Arlington, VA

(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) Arlington County has kicked off the renovation project for Gunston Park‘s “bubble.”

Officials have started the design phase of the Gunston Bubble Renovation Project, with the goal of eventually having a more “energy efficient and reliable” facility. The project is expected to start construction in the second quarter of 2020 and be completed by the third quarter, in time for next winter season.

The bubble is an all-weather, heated and covered athletic field that Arlington County describes as “a unique indoor turf facility available to rent for sports training and parties.”

“A lot has changed in building technology since the old bubble was completed,” said project architect Aaron Wohler. “The existing bubble structure is air-supported and needs to be constantly monitored and inflated. It gets hot during the summer, so much so that we limit summer hours.”

The new structure will be frame-supported, according to Wohler, with LED lighting and ceiling fans, windows, vents, and doors available to keep it cool during the hotter months.

Funding for the $1.3 million project was included in the county’s most recent Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). About $1 million will come from bonds.

The county will host an open house at the Gunston Community Center for community members to learn more about the project on Thursday, December 17 at 6:30 p.m.

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Arlington was almost poised to get rid of a “redundant” regulation for contractors this past weekend.

The Arlington County Board was slated to consider revising a chapter of county code related to home improvement regulations during its meeting this past Saturday, November 16. Specifically, members were scheduled to vote on nixing a requirement for home improvement contractors to match county regulations with state regulations.

In Virginia, contractors paid more than $1,000 for a project must seek either a class A, B, or C license based on the scale of their projects. If a contractor is seeking project that pays under $10,000 they can apply for a class C license, while projects up to $120,000 require a Class B license, and more expensive projects require a Class A license. Officials said because Virginia didn’t previously require contractors to sit for an Class C exam, Arlington decided to administer its own to verify their qualifications.

“However, as of December 1, 2012, all contractors seeking a license from the state Board of Contractors are required to take an examination in their specialty, for all classes (A, B & C),” said county spokeswoman Erika Moore. “Because the Board of Contractors is already administering a test to ensure these individuals are qualified, having the County administer another test is redundant and not cost efficient.”

In an email to ARLnow on Friday, Moore added that the county has only administered one test since 2012, which cost the county “the time it takes staff to process the required paperwork to administer and review that test and then to issue the license.”

However, the proposal to nix the exam — which was originally a part of the Board’s consent agenda — was later removed from the meeting agenda later last week.

Moore told ARLnow that staff removed the item from the agenda because “the report [to the Board] was not completed in time for posting of the consent agenda 72 hours prior to the County Board meeting.”

When asked, she did not answer when the item is expected to return to the dais.

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The Arlington County Board will soon vote on whether to spend over $700,000 upgrading the County Manager’s Office.

Member are scheduled to vote on the proposed renovation to the third floor office suite in the Bozman building (2100 Clarendon Blvd) during their meeting this Saturday, November 16.

If members vote to approve the project, the county will award $631,535 to Manassas-based Juniper Construction Company, Inc, plus an additional $126,307 for unanticipated costs.

A staff report to the Board indicates that the contract would fund upgrades to:

  • Create a “joint reception area” for the County Manager and County Board offices as well as a new “huddle room”
  • Several “open office concept work spaces” for staffers
  • Renovated conference rooms on the 3rd floor
  • “New finishes” in the offices and hallway

As of today (Thursday), the item is listed on the Board’s consent agenda, a place usually reserved for issues members expect to pass without debate.

The work is funded by a tenant improvement allowance negotiated as part of the county’s lease renewal and is part of a larger project to renovate the local government headquarters.

“The total project budget for the Bozman Government Center Renovation Project is $23.5M with the 3rd Floor CMO Suite renovation at $757,842.17,” the report notes.

Recently, the Board approved a multimillion dollar contract to replace the heating system at the county’s jail and courthouse building.

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The Arlington County Board could advance an extensive redesign of Jennie Dean Park during its meeting this weekend.

The Board is scheduled to vote to add dedicated green space to the Shirlington-area park and approve a $15.5 million construction contact during its meeting this Saturday, November 16.

County staff recommends awarding the contract to D.C.-based construction firm MCN Build, Inc., which was also tapped to work on Fire Station 8, per a report to the Board.

The park was first built in 1949 and features two tennis courts, baseball and softball diamonds, a basketball court, a playground, and a picnic area. After a series of public meetings, the county decided to relocate one of the baseball fields near S. Nelson Street, install a bathroom near Four Mile Run Drive, and build basketball and tennis courts near a WETA production facility.

As part of the renovations, the County Board is now considering removing a stretch of 27th Street S. from S. Nelson Street to Shirlington Road “for incorporation into the expanded Jennie Dean Park” per county staffers. The removal of the section of road is not expected to impede access to the WETA building, which serves as the production studio for PBS Newshour.

In addition to vacating the stretch of road, members will also vote on whether to rezone some “service industry” parcels of land to the north of the park as “public” — a move that could add 1.96 acres to the park which would make room for the planned youth baseball diamond, among other amenities.

The design process for the park proved somewhat controversial, with a local civic association calling one proposed design a “non-starter.” The park sits within the boundaries of the Green Valley neighborhood.

County officials are scheduled to discuss the final renovation designs next Thursday, November 21 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Charles Drew Community Center, and on Saturday, November 23 from 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library.

Construction on the project is due to start by early 2020.

Earlier this year, officials asked residents to share their memories of the park with the Brooklyn-based artist selected to design the public art portion of the project.

The park project is part of larger goals to revitalize the Four Mile Run Valley area and emphasize more storm protections for the floodprone area.

Images via Google Maps and Arlington County

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(Updated at 1 a.m.) Sawatdee Thai (2250 Clarendon Blvd) has temporarily closed for renovations.

Today (Friday) was the first day in seven years it closed its doors to sit-down customers other than for holidays and weather emergencies, a representative from the restaurant told ARLnow. The renovations are expected to upgrade the restaurant’s interior.

Sawatdee anticipates re-opening in four weeks, per a sign on the front door.

In the meantime, the kitchen will remain open for takeout and delivery orders. Customers placing takeout orders are instructed to enter the restaurant through the back door.

The restaurant applied for a building permit for the 112-seat dining area in September, per county records.

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The Lyon Park neighborhood’s Henry Clay Park is due for a makeover — starting this week.

Construction crews from the Falls Church-based firm Pivot Construction LLC are scheduled to start work on the park at 3011 7th Street N. today (Monday), per county officials.

The work comes three months after the Arlington County Board awarded the company a $1.4 million contract to re-do the basketball court, the playground, the picnic shelter, fences, and landscaping, among other upgrades.

“We are doing it!” read the county’s latest announcement. “Construction will begin on the Henry Clay Park renovations the week of October 21.”

Arlington expects the renovation work to continue until the end of 2020, and that ongoing construction may limit street parking.

Kentucky politician and one-time Arlington duelist Henry Clay is the namesake for the one-acre park.

Image 1 via Yelp, Images 2-3 via Arlington County

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The Arlington County Board may soon move forward on the plan to redevelop the Fire Station 8.

The County Board is scheduled to vote on awarding several contracts for the project to replace the Hall’s Hill fire station with a new, 15,000-square-foot facility during their meeting next Tuesday, October 22.

The station, located at 4845 Lee Highway, has been slated for a facelift for years, with the Board approving a $1.1 million contract to begin the design and planning process this past winter.

Next week, members will consider awarding a contract for the design of the temporary station used while Station 8 is under construction to Reston architecture firm LeMay Erickson Wilcox — the same firm tapped for designing the permanent Fire Station 8.

On Tuesday, Board members will also vote on awarding another contract to D.C.-based construction MCN Build, Inc. to build the new station. The exact amount of the contract has not yet been posted on the county website.

Plans for building the temporary station called for knocking down two homes at 2211 and 2215 N. Culpeper Street — demolition work that began last fall. The homes have been earmarked for use as a staging station area for the first responders since the county purchased the land for $1.6 million three years ago.

This year, the station celebrated its 100th anniversary, marking the legacy of the station which was the firehouse in segregated Arlington serving the historically African-American Hall’s Hill neighborhood — which itself was walled off from a neighboring, white neighborhood until the 1960s.

Originally, the fire department asked to relocate the new station further north to keep response times low in residential portions of far northern Arlington. However, the Board voted to keep the new station on the same site in 2016 in anticipation of more development along Lee Highway, pleasing the retired first responders who had worked at Station 8.

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After weeks of remodeling, the Wendy’s at 5066 Lee Highway is back open for business, with a “free food for a year” giveaway this weekend.

The fast food restaurant quietly opened earlier this week, but the grand opening celebration is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) from 9-11 a.m. The first 100 customers in line by 10 a.m. will have a chance to win free food for a year, according to a press release.

Two of the biggest non-decorative upgrades for the new Wendy’s are a new Coca-Cola Freestyle beverage dispenser — a soda machine with a lot of choices — and free Wi-Fi internet service.

“This restaurant has bold curb appeal and features a compelling design — inside and out,” said Arif Islam, Wendy’s region manager, in the press release. “It’s very different from what our customers in Arlington are used to, but we think they’ll really like the fresh look and feel of the new Wendy’s.”

The press release boasts that the new Wendy’s boasts improvements like “large windows” and “multiple seating options,” which in practice means the fast-food restaurant has been brought up to par with other renovated spots like the Taco Bell down the street and fellow renovated Wendy’s locations on Columbia Pike and King Street.

Next door, however, the former Linda’s Diner location remains virtually untouched one year after it was “soon to be replaced” by a Bob and Edith’s Diner.

Diners seemed to be excited to finally have their neighborhood Wendy’s back. Lines for the drive-thru stretched back to Lee Highway during lunch hours yesterday.

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Arlington County is seeking public input on how to renovate Bluemont Park.

The 70-acre park at 601 N. Manchester Street is home to tennis and volleyball courts and a baseball field that was renovated over the protest of some residents. The Washington and Old Dominion Trail and the Four Mile Run Trail pass through the park as well, making it a popular thoroughfare for cyclists and joggers. Over the years, the park has also been a center for community events, races, and fundraisers.

Now the county is planning to renovate some of the park’s amenities, according to a social media post on Twitter.

“The design development scope includes tennis courts, lighting, restroom/storage, shelter, parking lot, site circulation, site furnishing, drainage and landscaping,” notes the county’s website on project. “Funding to construct the project will come from an upcoming CIP budget.”

Residents are asked to fill out an online survey asking questions about how often they visit the park and which amenities they use.

The survey also includes a page of questions about the tennis courts. It asks respondents if they’d described themselves as a “competitive” or “recreational” player, and to rank aspects of the courts (shade, practice wall, playing surface) that are most important to them.

Renovations are slated to begin in the third quarter of this year, and wrap up by the end of the year.

The survey also asks how people travel to the park and where drivers park their vehicles.

Bluemont Park has been the site of several crashes near the park and into Four Mile Run creek.

Residents have until Tuesday, July 9 to fill out the online survey. Staff will also be canvassing neighborhoods in person for feedback, per the project’s website.

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