarendon.” [Arlington Connection]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Fatimah Waseem February 6, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

(Updated at 9:45 p.m.) Two warehouses along S. Eads Street in Pentagon City are being razed to eventually make way for a redevelopment project.

JBG Smith is expected to begin demolition of  the warehouses at some point in April or May 2018. The project is scheduled to take six to eight weeks.

At this point, it’s unclear what will replace the buildings, located between 12th and 15th streets. The company is backing away from plans approved by the county in July 2016 to build a 22-story, 577-unit residential tower.

JBG Smith has “no plans at the moment” to build the county-approved project due to uncertain market conditions, said a PR representative for the company.

“It’s unknown and sort of depending on where things go in the market,” the rep said.

On Friday (February 1), the company hosted a community meeting to discuss the demolition project. Several people attended and voiced concerns about noise generated from demolition, we’re told.

Demolition crews will work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays, according to meeting materials. Construction traffic will enter the site through S. Eads Street. The exit point is either north on S. Eads to Army Drive or south on S. Eads Street to 15th Street.

Photos by Fatimah Waseem

by ARLnow.com January 31, 2018 at 9:50 am 0

Market Common Redevelopment Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved a plan to redevelop a portion of Market Common Clarendon. The project is described as “a major renovation and expansion of a commercial-retail block in the heart of Clarendon,” which will preserve the A&R Engravers building and widen the Wilson Boulevard sidewalk at Edgewood Street. [Arlington County]

Gondola Idea Not Dead Yet — “A gondola connecting Georgetown and Rosslyn adjacent to the Key Bridge is still in the works,” with those on the D.C. side of the Potomac continuing to work on it despite Arlington’s public reticence. However, the project now faces an exceedingly complex Environmental Impact Study. [Washington Business Journal]

Man Shot and Killed in Philly IDed — A local man who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in South Philadelphia after allegedly deliberately striking a pedestrian with his car has been identified. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Khalil Lawal, of the 100 block of South Frederick Street in Arlington, Va., was shot early Monday morning by the officer in the face, torso, and legs, police said.” [Philly.com]

Mitten Under Consideration for Michigan Job — Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten is among three candidates under consideration for the job of City Manager in Grand Rapids, Michigan. [Grand Rapids Business Journal]

Ship’s Hatch Under New Ownership — Long-time military gift store Ship’s Hatch has been sold to a new owner. Founder Mary Beth Cox, 73, is retiring after more than three decades of running the store in the Crystal City Shops. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

by Chris Teale January 30, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board is set to debate the redevelopment of a section of Market Common in Clarendon, including of the former IOTA Club and Cafe building.

The Board will hear from developer Regency Centers as well as public testimony later today (Tuesday, January 30) on its plans for the area around the 2800 blocks of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds.

Regency Centers is proposing a renovation and extension of the former Education Center building, which would include expanding it into the building that once hosted IOTA and the former home of A&R Engravers (2836 Wilson Blvd).

It would also add a fourth floor and an outdoor terrace to the building; create what county staff described as a “ground level arcade” along N. Edgewood Street; allow buildings to host retail as well as office space; and beautify that section of Clarendon Blvd to make it more appealing.

Across the street, renderings have also shown a revamped courtyard area known as “The Loop,” with several new eateries or other stores in the central median of the shopping center, and seating areas nearby. Currently, that area has a small park with a fountain and benches.

A letter from the Planning Commission noted its unanimous support for the project at its January 17 meeting. The project also received the backing of the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board and Transportation Commission.

HALRB chair Joan Lawrence said the mural for the former Conklyn’s Florist should be preserved for its historical significance. Under the development plan, it will be moved to the building wall above the preserved A & R Engraver’s building.

That building was built in 1941 and is identified as historic. The building that hosted IOTA, the source of some controversy last year as activists worked to save the local music venue, restaurant and bar, is not identified in a similar way.

“The ‘Conklyn’s Florist’ former sign is no longer a sign as defined the Zoning Ordinance and should be treated as a piece of historic art and not as a sign to be regulated,” Lawrence wrote in a letter to the Board. “The HALRB feels strongly that this piece of art should be preserved and its connection to Arlington’s history acknowledged. The use and placement of a historic marker that does this should be included in the project.”

The Board is expected to vote on the project at its recessed meeting tonight.

Images via county staff report

by Chris Teale January 24, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

(Updated 8:25 a.m. January 25) A now-demolished funeral home in Virginia Square is set for continued use as a parking lot for crews working on redeveloping the former CarPool site.

The Arlington County Board will consider an extension on the approval of the site plan at 3901 Fairfax Drive, and its interim use for parking, until February 2021.

Construction crews working on the CarPool project use the site as parking while building work is ongoing on a 22-story luxury high rise, which will have up to 330 residential units, 264 underground parking spaces and ground-floor retail.

The Board approved the project in 2012 on the site of the old Arlington Funeral Home.  It was first used as a temporary parking lot the following year after the building’s demolition.

In its place, a 10-story building with three levels of underground parking is planned. It would include office space and ground floor retail. It had been the planned location of a 150-seat black box theater, but that plan was nixed last year.

In a report on the planned extension, county staff said that developer BDC Crimson LLC has promised that development will be underway by 2021, “once financing is finalized to permit construction.”

Staff recommended the Board approve the extension.

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