A plan to revamp Interstate 66 is threatening the character of the Custis Memorial Parkway, the highway’s name inside the Capital Beltway, historic preservation advocates said today (Wednesday).
Preservation Arlington, a nonprofit group that looks to protect Arlington’s architectural heritage, released its annual list of “endangered historic places,” with the parkway named as one.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is in the midst of an ambitious plan known as “Transform 66” to widen I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to the Fairfax Drive exit in Ballston within the existing eastbound right-of-way.
But Preservation Arlington said the plan could undermine “the roadway’s unique parkway design.”
“Plantings are no longer maintained. Corten steel guardrails and sign supports are being replaced with standard, steel interstate highway components,” the group wrote. “The new toll road gantries, and large, new sign supports (and highway signage) on nearby arterial roads have further eroded the parkway’s ability to blend into its surroundings.”
Another piece of history under threat, according to Preservation Arlington, are the Education Center and Planetarium, chosen last week by the Arlington County School Board for an extra 500-600 high school seats and a renovation.
“While some exterior improvements will be necessary it is hoped that this will be minimal and will not alter the appearance of the historic structure,” Preservation Arlington wrote. “Designed as a headquarters building to show the strength and commitment to education, the building is iconic in our community.”
Also under threat, according to Preservation Arlington:
- 1000-series Metro cars, retired this month for safety reasons
- Community buildings like those for churches and service organizations
- Four Mile Run industrial area
- Housing stock from before World War II, with the continued loss of these homes “erasing Arlington’s architectural and community history.”
Image via VDOT presentation
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.
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
APS Tells Staff to Stop Paying Sales Tax — As a public institution Arlington Public Schools is exempt from paying sales tax, but the school system’s internal auditor has found that some staff members have been placing orders for APS via Amazon without sales tax exempted. APS has since requested sales tax refunds for those orders. [InsideNova]
Arlington Resident Cited for Boating Incident — An Arlington man has been cited for operating a vessel while impaired after his 28-foot boat ran aground off the eastern shore of Maryland, south of Ocean City. [WMDT]
Notable Rivercrest Property Sold — A home and an adjacent vacant lot have been sold near the intersection of Military Road and N. Glebe Road in the Rivercrest neighborhood. The lot was the site of a “national debate over property rights and conformity,” when in 1969 an architect started to build a custom home on the lot but was ultimately stopped after a legal challenge by neighbors, who thought the home was ugly and would not “retain the very pleasant, beautiful nature of Rivercrest.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flipper: Selling Home to the County Was a Pain — A real estate investor has penned a piece for the Post in which he recounts the sale of one of his properties to Arlington County. The sale, of a house near Fire Station 8, was “neither lucrative nor convenient” and was more trouble than it was worth, he writes. However, the owner of a run-down property next to his received a much better price by holding out, the piece suggests. [Washington Post]
Mouthwash on Clarendon Bus Stop — Updating the saga of the stick of deodorant atop a Clarendon bus stop, the deodorant has now been joined by an errant bottle of Listerine mouthwash. [ARLnow]
Arlington Woman Invented ‘Monopoly’ Precursor — An Arlington woman may have been the “real” inventor of the board game Monopoly. Lizzie Magie, who died in Arlington in 1948, created a board game very similar to Monopoly. Three decades later, Charles Darrow, taking inspiration from Magie’s game, created Monopoly and sold it to Parker Brothers. [Arlington Magazine]
I-66 Tolls Expected to Start in December — New tolls on single-occupancy vehicles on I-66 are now expected to take effect in December. Electronic toll signs have started going up near I-66 on-ramps. [Twitter, NBC Washington]
Krupicka Having Fun Running Donut Stores — Former member of the Virginia House of Delegates Rob Krupicka is enjoying his second act: owning Sugar Shack donut stores in Arlington, Alexandria and now D.C. [Washington City Paper]
Wages Drop in Arlington — Mirroring regional and national trends, average weekly wages in Arlington dropped 1.4 percent, to $1,677, in the last three months of 2016. Arlington ranked as the seventh-highest average weekly wage in the country. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
Arlington’s Former Row House Ban — Responding to complaints from community leaders who “hoped to preserve Arlington’s then-suburban character,” Arlington County changed its zoning ordinance to ban row houses in 1938. That decision is one factor in the area’s “dramatic undersupply of missing middle housing.” [Greater Greater Washington]
Police Still Searching for Sex Assault Suspect — Arlington County Police are still looking for a man who posed as a maintenance worker and sexually assaulted a woman in her Rosslyn condominium on May 7. “This investigation remains a top priority of the department and detectives continue to follow-up on significant investigative leads,” ACPD said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Police continue to ask that anyone with information on the identity of the suspect or details surrounding this investigation call 703-228-5050.” [Arlington County]
Review of Synetic’s ‘Hunchback’ — “‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ gives a hyper-creative Washington group a source for one of its most beautifully realized productions,” theater critic Peter Marks writes of the new Synetic Theater production in Crystal City, which runs through June 11. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
As Arlington school officials consider locations for a new high school, a resident has nominated one of the potential sites for consideration as a local historic district.
The 1960s-era Arlington Education Center and planetarium, next to Washington-Lee High School, should be designated historic and preserved, says Nancy Iacomini, an Arlington Planning Commission member.
More from the website of Preservation Arlington:
Designed by Cleveland-based architecture firm Ward and Schneider, the building is an excellent example of “New Formalism” which combined classical design elements with modern materials and techniques. Bethlehem Steel used a new cost-saving technique of steel wedges to construct the building. Both buildings were completed in 1969, having been funded by a 1965 bond referendum and designed with community-wide input. In 1967 a special citation from the American Association of School Administrators said the center “should attract the public and focus attention on the importance of education.” The two buildings were built as a pair and symbolize the great civic pride of Arlington and its’ investment in the future.
Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board will now consider the nomination. If the HALRB recommends historic designation, public hearings will then be held by the Planning Commission and County Board.
Iacomini says there is both architectural and cultural significance to the Education Center, which currently houses Arlington Public Schools administrative offices and the School Board’s meeting room.
From her nomination letter:
Structures are literally visual landmarks of our shared history; the Education Center is emblematic of an important era of Arlington’s past…
Clearly the 1960s was a boom time for the county — a time when we were beginning to plan for the future of the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor and time of great growth in our schools but also still a time of grappling with social issues in our schools. The Education Center and the planetarium are physical embodiments of the forward thinking of Arlington and our County’s hope for the future. They should stand as reminders of our accomplishments and goals of the past as we continue to provide for the future.
The Education Center and Planetarium are proud civic buildings of a set, carefully designed and constructed with taxpayer funds on publicly owned land. It is not unlike the commitment we’ve made to the new school on the Wilson site. They are part of our shared civic heritage.
Senators Tour Proposed Cemetery Expansion — The Army gave a group of U.S. senators a tour of a proposed expansion area for Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. The expansion, around the Air Force Memorial, would create space for 40,000 to 60,000 gravesites while requiring a realignment of Columbia Pike. Military officials are hoping to open the expansion by 2023 but a land swap with Arlington County and Virginia has still not been completed. [Stars and Stripes]
Arlington Man Killed in D.C. — An Arlington resident, 31-year-old Antwan Jones, was shot to death Tuesday afternoon while sitting in an BMW in Southeast D.C. A second man was injured in the shooting. [Washington Post]
History of Fairlington — Eighteen years ago yesterday Fairlington was added to the National Register of Historic Places. George Washington once owned land in the neighborhood, in the southwest corner of Arlington. It was also home to Civil War fortifications and a horse farm before being cleared to make way for 3,449 units of government housing for defense workers during World War II. [Facebook]
Midwestern Gothic Trailer — Signature Theater has released a cinematic trailer for its new “world premiere thriller with a musical twist,” Midwestern Gothic. The production runs through April 30. [YouTube]
HireEd Conference Coming to GMU — Sponsored — Graham Holdings Chair Donald Graham will be the keynote speaker at an event that will bring together entrepreneurs, business leaders, educators and nonprofits to discuss strategies to place students and graduates in jobs at all levels and solutions for businesses recruiting talent. It’s taking place Wednesday, April 5, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at George Mason University Founders Hall, 3351 Fairfax Drive. Registration is free for students and $25 for general admission. [Arlington Economic Development]
Photo courtesy Fred Cochard
Update on New Hotel Near Rosslyn — A new Homewood Suites hotel being built near Rosslyn recently celebrated its “topping out.” The 11-story hotel, which replaced the former Colony House Furniture store, is expected to be completed by early 2018. [Commercial Property Executive]
Gov. Recommends Changes to Towing Bill — Gov. Terry McAuliffe has sent a trespass towing bill back to the General Assembly with significant recommended changes. The bill in its current form would raise towing fees in Northern Virginia and prohibit Arlington from enacting its new “second signature” requirement on tows during business hours. [InsideNova]
Hospitality Workers Lauded — The Arlington Chamber of Commerce held its 13th annual Hospitality Awards on Tuesday. From a press release: “One winner, Fayssal Samaka of the The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City once checked in a family at the hotel, when he overheard that the father was recovering from cancer. Samaka arranged for the family to stay in the Presidential Suite and even booked them a tour. A few months later, the family informed the general manager that the father had passed away, and because the last trip they took together as a family was at The Ritz-Carlton, they would come back every year on vacation.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Project Explores Arlington Communities — A just-submitted doctoral dissertation examines “the processes of community development, suburbanization, and segregation that Arlingtonians, black and white, used to create lasting communities that met their own needs and reflected their own preferences.” The project’s exhibits include the local history of government housing during World War II, Arlington’s historically black communities, and the history of the American Nazi Party in the county. [Built By the People Themselves]
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
While Patrick Henry is being considered for the name of the new elementary school, which is set to open in September 2019, Arlington Public Schools has formed a naming committee to consider other name recommendations.
The committee is encouraging stakeholders to weigh in on the name via an online Community Input Form, which was published late last week.
“We are asking each Patrick Henry Elementary School parent and staff to fill out the appropriate survey,” a page on the Patrick Henry PTA website says. “Our timeline is short, so we hope you can do it soon. It should not take more than 5 minutes.”
The survey notes that while Patrick Henry was a Founding Father and Virginia’s first (and sixth) governor — remembered for his “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech — he was also a plantation owner and slave owner.
It asks respondents to consider the importance of “maintaining the current name in recognition of Patrick Henry” or, alternatively, “selecting a new name that reflects the diversity of the student body,” among other questions.
The committee is expected to submit its naming recommendation to Arlington Public Schools later this spring.
The Arlington County Board voted unanimously yesterday to move forward with the sale of the historic Reeves farmhouse in Bluemont.
Despite a last push from a group that wants the farmhouse converted into a learning center for students, the county says that selling the farmhouse to a private buyer, who will be required to “maintain its historic integrity,” is the only economical way to preserve it for future generations.
“The County’s goal is to preserve the historic character of Reeves farmhouse and to preserve the site’s two acres of open space, the raised gardens, sledding hill and milk shed,” the county said in a press release.
“The County’s efforts to achieve the sort of successful partnership to restore the Reevesland farmhouse that it has achieved with other projects have been hampered by the estimated, and increasing, cost of renovating the farmhouse and bringing it up to code for public use, estimated to be in the range of $2.5 – $3 million, as well as an unspecified amount for ongoing maintenance and operating costs.”
The full press release, after the jump.
The Rosslyn parking garage in which a Washington Post reporter met a source dubbed “Deep Throat” to discuss the Watergate scandal looks like it may not be relegated to the history books quite yet.
The garage and the two office buildings atop it were set for a major redevelopment. Approved in 2014, the plan was to build a 24-story office tower and a 28-story, 274-unit apartment building on the site.
But the original County Board approval for the plan expires in June and property owner Monday Properties is asking for a three-year extension at the Arlington County Board meeting this Saturday.
Other than the extension, no other changes to the development’s site plan have been proposed. County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the Board approve the extension.
Skimmers Found on Gas Pumps — Arlington County Police are investigating credit card skimmers that were found on gas pumps at the Shell station on S. Four Mile Run Drive. [NBC Washington]
‘Project DAPS’ Now Online — An Arlington Public Library project to digitize records, photos and oral histories of the effort to desegregate schools in Arlington County went online last month. Arlington “defied the state” when the first black students began attending Stratford Junior High in January 1959, though it would take another 12 years before county schools were fully integrated. [WAMU]
Candidate Withdraws from Delegate Race — It’s the shortest local primary challenge in recent memory. Alexandria City School Board member Karen Graf, who announced on Feb. 6 that she was challenging Del. Mark Levine (D-45) for the Democratic nomination, has withdrawn from the race. Levine’s 45th House of Delegates district includes part of Arlington. [Alexandria News]
Some Still Skeptical of High Water Bills — “Ridiculous” is how one local civic association president described Arlington County’s conclusion that big spikes in water bills charged to some homeowners last year were not the result of systematic errors. [InsideNova]
New Vape Store in Ballston — “House of Vape, one of the fastest growing retail vape chains in the Mid-Atlantic region, has opened a new brick and mortar store in Arlington, Virginia, near the Ballston Metro station.” [PR Rocket]
Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak
Median Home Sales Price Ticks Down — “Prices, sales and contract signings for home sales all hit 10-year highs for a January in the Washington metro.” according to WTOP’s Jeff Clabaugh. However, in Virginia, “Falls Church, Arlington County and Alexandria were the only three jurisdictions with lower median sales prices from a year earlier.” [WTOP]
Primary Challenge for Del. Levine — Del. Mark Levine, who represents part of Arlington, is facing a Democratic primary challenge from Alexandria School Board member Karen Graf. Levine has been endorsed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe while Graf has the endorsement of state Sen. Adam Ebbin. The primary will be held in June. [InsideNova]
Remodeling Reveals Historic Headlines — A couple in north Arlington made a surprise find inside a wall while remodeling their home: “yellowed newspapers detailing the stock market crash of October 1929.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Gov. Announces New Jobs for Arlington — Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has announced that Vorsight, a “sales effectiveness” tech firm in Rosslyn, will be expanding its corporate headquarters, creating 112 new jobs in Arlington. [Governor of Virginia]
New Apartments in Crystal City/Pentagon City — More than 1,100 new apartments opened in the Crystal City and Pentagon City area in 2016. More than 3,000 additional apartments are in the development pipeline. [Bisnow]
History of Churches in Arlington — Arlington’s first church was the Chapel of Ease of Arlington Plantation, built in 1825 by George Washington Parke Custis. The church was located near what is now the Sheraton hotel at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Orme Street. It was burned by union troops during the Civil War. [Falls Church News-Press]
(Updated at 4:17 p.m.) A historic graveyard could get a new lease on life thanks to newly updated plans to redevelop a Ballston church.
The graveyard is located next to Ballston’s Central United Methodist Church, which has filed a site plan application to redevelop its property at 4201 Fairfax Drive into an eight-story building with a new house of worship, 119 apartments (48 would be affordable units), a daycare and preschool facility and charitable facilities.
The site the developer wants to build on includes the Robert Ball Graveyard, the final resting place of some members of the family behind the Ballston name. The 150-year-old, 325-square foot burial ground includes several white headstones originally for members of the Ball family and may even contain some of their remains, though no one knows for sure whether the remains are still there or have been moved.
The plan to move the graveyard has ruffled some feathers. Residents urged the developer behind the project not to move the graveyard last October. The Arlington County Board has also considered granting the graveyard a special historic designation.
Members of the Ball family said that, although they do not want to prevent the redevelopment of the church, they do want the church to honor its century-old commitment to preserve the graveyard. In a Dec. 15 letter to the chair of Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee, Ball family attorney Alexander Berger wrote that “further design evolution is required to preserve the historical integrity of the cemetery.”
The cemetery merits more “breathing room,” green space and separation from the building, Berger wrote.
Now, it looks as though the family might get their wish. Fairly recent renderings show the graveyard would be preserved next to the church inside a larger, fenced-in grassy area.