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by Ethan Rothstein — April 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm 7,536 0

Rosslyn Metro station (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

As Arlington grapples with the cloudy future of transit on Columbia Pike, in the wake of the streetcar line’s cancellation, one question has been largely absent: Is Metro the answer?

The Pike, Pentagon City and Crystal City together are projected to account for 65 percent of the county’s population growth and 44 percent of its job growth in the next three decades, and Arlington doesn’t have a long-term transit plan in place for the Pike to accommodate that growth. So far, much of the discussion has revolved around bigger and better buses.

But there is another option, a much bigger, bolder and pricier option than even the streetcar: taking advantage of an existing stub tunnel at the Pentagon Metro station and building a new Metrorail line under Columbia Pike. Such a line was envisioned as a likely expansion by the Metrorail system’s original planners in the 1960s.

When the proposal for Arlington’s short-term plan for the former-streetcar corridor comes before the Arlington County Board next year, two of the five members of the Board will be newly elected, replacing the retiring Board chair and vice chair, Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada.

So far, seven candidates have declared they’re running for the two open seats: Democrats Christian Dorsey, Peter Fallon, Katie Cristol, Andrew Schneider, James Lander and Bruce Wiljanen, and independent Audrey Clement. Will this new crop of Arlington leaders revive the idea of Metro as long-term a solution for the Pike’s growth?

Dorsey tells ARLnow.com that he’s open to Metrorail as part of a more holistic discussion of the Pike’s transportation future.

“We haven’t undergone a process to really do that in a sufficient way, where we’ve looked at a variety of transit options that are possible — not feasible, but possible — and determining whether or not that matches long-range projections,” he told ARLnow.com. “I absolutely think that’s something that needs to be done in consultation with regional partners on heavy rail.”

The county is still planning to install 23 more transit stations along Columbia Pike, for a total of $12.4 million — redesigned to cost far less than the Walter Reed Super Stop prototype — and those stations are designed to accommodate enhanced bus service. However, other than assumptions that more, bigger and fancier buses will be coming to the Pike, it’s unclear how those stations will be integrated. The county has vowed to spend $200 million on the corridor’s transit over the next six years.

Cristol agreed with Dorsey, saying Arlington needs to consider all long-term options in the corridor’s future.

“I believe we need to keep everything on the table as we contend with the forces shaping re-development and transit demand in Arlington,” she said. “Rapid population growth and demand for public transit on the Pike will be a defining feature for Arlington’s coming decades … I will always be for considering and discussing big ideas — even the expensive ones that seem infeasible in the immediate — as we look to address those dynamics.”

WMATA already has a 40-year plan in place for Metrorail’s future development, but that plan, adopted in 2013, includes a connection between Arlington’s since-cancelled and D.C.’s embattled streetcar lines. WMATA has since discussed plans for a second tunnel in Rosslyn and another line in Virginia, but public discussions from the agency have not included Columbia Pike.

Photo courtesy Thierry Discoll

Wiljanen said Arlington taking on that discussion would distract from the immediate needs of the Pike’s residents.

“If a Metro line opened tomorrow under Columbia Pike, I would be elated,” he told ARLnow.com in an email. “However, given the current political and budgetary climate, starting the process now will prove to be an exceedingly heavy lift, and the timeline could easily extend 30 years or more into the future. I think we need quicker solutions.”

Clement, a perennial candidate for Arlington public office, thinks Arlington needs to take up these discussions as soon as possible.

“It is definitely time to plan for a Metrorail line under Columbia Pike,” she said. “One of the principal reasons I opposed the Pike trolley was the fact that the trolley tracks would have to be dug up to accommodate the subway, which is the ultimate solution to congestion on the Pike.”

(Fallon, Schneider and Lander did not respond to ARLnow.com’s email asking for comment.)

Dorsey also opposed the streetcar, while Cristol, a Pike resident, and Wiljanen didn’t say whether they supported the project, only that Arlington needs to move on.

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by Ethan Rothstein — March 27, 2015 at 1:20 pm 4,524 0

Updated at 2:40 p.m.: The Arlington County Police Department has cleared the scene. It is re-opening roads in the area, and shoppers and employees will soon be able to re-enter the mall.

Earlier: The Pentagon Centre Mall is under evacuation this afternoon as the Arlington County Police Department investigates a bomb threat.

The ACPD brought bomb-sniffing dogs to the complex that includes a Best Buy and Costco to evaluate the threat, received at 12:21 p.m., police said. Several streets in the area are shut down, plus the South Hayes Street entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station. Pentagon Police are assisting with the investigation.

Police have yet to find anything but continue to search, ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. Officers are sweeping the entire center, including the large Costco parking lot.

“It’s going to take a while to do a full sweep just because of the sheer size of the center,” Sternbeck told ARLnow.com.

The bomb threat was called in to the mall’s front desk, Sternbeck said.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 11, 2015 at 12:15 pm 4,964 0

Pentagon Centre, the big-box mall that counts Best Buy and Costco as tenants, could be transformed into an apartment, office and retail complex over the next half-century.

Developer Kimco Realty owns the property, which sets between S. Hayes and Fern Streets and 12th and 15th Streets S. Kimco has applied to redevelop it into six buildings in three phases.

The site, which covers 16.8 acres, was approved for redevelopment in 2008, also with a three-phase plan. Since that plan’s approval, the recession hit and Arlington’s office market has stagnated. Now, Kimco is requesting to build residential buildings first and office last, but is also asking to build more residential and less commercial than previously approved.

First, if approved, Kimco would replace the Sleepy’s store and the loading dock at the corner of S. Hayes and 12th Streets with a 25-story residential tower that would be the tallest building in Pentagon City. The tower would be built adjacent to the Pentagon City Metro station entrance.

Also in Phase I, Kimco plans to build a 10-story residential building at 15th Street S. and Hayes Street, with a seven-story parking garage along 15th Street to replace lost parking spots for Costco. The two apartment buildings would bring a combined 714 units to the area.

The office, hotel and open space components of the plan, if approved, wouldn’t come until decades later. If that construction begins as planned, the mall that holds the Best Buy and Nordstrom Rack would be demolished in about 20 years, during Phase II. Twenty or so years after that, during Phase III, the Costco would be demolished, replaced, along with its parking lot, by a hotel, office building and open space.

When completed, the nearly 17-acre property would have:

  • 606,200 square feet of office space in three buildings
  • 377,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, including a standalone, two-story retail building
  • A 38,720-square-foot, 180-room hotel
  • Two apartment buildings with 714 units combined

In addition to the 1.8 million square feet of buildings, three acres of open space would be added surrounding a new 13th Street S., along Fern Street. The developer would construct other new roads — including portions of S. Grant Street and 14th Street S. — during Phase III, where the Costco now stands.

Recently approved within steps of Pentagon Centre have been the Pentagon City Mall expansion, the massive PenPlace development, the final phases of the Metropolitan Park apartment complex and a 415-unit apartment building at 400 Army Navy Drive. If approved, the Pentagon Centre redevelopment would remove the last big-box store in the area, further cementing Pentagon City’s status as a high-rise, mixed use neighborhood.

The plan was discussed by the county’s Long Range Planning Commission in December and by the Site Plan Review Committee last month. The SPRC will meet again to discuss the proposal at the Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.) on March 16.

by ARLnow.com — March 9, 2015 at 3:35 pm 2,781 0

Matchbox (photo via Facebook)Matchbox, the popular D.C. pizza restaurant, is expected to open a new location in Pentagon City next spring.

The restaurant, noted for its wood-fired pizza and craft beer selection, will be located in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, in a yet-to-be-built two-level expansion near the mall’s current S. Hayes Street main entrance.

The new Matchbox will be a whopping 11,000 square feet, with outdoor seating along Hayes Street.

Also expected to open in the spring of 2016 is Sugar Factory, a “famed candy and sweets purveyor.”

Rendering of changes to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon CityThe Sugar Factory location will have both “retail features and an upscale dining area.” The dining area will serve “classic American fare and incredible sweet treats, including the King Kong Sundae, a dessert with a whopping 24 scoops of ice cream, two cupcakes, heaping of toppings, lollipops and sparklers.”

Matchbox is in the midst of an expansion and now has half a dozen locations in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and California. Sugar Factory has stores and restaurants in New York City, Las Vegas, Miami and Orlando.

Fashion Centre owner Simon Property Group announced the new retail and restaurant additions this afternoon, along with several other store changes. The mall is currently undergoing a $70 million renovation project that includes the new S. Hayes Street storefronts.

The full press release, after the jump.

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by Ethan Rothstein — February 20, 2015 at 10:45 am 1,249 0

Sheet metal covering leaks in the Pentagon City Metro (photo via @jurbanchuk)The roof is leaking at the Pentagon City Metro station, and Metro says Arlington County’s road work on S. Hayes Street is to blame.

The Metro tunnel began to leak in the fall because a stormwater-retention system built by the county was overflowing, Metro spokeswoman Caroline Laurin told WUSA9. The county built that system in the median of S. Hayes Street as part of street upgrades for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

WMATA has placed pieces of sheet metal where the leaks are occurring, deflecting the water down the wall and away from passengers.

“When that retention pond overflows, water enters our station,” Laurin told the TV station, which first reported the leaks after seeing a tweet from a curious Metro rider. “This temporary solution will be in place until Arlington County can address the issue with the storm water retention structure.”

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, which oversaw the road construction, said WMATA approved the work it did around the Metro station, and denies that it is to blame for the leaky tunnel.

“It’s not unusual to have leaks in tunnel systems, especially systems like the Pentagon City Metrorail tunnel that are 40 years old,” Katherine Youngbluth, the project manager for the S. Hayes Street improvements, told ARLnow.com in an email. “The rain garden facility that was constructed as part of the County’s Pentagon City Multimodal project (and all other aspects of the project that were adjacent to WMATA facilities) was fully vetted through WMATA’s review and approval process and received a permit for all construction work.”

Youngbluth said the county has known about the leak since the fall, but has only had preliminary talks with WMATA about whose responsibility it is to fix the leak. The county is “continuing to explore technical studies and solutions that are available for an investigation of this type” and doesn’t yet have a timeframe or cost analysis for the repair, she added.

The multimodal improvements wrapped up last year, and included new sidewalks, crosswalks, street lighting, landscaping, new street crossing areas and bicycle amenities to go with the rain garden. The total project cost was $9 million.

Photo via @jurbanchuk

by Ethan Rothstein — February 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm 571 0

Love the Run You're With posterThe annual Valentine’s Day-themed 5K in Pentagon City, “Love the Run You’re With,” will return Sunday, six days before the holiday.

The race will start and end on S. Joyce Street at Pentagon Row, and take runners down Army Navy Drive just past 28th Street S. The race also doubles as a matchmaking affair, with bib numbers corresponding to racers’ relationship status.

The course is the same as last year’s race, so the Arlington County Police Department will likely shut down the following roads form 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. for the race, which starts at 9:00 a.m.

  • South Joyce Street between South 15th Street and Army Navy Drive
  • Army Navy Drive between South Joyce Street and South 25th Street

Street parking in the area will be restricted, so motorists should be careful if they plan on parking on Saturday night.

Registration for the race is $40 and includes a commemorative blanket. After the race, runners are invited to Champps at 1201 S. Joyce Street for drinks, a free photo booth and karaoke. All runners — those registered as single (“Cupid Stupid”), it’s complicated (“Love ’em or Leave ’em”) or in a relationship (Co-dependent) — are invited to the bar after the race for mingling.

Image via Pacers Running

by ARLnow.com — January 30, 2015 at 10:10 am 1,446 0

Frost-covered leaf (Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk)

VDOT to Talk I-66 in Arlington — VDOT officials are expected to provide some specifics about their plan to upgrade I-66 inside the Beltway during a meeting with the Arlington Transportation Commission. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. VDOT is said to be considering converting a portion of I-66 into HOT lanes. The agency has yet to reveal whether it will push for additional lanes inside the Beltway as well. [InsideNova]

Arlington Prosecutor Takes Morrissey Case — Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos will be the lead prosecutor in the latest criminal case against Del. Joe Morrissey, who is currently serving a work-release jail sentence after pleading guilty to having sex with a 17-year-old. [Washington Post]

Cops: Don’t Drive Drunk After the Big Game — Arlington County Police are reminding residents not to drive drunk after the Super Bowl on Sunday. For those planning on downing a few brewskies, ACPD recommends designating a driver, calling a cab or taking public transit. “Don’t want to attend the Detention Center’s #SuperBowlXLIX viewing party? Plan ahead by designating a #SoberRide home,” the department said via Twitter. [Arlington County, Twitter]

Energy Journey Game This Weekend — Call it the Super Bowl of local government-sponsored, energy-themed, life-sized board games. This weekend, Arlington County is holding the latest installment of its “Energy Journey Game,” an interactive life-size board game that tests your “energy IQ.” It’s taking place at Wakefield High School starting at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. [Arlington County]

A Visit to Pentagon City’s DEA Museum — The Capitol Hill publication Roll Call has a gonzo journalism account of one reporter’s trip to the DEA Museum in Pentagon City. From the article’s prelude: “And suddenly, there was a terrible mall all around us and the sky was full of what looked like squat office buildings — all glass and concrete and blocking out the sunlight — and the sound of the Metro, which ran underneath the Pentagon City Mall and the Pentagon Centre and the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum at 700 Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Va.” [Roll Call]

Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk

by ARLnow.com — January 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm 3,110 0

Police car (file photo)A Maryland man died in a single-vehicle crash in Pentagon City Thursday night.

The incident happened around 10:15 p.m. Police say 60-year-old John Dawson, of Clinton, Md., was turning left onto 15th Street S. from S. Eads Street when he struck a pole.

Dawson was transported to George Washington University hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Arlington County Police Department’s critical accident team responded to the scene. Investigators are still trying to determine if Dawson’s death was caused by the crash or was the result of a medical emergency that occurred just before the crash, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 21, 2015 at 10:05 am 2,063 0

After pushing its decision back two months, the Arlington County Board this weekend will consider a plan to redevelop a vacant office building at 400 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City into apartments.

Bethesda-based developer LCOR has proposed turning the former Department of Defense Inspector General office, also known as the “Paperclip building,” into a 200-foot tall, 20-story apartment complex with 453 residential units. County staff and the Arlington Planning Commission are recommending the Board approve the redevelopment at its meeting this Saturday.

The new apartment complex will consist of twin residential towers on a common platform.

LCOR is planning on making the north tower, with unobstructed views of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, a condominium building and making the apartments in the south tower, fronting 11th Street S., rental units.

The existing office building has three levels of underground parking beneath it, which LCOR plans to keep and build two levels of parking above ground, as part of the platform beneath the residential towers. On top of the platform, the developers is planning to have 11,000 square feet of recreational space, including a 4-foot deep pool and areas for grilling.

The redevelopment plan comes with some street changes, including removing Old South Eads Street from the street grid and turning it into a pedestrian walk. The plan also reinstates part of 11th Street S.

An adjacent county-owned “Teardrop Parcel” of land was formerly the planned site of the operations and maintenance yard for the now-cancelled Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar system. This redevelopment will not affect the parcel, but it’s now being kept clear to potentially be included in future redevelopment of either this location or the recently approved PenPlace office complex, according to the staff report.

In exchange for added density, LCOR has agreed to provide the equivalent of $6.6 million in community benefits, including 15 dedicated affordable housing units in the building, $1.1 million to the Crystal City Open Space fund and $1 million to the Army Navy Drive Complete Streets project. LCOR would also donate $91,000 toward the county’s utility undergrounding project, $75,000 to the county’s Public Art Fund and contribute to improving the traffic signal at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Eads Street.

by ARLnow.com — December 4, 2014 at 4:45 pm 1,272 0

Armed robbery suspect in the Pentagon City Rite Aid store (photo via FBI)

The FBI is asking for the public’s help in identifying a man who tried to rob the Pentagon City Rite Aid and numerous other Virginia pharmacies.

Investigators believe the man who tried to rob the Rite Aid at 1301 S. Joyce Street on Friday, Oct. 10 is the same man who tried to rob pharmacies in Newport News, Henrico County, Mechanicsville, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, Woodbridge and Hampton between July and November.

The suspect typically displays a handgun and demands the powerful prescription pain reliever Oxycodone, before fleeing in a light-colored Dodge Nitro SUV. He’s also accused of taking Percocet pills and cash.

The man was unsuccessful in the Pentagon City robbery, thanks to the pharmacist shielding himself behind protective glass.

The suspect is described as a black male, between 5’6″-6’0″ and between 150-200 lbs. In each robbery he has hidden his face with a white cloth.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $15,000 for information that leads to the suspect’s arrest and conviction. Tipsters can contact the FBI at 804-261-1044 or [email protected]

by ARLnow.com — December 4, 2014 at 9:45 am 3,331 0

Arlington police carWhat was thought to be a possible case of domestic violence in Pentagon City turned out to be a case of a man fighting with a prostitute over stolen goods, according to Arlington County Police.

Around 7:45 p.m. on Monday, in the area of the Pentagon City mall, a witness told police that he saw a physical altercation between a man and a woman. Police searched the area and found the people in question, who turned out to be a prostitute and her john.

According to a crime report, the pair had “brief sexual encounter” at another location, then traveled to Pentagon City and “stole items from several area businesses.” The witness, police say, had actually seen the aftermath of a fight between the man and the woman over one of the stolen items.

“When the male subject demanded one of the stolen items, a verbal argument ensued which escalated into a physical confrontation with the male subject pushing the female to the ground then unsuccessfully attempting to take her purse, where some of the stolen items were hidden,” said police.

Both suspects were arrested. The woman was wanted on an out-of-state warrant. while the man was charged with attempted robbery. Other charges may be pending.

by ARLnow.com — November 29, 2014 at 5:05 pm 5,609 0

Dozens of protesters made their voices heard in Pentagon City this afternoon in response to the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.

The demonstrators arrived via Metro around 2:30 p.m., after marching thorough the streets of Georgetown to protest the Nov. 24 decision not to charge Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. They held signs with slogans like “No Justice, No Profit,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.”

The protesters marched through the Pentagon Centre shopping center, held a “die in” in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall food court, marched through Macy’s, and later exited the mall and blocked traffic on S. Hayes Street.

Arlington County Police described the protests as “peaceful” and closed some roads in the area. Some stores closed during the protest, which was timed to coincide with the post-Thanksgiving shopping period.

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by ARLnow.com — November 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm 1,991 0

(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) The Doubletree hotel at 300 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City was evacuated  this afternoon due to a large gas leak.

The gas leak was said to be in the hotel’s parking garage. Firefighters at the scene reported strong odor of natural gas inside and outside the hotel. Guests and employees were evacuated from the hotel.

An Arlington County hazmat team and Washington Gas crews responded to the scene. Police shut down down Army Navy Drive between Eads and 12th Streets to accommodate the large emergency response.

Firefighters and gas company crews managed to shut off the gas after about an hour. Army Navy Drive reopened just after 5:30, and people are being allowed back into the hotel.

No injuries have been reported.

by ARLnow.com — November 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm 1,014 0

Update on 11/6/14 — Board consideration of this apartment building has been delayed until December.

The Arlington County Board is slated to consider a 453-unit apartment building that’s proposed to replace a vacant Pentagon City office building this month.

The Board on Nov. 15 is scheduled to vote on a site plan for a new apartment complex at 400 Army Navy Drive. Bethesda-based developer LCOR has proposed a 20-story building with two towers on one, three-story platform, located east of the planned PenPlace development and west of the Crystal City DoubleTree hotel.

County staff have suggested a number of community benefits from the developer, in exchange for the extra zoning density needed for the project. Among them: affordable housing, public art, park and utility fund contributions; streetscape improvements; and LEED Gold certification. Also, Arlington is considering using of a county-owned parcel in front of the property for a streetcar operations and maintenance facility, but would like the developer to spruce it up in the interim.

The apartment building will replace an aging office building that was formerly home to the Department of Defense Inspector General’s office.

by ARLnow.com — October 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm 1,486 0

The Rite Aid at Pentagon RowA man with a gun tried to rob the Rite Aid pharmacy on Pentagon Row Friday night, according to Arlington County police.

The man entered the store just past 8:00 p.m. and brandished a gun at the pharmacist, demanding prescription medications. The pharmacist was able to shield himself behind protective glass, foiling the robbery attempt.

The suspect took off on foot before police arrived.

“The suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male in his twenties, approximately 5’8″ tall and 160 lbs,” according to a crime report. “He was wearing a black long sleeve sweater, blue jeans and a white and orange baseball hat at the time of the incident.”

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