The YMCA may be ditching tennis courts when it redevelops its property in Virginia Square.
The organization plans to tear down its facility at 3400 13th Street N. and build a new recreational facility with an aquatics center, a multi-purpose gym with workout rooms, and a “diversity and inclusion center.”
There will also be a seven-story apartment building with 374 units, as well as open spaces and footpaths through the site.
Tennis players, however, have watched the eight existing courts get cut in half in the plans — and now axed — just ahead of the next project planning meeting set for today (Thursday). After this meeting, the project will head to the Arlington Planning Commission and County Board later this year.
In a letter to members sent last week, and in comments to ARLnow on Tuesday, the organization says it must change course because planning guidance prevents it from building a structure tall enough to accommodate courts.
Without support for the taller heights from Arlington County and neighbors, it says the courts will be scrapped and it plans to work with Arlington to contribute to tennis amenities elsewhere.
“Over the course of multiple reviews of the site plan with the county and the community, the Y and our development partner came to the conclusion we had to reduce the overall footprint of the building,” said Alison Risso, the communications director of YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. “Tennis courts require a substantial amount of horizontal and vertical space while only typically serving two to four players at a time on a court.”
The decision shocked some tennis players, including Janet Barsy.
“The eight Y indoor courts are the last public indoor tennis courts in Arlington,” she said. “They are well used by Arlington and other Northern [Virginia] residents for personal and organized tennis and provide a venue for many popular adult and children’s clinics.”
Barsy says she is dismayed by what she feels is a lack of meaningful engagement with players, who were not pleased by the initial plans, which proposed a reduction in courts. Early public feedback included comments from several tennis players advocating for more courts and fewer bells and whistles.
“Early and honest engagement would have been in keeping with the Y’s four stated core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility,” she said.
Risso, however, notes tennis membership “has continued to decline over the last decade,” perhaps replaced by pickleball fever. The proposed facility’s multi-purpose gym includes three indoor pickleball courts and convertible courts for squash, handball and racquetball.
For the county’s part, communications and engagement specialist Elise Cleva says staff flagged that the proposed site layout was “inconsistent with what was envisioned” in a planning document guiding redevelopment along Washington Blvd and N. Kirkwood Road.
The document was precipitated by plans to redevelop the YMCA facility as well as the American Legion and Mill Creek Residential sites to its south.
(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.
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.
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.
Arlington’s pickleball players, eager to see the sport grow, will soon have more courts to play on.
The YMCA Arlington Tennis & Squash Center, at 3400 13th Street N. in the Virginia Square area, is repainting three tennis courts to make room for six pickleball courts. This change is part of an effort to meet the growing demand for facilities as the sport gains popularity.
“In the D.C. region, pickleball is exploding,” said Carlo Impeduglia, Associate Director of Racquets at the Y in Arlington.
He attributes the local and nationwide surge in interest in pickleball and other racquet sports to people searching for social sports where players can stay distanced during the pandemic.
The new courts at the Y facility will feature blended lines and changeable nets so players can choose either tennis or pickleball, Impeduglia said. Currently, the tennis courts have pickleball lines taped on.
Members will be able to reserve courts and participate in drop-in play, instructional clinics, socials and special events, he said. More permanent courts could be added in the future, too.
The changes come as the YMCA (3422 13th Street N.) seeks to upgrade its facilities in Arlington, replacing the Y as well as tennis and squash center with a seven-story tall apartment building and three-story tall facility that has a swimming pool and tennis and pickleball courts.
At the regional level, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is jumping on the craze and opening pickleball courts throughout the D.C. area. Other new courts can be found at the Y’s locations in Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Silver Spring.
“The response to pickleball has been overwhelming by our membership,” said Pamela Curran, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. “Pickleball is the perfect pandemic sport since people can still socially distance and get great exercise both outdoors and indoors at an extremely affordable price.”
Adrie Custer, the moderator of the Facebook group Pickleball Friends of Arlington, Virginia, said she has also seen a surge in interest. The group was founded in 2016 and today has more than 430 members — but nearly 200 of those members joined in the last year, she said.
“Once someone actually plays pickleball, they are hooked,” she said. “We expect our numbers to keep climbing. I believe it’s true that pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America. It is a game that can be played enjoyably at many skill levels and by people of all ages.”
Players typically are 50 years of age and older, but Impeduglia said he has seen and heard of kids as young as 4 and seniors as old as 90 hitting the courts.
“It’s really all ages, all levels,” he said. “The sport has no boundaries.”
Nationally, the sport grew 21.3% to 4.2 million players in 2020, according to the USA Pickleball Association.
Arlington County Parks and Recreation provides indoor as well as outdoor courts for the sport, and classes are available for young players, too.
The county has added pickleball lines to multiple courts over the last few years and noticed an increase in overall use in parks amid the pandemic.
“The pandemic has not seemed to slow its growth,” county parks department spokeswoman Susan Kalish said of the sport. “It’s definitely popular in Arlington and the region in general.”
Photo via Lauren Bryan/Flickr
Some currently closed amenities at Arlington County parks will be reopening Friday.
Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation announced this afternoon that park amenities which can be utilized safely while maintaining social distancing will be reopening. That includes athletic fields, batting cages, tennis courts, tracks and picnic shelters.
Organized sports, special events and organized activities, however, will remain verboten. Community and nature centers, basketball courts, dog parks, playgrounds, restrooms, including portable restrooms, spraygrounds, and volleyball courts will all remain closed.
“We are cautiously opening up some of our park amenities as we move through this unprecedented time,” Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph said in a statement. “We’re pleased to be able to give our community more opportunities to be active in our parks. We ask that people continue to stay safe and practice social distancing, which will help us stop the spread and stay open.”
Officials noted that some facilities may remain locked on Friday, as crews work to remove signs and padlocks around the county.
Arlington’s rate of new coronavirus cases has slowed dramatically over the past five days, and the risk of infection outdoors is generally considered low.
Parks initially reopened for passive recreation on Saturday, May 23, just before Memorial Day. Prior to that, only use of trails was allowed. During the parks closure, police frequently responded to local tracks and athletic fields for reports of people using the closed facilities.
More on the amenities reopening, from a county press release:
Effective Friday, June 5, Arlington County will reopen numerous park amenities for people who practice social distancing and follow the posted guidelines. Reopened amenities will include:
- Athletic fields (with restrictions)
- Batting cages
- Bocce courts
- Disc golf course
- Pickleball courts
- Picnic shelters (with restrictions)
- Skate park
- Tennis courts
“We are cautiously opening up some of our park amenities as we move through this unprecedented time,” said Parks & Recreation Director Jane Rudolph. “We’re pleased to be able to give our community more opportunities to be active in our parks. We ask that people continue to stay safe and practice social distancing, which will help us stop the spread and stay open.
At this time, organized sports, special events and organized activities and instruction are not permitted. Access to various amenities, such as courts and shelters are first-come, first-served; there are no court reservations at this time. Signage in the parks outlines specific guidance for each amenity.
Due to health safety concerns, these park amenities continue to be closed: community and nature centers, basketball courts, dog parks, playgrounds, restrooms, including portable restrooms, spraygrounds, and volleyball courts. While previously planned to be opened during this phase, dog parks will remain closed because the number of people who use them would prevent proper social distancing.
As the County looks towards reopening additional park amenities, staff will continue to monitor guidance from national, state and local health officials. Park visitors are asked to adhere to the physical distancing and small group guidelines. Don’t use any closed park amenities. Face masks are recommended where proper distancing is not possible. People who are sick or who have recently been exposed to COVID-19 should stay home.
Through Friday, June 5, Department of Parks and Recreation personnel will be working to replace signage, unlock and prep amenities, and conduct general park maintenance. Work may not be complete in every park by Friday. If you see an incorrect sign or a facility that should be unlocked, email [email protected].
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.
Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.
Monday, March 19
Conversations with Tyler: Martina Navratilova*
George Mason University Arlington (3351 Fairfax Drive)
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.
Listen to record-setting tennis player and communist defector Martina Navratilova for an across the board conversation on her activism, professional accomplishments, and personal life.
Free Home Buyer Seminar: Get $1,500 Towards Your New Home*
Orange Line Living (1600 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.
Attend the Rosslyn class with wine and cheese and receive a $1,500 credit toward a new home or lease termination. The first three registrants and attendees will receive a Google Chromecast.
WordPress: An Introduction
Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Learn how to create, navigate, post on, and customize your own blog or basic website with WordPress.com (not WordPress.org). Registration required to attend.
Tuesday, March 20
Homebuyer Seminar with Fulcrum Properties Group*
Keller Williams Metro Center Arlington (2101 Wilson Boulevard)
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.
Looking to buy your first home, or at least thinking about it? Join this free event to learn how to take the first steps from on-hand experts. Registration required to attend.
Wednesday, March 21
CACI Ballston Toastmasters Club Open House
CACI (1100 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
If you need to improve your public speaking, Toastmasters is the place for you. Attend the spring open house to meet members and ask questions over refreshments.
Thursday, March 22
Beer & Donuts with Vanish Farmhouse
Sugar Shack (1014 S. Glebe Road)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
Vanish Farmhouse Brewery of Leesburg, Va., brings a selection of craft brews to Sugar Shack. Board games, beer-glazed donut holes, and paninis will also be at the family friendly event.
ARLnow March Madness Watch Party
Latitude Apartments (3601 Fairfax Drive)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
Come watch the Sweet Sixteen on Latitude’s rooftop terrace with ARLnow staff with free drinks, snacks, and swag. You won’t miss any of the action — we’ll have four TVs on.
Friday, March 23
St. Agnes Fish Fry*
St. Agnes Catholic Church (1910 N. Randolph Street)
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
The annual Lenten fish fry is upon us, and don’t miss out on the sides, beer, and other beverages as well. Registration required, and all are welcome to join in the Easter Sunday mass as well.
David Alan Grier Live
Arlington Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike)
Time: 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Join comedian and actor David Alan Grier, of In Living Color and Comedy Central fame, for an evening of stand up. Tickets start at $25. Additional performances on March 24.
Saturday, March 24
National Chamber Ensemble – Brahms and Mendelssohn*
Unitarian Universalist Church (4444 Arlington Boulevard)
Time: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Enjoy masterful chamber music from Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, performed by National Chamber Ensemble artists. Reception with the musicians to follow.
*Denotes featured (sponsored) event
High Water Bills Prompt Questions — A number of Arlington residents say their quarterly water bills for the summer and fall spiked to inconceivably high levels, in some cases in excess of $2,000. The county government, however, says no systemic billing issues have been found and blames the high bills on hot and dry weather combined with homeowners irrigating their yards. [InsideNova]
News Photog Saved By Arlington Medic — WUSA9 photographer Dion Wiggins suffered a massive heart attack while shooting video of traffic along I-395 last month. It was an Arlington County paramedic, Chris Abrahams, who together with firefighter Jason Griffith revived Wiggins from cardiac arrest, stabilized him and transported him to George Washington University Hospital. Wiggins is now back at home and on the road to recovery. [WUSA9]
ACPD: Don’t DUI After the Super Bowl — Super Bowl Sunday is two days away and the Arlington County Police Department is reminding residents to designate a driver for the big game. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest days of the year for DUI, with a third of all U.S. traffic deaths due to drunk drivers. [Arlington County]
D.C. Metro Work This Weekend — Major scheduled track work will close six downtown D.C. Metro stations along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines this weekend. The Blue and Orange lines will be split in two and the Silver line will end at Ballston. “Customers traveling between Virginia and DC are encouraged to use the Yellow Line, if possible,” Metro says. [WMATA]
Kudos for Sheriff’s Office — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office has been awarded reaccreditation by the American Correctional Association Commission (ACA), whose standards are the national benchmark for the effective operation of correctional facilities in the United States.” [Arlington County]
WHS Swimmers in Regionals — “With three Wakefield swimmers heading off to regionals — the most in recent history — the Wakefield community is overflowing with enthusiasm and excitement in anticipation of a splashing victory.” [Wakefield Chieftain]
Obit: Mel Labat — Long-time Arlington tennis coach Mel Labat passed away last week. A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday). A scholarship fund has been established, with the proceeds going to the Arlington Youth Tennis Program. [YMCA, Legacy]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
On the list of Team USA athletes heading to Rio for this summer’s Olympic Games, there’s only one whose hometown is listed as Arlington, Va.
Denis Kudla, Arlington’s own rising tennis star, will be competing in his first Olympics this year, alongside other major American tennis figures like Madison Keys, the Williams sisters and the Bryan brothers.
Kudla was born in Kiev, Ukraine, moved to the United States with his family on his first birthday, and began playing tennis at the age of 7. The highlight of his career thus far has been reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon last summer, the last American man standing at the Grand Slam tournament.
Kudla has ranked as high as 53 on the ATP world men’s tennis rankings.
The opening ceremonies for the Rio games is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 5.
The Tennis Factory, a long-time tennis specialty store at 3865 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, recently closed its doors.
Signs in the window say the store closed Feb. 21 after losing its lease.
Tennis Factory was noted for its local business eccentricities. Run by a brother-and-sister team, the store had enough merchandise strewn about to have one tipster joke affectionately about it being a “fire hazard.” The store conducted especially thorough shoe fittings — which could turn shoe shopping into an hour-long affair even with few other customers inside.
On its website, the Tennis Factory says it’s hoping to reopen in a new location and revamp its website.
The Tennis Factory is Under Reconstruction
After 40 years of doing business in Arlington, VA, serving tennis enthusiasts in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area and from around the world, the Tennis Factory is undergoing a makeover.
Look for our new location and brand new website including a new online store.
The Tennis Factory has been providing the best in sales, services and products since 1976. We thank our longtime customers as well as those who have just discovered our store for your patronage. We will continue to provide your favorite brands along with the exceptional service you have come to expect.
If you would like to follow our progress or receive information on our grand re-opening, please send your name and contract information to: [email protected].
Kudla Out After Four-Set Loss — Arlington resident Denis Kudla, 22, capped his impressive performance at Wimbledon with a four-set loss to reigning U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic in the Round of 16 yesterday afternoon. Kudla, who turned tennis pro at the age of 16, was the last remaining American man in the tournament. [Fox Sports, Twitter]
Wellington Sells for $167 Million — The Wellington apartment complex on Columbia Pike has sold for $167 million. The 711 unit complex is 97 percent occupied. It was purchased by Washington REIT. [MultifamilyBiz]
Arlington Park Spending Near Top — Arlington County spends $249 per resident on parks, the third highest per capita park spending figure in the country, among the nation’s 100 most populous areas. Washington, D.C. ranked first, spending $346 per resident. Some of Arlington’s park spending is now going toward >$1 million playgrounds. [Washington Post, Trust for Public Land]
Flickr pool photo by thekidfromcrumlin
Arlington Resident Advances at Wimbledon — Denis Kudla, an Arlington resident, has advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon. Kudla, 22, is the last American man standing at the tennis tournament. He will face the Croatian Marin Cilic at 10:30 (ET) this morning. [Sporting News, ESPN]
Dog Gone From Penrose — A Penrose resident is working to find her dog, a redbone coonhound, after it got loose and ran away during a party on the Fourth of July. [Facebook]
Fake Valet Takes Man’s Car — A man posing as a valet drove off with the car of a disabled man who was heading to lunch meeting in Crystal City last week. The phony valet even took a $5 tip from the victim. [NBC Washington]
County Bolsters At-Risk Support System — After winning a competitive award from the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown, Arlington County is embarking on a six-month project that seeks to strengthen collaboration among County agencies that serve at-risk youth and families. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon
Five Rideshare Drivers Nabbed in Arlington — Arlington police have issued citations to five drivers of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft since June 5, the department says. The drivers were all pulled over for separate traffic infractions and admitted to driving for the services, which are currently operating illicitly in Virginia. [Washington Post]
Teens Arrested for Skate Park Vandalism — Four teenagers have been arrested and charged with causing $35,000 in damage to the Powhatan Springs Skate Park earlier this month. The teens are accused of painting “graffiti containing vulgar language” at the park, which was closed until county crews could clean it up. [NBC Washington]
Arlingtonian Wins, Then Loses at Wimbledon — For the second year in a row, Arlington resident and tennis pro Denis Kudla advanced to the second round of Wimbledon. Kudla, 21, defeated Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan in the first round of the tournament before falling to No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan in straight sets. [Wimbledon]
Wine Bar Coming to Rosslyn — Bistro 360, a wine bar and gourmet market from Cassatt’s Kiwi Cafe owner Art Hauptman, is coming to the former Cafe Assorti space at 1800 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. The wine bar will have as many as 140 seats indoors and outdoors. Bistro 360 hopes to open its doors by the end of the summer. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann