Arlington, VA

A new stand-alone Starbucks appears to be coming to the location of a former bank branch along Lee Highway.

Permits have been filed to replace the former BB&T Bank at 5515 Lee Highway with a coffee shop.

A permit filed on Monday (April 29) seeks approval for extensive renovations to the building and its drive-thru window.

Remodel of existing building for new coffee [shop], interior alteration, new walls, floor, ceiling, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, exterior work, new canopy, new drive through window and associated equipment, trash enclosure, mechanical units.

The Arlington Economic Development website says the new tenant for the 2,609 square-foot building is Starbucks, as does the permit on the window of the building.

Once it opens, it’s unclear what will happen to the nearby Starbucks store at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center, a block away.

The new cafe would be the first drive-thru Starbucks in Arlington, though there are others throughout the region. The closest is a drive-thru at Barcroft Plaza (6365 Columbia Pike) in Falls Church. Another Starbuck drive-thru is planned to open tomorrow (May 2) at 367 Maple Avenue E. in Vienna.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.

Home renovations are almost a rite of passage in Arlington.

There’s no better way to get started on your home project than visiting Arlington’s Home Show and Garden Expo. Arlington’s largest Home Show & Garden Expo will return this month on April 27.

The Home Show will feature dozens of home builders, contractors, vendors, architects, inspectors, real estate agents, gardeners, lenders and nonprofits, as well as housing, zoning and inspection representatives from Arlington County.

Classes and seminars at the Home Show cover many topics including:

  • Green kitchen and bath remodeling
  • Move or remodel? Which is right for me?
  • Green remodeling, solar co-op, green home certification
  • How to choose and work with contractors
  • How to finance your remodeling project
  • Downsizing and aging in place
  • Edible landscaping and home gardening
  • Energy smart landscaping lighting solutions

Arlington’s Rethink Energy team will be there all day. We’ll have info on our green home renovation or new constructionsolar co-op and more.

Stop by with your energy questions. We’re here to help you save energy and money.

The Expo is being held from 10-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at the Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carling Springs Road.

For more info, visit: http://arlingtonhomeshow.org/

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The long-awaited upgrades to Rosslyn’s aging Safeway are almost done, store staff say.

Customers may have already noticed several changes in the store at 1525 Wilson Blvd, also known as the “Subterranean Safeway.” The Starbucks counter is now located by the front doors, rebuilt with the coffee company’s trademark white subway tiles.

Today (Thursday) people queued in long lines for coffee at 8 a.m. and a store employee joked that customers were already “wearing the new Starbucks out.”

Inside the Rosslyn store is also a seafood department — the location’s first — situated in the rear next to the new “Butcher Block” section with sliced meats.

The frozen section also has new freezers. Shelves in several aisles were also replaced with new ones placed wide apart and lit by LED strips. New self-checkout machines have joined the check-out aisles.

Store managers have also expanded the produce section, housing the fruits and vegetables in new wooden displays.

Construction continues in the deli and bakery section of the store, which staff told ARLnow is being expanded to include a flower section and curve around the wide alcove under the street windows.

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District said previously that the upgrades would be completed this spring.

Safeway replaced the tile floor with concrete, added the self check-out machines, and began replacing the raising aisle shelves in January “to provide more space for a greater variety of products.”

Rosslyn residents has long requested renovations on the store, which has operated out of the location since 1962.

Neighborhoods previously told the BID that “better grocery stores” was a top priority for the neighborhood.

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Now sporting a fresh look to go along with its fresh beef, a Wendy’s along Route 7 has reopened following renovations.

The fast food outpost now features an electronic order status display, a faux fireplace, a Coca-Cola Freestyle drink machine and a flat panel TV currently tuned to ESPN.

Located at 5050 S. Chesterfield Road, not far from Wakefield High School, the renovated Wendy’s sits next to a 7-Eleven store and a Taco Bell, on a small peninsula of Arlington County surrounded on three sides by the borders of Fairfax County and the city of Alexandria.

The renovations are nearly identical to those at the recently reopened Wendy’s at 3431 Columbia Pike.

More from a press release:

With revitalized decor, comfortable seating and other amenities, customers will enjoy a stunning new Wendy’s® experience when they visit the remodeled restaurant at 5050 Chesterfield Road, Arlington, VA beginning March 16.

The restaurant was remodeled using an innovative interior and exterior design, which is part of an ongoing effort to provide an enhanced customer experience — from the high-quality food to the restaurant environment.

“This restaurant has bold curb appeal and features a compelling design–inside and out,” said Arif Islam, Wendy’s Region Manager. “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 interior showcases open, bright dining areas with multiple seating options, including private booths, cozy lounge seating and a Wi-Fi bar. A Coca-Cola® Freestyle® beverage dispenser that allows customers to customize their drink choices is also available. The touch screen, self-serve fountains offer over 100 regular and low-calorie beverages, including a variety of branded waters, sports drinks, lemonades and sparkling beverages.

“Our ultimate goal is for our customers to have the best dining experience, and we think they will be surprised and excited about their new Wendy’s,” Islam said.

Map via Google Maps

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County officials are gearing up to start construction on a long-awaited overhaul of Ballston’s Mosaic Park.

The County Board is set to approve a construction contract of just over $6 million for the project this weekend, ending years of debate over the project.

The county has hoped for years now to spruce up the park, located at 538 N. Pollard Street, just behind the Gold’s Gym parking lot. Officials started planning work as early as 2008, but some cost overruns prompted a series of delays for the construction.

But the project began to gain steam again last spring, after officials decided to scale it back in scope a bit to rein in costs. The county was also delayed because the developer of Ballston Quarter was using Mosaic Park as a staging area to assemble the new pedestrian bridge stretching over Wilson Blvd — workers installed the structure last weekend.

The park is now set to see a new playground, athletic court and water feature installed as part of the renovation work. Gone, however, are plans for solar panels at the site that would’ve powered the park’s lights and some additional landscaping around the park.

The Shooshan Company, which owns some nearby developments, agreed to fund the first phase of the roughly $6.6 million project. The county is also hoping to add a basketball half-court to the site, but that work will come in a second phase of the project, set to move in tandem with the “future redevelopment of the adjacent commercial property,” according to a county staff report.

The Board will consider the project as part of its consent agenda tomorrow (Saturday), which is generally reserved for noncontroversial items passed without debate. If all goes as planned, the renovations will be wrapped up by the end of the year.

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Alcova Heights Park is set to see some renovations next year, and county officials are getting ready to unveil their plans for the park’s improvements.

The county plans to hold a meeting Thursday (Feb. 21) at 7 p.m. at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street) to discuss new designs for the park.

Officials began planning for a refresh of the green space, located at 901 S. George Mason Drive, this past fall and held a few community meetings on the topic.

Though the county will only detail the full extent of its plans at the meeting later this week, proposed improvements include the renovation of the park’s basketball court and lights, as well as its sand volleyball court, according to the county’s website.

The park’s large picnic shelter and restroom could be in for some upgrades, and the county also hopes to add improved signage and landscaping to the area. Improving the park’s drainage and stormwater management will be another key focus of the work, particularly after several residents mentioned muddy conditions at the park in a survey seeking to identify potential improvements.

The county hopes to finalize designs and start construction on the renovation work by the third quarter of 2020, then wrap up that work by the second quarter of 2021.

Eventually, officials plan to overhaul the Alcova Heights playground and diamond field in a second phase of the project, but the county’s current funding squeeze means they aren’t yet sure when they’ll be able to afford that work.

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The carryout window at Clarendon’s Whole Foods is now shut down: at least, for the moment.

Signs posted at “The Coop,” located near the main entrance to the grocery store at 2700 Wilson Blvd, say that the area is “temporarily closed.”

A quick glance inside the window reveals that the chicken-focused carryout counter has been completely cleared out, and the area is now littered with construction materials. A tipster told ARLnow that it’s been shut down since at least Jan. 27.

“The Coop will be closed until further notice,” the signs read. “Sorry for any inconvenience. Thank you for all your support. And stay [tuned] for things to come.”

Whole Foods did not respond to a request for comment on when, or if, the The Coop might reopen. The rest of the store remains open as normal.

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(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) It seems as if Arlingtonians craving Taco Bell may have a while left to wait for one of the chain’s four restaurants in the county to re-open.

The Taco Bell near Yorktown, at 4923 Lee Highway, shut down back in September as its owner sought to tear down the restaurant and completely rebuild it.

Contractors working on the project had initially hoped to have it open within three to four months. But these days, the only evidence of progress on the new restaurant is a new foundation where the old building once stood.

Managers of the construction project did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the project’s timeline. County permit records show the restaurant’s owners won building permits for the project in October.

The project’s slow progress leaves county residents craving a taco or burrito with just three other options in the county: in the Pentagon City mall, in the Pentagon itself, and along Route 7 near the S. Walter Reed Drive intersection.

A new Taco Bell Cantina, complete with alcoholic beverage options, opened at the end of last year in Alexandria.

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The Rustico restaurant in Ballston plans to open back up today (Friday) after a roughly three-week-long shutdown.

General Manager Ryan Cline says the bar will be open for business once more tonight, now that it’s managed to complete a series of repairs after a burst pipe flooded the bar with water in mid-January.

The process hasn’t exactly been a smooth one, as it’s required new flooring to be installed. Cline said another sprinkler head burst in the midst of the repairs, complicating matters further.

In all, Cline doesn’t expect that most regulars will notice much of a difference at the restaurant, which puts a heavy focus on both pizza and beer. But he hopes that the restaurant’s loyal customers will be eager to return to the watering hole.

Cline added that Rustico is planning a special celebration next Friday (Feb. 8) to mark the bar’s grand reopening.

The restaurant will offer new specials like pork belly tacos and “overloaded nachos,” with a variety of new stouts, sours and other beers on tap.

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Rosslyn’s Safeway, one of the oldest grocery stores in Arlington, is getting a badly needed facelift.

The shop, located just a few blocks from the area’s Metro station at 1525 Wilson Blvd, should be fully renovated by sometime this spring, according to the Rosslyn Business Improvement district.

The Safeway’s management team told the BID that the store has already added new self check-out machines, and replaced the store’s tile floor with concrete. The shop also widened its aisles and raised its shelves “to provide more space for a greater variety of products,” the BID wrote in a blog post.

The store is currently installing new cases for frozen food, and workers plan to expand its bakery and Starbucks counter. The shop will also get a new seafood department.

The renovation work should come as welcome news to Rosslyn residents, as the Safeway garnered some brutal reviews from Yelp users over the years. Rosslyn-ites also told the BID in a survey last year that “better grocery stores” was one of their top priorities for future development in the area.

The Safeway has called the 1500 block of Wilson Blvd home since 1962. However, the store did need to relocate briefly when its building was redeveloped in 1985, and it returned shortly afterward.

Photo 2 via Rosslyn BID

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Water damage from a “renegade sprinkler” has resulted in the temporary closure of the Rustico restaurant in Ballston.

The pizza and beer-focused eatery has been shuttered to allow for renovation work since last Tuesday (Jan. 15), and a series of tarps currently cover its bar.

“We are working tirelessly to get things back up and running, and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you,” a sign posted on its door says. “We’ll be cooking and pouring again in no time.”

The restaurant’s general manager, Ryan Cline, told ARLnow that the sprinkler dumped more than five inches of water into the restaurant in total, prompting all sorts of challenges for the staff.

“We are still doing repairs as fast as possible,” Cline wrote in an email. He added that he’s hoping to reopen the eatery by Feb. 1.

In the meantime, Rustico’s original, Alexandria location, at 827 Slaters Lane, is still open for business.

The restaurant opened up the Ballston space back in 2010.

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