Vornado Reveals Big Plans for Crystal City — Vornado, the preeminent property owner in Crystal City, has filed preliminary plans to overhaul a number of its properties in the community. The plans include big changes to the Shops at 1750 retail space, near the entrance to the Crystal City Metro station, and a new multiplex cinema. [Washington Business Journal]
Lyft to Open Regional HQ in Crystal City — Ride hailing app company Lyft is planning to invest $350,000 to open a new regional headquarters in Crystal City, creating 32 jobs locally. “Lyft is thrilled to open our new office in the emerging innovation center of Crystal City,” said Steve Taylor, the company’s general manager for the D.C. area. “We’re extremely pleased by the warm welcome we have received from Governor McAuliffe, and state and county officials.” [Washington Post]
Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Attack on Law Firm Partner — Alecia Schmuhl has pleaded guilty in the vicious 2014 attack on Leo Fisher and his wife Susan Duncan. Prosecutors say Schmuhl and her husband took the couple hostage, slit Fisher’s throat and stabbed Duncan as part of a revenge plot after she was fired by Fisher from the Arlington-based firm of Bean Kinney & Korman. Fisher and Duncan survived the attack. [Washington Post]
Nominations Open for James B. Hunter Award — Arlington County is accepting nominees for the 2016 James B. Hunter Award. The award, named after a former Arlington County Board member, “goes to individuals, community groups, non-profit organizations and business establishments that promote cultural diversity and equal rights for all residents.” [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Billy Buck
(Updated at 4:57 p.m.) A new plan to build a mixed-use building in Ballston could mean uncovering some human remains in the process.
Ballston Station Housing Corporation, a nonprofit established by the Central United Methodist Church, seeks to redevelop the church at 4201 Fairfax Drive into an eight-story development that would contain a new house of worship, 132 residential units with affordable housing, a daycare and preschool facility and charitable facilities.
But there’s a snag: The site they want to build on was once the Robert Ball Graveyard, the final resting place of some members of the family behind the Ballston name. Today, several white headstones can be seen scattered across the church grounds.
In order to excavate the old graveyard, the developers need to get a permit from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. They also need to hold a public meeting to notify surrounding community members and possible descendants of the Ball family.
Still, the developer behind the project isn’t so sure there are even any human remains left to uncover.
“Nobody actually really knows,” said Tad Lunger, legal representative for the developer. Lunger added that he thinks workers digging utility trenches and tunnels for the nearby Ballston Metro station may have uncovered any leftover remains years ago.
Boyd Sipe, an archaeologist hired by the developers to survey the site, isn’t sure there’s anyone buried there, either. Sipe recently conducted a ground-penetrating radar survey of the graveyard that turned up “inconclusive.”
“The GPR survey identified several anomalies that had potential to be graves but could be other subsurface features,” Sipe said. “There’s really no evidence that there are graves on the site, but we want to be ready with the state permit in case graves are found.”
In the event the project does uncover any bone fragments or relics, Sipe said they’ll be turned over to a skeletal biologist who will work to analyze and identify them.
But the county says take a closer look.
“There are six marked graves. There could be an additional three,” said Rebeccah Ballo, historic planner with Arlington County. “There is no evidence written or otherwise that shows those graves have ever been exhumed or moved.”
Ballo said she’s heard from some locals who are worried about digging up the graveyard.
“People have contacted my office concerned about it,” Ballo said. “It is a very old graveyard. It’s been a fixture of the neighborhood for a very long time.”
“This is not something that has happened in Arlington County in recent memory,” Ballo added.
The developers will hold a public meeting regarding the site at the Central United Methodist Church on Oct. 6.
Popular Ballston bar Carpool has been sold to developer Penzance and is set to be replaced by a 22-story-apartment building.
The sale closed on Friday, said co-owner Mark Handwerger. The good news? Carpool is expected to remain open for a few more months.
“CarPool has leased back the property for a period of time, and the bar will remain open through at least the end of November,” Handwerger said.
In August, groups that used Carpool as a gathering spot for things like football games and other regularly-scheduled social events were told that Carpool was likely to close within a few weeks.
A recognizable part of the Rosslyn skyline is set for redevelopment.
The RCA building at 1901 N. Moore Street is in the very early stages of a redevelopment plan.
Though still a few years away, the building is expected to be torn down and replaced with a new residential tower.
Local architecture firm Hickok Cole is working with property owner Weissberg Corp. on an “iconic” initial design that will balance “elegance and cost,” we’re told.
A site plan application is expected to be filed by next spring.
The Century Center office and retail complex in Crystal City is expected to sprout a new 22-story residential building in the next few years.
Property owner Lowe Enterprises submitted a preliminary site plan application in June, outlining its plans: a 286-unit residential building, located at the busy intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S.
The new building will be built above existing ground-floor retail, including California Tortilla, Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The building will have 327,396 square feet of floor space, connected with an existing underground parking garage with 1,620 spaces.
In a letter to the county’s zoning division, the new development is described as “architecturally created to establish a distinguishable, contemporary, and elegant presence that will bring modern prominence to the southwest quadrant of the intersection.”
The building, with an address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway, is expected to contain modern amenities including an rooftop patio, a fitness area, a club room, an outdoor courtyard and bicycle storage room. Also, an existing second floor roof will be cleared of the mechanical equipment there now and will offer open space for residents. As part of the plan, the building will achieve a minimum LEED Silver certification.
The developer has included a transportation management plan to encourage residents to use alternative forms of transportation. The location is 0.4 miles from the Crystal City Metro station. Elements of the plan include placing transportation information displays in the building, offering new residents their choice of a $65 SmarTrip card or one-year bikeshare or carshare memberships, and distributing information about transit to residents and employees.
Century Center is currently home to restaurants, a Post Office branch and other small businesses. All existing tenants are expected to be able to continue operations during the property’s redevelopment, the plan states. There will approximately 17,500 square feet of ground floor retail space after construction, with nearly 10,000 square feet dedicated to existing restaurant tenants, it says.
The surrounding streetscape is also expected to be improved. The plans contain provisions for retail and food service kiosks along with a Capital Bikeshare station. It also includes new open space at the corner of 23rd Street S. and Crystal Drive that will be home to kiosks, outdoor seating and other activities. While the existing parking garage will continue to be used, the current four entrances will be reduced to one in order to better fulfill the vision of 23rd Street as a pedestrian-oriented street.
The bar has been informing groups that it will be closing within the next few weeks. We’re told that it is likely to close in early-to-mid September.
Carpool’s owners are seeking a new location for the bar, but a final decision on that has not been made, we hear.
Developer Penzance is planning to build a 22-story apartment building on the Carpool site. That development was approved unanimously by the Arlington County Board in December.
So far, no demolition permit applications have been filed for the address (4000 Fairfax Drive). A Penzance representative said he did not have an update on a timeline for the development.
Carpool has a second location, in Herndon.
Update at 5:45 p.m. — A closing date for Carpool has not been set, says co-owner Mark Handwerger.
“The property has been under contract with Penzance for quite some time,” Handwerger said. “There is no definitive timeline for the sale of the property and subsequent closing of the business at this time. With the sales contract in place, however, we have indeed been looking around for an appropriate location nearby, but as of yet have been unable to identify one.”
Photo via Facebook
(Updated at 9:15 a.m. Friday) A residential and retail development on Lee Highway has received national recognition for its energy, water and waste sustainability.
The U.S. Green Building Council honored Verde Pointe (1947 N. Uhle Street) this afternoon for achieving “LEED Gold,” the second highest rating for environmentally friendly buildings. The organization has given more than 32,500 commercial projects around the world certified, silver, gold and platinum ratings, said council chief operating officer Mahesh Ramanujam.
At Verde Pointe, green features include high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, energy efficient equipment and occupancy sensors for lights, according to a news release.
“By incorporating sustainable building practices into projects like this, we will see a stream of environmental, economic and community benefits for decades to come,” Ramanujam said.
Peter Bergmann, president of Bergmann’s Inc., which helped develop the building with McCaffery Interests, said the site’s transformation from a dry cleaner to Verde Pointe “looks like night and day.”
“We couldn’t be more honored and happy with what happened and what we have here,” he said.
(Updated at 4:40 p.m)
Students at Virginia Tech’s Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center have joined Arlington County planners in brainstorming ideas to revitalize the Rosslyn waterfront.
Rosslyn residents and visitors currently have no direct walkway to the Potomac River or even a path to reach the Key Bridge to get into Georgetown, without crossing busy roads and on-ramps.
“Most cities and counties have recognized the value of their waterfronts as a gathering place,” Arlington’s planning supervisor for urban design and research Kris Krider said in a news release. “But the waterfront below Rosslyn has little pedestrian access and must overcome the barrier of busy highways and large numbers of drivers . . . who just whiz by with seemingly no interest in stopping to explore the area.”
Virginia Tech associate professor Paul Kelsch and doctorate student Jodi LaCoe developed three options the students could choose from as the base for their designs:
- Bike, Bathe, and Beyond — “a connection to existing bike paths leading people to the site in addition to some form of bathing.” This could include things like a structure for storing one’s bike; showering and heading to work; a new spa along the bike path; or swimming in a cleaner Potomac River or a public pool.
- A Food-Boat Wharf — “a place where future food boats could moor along the river’s edge and sell to Rosslyn workers looking for a delectable waterside lunch.”
- Urban Drive-In Theater — entertainment for people “coming by foot, bike, or car to watch movies or other performances.”
In all, 18 students submitted their designs, with most of them electing to base their ideas on the “Bike, Bathe and Beyond” program. According to the county’s website, the suggestions include:
Paige proposed moving the parkway farther inland, cutting into the slope with a large retaining wall that supports a new traffic circle for access to the Key Bridge. The former roadbed is utilized for storm water management and two swimming pools along the waterfront for lap and family swimming. The former eastbound lane of the parkway provides vehicular access and parking for the new facility.
Charlston seeked to explore and provide a connection between the perceived boundaries of the Rosslyn business district and the Rosslyn waterfront. At present time, the transportation infrastructure within Rosslyn acts as a hindrance to convenient access to the Potomac River. By occupying the void beneath Key Bridge and connecting the Mount Vernon Trail and the Potomac Heritage trail, this project aims to bridge the gap between the city and the river’s edge.
This project is designed as a place of seclusion in the midst of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. The bike path connects to the city sidewalks and provides a way to traverse the steep hill. The existing George Washington Memorial Parkway is pushed into the Potomac to create a secluded water channel and clear land for development. The bath is set into the hillside and contains spa facilities as well as a series of indoor pools for year round relaxation.
Sebastian’s project is situated in the coastal side of the Mount Vernon Trail facing the Arlington riverside. The goal is to encourage users of the trail to use the project as a station in their commute or exercise regimen throughout the year. The building features an outside pool fed by a constructed wetland and a sports facility meant for everyday use.
Ultimate Frisbee at APS — The Arlington School Board is expected to vote to make Ultimate Frisbee an official co-curricular sport in middle schools and high schools. Arlington is already a hotbed of Ultimate play at the high school club level. It’s likely to be years before the sport is recognized by the Virginia High School League, the statewide intramural sports governing body. [InsideNova*]
Development Before and After — A series of before and after photos, via Google Street View, show some of the more dramatic changes from the last decade of development in Arlington. [Rent Cafe]
Local White Supremacist Quoted — The Associated Press yesterday quoted Richard Spencer, a 38-year-old white supremacist who reportedly lives in Arlington and believes that African-Americans, Hispanics and Jews should be removed from the United States. Spencer, an alt-right figure, attended the Republican National Convention in support of Donald Trump. [Associated Press]
Few Proven Towing Violations — Out of 18,642 trespass tows in Arlington last year, only 7 — or 0.04 percent — were found by authorities to have violated local towing ordinances. [InsideNova*]
Watts Finishes Another Race — Jamie Watts, a fixture in the local running scene, has finished another race. Watts, who has cerebral palsy, completed Saturday night’s Crystal City Twilighter 5K despite sweltering conditions. [WUSA 9*]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley.
*Denotes website that employs pop-up ads, autoplay video or other disruptions to the user experience.
Slowly but steadily, the former DoD Inspector General’s Office in Pentagon City is being demolished floor-by-floor.
“Bordering Crystal City and Pentagon City, The Altaire, referencing the double star in the constellation Aquila, will offer 450 condominium homes to the growing region,” says an older website for the forthcoming development. “With expected unobstructed views of The District, The Altarie will be one community to not miss.”
The website pegs the price range of Altaire condos at $300,000 to $2.5 million. It’s unclear if those prices have since been updated.
A groundbreaking for the project is expected to be held later this year.
At its meeting on Wednesday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a permit for use of the county-owned “teardrop parcel,” adjacent to the property, for temporary construction storage, staging and parking.
The real estate investment trust that owns the Wellington Apartments on Columbia Pike has received the go-ahead to build three new apartment buildings on its parking lot.
The Arlington County Board voted unanimously last night to approve a use permit for the new apartments, to be located on a section of the property that borders Army Navy Country Club and a block of homes in the Arlington View neighborhood.
Each of the three buildings will be six stories high, with a total of 401 new market-rate apartments. The property owner also agreed to convert 105 of the existing apartments in the Wellington to committed affordable units, at no cost to the county.
Other features of the planned development include:
- A nine-level garage (six levels will be above ground) with hundreds of new parking spaces and bike spaces
- Streetscape improvements and new street connections (S. Rhodes Street and 12th Street S.)
- A new public “mini park” on the new 12th Street
- LEED Silver energy efficiency
“Our efforts to revitalize the Pike through innovative approaches to land use and zoning, while striving to preserve its stock of affordable housing, continue to show results,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement.
The county press release on the approval, after the jump.
After years of construction, work on Courthouse Plaza is finally coming to a conclusion.
Tomorrow, a party is planned for the plaza’s reopening. The metal fencing, barricades and orange-vested workmen that have been plaguing the open area will be gone at last — leaving behind an attractive gathering space for shoppers and pedestrians.
It has been a long time in the making. We first reported that the project was behind schedule in 2011. In January, we reported that “all work is expected to be completed by this April.” Despite the delays, the project is delivering on its other promises.
The plaza now boasts an updated entryway. Trees planted along the brick walkway are surrounded by chairs, tables and wood planters that double as benches. There are potted plants, trees and metal tables. New brick pavers keep the area looking clean and organized.
With renovations to two parking garages and to the AMC movie theater, some of the nearby amenities were also improved during the long plaza project.
To celebrate, Arlington County, Courthouse Plaza owner Vornado and the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association are sponsoring a “Party on the Plaza.” The event is taking place this Thursday, July 21, from 5-7 p.m.
The event will feature music, games, free food and giveaways.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously gave its blessing to a developer’s plan to build a new 22-story apartment building in Pentagon City.
Developer Vornado is set to break ground on a new building within the Metropolitan Park development. As planned, the new building at 1400 S. Eads St. will include 577 residential units, 9,665 square feet of retail.
The development will also include a number of community benefits. As planned, the new building will bring with it either a commissioned piece of on-site public art or a $75,000 public art contribution; 23 units of affordable housing or a cash contribution to the county’s affordable housing fund; and three open space areas including the completion of a public courtyard called Metropolitan Park Central Park.
The new building represents the sixth and final phase of the Metropolitan Park development.
“We have seen previous phases of Metropolitan Park transform this area of Pentagon City from warehouses and parking lots to a vibrant, walkable place,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We look forward to its completion with the construction of Phase 6 and are particularly excited to see the completion of its Central Park for all to enjoy.”
Trendy businesses such as Whole Foods, Starbucks and CorePower Yoga have already opened locations in nearby Metropolitan Park buildings. Likewise, Sweetgreen, Orangetheory Fitness and Commonwealth Joe all plan to open millennial-friendly outposts there.
Renderings via Arlington County
County Looking at Fire Station Alternatives — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved an agreement with Arlington Public Schools that would allow it to build a temporary fire station on the grounds of the new H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn. However, in response to parent concerns the Board directed county staff to look into potential alternative locations. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Couple: Snow Melter Fumes Contaminated Our House — A couple who lives near Bluemont Park says diesel fumes from a snow melter that the county was using about 40 yards from their home this past winter has contaminated the home. The county paid for the couple to live in a hotel while the snow melter was running, in the wake of January’s blizzard. Now the couple wants the county to pay for a thorough cleaning of the home. [Washington Post]
Henry Gate to Reopen — The Henry Gate along Route 50 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall will reopen to military bicyclists and pedestrians on Aug. 1. Among other expected benefits, the gate is expected to serve military users of Uber and Lyft; the ride hailing services are not available on the base. [Mobility Lab]
Police Escort Ducklings Across Road — An ACPD officers and a couple of “alert citizens” helped a mother duck and her ducklings cross N. Stafford Street on Friday. [Twitter]
More on Clarendon Drug Bust — One of the regular meetups for the alleged Clarendon drug ring was Whitlow’s on Wilson, where two of the suspects worked. “It was shocking, disappointing and frustrating to hear that any of this activity took place around our business and the neighborhood,” said Whitlow’s manager Jon Williams, noting that most other Clarendon bars were also named as areas of drug activity. [NBC Washington]
Board Approves Changes to Ballston Building — Originally proposed as an office building, the last building in the Founder’s Square project in Ballston will instead be built as a mixed use building, with a mix of retail, office and apartments. [Arlington County]
Following last year’s demolition of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston, construction is underway on the building’s replacement, which now has a new name.
The mixed-use development at 1000 N. Glebe Road is now being called “Newside.” Two buildings are under construction on the site, a nine-story office building and a 12-story, 267-unit residential building.
The nine-story building 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.
Along with the two buildings, there will also be a 10,600 square foot public plaza and pedestrian passageway in between them.
The Shooshan Company, the project’s developer, is optimistic about its potential.
“You’ve got this unique blend of all these uses in one spot,” said Kevin Shooshan, the company’s director of leasing and marketing. “There is going to be constant foot traffic every day of the week,” between Marymount students and customers of the on-site retail. “It gives kind of a new life to the site which is why we view it as the new side of Ballston, the new side of Marymount University.”
Government contractors, high profile associations, IT and technology companies are among the potential tenants that Avison Young, the company in charge of leasing office and business space, imagines for the top three floors of the Marymount building.
According to Shooshan, the development’s convenient location just off I-66, between Tysons Corner and D.C., along with its potential for rooftop signage that can be seen from the highway, gives it an advantage in the marketplace.
“It is the only new construction space available in the Ballston market,” he said. “In an era when many tenants are looking to reduce things and right-size their space, doing so in new construction — it’s the only opportunity in the Ballston market and it’s coming within the next year.”
“We’ve also been seeing some good activity from some national retailers,” he added.
At the moment, the excavation and concrete portion of the underground parking garages are complete and work is currently being done of the second floors of the buildings.
Construction is expected to be completed for both buildings around the second quarter of 2017.