Williamsburg to Implement Block Scheduling — Williamsburg Middle School will, in fact, be implementing a block schedule for classes next year, an Arlington Public Schools spokeswoman tells ARLnow.com. While Kenmore has a modified block schedule for sixth grade, and Gunston is “exploring moving to a flexible schedule for next year,” Jefferson and Swanson are not considering moving to a block schedule, we’re told.
Home Prices Decline in Arlington in 2016 — Per WTOP’s Jeff Clabaugh and listing service MRIS: “The median price in Arlington County last year was down 1.8 percent from 2015. Arlington and Alexandria were the only local jurisdictions to see declines in 2016 prices versus 2015.” [WTOP]
Grand Opening for Pamplona — New Clarendon restaurant Pamplona is holding its grand opening celebration tonight. The Spanish tapas restaurant is set in a self-described “sultry and sophisticated space, featuring colorful Spanish tiled floors, unique murals… and of course, an arsenal of bullheads.” [Facebook]
H-B Photography in Richmond — Work by H-B Woodlawn photography students is on display in the Richmond offices of Del. Patrick Hope. Hope plans to highlight one piece a day during the legislative session. [Twitter]
Multi-Generational Housing Construction — A 1950s ranch home near Bishop O’Connell High School is being torn down to make way for a new multi-generation house for a couple, their daughter and husband, and their grandchildren. [Falls Church News-Press]
When You Don’t Want Someone to Take Your Parking Cone — South Arlington is “so rough you have to lock up your cones,” as a photo apparently taken yesterday demonstrates. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Teardown Business Booming — Arlington is one of the Northern Virginia areas that continue to see significant home teardown rates following the recession. The high land values make it more economical for many builders to tear down old homes and construct new ones rather than renovating existing structures. [Wall Street Journal]
Tech Company Moving to Arlington — Online stock video business VideoBlocks says it is moving from its long-time home in Reston to Arlington in 2017. The tech company’s growth is making the current 7,500-square-foot space too cramped, so the goal is to find an approximately 20,000-square-foot space in Arlington. [DC Inno]
Ninja Moves Prompt Police Call — Police responded to Paisano’s on N. Pershing Drive yesterday afternoon for a report of a man performing “ninja moves” outside the restaurant. There were no reports of anyone being harmed or of any arrests. [Twitter]
Free NYE Metro Rides — Metrorail and Metrobus rides will be free after midnight on New Year’s Eve (Saturday), courtesy of a sponsor: Miller Lite. Metro will stay open until 3:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day (Sunday). [WMATA]
Free Cab Rides Through Sunday — SoberRide will continue its seasonal free taxi service through Sunday. Users can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free ride home, up to a $30 fare.
County Facilities Closed Monday — Like the federal the government, Arlington County will close its facilities on Monday in observance of Sunday’s holiday. Parking meters will not be enforced but trash and recycling collection will continue as usual.
Demolition has started on a century-old home along Washington Blvd in the Ballston area.
Known as the “flag house,” for the giant American flag that was often draped across it, the home was said to be in disrepair and was reportedly lacking in historic significance, following multiple additions and exterior changes.
“It is literally just an old house,” Arlington county Preservation Planner Rebeccah Ballo told us last year. “Nothing particularly noteworthy about it.”
The redevelopment plan, which was first proposed in 2013, calls for the house to be replaced by a fancy, four-story duplex. Homebuilder Wormald Homes says the new residences, at 4210 and 4214 Washington Blvd, will feature:
- Four bedrooms, four full baths and one powder room
- About 2,860 finished square feet of space
- Two car garage with two additional parking spaces
- Rear deck
- Covered front entry
- “Loft level terrace with sweeping views”
- “Classic urban design”
No word yet on when demolition is expected to wrap up or when the new building is expected to be built.
Four Arlington residents with intellectual disabilities are back home in the county, thanks to a new group home just off Arlington Ridge Road.
The house is being operated by Good Neighbor Community Services, an organization that specializes in helping those with behavioral health issues and intellectual disabilities achieve “a life of opportunity, independence, and growth.”
From a county press release:
It will be a special Christmas for four Arlington residents who for years have missed celebrating at home in the County.
The four adults, all with intellectual disabilities, require constant care. Until this past fall, they were living outside Arlington in one of five large state institutions known as training centers.
This Christmas, they will celebrate with family and staff in their new group home, opened by the County last month off Arlington Ridge Road.
The County chose contractor Good Neighbor Homes to operate the house, which has a private bedroom for each resident.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring these residents back to Arlington, and to give them the care they need in homes in our neighborhoods,” said Anita Friedman, director of Human Services for the County. “We believe this solution is better for them, for their families and for our community.”
Long-time Arlington resident Nancy Tishman’s son David, 38, who is severely autistic, is one of the new residents of the Arlington group home. He lived with his family until a severe medical crisis sent him to the regional Northern Virginia Training Center in Fairfax, where he stayed for 10 years.
Tishman credits Arlington County “for bringing him back home. His brother and sister and his dad and I are so grateful and filled with joy.”
The long path to opening the group home began in 2012. That was when the Commonwealth reached an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department requiring Virginia to move people with disabilities out of the regional centers and back into their own communities.
The settlement provided Arlington with $1.5 million to ensure the transitions.
The Justice Department case was based on a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said “confinement in an institution severely diminishes the everyday life activities of individuals.”
A fifth and last member of the household near Arlington Ridge will move in next month. Another group residence for five, specifically built with funds from the settlement, will open in January near Clarendon.
The holiday homecoming is the “perfect” ending to a long process aimed at creating a familiar environment of care and dignity, marvels La Voyce Reid of the County’s Developmental Disability Services Bureau.
“This is the kind of true gift we hope for this time of year,” she said.
Photo via Arlington County. Video via Good Neighbor Community Services.
Seeing the demand for high-performance, LEED certified homes in the area, Maryland homebuilder SEED Homes (www.seedhomes.com) is relocating their headquarters to Arlington. The move to 3300 Fairfax Dr, in the Clarendon/Va.Square Corridor, will be complete in July.
“As a company, we are moving towards building smaller homes that do not rely on the traditional power supply for electricity. Zero-energy smart homes are not a thing of the future anymore, we are building them now, and can build custom net-zero homes at competitive rates. That is why we want to be in Arlington, where customers prefer quality and character over size and raw numbers” says Vicrum Puri, President and Founder of SEED. The company puts a different spin on a current buzz word. “Smart homes are not just about technology. If you are not building a beautifully finished home with energy-efficiency, high-performance, durability and home health in mind, it’s not a smart home to me.”
All of the homes built by SEED (which stands for Smart, Energy-Efficient Designed Homes) are LEED Certified. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification consists of a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is intended to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
The ratings range from basic Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, its highest grade. SEED has achieved Certification, Silver and Gold ratings in its homes, and has an upcoming project targeting LEED Platinum. The company’s most recent build, at 9207 Kirkdale Rd in Bethesda, MD, is set to achieve a LEED Gold certification. The home features an exhaustive list of performance, durability and sustainability features, including a high-efficiency HVAC system, a solar PV array and locally sourced construction materials. Over 90% of the waste from the construction of the home was recycled, and with a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) index score below 50, the home will use less than ½ of the energy of a home of the same size, built to code.
More info about SEED can be found at www.seedhomes.com
The preceding article was written and sponsored by SEED Homes
A developer is cutting down an oak tree thought to be more than 200 years old today in Bluemont, prompting outcries from some neighbors.
The large, willow oak tree, on the 5600 block of 8th Road N., is on a 12,000-square-foot lot that WSD Homes is in the process of redeveloping. According to nearby residents, the homebuilding company is planning on building two $1.2 million houses on the property — where now sits an unoccupied house ready to be torn down.
A request for comment from WSD Homes has not been returned. The tree was more than 100 feet tall and more than 23 feet around at chest height, neighbors said. WSD Homes had originally said it would try to preserve it, but its director of sales, Jon Ferris, changed his mind after talking with neighbors, they said.
“Ferris stated that even if the tree could be saved, people who would buy a nice $1.2 million home would not want such a tree in their front yard,” Mark Haynes, who has been one of the leaders of the campaign to save the tree, told ARLnow.com in an email this morning. “A petition asking WSD and the County to attempt to save the tree has been circulated and has well over 100 signatures including many from local tree experts and neighbors.
“Last week, when local representatives of the Arlington Tree Stewards group and others requested a meeting at the site to discuss how the tree might be saved (with WSD still able to make a profit), Ferris stated that WSD would hurry to cut the tree down to stop the discussion.”
Workers from The Care of Trees were at the house today, chopping the tree down with chainsaws and woodchippers. Several truckloads of tree chippings had already been hauled off site, with the majority of the trunk still firmly in the ground. It’s unclear what, if anything, will be left of the tree when the work is completed.
“This magnificent Willow Oak is estimated to be 180 to 250 years old and predates the American Civil War by at least 50 years,” Haynes said. “Willow Oaks are one of the more long-lived (up to 400 years) and hearty of the oaks. This particular tree was, in the view of a number of experts, very healthy and had many, many years left in it.”
Arlington keeps registries of “Champion Trees” and “Notable Trees,” but the willow oak does not appear to be on either list. Trees that are listed as “Specimen Trees” or in a Resource Protected Area have some protections on them that prevent them from being cut down. The Willow tree has no protections, said Arlington Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.
“The County cannot stop a private landowner from taking down a tree on their property unless it is a Specimen Tree or in a Resource Protected Area and sadly this tree is neither,” Kalish said.
One of the residents who contacted ARLnow.com said it was the second-largest tree in the county, but ARLnow.com hasn’t been able to confirm its official height or how it compares to other trees in the county.
“To us, it was a magnificent tree no matter it’s ranking,” Kalish said.
Preservation Arlington notes that 115 of the 122 demolition permits applied for are for homes, 22 of which are located in National Register Historic Districts.
“The looming demolition of these houses and buildings represents an incredible loss of history, architecture, time, energy, and materials,” Preservation Arlington wrote in its mid-year report. “These buildings are often replaced with new construction that is out of scale and proportion to the community. Preservation Arlington urges citizens to adopt Local Historic District designations for their communities, with standards for design, height, and placement that could be customized to reflect community needs while still allowing reinvestment to occur.”
The number of demolition permits is well ahead of the record pace set in 2013, when 92 permits had been applied for in the same time period. Preservation Arlington said historic districts in Arlington are seeing one home targeted for demolition about every week.
Arlington County Planning Director Bob Duffy told ARLnow.com that the county is “watching the trend” of increased home demolition closely, but has no plans to recommend changing the Zoning Ordinance to stem the tide of house tear-downs.
“We’re watching it and tracking it as we always do,” Duffy said. “At this point, Arlington’s housing market is quite robust. The investment in our single family neighborhoods will continue and we’ll work with everyone to make sure our zoning regulations are in place.”
Duffy said there is no provision in the current zoning regulations to prevent multiple demolitions on the same block at the same time. He said the East Falls Church, Williamsburg and Cherrydale neighborhoods have seen the most demolition permits, and the vast majority of all the home tear-downs are north of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
The roof of an East Falls Church house partially collapsed this afternoon (Friday), sending one construction worker to the hospital.
A construction crew was building an addition onto the back of a home on the 2400 block of N. Quantico Street when the roof of the addition collapsed, according to fire department personnel on the scene. The worker was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with minor injuries.
The residents of the house were not home when the roof collapsed, and the house, besides the addition, remains “structurally intact.” Inspectors were called to the scene to assess what caused the roof to cave in.
The Ballston-area house, a duplex on the 4200 block of Washington Blvd near Washington-Lee High School, was built between 1895 and 1910, according to county documents. Its owners have submitted a site plan proposal for two semi-detached townhouses to take its place.
The proposal calls for the building to be demolished and replaced with a 4,707-square-foot, 43-foot-tall brick structure. The home’s solid-paneled doors, metal gutters, downspouts and other interior and exterior elements will be preserved as part of the redevelopment, according to the proposal.
The proposal is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission and County Board no later than November, according to county documents.
A new green home, once the subject of a neighborhood controversy, is now up for sale.
The home at 2617 N. Nottingham Street, in the Leeway neighborhood, was built on a so-called pipestem lot — a parcel carved from the back of a larger lot, connected to the street only by a narrow “pipestem” driveway.
Plans for the home’s construction initially caused a neighborhood “uproar,” as reported by the Washington Post in February 2012. Existing residents strongly objected to the house being built behind their own homes. Ultimately, a compromise was reached following discussions between neighbors and home builder Arlington Designer Homes, and the controversy died down.
Now, with construction complete, Arlington Designer Homes is hosting an open house at 2617 N. Nottingham Street. The open house, for both prospective buyers and interested residents, is taking place on Sunday, April 7, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The home’s asking price is $1.1 million.
In a press release, the company touts the building as “one of the greenest houses in the county.” Its green features include a “living green roof and an advanced storm water management system.”
The new 3,100 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 ½ bath home, located at 2617 N. Nottingham St., is the first house built under Arlington County’s Use Permit process, established after the county changed its zoning ordinances for pipestem lots. The permit process included extensive collaboration among the builder, Arlington Designer Homes, county staff, neighbors and community members, and resulted in a green design that is truly one of a kind.
Responding to county and neighborhood priorities, Arlington Designer Homes committed to extensive storm water management techniques and practices. “Our new home showcases what in-fill construction of the future will look like,” said Andrew Moore, President of Arlington Designer Homes. “In fact, the lot will produce less storm water runoff post-construction than it did prior to development.”
“These storm water management techniques include multiple rain gardens, native plants and grasses, permeable pavers and a living green roof,” said Moore, a Certified Green Professional. “The Liveroof® system is a modular system where sedum plants that serve to absorb rain and protect the roof are grown in trays and then transported to the building site ready to go. The advantage to this system is that you can install a fully planted green roof in a day.”
The house also features an advanced insulation package including both cellulose and spray foam insulation, Energy Star Jeld-wen windows, a high-efficiency furnace with a heat pump, 1.28 gallon per flush toilets, pre-finished flooring and siding, and PVC trim for a low maintenance exterior. It will be certified under the Energy Star 3.0, Arlington County Green Home Choice, and Home Innovation NGBS Green Certified programs (expected).
Photos courtesy Arlington Designer Homes
A construction worker suffered critical injures after falling from the roof of a new home under construction in Arlington’s Riverwood neighborhood.
The incident happened just before 11:00 a.m., on the 3700 block of 27th Street N. The man, 34 years old and from Woodbridge, was working installing trusses on the roof of the new home when he lost his balance and fell three stories (30-35 feet) onto a patch of dirt, according to police.
The victim was semi-conscious when he was loaded into an ambulance and rushed to George Washington University hospital. His injuries are described as “critical.”
The family of the victim has been notified, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. State occupational safety officials were also notified. Police remained on scene to help investigate the accident.
Update on 12/3/12 — The man’s injuries “do not appear to be life threatening,” police say.
Given the potential for stringent new energy efficiency requirements for new and renovated homes in Arlington, you may be wondering what such a “green” house would look like.
The answer: something like this.
Local builder Arlington Designer Homes is showing off this custom-built house on North Underwood Street today, after it received Arlington’s first Gold-level Green Building Certification from the National Association of Home Builders.
According to the builder, this is only the sixth house in Virginia to receive Gold-level certification.
It’s 45 percent more energy efficient than a standard new home, thanks to a solar water heater, Energy Star appliances, and spray-in foam installation. It was built using environmentally-friendly construction techniques and is sealed from outside pollutants and allergens.
Family-owned Arlington Designer Homes says they’re now busy building two new green homes in Falls Church.