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by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Murals at Courthouse Plaza (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Home Values Jump 14 Percent — Arlington County saw a big bump in the sale price of homes, at least according to one data set from January. Long & Foster says the median price of a home sold in Arlington last month was $590,000, up 14 percent from one year prior. [WTOP]

Wakefield Boys Win Conference — The Wakefield High School boys varsity basketball team captured the Conference 13 championship on Saturday, after defeating Marshall 50-47. [Twitter, Twitter]

Caps Hold Fundraiser for Young Cancer Victim — The Washington Capitals held a fundraiser at Don Tito in Clarendon on Friday for the family of a three-year-old girl who just died of an inoperable brain tumor. The family has more than $100,000 in medical bills to pay and hopes to also raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. [NBC Washington]

Problems Persist at Arlington National Cemetery — More than 5 years after major problems were revealed at Arlington National Cemetery, there’s word of new problems. The cemetery’s burial backlog has increased, it’s taking longer to get headstones approved and previously unenforced rules are now being enforced, frustrating some families, reports a local TV station. [WJLA]

Arlington Students Serving as White House Interns — Three college students who hail from Arlington are on the list of spring 2016 White House interns. The interns are: Jeremy Brown, who attends the University of Michigan; Ryan Cowdin, who attends George Washington University; and Caitlin O’Grady, who attends Pepperdine.

County Board Approves Rosslyn Changes — At a relatively uneventful meeting on Saturday, the Arlington County Board approved a series of land use, transportation and zoning changes as part of the Western Rosslyn Area Plan. The changes will allow a new school and new development. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by Andrew Ramonas — February 9, 2016 at 2:15 pm 0

Walkway to Ballston Common Mall (photo by m01229)

Plans for a revamped pedestrian walkway over Wilson Boulevard in Ballston are up for discussion tonight.

Arlington County is scheduled to host a community meeting on the redesign of the pedestrian bridge at Ballston Common Mall (4328 Wilson Blvd) from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The gathering is slated to happen in the mall’s second floor retail area across from the Payless shoe store.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the walkway’s designer and give feedback on the project.

A new bridge is part of a $317 million plan to redevelop the mall, which is being rebranded as Ballston Quarter. The walkway provides an elevated, indoor pathway to the Ballston Metro station.

Final plans for bridge are expected to go to the county manager for consideration in late June.

Flickr photo by m01229

by ARLnow.com — February 8, 2016 at 11:30 am 0

Lee Highway at N. Glebe RoadDemocratic County Board candidate Erik Gutshall would like to see further progress on the planning process for the future of the Lee Highway corridor.

Gutshall, a small business owner who serves on the Arlington Planning Commission, warned in a statement (below) that Lee Highway could experience “crazy-quilt development” if not for “a thoughtful, community-led planning process.” He called on the County Board to prioritize long-range planning for Lee Highway this year.

Gutshall is challenging County Board Chair Libby Garvey in the June 14 Democratic primary.

Erik Gutshall called today for the Arlington County Board to make development of a long-range plan for Lee Highway a priority for the County Manager for the coming year.

Gutshall, who is challenging the incumbent Board Chair in the Democratic Primary, congratulated the Lee Highway Alliance, a collaborative effort of all neighborhood civic associations abutting Lee Highway from Arlington’s North Highlands community along the Potomac River to the Falls Church line, noting, “…the Lee Highway community has shown uncommon leadership in developing a vision for the future of Lee Highway.”

Gutshall called on the County Board to appoint a citizen-led task force quickly to undertake the development of a Lee Highway Plan, provide the task force with significant staff support and outside expert resources, and develop a scope of work that allows the task force to think big about the Lee Highway of the future. “Lee Highway,” Gutshall said, “is the last major unplanned commercial corridor in Arlington. Similar plans for the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor have been a central reason for that area’s great success.”

Gutshall, as a task force member, was engaged in the development of today’s plan for Clarendon.  “Without a plan,” he said, “we can expect crazy-quilt development along Lee Highway; changes that aren’t the result of a thoughtful, community-led planning process are much less likely to meet Arlingtonians’ needs and are likely to detract from, rather than add value to, surrounding neighborhoods.”

Gutshall noted that long-range plans are extraordinarily valuable to the community and have underpinned much of Arlington’s standout prosperity. These plans are a concrete expression of the community’s hopes for the future and provide property owners with the policy guidance needed to encourage thoughtful, responsible and responsive development. “Unfortunately,” Gutshall said, “County Board leadership looks at the County’s long-term plans as merely advisory, something that can be easily dismissed. In my view, these plans are a compact between our elected representatives, developers and the community and embody the collective vision for the neighborhoods where we live, work, learn, and play.”

 

by ARLnow.com — February 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm 0

An aging low-rise apartment complex in Rosslyn will be replaced with a new condominium development.

The Arlington County Board on Thursday approved the condo project from Reston-based developer NVR, Inc., the parent company of homebuilder Ryan Homes. The Board approved NVR’s plan for a six-story building with a total of 63 units, which will replace a four-story, 33-unit apartment complex built in 1955, along with a two story house.

The new building, at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Nash Street, is across from a planned — but stalled — redevelopment that was to include a 28-story residential building and ground floor grocery store.

“Washington Vista,” as the condo development is referred to in public documents, will include four affordable two-bedroom units that will be offered to qualified moderate-income buyers. Other community benefits include a contribution of more than $100,000 to Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund and $75,000 worth of public art.

Residents of the Metro Rosslyn apartment building, which is being torn down to make way for the condos, initially complained that the developer had not offered relocation assistance after notices to vacate were posted on the property. A relocation plan was subsequently approved by Arlington’s Tenant-Landlord Commission on Dec. 16.

After the jump: the county press release about the development’s approval.

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by ARLnow.com — January 19, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Robin Stombler, a Nauck resident, business owner and past chair of the Arlington Committee of 100, regarding revitalization plans for the Shirlington Crescent area.

Dear Editor:

Over 80 Arlington residents and elected officials joined the Nauck-Shirlington Crescent neighborhood launch on Sunday, January 10, 2016. Nauck residents led groups of citizens on walking tours throughout the Crescent. We anticipated some of the reactions:

  • Arlington is home to a concrete factory?
  • Floods up to 19 feet have occurred at Four Mile Run?
  • Jennie Dean Park honors the founder of the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth?
  • Arlington’s first distribution brewery since 1916 opened this week in the Crescent?
  • Artists from Stephen Sondheim to Dave Grohl have walked the Crescent streets?

The answers are yes. Beyond the auto repair stores, towing facilities, and ART bus storage, many people pass the Crescent without really seeing what it has to offer. We have a vision to change that perception.

The Nauck-Shirlington Crescent is unique for many reasons, and chief among them is its diversity. We aim to embrace the economic, social and cultural diversity of our neighborhood from our nonprofit neighbors to our commercial entrepreneurs and from our established citizens to our newer residents.

We also see a significant opportunity to revitalize the Crescent into a creative, industry and arts cluster. This cluster would build and support an environment that encourages businesses and workforce development, protects and preserves the natural resources of the area, and fosters innovation. Space for new housing, tree-lined vistas, and parking also figure into our design.

The Arlington County Board has declared the Nauck-Shirlington Crescent a top priority for 2016. Our ideas, expressed briefly here, will be part of a fuller conversation on the future of the Crescent. The energy and excitement expressed at the launch portends well what that future holds.

Sincerely,

Robin Stombler

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

by ARLnow.com — January 12, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

The Springs, a new affordable apartment complex in the Buckingham area, near Ballston, celebrated its “topping out” last week.

The five story, 104-unit apartment building, at the corner of Carlin Springs Road and N. Thomas Street, is being developed by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. The project was approved by the Arlington County Board in 2014.

A topping out ceremony was held last Wednesday, after the construction project reached its highest point. Construction is expected to wrap up later this year.

“APAH purchased this site in 1997,” APAH Board member Susan Bell said in a statement. “Nine of APAH’s 14 properties are in North Arlington. The redevelopment of The Springs expands APAH’s presence in this wonderful Ballston location, just 1/2 mile from Metro and close to so many jobs and services.”

As part of the ceremony, more than 40 attendees, including County Board members and local legislators, signed a “commemorative beam” that will be installed on the top floor of the building.

“Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is one of our key community partners,” said County Board Chair Libby Garvey. “Today only 9,600 Arlington apartments are affordable to the 17,000 low income families looking for housing in our community. With the targets set in the County’s Master Plan, we are committed to keeping Arlington a place where people from across the socioeconomic spectrum can live and work comfortably.”

by ARLnow.com — January 12, 2016 at 9:30 am 0

Robin in the winter (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Pentagon City Apartment Complex Gets Financing — The Altaire, the high-end residential development at 400 Army Navy Drive, has obtained $100 million in financing from Wells Fargo and is expected to begin construction this month. The 20-story complex will have two towers with a total of 453 units. Construction is expected to be complete by the second quarter of 2018. [Washington Business Journal]

History of Hall’s Hill — This year is the 150th anniversary of the historically African-American neighborhood of Hall’s Hill, also known as High View Park. An event on the community’s history last week revealed the origin of its name. Hall’s Hill is named after Bazil Hall, a white slaveholder who sold plots of land to freed slaves after the Civil War to spite his white neighbors. [InsideNova]

Arlington Real Estate Agent Invited to SOTU — Naveed Shah, an Army veteran and a Rosslyn-based real estate agent, was invited to be a guest of the White House at tonight’s State of the Union Address. Despite the fact that Shah and his family moved to the U.S. when he was two, after living in Saudi Arabia, Shah grew up in Northern Virginia and describes himself as “as American as it gets.” [Military Times, NBC Washington]

Local Immigrants Worried About ICE Raids — There’s growing fear among undocumented immigrants in Northern Virginia of stepped-up U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Advocates are advising immigrant families “to have a plan for their kids in case they’re deported.” In other news, it’s said that ICE agents “are making their presence felt and regularly hang around the Taco Bell on Little River Turnpike” in Annandale. [Annandale VA]

Arlington Young Dems, GOPers Working Together — In a show of bipartisanship during the heat of a presidential election year, the chairs of the Arlington Young Democrats and the Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans met over the weekend to plan joint community service events in 2016. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — January 11, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

It didn’t take long for the Exxon station at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Carlin Springs Road to close following the Arlington County Board’s approval of a new apartment development in October.

The station is now shuttered and surrounded by a fence, as is the adjacent Prestige Certified Motors dealership (which moved to 7700 Lee Highway in Falls Church) and a surface parking lot once used by Macy’s. The block-long parcel of land is located across from Ballston Common Mall.

To be built on the parcel: a six-story, 173-unit apartment building dubbed 672 Flats. The building will include two ground floor retail spaces, an underground parking garage with 177 spaces and 70 bicycle parking spots.

No word yet on a construction timeline. Developer Penrose Group has completed a number of other projects around Arlington, including Pike 3400 on Columbia Pike, the Latitude Apartments in Virginia Square and the Residence Inn in Courthouse.

by Jennifer Currier — January 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm 0

Shirlington Crescent- Four Mile Run Study area (Via Arlington County)

Arlington County has pledged to start an extensive community planning effort in 2016 for the area known as Shirlington Crescent, a process with the goal of bringing major economic, environmental and cultural changes to the area.

Plans for revitalizing and possibly redeveloping parts of Nauck and the Four Mile Run corridor began with a study conducted in 2014. This study outlined approximately 95 acres along Four Mile Run Drive and Shirlington Road for the community planning process to focus on.

The goal for this planning effort is to “develop a vision and area plan which could re-evaluate land use goals and objectives.” To do this, the County will consider various aspects of the existing Crescent and how to improve or change them, including:

  • economic development
  • environmental sustainability
  • relationships to neighboring areas
  • open space
  • transportation
  • affordable housing
  • connectivity
  • urban design
  • previous planning work
  • cultural resources
  • historic preservation

In a letter sent to ARLnow over the summer — which also appeared on InsideNoVa — Nauck resident Robin Stombler shared her thoughts on the need for change.

“A swath of South Four Mile Run and Shirlington Road has been neglected for too long,” she wrote. “Our Nauck neighborhood is often the location for industrial activities and unused vehicle storage. While much of the industry is welcomed, the Shirlington Crescent could be so much more.”

Stombler and her fellow Crescent residents will be a part of the planning process this year, starting with a gathering on the subject this weekend.

This neighborhood revitalization meeting starts this Sunday, Jan. 10 at 1 p.m. According to a public notice, members of the Arlington County Board will also be in attendance.

During the meeting, small groups will depart from the children’s playground at Jennie Dean Park at 3630 27th Street S. for a walking tour of the Crescent, lead by neighborhood guides.

Tours will end at the Arlington Food Assistance Center at 2708 S. Nelson Street around 1:45 p.m. Hot chocolate will be served as some residents and community members — and possibly County Board members, who will be attending the meeting — will give remarks about the neighborhood and their thoughts on which issues should be a priority.

Stombler is also responsible for organizing the walking meeting. In her letter, she expressed her neighborhood’s excitement and dedication to the start of the planning process.

“Shirlington Crescent is uniquely positioned to become an industry and arts cluster for Arlington,” she said. “[My neighbors and I] recognize that there is a long process of deliberation ahead, but we want to jumpstart the conversation. Input to our plan from the public is welcomed and encouraged.”

by ARLnow.com — December 23, 2015 at 1:15 pm 0

Fog in Fairlington (photo courtesy Risa Abraham)

ARLnow Suffers Server Issue — ARLnow.com’s web server was down this morning due to a technical problem. It came back up at almost exactly noon. We apologize for any inconvenience. For those seeking an explanation of what went wrong, we’ve compiled some of our tweets from this morning. [Storify]

Big Apartment Development Proposed in Pentagon City — Vornado, which recently put several planned projects in Crystal City on hold, has filed a preliminary site plan application for a huge new apartment tower in Pentagon City. The 22-story, 558-unit residential building would be part of the Metropolitan Park development, next to a currently under-construction, Whole Foods-anchored apartment building, also owned by Vornado. Expect objections from some residents in nearby single-family home neighborhoods, who are already fretting about Vornado’s proposed addition of 1,100 apartments at the RiverHouse complex. [Washington Business Journal]

Lane of Memorial Bridge Reopens, For Now — The eastbound curb lane of the Memorial Bridge has temporarily reopened. It will close again early next year for additional repairs to the aging bridge, a National Park Service spokeswoman said. [Twitter]

DEA Seeking New Headquarters — The Drug Enforcement Administration may be looking to move from its Pentagon City headquarters. The GSA is seeking a new lease for the DEA, which employs some 2,500 people in Pentagon City. Competition among building owners is expected to be fierce. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Affordable for Millennials? — Despite high rents, the website RealtyTrac has ranked Arlington among what it says are the more affordable locales for young adults. Among places that are considered millennial magnets, Arlington has one of the more affordable ratios of average millennial income to average apartment rent. [RealtyTrac]

Positive Review for West Side Story at Signature — Signature Theatre’s production of West Side Story has choreography that’s “near-perfection,” at least according to a review in the University of Maryland Diamondback student newspaper. The production at the acclaimed Shirlington theater has been extended through Jan. 31. [Diamondback Online]

by ARLnow.com — December 21, 2015 at 10:20 am 0

US Airways planes on the tarmac at Reagan National Airport

Shortest Day of the Year — Today is the shortest day of the year. The sun will be up just 9 hours and 26 minutes today, so enjoy the daylight while it lasts. Tonight is the winter solstice. [Capital Weather Gang]

Two Big Crystal City Projects on Hold — Two projects to replace aging office buildings in Crystal City are on hold due to high office vacancy in the region. Vornado was planning to replace 1851 S. Bell Street with what would have been the tallest building in Crystal City and the largest private office building in Arlington. The company was also planning to replace 223 23rd Street S. with an office and a residential tower. Those have both reportedly been shelved due to market conditions. [Washington Business Journal]

Police Play Cornhole With Bar Crawlers — Nearly 2,000 people flocked to Clarendon on Saturday for the inaugural Candy Cane Crawl, a holiday-themed bar crawl. Arlington County Police used the occasion to educate bar-goers about the dangers of drunk driving, by having people try to play cornhole while wearing “drunk goggles.” [WUSA 9]

Mary Slye Obituary — Mary Patricia Slye, who managed Robert Slye Electronics on Washington Blvd in Virginia Square, died last month of a heart attack at the age of 65. Slye was an Arlington resident and began working at the audio visual installation business in the mid-1980s. [Washington Post]

Vehicle Topples Light Pole on Washington Blvd — A vehicle struck a light pole near the intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Pershing Drive on Saturday, sending it toppling across the street. Luckily, no one was hurt. Eastbound traffic on Washington Blvd was blocked for about 15 minutes. [Twitter]

GMU Grad Hopes to Run for Arlington School Board — A newly-minted George Mason University grad has a specific and somewhat uncommon career goal for someone her age: Marlayna Bush says she wants to run for the Arlington School Board in 2018. She just received her BA in conflict analysis and resolution. [George Mason University]

by Jennifer Currier — December 16, 2015 at 1:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board unanimously voted to approve plans for the modernization of the Crystal Square 3 office building in Crystal City at its meeting last night.

The nearly 250,000 square foot space sits on top of the Crystal City Shops. After the redevelopment, the building will be reclassified as “Class A” office space and rebranded as 1770 Crystal Drive.

“This redevelopment is part of the ongoing public and private investments in Crystal City that will help ensure it remains one of the region’s premier urban villages,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement.

The property’s developer, Vornado, took the opportunity to plan the upgrade after its primary tenant, the U.S. Marshals Service, announced it will be moving its 1,600 employees to another Vornado property on S. Clark Street next year.

Plans to modernize the building include reshaping it to add approximately 10,000 square feet of office and retail space and replacing its facade.

The retail space on the first floor will be reconfigured and the second floor plaza will be turned into additional office space, which could be converted to more retail space in the future. The existing concrete facade will be replaced with glass and metal panels.

The top floors will also be repurposed to create open terrace areas. On the ground level, the facade will be pushed back seven feet to create a wider sidewalk along Crystal Drive.

Finally, a new entrance to the Crystal City Shops will be moved to the north side of the building.

by Jennifer Currier — December 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

Arlington Presbyterian Church (photo via Google Maps)

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the redevelopment of Arlington Presbyterian Church into an apartment complex with 173 affordable housing units at its meeting on Saturday.

“For over 100 years, Arlington Presbyterian Church has been a place where people of vision, connected with the community, have heard and responded to the needs of our neighbors,” the church said in a release. “As a faith community, APC is committed to creating and nurturing a community of disciples, being a people and place of crossroads for the Columbia Pike neighborhood, and redeveloping their property to provide affordable housing for those in their community.”

The project is a partnership between the church congregation and the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, the organization overseeing the sale of the property at 3507 Columbia Pike, demolition of the church and construction of the apartment building.

“One of the key benefits of stable, affordable housing is the stable households it creates,” said John Milliken, vice chairman of the APAH Board of Directors at Saturday’s meeting. “It’s a unique and special opportunity to partner with APC… in carrying out what it has determined as its spiritual mission.”

As part of the vote, Board members also approved approximately $18 million in loans to help APAH fund the project.

Plans for affordable apartment building on Arlington Presbyterian Church site

The new building will also include a three-floor parking garage and ground floor retail space.

“This is another case where our development tools, coupled with major transportation investments, are helping us transform the Pike into the ‘main street’ that the community has long envisioned, while preserving the rich resident diversity that makes this part of Arlington so special,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement.

The church first approved the redevelopment plan in November 2013, but the sale of the church to APAH wasn’t until this February. Now that the loan from the County has been approved as well, the project is expected to move forward as planned.

At the meeting, community members spoke in support of the project’s final approval.

“[My wife and I] really love our neighborhood, its diversity, its walkability, the history, and the people,” Columbia Pike and Arlington Presbyterian Church member Miles Townes said. “We’re concerned some of our neighbors are not able to live in our neighborhood anymore, and we plainly see that the need for affordable housing is growing on the Pike.”

The project also has the support of other area faith communities.

“This project is a perfect example of doing something now for generations yet unborn that will look back and say ‘thank you,'” said the Rev. Andrew Merrow of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

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by ARLnow.com — December 14, 2015 at 11:15 am 0

Rendering of 4000 Fairfax Drive (Carpool redevelopment)A new 22-story apartment building is slated to replace Ballston watering hole Carpool.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a site plan amendment for a distinctive new glass-and-metal residential tower, with 330 apartment units, at 4000 Fairfax Drive. It will replace Carpool and its low-rise, 1960s era building.

“Ballston is in the midst of an important transformation that is bringing more housing and retail to the neighborhood along with new public gathering spaces,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “This redevelopment will add housing within walking distance of two Metro stations, provide important community benefits and help reinvigorate the neighborhood.”

The new building will include a publicly accessible courtyard with a water feature, 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, a rooftop deck and pool, and 264 underground parking space.

Community benefits secured by the county include $2.2 million for the Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund, $75,000 for public art, $32,100 for utility undergrounding, sidewalk and streetscape improvements, $350,000 for traffic signal improvements on Fairfax Drive and LEED Gold sustainability certification.

The recently-renovated Webb Building, a 10-story office building next to the new apartment tower, will remain, for now. It is slated to be redeveloped into more apartments as part of a second phase of the project in about 10 years.

The next step in the project is for the developers to exercise their contractual option to purchase the Carpool site. No word yet on when Carpool might serve its last beers.

by ARLnow.com — December 10, 2015 at 10:25 am 0

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to consider a project that would tear down Arlington Presbyterian Church along Columbia Pike and replace it with an affordable housing apartment building.

County staff is recommending approval of the project, which was approved by the church’s congregation in 2013. The church’s regional governing body gave the green light for its sale to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing earlier this year.

APAH is proposing to tear down the church, which was built in 1931, and construct a six-story apartment building with 173 units, all of which will be committed affordable housing. The building would include a three-level parking garage and 8,900 square feet of retail or civic use space.

The church has proposed leasing much of the retail area for a non-traditional worship space. A coffee shop was also suggested as a possible retail use, in addition to the church.

The apartment building would also replace the church’s surface parking lot and its tot lots, which are currently used by daycare provider Funshine Preschool. The preschool is being relocated to 3412 22nd Street S. and the tot lots are expected to be sold to a single family home developer in order to help fund the apartment building’s construction.

The County Board is expected to follow staff’s recommendations and approve a rezoning, use permit and $8.6 million loan from its Affordable Housing Investment Fund for the project.

The church is located at 3507 Columbia Pike.

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