(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) After a pandemic-era hiatus, Habitat for Humanity has revived plans to turn a county-owned historic farmhouse into a group home.
Habitat DC-NOVA and HomeAid National Capital Region are propose to restore the exterior of the Reeves Farmhouse in the Bluemont neighborhood, modernize and renovate the interior, construct two new, historically compatible additions and update the landscaping.
The public would still be able to use two acres of parkland around it, including a milk shed, sledding hill and the Reevesland Learning Center gardens.
The nonprofits will be meeting with the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board tonight (Wednesday) to discuss plans for the home, which is more than 100 years old. Given the home’s local historic district designation, this board has the authority to review and approve major alterations, per a county report.
The farmhouse sits on the Reevesland property, notable for being the last operating dairy farm in Arlington County before closing in 1955. The local historic designation of the farmhouse and milk shed , from 2004, recognizes the property’s “architectural history and association with the rural and agricultural history of Arlington,” the report said.
“The Reevesland farmhouse is a two-story building with a stone foundation,” the report says. “The wood framing remains as underlying physical evidence of a number of additions and remodeling undertaken over more than 100 years, with the major changes occurring from 1878 to 1911.”
Arlington County purchased Reevesland in 2001 and began searching for appropriate uses for the “endangered” historic place in 2010, putting forth requests for proposals that never led anywhere. During these doldrums, some community groups suggested the county turn the property into a museum or learning center.
High renovation costs convinced the Board to move toward selling it in March 2017, despite some community opposition. Two months later, Habitat came to Arlington County with an unsolicited proposal to reuse the farmhouse for a group home for people with developmental disabilities.
It took three years, but the county and Habitat reached a non-binding letter of intent. One month after that was signed, the nation shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic and the project stalled.
Talks among the nonprofits and L’Arche Greater Washington — which will use the facilities for their core member program — and county staff about the project resumed in September 2022. DPR met with the Boulevard Manor Civic Association in January to provide an update on the project, a neighbor and a spokeswoman for Habitat told ARLnow after publication.
Plans include a two-story addition at the back of the house and a one-story addition at on the southwest side. These will increase the number of bedrooms to seven and provide access and gathering spaces suitable for people with mobility impairments.
A paved area west of the farmhouse will be expanded to provide parking and clearance for Metro Access vans that will provide transportation for future residents. It will also build a stormwater management bio-facility, which could be something like a rain garden.
A tree near the proposed two-story addition will be removed as the addition will conflict with some roots that are critical to its health. Habitat will discuss ways to mitigate this loss with the county’s Urban Forester.
In the county report, Historic Preservation Program staff say they support the project because the addition will be distinct from the historic structure and the landscaping changes will not harm the property’s setting.
“The proposed one- and two-story additions will not detract from the scale or massing of the historic farmhouse, as their designs are compatible with the existing vernacular architecture and can be distinguished from what is historic and new construction,” per a county report.
(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) Upgraded tennis facilities and greater flood prevention are two focal points in proposed upgrades to the upper area of Bluemont Park.
Last month, Arlington County released new designs revealing its plans for the public park, informed by public engagement over the last three years.
It is soliciting feedback on the newest draft through next Thursday, April 20. Respondents are asked how satisfied they are with the concept, on a scale of 1 to 10, and to share any additional feedback.
The upper section of Bluemont Park is set to get new tennis courts and other amenities for players and spectators, as well as a building with restrooms, picnic furnishings, a resurfaced parking lot and more native shrubs and trees.
“Our project team focused on three key areas: improved recreational amenities, improved access and safety for vehicles and pedestrians, as well as, of course, protecting and enhancing natural resources,” said Adam Segel-Moss, a communications specialist with the parks department, in a video explaining the project.
The number of tennis courts will stay the same, at nine, but they will be spread farther apart and raised about a foot so they do not flood. There will be shaded areas for players and coaches, a stand-alone brick practice wall and more places for spectators.
Three courts intended for special events will be wider than the others, with two dedicated shade areas and fencing separating them from other courts.
Several residents in previous public engagement sessions requested less paved area and more trees to mitigate flooding that has impacted the area, such as the flash flooding in July 2019.
In response, a county presentation highlights an overall decrease in paved surfaces of about 12% and a net increase of 91 trees. A new “reforestation area” between the courts and Four Mile Run, where native shrubs and trees will be planted, will see a 52% decrease in paved surface.
To decrease runoff from the parking lot, the county is also exploring the use of planting beds for pavement runoff and permeable paving, says Segel-Moss. Site-wide, plans call for more stormwater management and drainage, something that the “reforestation area” will naturally help with.
“Reforestation will assist with filtering pollutants and reduce volume of stormwater runoff and prevent erosion and perform other important biological and ecological functions such as carbon sequestration,” Segel-Moss said.
Other upgrades include moving the parking lot entrance farther south on N. Manchester Street to improve safety and circulation. The current entrance is close to the intersection of N. Manchester Street and Wilson Blvd, causing a “pinch point,” according to the plans.
While the number of parking spaces will remain the same, at 68, the spaces will be repainted at a 90-degree angle, which Segel-Moss said is “much more efficient” than the current angling of the spaces.
The reforestation area, meanwhile, will also get new picnic tables and seating areas “to ensure this amenity can be enjoyed by every park visitor whether they play tennis or not,” he said.
The design process is set to wrap up at the end of 2023 with construction beginning in the later half of 2024 and wrapping up a little more than a year after that, per a project webpage.
Some have supported multi-use courts permitting play of the increasingly popular — and contentious — sport of pickleball. While the county is preparing to stripe more tennis courts for this sport, Bluemont Park is not in the running.
County staff told the Bluemont Civic Association last fall that the courts “are meant to be Arlington’s premier tennis facility,” but they would talk to Bluemont residents about possibly adding pickleball uses at the Bon Air Park tennis court across the street, per a civic association newsletter.
The McDonald’s at 4834 Langston Blvd is once more looking to change its drive-thru to reduce backups that spill onto the busy road.
The fast food restaurant has filed a special exception use permit application to add a second ordering station and three more “standing spots” for customers. Currently, the site has one drive-thru lane and a circulating lane wrapped around it.
“The Application proposes a site layout that will improve vehicular flow and help minimize stacking onto Langston Blvd,” McGuireWoods lawyer Matthew Weinstein wrote in the application prepared on behalf of McDonald’s.
One apparent casualty, based on the rendering above: an aging and sparsely used McDonald’s PlayPlace, a free indoor playground for kids.
About three years ago, the fast food restaurant proposed a second drive-thru lane and a new recirculating lane that would have run between the restaurant and Langston Blvd. These plans fizzled, however, after county officials blasted the plans during an April 2020 meeting of the Arlington County Board.
This time, Weinstein says, the business engaged Arlington County staff to address issues they had with the 2020 application. After talking with staff, McDonald’s nixed the recirculation lane.
“The recirculation lane was staff’s primary concern about the 2020 application,” he wrote. “By removing the recirculation lane, the Applicant envisions a smooth traffic flow and minimal pedestrian conflicts.”
Building a second order station would result in 16 total standing spaces for cars, compared to the 13 that exist today, which “will help minimize potential vehicular stacking onto Langston Blvd,” Weinstein said.
Customers will access the drive-thru from the property’s northwest side, queue in one of two lanes, order, pick up their food and exit on the property’s northeast side.
McDonald’s also took the plans to the Langston Blvd Alliance to compare them against Plan Langston Blvd. This planning study reenvisions the corridor as denser, greener and more walkable.
McDonald’s new plans would reduce parking spots from 34 to 28 spaces but will plant more trees and shrubs to “provide a natural buffer between the restaurant and the Langston Blvd frontage,” Weinstein said.
“[This] will create an attractive setting for McDonald’s customer sand drivers passing by the restaurant on Langston Boulevard,” he said. “McDonald’s customers will also be able to enjoy an outdoor seating and dining area in the landscaped area long the Property’s Langston Boulevard frontage.”
Although the County Board has yet to adopt a final version of the Plan Langston Blvd study, Weinstein says, the plans from McDonald’s align with the preliminary concept plan, or PCP. This document envisions an enhanced streetscape with a wider-right-of-way, landscaped areas, street trees and flexible open spaces.
“The Project accommodates and will not inhibit the PCP’s enhanced streetscape recommendations,” he said.
The application is slated to be reviewed by the Arlington County Board alone, per a public notice of items up for review by the Planning Commission and the Board this month. The Board will meet on Saturday, March 18 and Tuesday, March 21.
Salad lovers, rejoice. At long last, the Sweetgreen in Ballston is reopening for business today (Tuesday).
A bouquet of balloons, green, white and gold, as well as a sign advertising new offerings, are greeting customers outside. The restaurant opened at 10:30 a.m.
“It took a long time, but we’re finally back open,” a store staff member told ARLnow, adding that the renovations included some new construction and interior design work.
The closure for renovations at the 4075 Wilson Blvd location seems to have taken longer than anticipated.
Back in November, a more informal poster signed “Management Team” was affixed to the window, informing customers the fast-casual eatery would close early that day and remain closed until Dec. 2, 2022, encouraging customers to instead visit the Sweetgreen in Clarendon.
“We will be undergoing some changes that will better enhance your dining experience with us,” the poster said. “[We] look forward to serving you all again soon!!!!”
But December came and went, then January and February. Over the last two months, a handful of readers and devotées of the restaurant have reached out to ARLnow asking for updates.
“We are desperate to have our Sweetgreen back!” wrote one anonymous tipster.
Some came hoping for more answers, given the sudden nature of the closure and the relative lack of publicity around the renovations.
“They’ve been closed for a couple of months with the windows covered, and there hasn’t been anything posted publicly about what is going on or when they are going to reopen,” said one tipster.
ARLnow asked the company a few weeks ago for an update. At the time, a spokeswoman told us she had no updates to share yet.
By yesterday afternoon (Monday), the brown paper concealing the interior last week had been removed. Branded signage read “Almost ready for you, Ballston!”
Employees were working in the kitchen and boxes of Dunkin’ Donuts — fuel for reopening preparations — lay on a table.
Renovations to a pair of office buildings in Crystal City, including the construction of a new pedestrian plaza, are set to wrap up this spring.
Work kicked off last year at the Century Center towers, located at the intersection of Crystal Drive and S. Clark Street. Some older retail space between the buildings, previously known as Century One (2450 Crystal Drive) and Century Two (2461 S. Clark Street), was torn down to make room for the plaza.
Now, the upgrades to the 50-year-old buildings and the plaza between them are in the home stretch and set to be completed this spring, per an announcement from MRP Realty and LaSalle Investment Management. As part of the refresh, the towers are being rebranded simply as “Crystal & Clark.”
The exteriors and mall interior of the old Century Center buildings were “dated and washed-out,” per a press release. Now, the buildings “balance modern design with biophilic and organic touches” and feature “vibrant retail.”
The plaza, meanwhile, “is a reimagined central gathering hub between the two buildings,” per the release. It will be lined by retail, including a new Primrose Schools Early Education & Care location and forthcoming retailers in casual and fine dining, medical care and boutique fitness, as well as a food market, according to the building’s website.
“Century Center was an outmoded design with limited amenities and much-needed indoor/outdoor spaces for the offices, further complemented by the retail-accessible pedestrian plaza shared by the two buildings,” said Frederick Rothmeijer, Founding Principal of MRP’s Development, Construction Management and Asset Management operations, in a statement. “Our strategic plan executed with Davis Construction brings a palpable vitality to this property, and to the neighborhood, located in the center of the burgeoning National Landing.”
As part of the renovations, the plaza has new outdoor seating and gathering areas while the buildings have increased street-level retail and restaurant spaces, as well as streetscape improvements.
Inside, refreshed features include a new lobby and “the largest office conference center in National Landing,” per the press release. That’s in addition to a fitness center with locker rooms, second- and third-floor terraces with indoor and outdoor meeting spaces and a “townhall” amenity space.
“With our keen appreciation of the National Landing neighborhood, we are pleased to see the redevelopment come to fruition,” said Shaun Broome, Managing Director at LaSalle Investment Management. “We believe it will be a significant draw for new tenants and an improved chapter for those who have been onsite for years.”
The renovations have already attracted a “strong contingent of office leases,” despite the difficult office leasing environment, per the release. Arlington’s overall office vacancy rate is currently above 21%.
Raytheon renewed the lease for its corporate headquarters at the Crystal City office complex in 2021, with 120,000 square feet of space on six floors across both buildings.
In total, 2450 Crystal Drive comprises 336,229 square feet of office space and 51,443 square feet of retail. Of that, 36,000 square feet are leased out or a lease is being negotiated. 2461 S. Clark Street has 232,969 square feet of office space and 5,000 square feet of retail now under lease of the total 18,980 available.
“Once prospective tenants visit the site and see this radically improved office and retail environment — especially the food and dining choices, along with a continuing vision set in the very center of National Landing, the value of this position will be undeniable,” said Gary Cook, Senior Vice President Leasing for Lincoln Property Company, in a statement. “The ‘office lifestyle’ here is a game-changer that I believe all current and future tenants celebrate as we seek to bring them new synergistic neighbors to the building.”
Two affordable housing complexes in Arlington are teed up for renovations, including units on a site also set for redevelopment.
Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing will upgrade 62 units at the Marbella Apartments (1301 N. Queen Street) and 101 units at the Arna Valley View Apartments (2300 25th Street S.), says Elise Panko, APAH’s Resource Development and Communications Manager. The properties consist of a group of garden-style apartment buildings north near Rosslyn and mid-rise buildings between Pentagon City and Shirlington.
The affordable housing developer is asking the county for a new $995,000 Affordable Housing Investment Fund (AHIF) loan for this project, which the Arlington County Board is slated to review this Saturday. Existing financing for these developments, to the tune of $10.45 million, will roll over for these projects.
This work is in addition to a redevelopment project at the Marbella site, where some buildings will be torn down to build two 12-story apartment towers with all units set aside for people earning less than the area median income. In February, the Board awarded APAH $21.4 million for the project and approved the redevelopment.
The remaining buildings, built in the 1940s and not renovated in at least 15 years, are in need of an upgrade, Panko said. Renovations here will target buildings to the north of the redevelopment area and across N. Queen Street from it.
Likewise, Arna Valley View has not been renovated since its construction 21 years ago and had developed some maintenance issues.
The brick façades of the Marbella buildings will get new mortar while the Arna Valley buildings will get new siding and garage and walkway repairs. Units in both complexes will get updated finishes, fixtures and appliances, new kitchen cabinets, heating and cooling systems, roofs and windows. Renovations will improve energy efficiency by about 30%, Panko says.
“It is important for APAH to reinvest in its existing assets to ensure that the quality of housing we provide remains at a high standard,” she added.
Panko says APAH has been working with residents on a relocation plan that was approved by the Arlington Tenant-Landlord Commission.
“Residents will be moved off site for approximately six to eight weeks while their units are renovated, and will then return to their same unit,” Panko said. “We do not anticipate any displacement of existing residents because of the renovation.”
Per the February report on the redevelopment project, these renovations were set to occur starting mid-2022. APAH spokesman Garrett Jackson says the delays were due to the additional time needed to secure financing sources as well as getting building permits in hand.
APAH had tried to avoid asking the Board for financing for the renovations, according to the report. But then the economy took a turn.
“Construction costs and interest rates have been very volatile in 2022 (interest rates just in the last few months, but construction costs have been rising since early 2022) — it was the result of both of those things that caused us to need additional funding from the County,” APAH spokesman Garrett Jackson said. “During the Marbella site plan approval, those cost increases had not yet hit the market and we believed that we could accomplish the renovation with no additional AHIF (that had long been our goal).”
So it secured a $700,000 Virginia Housing Trust Fund loan and $2 million in state loans that specifically target energy efficiency upgrades to lower the ask to the board. APAH is also chipping in $11.7 million, and has secured $22.8 million in 4% low-income housing tax credits, and $2.5 million from deferring a developer fee associated with affordable housing development.
“We squeezed contingency and other sources as much as possible throughout 2022… but ultimately between costs and interest rates, we had to go back to the County and request an increase in AHIF funding,” he said.
APAH will also combine the two apartment complexes into a single ownership entity, which will generate more tax credits and reduce the amount of county financing needed, Panko noted.
Good news for coffee lovers who enjoy not taking extra steps to get their caffeine fix: Arlington’s lone drive-thru Starbucks is only closed temporarily.
The cafe at 5515 Langston Blvd, which opened less than three years ago in a former bank, recently closed and was removed from the Starbucks website and app. But the closure is for renovations, the company tells us.
“As a standard course of business, we continually evaluate our store portfolio, using various criteria to ensure we are meeting the needs of our customers,” a Starbucks spokesperson wrote in response to an inquiry from ARLnow. “We are happy to confirm that our store at 5515 Langston Blvd. in Arlington, VA is undergoing a standard renovation, and will reopen on October 10.”
Oct. 10 is next Monday.
“The store will reopen with an updated drive-thru to improve customer experience at the store,” the spokesperson added.
Those reading the tea leaves (or coffee beans) may take that to mean that Starbucks is addressing some of the long drive-thru lines that snake around the stand-alone store’s parking lot and sometimes extend out onto the street.
Starbucks will soon no longer have the vehicularly-accessible coffee market cornered in North Arlington, however. Compass Coffee is planning to open a drive-thru location, also in a former bank building and also along Langston Blvd.
Compass originally hoped to open its 4710 Langston Blvd location this summer but work is still ongoing and an opening date has not been announced.
After being closed for nearly three years, the planetarium adjacent to Washington-Liberty High School is wishing upon a star that it will reopen later this fall.
It was back in November 2019 when the David M. Brown Planetarium on N. Quincy Street closed to allow for the overhaul of the adjacent Arlington Education Center at Washington-Liberty. It took longer than expected due to the pandemic, but that $38 million project is basically complete.
With that done, the planetarium is reopening as well with a few notable changes including a new person in charge, a state-of-the-art projector, and the removal of a mural.
The aim is to start running programs again by early November, Friends of Arlington’s Planetarium President Jennifer Lynn Bartlett told ARLnow.
The non-profit is the “booster club” for the planetarium, as Bartlett described it, while APS owns the facility and provides a large chunk of its funding.
While staff and students all missed the planetarium, the three-year closure and the adjacent building’s makeover allowed for much-needed updates, as well as staffing changes.
Earlier this summer, Arlington Public Schools hired Mary Clendenning as the school system’s new full-time planetarium specialist. For those who were regulars at the planetarium, she may be familiar, having presented weekend programming for several years prior to the closing. She also has more than two decades of experience in the classroom teaching science.
“I am thrilled to be Arlington’s new Planetarium Specialist!” she wrote in August’s Friends of Planetarium newsletter. “This new position offers me the opportunity to combine my passions while using a state-of-the-art projection system, the Digistar 7. I am so excited about being part of the reopening of an Arlington treasure, the Planetarium.”
The new projector system that Clendenning mentioned is set to be the star of the show.
When the planetarium first opened more than five decades ago, it had a mechanical optical system — essentially a ball that projected stars, ran patterns of the night sky, and faded lights to simulate the sun’s journey.
Then, in 2012, a new digital system replaced the old one. But like any computer, a system that’s a decade old is out of date.
“The technology is changing so rapidly that to continue to offer state-of-the-art programming, we need to move to more current hardware,” said Bartlett. “We want to continue to offer programs that are being written now about science that’s happening now.”
The new Digistar 7 system cost $209,000, which came from a combination of carry-over funds from last year’s APS budget and Friends-funded contributions.
Bartlett said the new projection system will allow educators to put on programs beyond astronomy, including lessons on oceanography, earth science, and biology.
The new projection system, like nearly all tech these days, needs an internet connection so the planetarium now has Wi-Fi.
Another thing that planetarium goers will notice when they visit later this year is a missing mural.
In the process of connecting some ductwork to the HVAC system of the newly-renovated W-L annex, it was discovered that the exterior shell of the planetarium and portions of the interior entrance hallway contained asbestos. APS decided to remove the asbestos inside and, because of that, it required the removal of a mural that featured planets, the Milky Way solar system, and other galactic images that Bartlett believed were painted sometime in the 1980s.
The $38 million transformation of the Washington-Liberty annex is nearly complete.
Over the last three years, the nearly six-decade-old Arlington Education Center has undergone a complete overhaul to turn it into classrooms and school space for the burgeoning student body. This is the most significant renovation in the history of the building, which was completed in 1969 and previously used as the Arlington Public Schools headquarters. (The APS administrative offices are now located at Sequoia Plaza.)
We received an exclusive tour yesterday of the newly updated facility that is now updated classrooms, breakout areas, science labs, art studios, weight rooms, offices, and flex space. The project reached substantial completion back in June. With school less than two weeks away, it’s now all touch-ups, paneling, and inspections.
The annex is expected to open to students when the new school year starts later this month.
The goal of the project, APS’s director of design and construction Jeff Chambers told ARLnow while walking through the still-pristine hallways, was to turn an under-used office building into usable, updated school space.
“With this building, it’s set up so that it can be used for any type of classroom or for any grade,” Chambers said. “It’s going to be used by Washington-Liberty students when it opens, but it can be converted to be used for anything. The whole intent is that all of the classrooms can be modified and used for whatever program absolutely needs them.”
The five-floor, 55,000-square-foot facility can accommodate between 500 and 600 students. The building is shaped like a “quarter of a donut,” as described by project manager Robin Hodges, which allows nearly all of the classrooms a view of the outside while also facing inward towards the common areas.
Each level, with the exception of the ground floor, is similar in set-up, with the elevators moved back, large windows, and a common area with seating and furniture. The building’s footprint wasn’t expanded, though it might look that way.
“The ambient light into the classrooms and spaces has really made a huge improvement, opened up the building a lot more,” said Hodges. “Everyone that used to be here before and now walks the halls ask, ‘Did you make it bigger?’ No. We just have more daylight in the building.”
Chambers compared the old building’s lack of sunlight and darkness, particularly in the bathrooms, to walking into a famed Arlington landmark.
“It was like walking into The Broiler on Columbia [Pike] and you’re looking for your steak and cheese,” he said laughing, noting that they did a simulation of the sun’s movement and added window frits to help diffuse sunlight throughout the building.
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
A Rosslyn-based online interior design startup is celebrating one year and more than 100 projects.
Deazly, launched in July 2021, brings professional design to homeowners in an online design studio. The company matches homeowners looking to renovate their kitchen or bathrooms with professional designers, who work with them to create 3D concepts of the space for a flat fee.
Homeowners can then see how their room will look before committing to a project.
“For most homeowners, hiring an interior designer can feel intimidating,” CEO and Founder Ketan Doiphode, a licensed architect, said in a news release. “It is a difficult process to navigate.”
So, he said he built Deazly to bridge the knowledge gap on the homeowner side and technological gap on the design side. His goal is to provide affordable, hassle-free design services. And for designers, it’s an opportunity to work 100% remotely.
Deazly clients tend to be 30 to 45 years old, tech-savvy and want good design completed at a fast pace, Doiphode said. And 60% of the company’s work comes directly from contractor partners and remodeling companies, the release said.
Contractors have a competitive advantage by having a design partner.
“The Deazly process provides the consultation needed to work through style preferences and functional requirements,” Doiphode said. “Highly realistic 3D designs and a product list ensure the homeowner and contractor can work together to make the design of these high-use spaces a reality.”
While there are other e-design businesses, Deazly specializes in kitchens and bathrooms — both generally complex renovation projects that greatly contribute to resale value of homes. When the startup first launched, it offered just bathroom design but in January, the company added kitchen design services, as well.
Deazly’s flat fee structure, listed on its website as a range between $700 to $2,300 based on the extent of services, is something the company says sets it apart from traditional designers’ fees.
The Deazly team has seven U.S.-based interior designers and eight support team members in India, the release said.
“I see Deazly as an example of the modern workforce,” says Doiphode. “Designers often work long hours at firms and the conceptual, more creative part of the design process is led by directors and principals. At Deazly, the designers are involved in the visual and creative aspects. The 100% virtual team structure allows designers to create a flexible schedule. I can match homeowners with the right designer based on the designer’s availability.”
Doiphode was inspired to start the company from his 18 years of architecture and project management experience. He worked for the brand design team at Marriott International, where he worked on lifestyle brands that included Delta Hotels, Sheraton, Marriott Hotels, Aloft, and AC hotels. He has also worked as an interior architect for the firms SOM and Forrest Perkins.
Doiphode hopes to grow the Deazly design team and is working on a new version of the website that will add detailed project milestones and a two-way communication platform for homeowners’ remodeling and renovation process.
A contract that’s part of a $1.9 million project to renovate “the courtroom of the future” is set to go before the Arlington County Board.
The Board plans to vote on Saturday (July 16) on an $890,000 construction contract to upgrade Arlington General District Court Courtroom 10B with technology updates and layout improvements. If approved, the contract will go to Michigan-based construction company Sorensen Gross.
Arlington courtrooms haven’t had a major renovation since 1994, according to a report to the County Board.
“Significant technology development has introduced new forms of evidence, including recordings from police body-worn cameras and smartphone cameras,” the report says. “Additional courtroom technology is needed to show this evidence to only the required participants. This technology prototype will address these issues and provide a more flexible setting for future expansion/modification to the system.”
The construction project is set to include renovations such as raising the floor to make routing cables easier, new video monitors and sound systems that coordinate microphones and integrate translation capabilities. By adding a new “technology backbone,” the county aims to give “more direct control of multimedia presentations,” according to the report.
The spectator area, jury box and witness stand are also set for changes, according to a Q&A document with prospective vendors. The changes will comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and improve the layout for judges, witnesses and clerks, according to the report.
The total budget for the project is around $1.9 million, which was included in the county’s adopted fiscal year 2022-2024 Capital Improvement Plan. In addition to the construction contract, the total cost reflects around $370,000 in design and administrative costs and $250,000 in contingency costs.
Construction is currently expected to start in early August and should be mostly complete by July of next year, according to the Q&A document.
Photo via Google Maps