A new hardware store that’s coming to Courthouse is hoping to open its doors by the end of the summer.
Twins Ace Hardware will be located at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Troy Street, on the ground floor of the 2001 Clarendon Blvd apartment building. At nearly 6,000 square feet, the store will carry “a wide variety of products” while offering “the same outstanding service you’ve enjoyed” at the company’s existing Fairfax store.
“We’re excited to be a part of the neighborhood,” co-owner Jeff Smith said. “[My twin brother] Craig and I have always loved Courthouse, but never found the right site for our store until now. [The building] has great amenities and convenient parking for our customers to load purchases large and small.”
“We’re working on construction and getting our permits and hope to open late summer this year,” Smith added, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow.com.
All 30,000 square feet of retail space in 2001 Clarendon Blvd is now leased, according to a press release. Another of the newer businesses to lease a space there, fitness studio Xtend Barre, has set a June 10 opening date.
Photos by Jackie Friedman
County Board Contenders Debate — The two Democratic contenders for Arlington County Board, incumbent Libby Garvey and challenger Erik Gutshall, debated who would be the most transparent and the best agent of change last night. Gutshall criticized Garvey for the lack of action on new transit options for Columbia Pike and for supporting the creation of a “blue ribbon panel” to study county priorities. [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Residents Concerned About Sex Offender — Some residents in the Bluemont neighborhood and the area around Bon Air Park are concerned about a registered sex offender who recently moved to the area. There have been reports of the man watching children’s soccer games and leaving balloons in the backyard of a family home. Police say they’re investigating. [Fox 5]
Vornado Attracting Millennials With Cool Restaurants — “Vornado has carefully curated its retail in Crystal City and Pentagon City to appeal to creative Millennials, bringing in tenants like DIY design and fabrication space TechShop and hip restaurants like We The Pizza, Sweetgreen and Taylor Gourmet, which just opened Monday. That’s not to mention the Whole Foods anchoring the retail section of Vornado’s The Bartlett, a trendy ‘city within a city’ with nearly 700 residential units.” [Bisnow]
Chinese News Agency Profiles Arlington’s Tech Scene — Xinhua, the state-run news agency that’s said to be the largest and most influential media organization in China, has published a feature story that discusses how Arlington has become a “hot spot for tech startups.” The story notes that in addition to a robust talent pool and the availability of investment capital, “government has also played a vital role in the development of startups in Arlington.” [Xinhua]
Outdoor Lab to Celebrate 50th Anniversary — The Arlington Outdoor Lab, a nonprofit facility that hosts more than 9,000 students annually for outdoor and environmental education, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an event in Ballston next month. [Arlington Outdoor Lab]
Flickr pool photo by James L.
After nearly two months of renovations, the Pacers Running Store in Clarendon reopened last week.
The store’s interior was totally revamped to offer a “shopping experience” similar to the new Pacers stores in the District, on 14th Street and in Navy Yard. The new space is more open, more organized and features more natural light.
Pacers is located at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Metro station. The store moved to an ancillary space along N. Highland Street during construction, offering a scaled-down selection of running shoes, apparel, nutrition and accessories.
Even with the renovated space open, Pacers is still adding product displays and making some finishing touches to the store.
Sweetgreen applied for its construction permit on the 12th Street S. side of the building on Feb. 24. Orangetheory applied for a permit on the S. Fern Street side of the building on April 1.
The 12th Street extension between S. Eads and Fern streets is rapidly becoming a powerhouse retail corridor, even though it’s a block from an existing, expanding retail hub: the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. A Whole Foods and a Commonwealth Joe coffee shop will be opening this summer on 12th Street S., at The Bartlett apartment building.
Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon occupies one of the most iconic restaurant locations in Arlington, directly across from the Clarendon Metro station. After more than 20 years in business at 3028 Wilson Blvd, it appears that the local eatery is preparing to leave.
While Hard Times in Clarendon remains open, its 8,240 square foot space is being offered for lease. A marketing flyer says the “trophy restaurant or retail space” is “available immediately.”
The space consists of three levels, including a basement kitchen and storage area. It’s being marketed by the Maryland-based firm H&R Retail.
So far, Hard Times has not responded to a request for comment emailed to the store.
Hard Times was founded in Old Town Alexandria in 1980 and has a dozen locations around the D.C. area.
One of the most prominently-located retail stores in Arlington is getting a makeover.
Renovations are currently underway at the Pacers Running Store at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Clarendon Metro station. The interior of the store is being renovated, following a recently-completed exterior renovation.
Pacers is still open and selling shoes and other running gear, but is operating out of a small space next to the store, along N. Highland Street.
The company says the construction is expected to last about two months. When completed, the newly-revamped Pacers will offer a “shopping experience” similar to the new Pacers stores in the District, on 14th Street and in Navy Yard.
The Pink Palm will be moving from Old Dominion Drive in McLean to the Market Common Clarendon shopping center, as soon as mid-to-late spring. The store will be located at 2871 Clarendon Blvd, in the former Knightsbridge Trading Co. space.
The Pink Palm stocks clothes, accessories and gifts for well-heeled customers from brands like Lilly Pulitzer, Barbour, Lifeguard Press and Natty Beau.
Aside from McLean, the company has existing locations in Alexandria, Bethesda, Charlottesville and Richmond. Its employees are known as the Pink Palmettes and its website lists four small, fluffy dogs as “store mascots.”
Photo courtesy Lindsey W.
(Updated at 3:58 p.m.) After four years of business, Executive Menswear at the Crystal City Shops will soon sell its last necktie. The store is at 2117 Crystal Plaza Arc, but not for much longer.
With all inventory reduced to 70 percent off and a sign thanking customers for “several years of business,” the shop is set to close its doors “very soon,” said an employee who preferred not to be identified. “It could be today, maybe tomorrow, but very soon.”
There were still plenty of jackets, sport coats, dress shirts, neckties and footwear on the racks on Thursday when an ARLNow reporter visited the shop.
It’s hardly camping weather, but Lisa Peregory, owner of the new Second Ascent Consignment shop at 2757 Washington Boulevard, says business has been as brisk as the temperatures in the two months since the store opened.
The store specializes in casual clothing, outerwear and footwear for men, women and children, as well as specialized gear for camping, hiking, paddling and climbing, sold on a consignment basis. Customers bringing in clothing receive 45 percent of the sale price when the item sells. For items over $150 the split is 50-50.
Customers can peruse popular brands such as North Face, Patagonia, Columbia, Arc’teryx and REI in the store.
The idea for reselling adventure gear came to Peregory last summer while volunteering for the Turtle Island Preserve girls’ primitive camp in North Carolina. The lifelong Arlington resident decided then to abandon a 34-year career in intellectual property and open the shop.
So far, the adventure in adventure gear is paying off in sales and consignments.
“We’ve been really well received by the neighborhood,” Peregory said. “People come by to see how we’re doing and tell us we’re a wonderful addition to the neighborhood. And some come by with their dogs for a dog treat.”
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A new six-story residential building may be coming to Ballston.
The County Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on a proposal by developer Penrose Group to turn a parking lot, used car lot and Exxon gas station into a six-story mixed-use building. County staff is recommending that the Board approve the request.
If approved the new building, located at 670 N. Glebe Road — across from Ballston Common Mall and a few blocks from the Ballston Metro station — will have 173 apartments, 177 parking spaces in an underground garage and two separate retail spaces on the ground floor. The first retail area with 1,799 square feet will be located at the corner of N. Glebe Road and 7th Street N. The second area, which is 2,527 square feet, will be at the corner of N. Carlin Springs Road and N. Glebe Road.
The new mixed-use development — originally dubbed 672 Flats — will also have bike storage, two lobbies, a leasing office, mail room, gym and amenity room on its ground floor. There will be 175 parking spots for residents and two for retail uses. Typically, the county calls for at least eight retail parking spots for mixed-use buildings.
“Staff supports the applicant’s request for modification because of the small amount of retail space and the likelihood of its serving users in the immediate vicinity of the site, and the availability of parking in the Ballston area. The applicant’s proposal implements the ‘High-Medium Residential Mixed-Use’ General Land Use Plan (GLUP) designation in that it provides a transition from the high-density commercial core of Ballston to medium-density residential uses to the west,” county staff said.
Of the 173 apartments, at least seven of them will be committed affordable units (CAFs), according to Penrose Group’s proposal. The building falls under the Bluemont Civic Association.
“The applicant is proposing bonus density in exchange for achieving LEED Silver certification consistent with the County’s Green Building Density Incentive program, and is proposing an affordable housing plan including a cash contribution and seven (7) on-site committed affordable units (CAFs) consistent with Arlington County Zoning Ordinance (ACZO) requirements,” county staff said.
According to county staff, Penrose Group’s proposal for the mixed-use building fits in with the 1980 Ballston Sector Plan and the 1981 West Ballston Land Use Study.
“The proposed site plan implements a successful transition through use of architecture to the existing townhouses abutting the site to the west, including façade design, plantings, and a special paving treatment in the alley,” county staff said.
The County Board voted 4-1 on Saturday to approve the plan, which has been years in the making and will replace an outdated retail plan originally passed in 2001. The new plan moves Arlington from a “retail everywhere” approach — policies designed to put ground floor retail in most commercial buildings, regardless of whether a business could actually survive in a given location — to what’s billed as a flexible but “curated” approach.
Color-coded maps will now define where the county would like certain types of retail businesses to set up shop. The owners of buildings in high foot traffic areas will be encouraged to adopt certain building standards that are conducive to ground floor retailers, from higher ceilings to smaller building lobbies.
“By partnering with our business community and our residents, we’ve developed a plan that takes important steps to improve and strengthen the retail sector in Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. “We believe the consistent, clear guidance and definitions, as well as flexibility of use, design and timing in the plan will better serve those who live and work here when they shop, dine, get their hair cut and bank on streets throughout the County.”
The plan passed with two notable amendments, both proposed by County Board member John Vihstadt and both addressing concerns of the local business community.
The first further codified that the plan is intended as a guiding principle — to be applied primarily during development approval processes — rather than explicit county rules and regulations. The second added service and repair businesses to the types of businesses encouraged in “red zones” — the parts of Arlington’s business districts with the highest foot traffic. In the draft plan, staff had recommended limiting those zones to shopping, dining and entertainment.
“This plan has come a long, long way,” Vihstadt said after the motions passed by 4-1 and 3-2 respectively. “It was not a good plan when it started out.”
The plan passed with tepid support from the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, which had expressed concern about earlier versions of the plan it deemed “too proscriptive.”
“Explicit addition of a statement that the retail plan is not regulatory is paramount,” Chamber President and CEO Kate Roche told the Board. “Moving forward into implementation, we emphasize the importance of the plan being understood as a guideline… we want to make sure this plan isn’t codifying anything that will prevent Arlington from becoming the great, flexible place that we all want it to be.”
The changes still weren’t enough for Libby Garvey, who was the lone vote against the plan.
“I’m much more conformable with the plan with the changes, but still not comfortable enough to support it,” she said. “Both the people who have to make it work and the people we serve are saying, ‘it’s too proscriptive.'”
The new Arlington County Retail Plan would move away from the county’s current “retail everywhere” policy, which was an attempt to provide more lively street life around Arlington by requiring retail spaces in most new commercial buildings.
While successful by some measures, “retail everywhere” — a policy last updated in 2001 — has hit snags, with the owners of buildings in low-foot-traffic areas struggling to find viable retail tenants.
The new retail plan, which has been seven years in the making, is an attempt to concentrate retail in the highest foot traffic areas of commercial corridors, while encouraging more retail-friendly building designs. The hoped-for end result: more vibrant stretches of retailers and restaurants in Arlington.
“This updated approach will strengthen Arlington’s primary retail nodes; allow long- and short-term market shifts in retail and ground floor use to occur within this retail policy framework; accommodate innovative uses on the ground floor; and increase Arlington’s overall level of economic competitiveness,” according to a staff report.
The plan includes color-coded maps of neighborhoods like Clarendon and Crystal City, with each color corresponding to a different retail approach. In the red areas — those with the highest foot traffic — county planners want to encourage food, entertainment and shopping destinations, while discouraging large building lobbies and service businesses, like dry cleaners.
In other coded areas, there is more flexibility, but still some design guidelines and an action plan for the type of businesses the county would like to see in ground floor spaces.
Critics say the county is “acting like a mall operator” in trying to decide which businesses go where. In “curating what the community wants on the street,” in the words of one business leader who requested anonymity, the county is again taking a proscriptive approach — one that may not reflect the changing market a decade or two down the line.
For instance, high-end service businesses like blow dry bars are growing in popularity and may want to locate in one of the “red zones,” where the county is now specifically saying they shouldn’t exist.
There have also been concerns raised about the wisdom of restricting business lobbies, which ostensibly are needed in order to serve the building’s main purpose — being an attractive place for offices or apartments. Others in the business community have disputed the coding of the plans, though some of those concerns were addressed in a recent update of the plan.
“The refinements to the Retail Plan, which address concerns and comments raised through the public process, have made for a stronger document,” the staff report says. “The retail street maps, while not meeting 100 percent consensus by all stakeholders, provide a balance of the stakeholder positions and existing policies pertaining to ground floor use.”
Additionally, while property owners are still able to request exceptions through the county’s site plan process, some say that process remains too rigid, time-consuming and expensive. An apartment building owner might be reluctant to spend tens of thousands in attorney’s fees and staff time, for instance, on a site plan amendment that could allow a dry cleaner to go where there was formerly a small convenience store.
The store will sell vaporizers and e-liquids, which come in various flavors including traditional tobacco flavors and more exotic flavors like watermelon mojito or peppermint bark. Customers can also create their own flavors at a “juice bar,” said Scott Parker, a managing partner in the business.
The new store is located at 3219 Columbia Pike, across from the Audi dealership. It’s a locally-owned franchise of VaporFi, a Miami-based retail chain and manufacturer.
“We’re very happy to be in South Arlington, with a great location right on Columbia Pike, an area with tons of traffic,” said Parker. “At the same time, we’re also currently shopping locations in North Arlington as well. We hope to open 15 stores in the next 12 months all over Northern Virginia.”
There are three existing VaporFi locations locally, in Alexandria, Georgetown and Potomac Mills, said Parker, who’s also a partner in two notable Arlington businesses: A-Town Bar and Grill and Don Tito.
The new store will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Target Eyes Rosslyn — A vacant storefront at 1500 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn may become home to the D.C. region’s first TargetExpress, a smaller, grocery-oriented version of the big box retailer’s stores. So far, Target has not confirmed the news. The storefront has previously hosted Rosslyn BID-sponsored pop-up market events. [Washington Business Journal]
Key Bridge Rehab Planned — The D.C. Department of Transportation is planning to begin a two-year rehabilitation project on the Key Bridge this spring. Most of the work will focus on the bridge’s substructure so traffic impacts will be limited. Other planned work includes new LED streetlights, stronger barriers between the road and the sidewalk, and a new paint job for the bridge’s fence. [Georgetown Dish]
Sub $2 Gas in Arlington — The average price of a gallon of regular grade gasoline in Virginia fell to $1.99 over the weekend, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s the lowest statewide average price since May 2009. So far in Arlington, only one gas station is reported to have $1.99 gas: the Arlington Auto Service station at 5200 Columbia Pike. [VirginiaGasPrices]
AYD to Hold SOTU Watch Party — Arlington Young Democrats will be holding a watch party for tonight’s State of the Union address. The party starts at 7:30 p.m. at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon (3100 Clarendon Blvd). President Obama’s address is scheduled to start at 9:00 p.m. For those looking for an ostensibly non-partisan watch party, Busboys and Poets in Shirlington (4251 S. Campbell Ave) is holding a “community watch event” starting at 8:00 p.m. [Arlington Young Democrats]
Blind Woman’s Luggage Returned Thanks to TV Station — WJLA’s “7 On Your Side” segment helped a blind Arlington resident retrieve her lost luggage at Reagan National Airport. The bag, reportedly containing all of Jessica Kyriazis’ winter clothes, was lost for several days by American Airlines due to circumstances arising from “bad weather.” [WJLA]
Taylor Gourmet Now Open at DCA — A Taylor Gourmet is now open at Reagan National Airport. It’s the latest in a line of trendy local restaurants that are opening at the airport this year, including Cava Grill, &pizza, Bracket Room, Lebanese Taverna Grill, Kapnos Taverna, and El Centro D.F. [Washington City Paper]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
The Board has four items in Saturday’s consent agenda dealing with the conversion of space mandated to be retail, based on building’s site plans, to office or medical uses. One of those items is for a dentist’s office already in operation in Courthouse Plaza under a temporary site plan amendment.
The other three agenda items are for:
- Two vacant retail spaces, totaling 3,696 square feet, at 1800 N. Kent Street. One space (pictured above) was a private school space that has been vacant for six years. The other had been occupied by dry cleaners, but has been vacant for 10 years, according to the staff report.
- A 2,830-square-foot vacant space on the ground floor of 2001 15th Street N., in the Odyssey Condominiums. The space fronts Clarendon Blvd, but it has been vacant for five years, other than serving as a temporary leasing office for the now-opened apartments across the street, the staff report states. Since the leasing office has relocated, the owner reports difficulty finding a tenant for the space.
- A 1,520-square-foot space at 1600 Wilson Blvd, the former site of the Sir Speedy Printing Center, which has been vacant since July. The space, according to the staff report, “has a history of retail vacancy and poses some location challenges for retail attraction.”
County staff identified no issues for any of these sites, suggesting a “medical/physical therapy office, will help activate the street and pose no adverse impacts to the neighborhood,” in all of the reports.
The county seems to be taking a softer line on mandated ground floor retail spaces, in recognition that some storefronts are just not viable for traditional retail. For instance, 1800 N. Kent Street is well hidden from Rosslyn’s main N. Lynn Street drag, resulting in a relative paucity of the foot traffic that could bring customers to a small business.
County staff, in recommending approval of the motions, used the draft Arlington Retail Action Plan as guidance in its decisions.
The draft action plan, which would replace and expand upon the 2001 Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Retail Plan, includes a map that specifies which type of retail can go where. According to the county’s planning staff, all four locations on Saturday’s agenda are considered appropriate for medical or office use under the draft retail map.