Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement criticized the recent demolitions of more garden apartments in Westover to make way for townhomes.
Clement, a frequent candidate for public office, said the demolition of two more apartment buildings in the neighborhood shows that not enough is being done to protect affordable housing, especially as they are replaced by what she described as “luxury townhomes.”
Much of Westover is currently designated as a national historic district, but that hasn’t prevented redevelopment of some properties. Last year, crews tore down a garden apartment building and replaced it with townhouses in by-right development, meaning County Board approval was not required.
At the time, the Arlington Greens called for the Westover apartments to be designated as a local historic district, something the County Board directed staff to study last year. Since 2013, nine garden apartment buildings have been demolished, Clement said.
Clement criticized developers for razing the properties and the county for cashing in thanks to increased property taxes.
“County records indicate that the sale price of the three Westover garden apartments demolished in 2013 was $4 million,” Clement said. “The total sale price of the 20 luxury town homes that replaced them was $16.8 million dollars or more than 4 times the value of the original properties.”
An advertisement for the Arlington Row townhomes that ran on ARLnow.com earlier this year advertised the homes as being priced in the “mid-$800s.” The townhomes feature up to four bedrooms and four baths, plus private garages and “timeless brick architecture.” The first phase of the development quickly sold out.
Clement said designating the units as a local historic district is the “only way” to save the remaining apartments, but she criticized the Arlington Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board for not moving faster on a petition to do so that was submitted last year.
She added that the demolition of affordable housing units in the county causes numerous problems:
For one thing, there’s a fairness issue. A lot of longstanding, hardworking, responsible tenants are now facing long commutes as a result of displacement from Arlington County.
For another thing, there’s a public health issue. The most recent demolitions were put on hold when it was determined that both buildings were insulated with asbestos, making demolition hazardous for anyone in the nearby.
And there’s an economic issue. While the speculative prices commanded by the developers of Westover Village might be attractive to high income wage earners, they drive up assessments overall, spelling hardship and possible foreclosure for people on fixed incomes, single heads of households, and those who find themselves out of work.
In a fact sheet produced last year, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing said it made some headway in 2016 by purchasing 68 Westover apartments in five buildings. But APAH noted that since the county adopted its Affordable Housing Master Plan in 2015, 60 apartments have been demolished for redevelopment.
Clement promised to speed up approval of historic districts to protect affordable housing if she wins a seat on the County Board in November.
“If elected, I am going to call upon AHALRB to expedite consideration of petitions for local historic designation to preserve Arlington’s remaining affordable housing and stabilize Arlington’s housing market,” Clement said.
Sycamore Street, Carlin Springs Projects Approved — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved a pair of major road projects. One, intended to improve pedestrian safety along N. Sycamore Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood, “will reduce travel lanes from four lanes to two lanes by adding raised medians planted with trees and grass,” at a cost of $1.4 million. The other will replace the Carlin Springs Road Bridge over North George Mason Drive at a cost of $7 million. [Arlington County, Arlington County]
Fox 5 Zip Trip Comes to Arlington — Fox 5 brought its “Zip Trip” morning news segment to Pentagon Row in Arlington on Friday, highlighting a variety of local organizations, businesses and leaders. Among those making an appearance on live local TV: Bayou Bakery, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, District Taco, Lebanese Taverna, the Arlington County Fire Department and County Board member Katie Cristol. [Fox 5, Twitter, Twitter]
Park Improvements Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a $2.1 million series of improvements to Stratford Park — including new, lighted tennis and basketball courts — and the replacement of the artificial turf at Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The turf replacement is expected to cost just under a half-million dollars. [Arlington County]
County Can’t Halt Development — Despite the desires of some anti-development advocates, Arlington County does not have the legal authority to impose a moratorium on development, County Board members and the County Attorney told a speaker at Saturday’s Board meeting. [InsideNova]
Forest Inn Makes Dive Bar List — The Forest Inn in Westover has made the Washington Post’s list of the “best true dive bars in the D.C. area.” The Post’s Tim Carman and Fritz Hahn recommend ordering “a cold Budweiser, which was, for years, the only beer on tap.” [Washington Post]
Monday Properties Refinances 1812 N. Moore Street — Monday Properties has obtained fresh financing for its 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, which was once on uncertain financial ground as it sought its first tenant but is now set to be the U.S. headquarters of food giant Nestle. A portion of the new financing will be “used for tenant improvements and building upgrades featuring an expanded fitness center and new 12,000-square-foot conference facility on the building’s 24th floor.” [Washington Business Journal]
Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map Updated — The County Board has voted 5-0 to update its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” and “will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Peter Golkin
Advocates for the Westover Beer Garden helped convince the County Board to try to change the local law governing outdoor seating at restaurants and bars.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Board directed County Manager Mark Schwartz to suggest revisions to County Code to provide more flexibility to those who wish to add more seats outside than inside.
Under current law, the beer garden at 5863 Washington Blvd cannot add to its outdoor seating, as county use permits expressly forbid having more outdoor seats than indoor seats.
That stands in contrast to the soon-to-open Continental Beer Garden in Rosslyn, which has many more seats outside than inside and can do so because it went through a site plan process, which requires County Board approval and is much more involved than a standard administrative permit process.
“We have recently heard from the owner and many patrons that they would like the opportunity to expand the outdoor seating at the Westover Beer Garden beyond the number currently permitted by law,” County Board chair Jay Fisette said. “As it turns out, the long-standing County Code places significant restrictions on outdoor seating for retail establishments – and specifically prohibits flexibility if governed through a use permit, while allowing more flexibility if sought through a site plan amendment.”
Supporters of the Westover Beer Garden showed up to Tuesday’s meeting to testify on the Continental Beer Garden and highlight the differences between the two. Westover has faced an ongoing battle with the county over its outdoor seating, as it applied recently to expand its currently-allowed 24 seats and its live music offerings.
Having exceeded that total and received a citation from the county, Westover must comply with its use permit by June 1. But owner Dave Hicks said sticking to 24 seats will cause problems for the business.
“If required on June 1 to reduce seating to 24 seats (a third of what we have now), Westover Market is not a viable business,” Hicks wrote on the “Save the Westover Beer Garden” Facebook page. “June is one of our busiest months. We have 22 employees and would have to reduce that number by half. But even that wouldn’t pay the rent, taxes, electricity and other fixed expenses.”
Fisette set the goal of the County Board taking action by October, after a review process that will involve the Zoning Ordinance Review Committee of the Planning Commission. Planning director Robert Duffy said staff will work “aggressively” to meet that goal.
Board member John Vihstadt said revising the County Code will mean “equitability in terms of our planning,” while Fisette said it is important to protect places like the Westover Beer Garden.
“Part of Arlington’s success has been in creating active public spaces and a vibrant pedestrian realm,” Fisette said. “We recognize the value of lively and safe community gathering spaces which bring people together and help knit the fabric of our various neighborhoods — places such as the Westover Beer Garden.”
Kalina Newman contributed reporting.
Westover Market — which combines a grocery store, restaurant and beer garden — went before the County Board late last month in a bid to add live indoor entertainment, expand its outdoor entertainment hours and have furniture on its patio year-round.
But that plan was scuttled in part by county staff finding the business at 5863 Washington Blvd violated several county rules. Some of the violations came to light the week before Westover Market went before the County Board and were included in the staff report on the plan.
In addition to alleged noise violations, Westover Market was accused of having more seats than it is allowed outside. The county states it can have a maximum of 29 outdoor seats, but in the April 25 meeting, CEO Devin Hicks admitted there are more than that.
According to a “Save the Beer Westover Garden” Facebook page, which has been active for several years through Westover Market’s issues with the county and a few neighbors, the owners of the market are scheduled to meet with county staff this Friday.
They will reportedly ask the county to suspend enforcement of the limit on seating on the patio, and have asked the fire marshall’s office for its opinion on a safe capacity. The market said it will also do the sound testing as required, and will comply with decibel limits and the hours that music is allowed.
Owner David Hicks wrote in a Facebook post that the business needs the extra seating to keep revenue up and survive.
“Here is the bottom line regarding Westover Market,” he wrote. “The business is not viable without the beer garden revenue. The beer garden is not viable without additional seating/occupancy. Every other problem can be overcome — including limits on music noise and restrictions on live music. But the outdoor seating is existential for the Market.”
“This would be devastating to the employees, the community, and not a good outcome for the county,” the Save the Westover Beer Garden said in another post. “We want the county to work with us to develop a plan that allows the beer garden’s continued existence and supports small businesses across the county.”
Representatives with Westover Market tried in vain to just add extra seating during the County Board meeting, only to be rebuffed as members said they wanted to see compliance with the rules already in place.
“This is actually fairly easy for me,” said Board member Christian Dorsey. “Let’s establish a record of continuing to move forward with compliance before considering other alternatives. That’s all I see to this issue.”
County Board chair Jay Fisette said he was open to considering expanding the outdoor seating in the future if the market complies.
“I understand it’s a violation. But I also sit here and go almost everybody loves this place,” he said. “It’s a really popular neighborhood place. We’re talking about sound, we’re talking about nights and all the rest, but they’ve obviously got more interest than the condition allows them to have seats outside under the permit.”
Photo via Facebook
The market, restaurant and beer garden at 5863 Washington Blvd in Westover also is applying to have furniture outdoors year-round, and reduce the number of required noise tests.
Westover Market’s application proposes that live music be permitted indoors each night, except Mondays, until 10 p.m.
The business is also requesting to have live entertainment outdoors until 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, later than is currently permitted, and expanding the amplified music that is currently permitted only on Fridays and Saturdays to other weekdays. That request is meeting resistance from county staff.
A report by county staff about the application notes that Westover Market has been issued two verbal warnings for not completing required noise tests in 2015 and 2016, and for its amplified live entertainment being on a non-permitted day and for going past the permitted hours on a day when it was allowed.
The report adds that Westover Market had an independent noise test earlier this month, and that it showed no violations of the Noise Control Ordinance. It also complied with the ordinance during tests in previous years, having struggled in the past with noise complaints from neighbors. Live music returned to the beer garden in 2012.
County staff is recommending that the hours and days for outdoor live entertainment not be expanded, but that indoor entertainment and year-round outdoor furniture be permitted. Staff added that a request that an administrative review be carried out in six months, then a review by the County Board in one year.
Lilith Christiansen, president of the Westover Village Civic Association, said in an email to county staff that they support that recommendation and ” believe it is important that the Westover Beer Garden be in compliance.”
At a March meeting, according to the staff report, some civic association members “noted that the Westover Market owner has not always been receptive to complaints from neighbors regarding noise. “
A spokesman for the county’s department of environmental services said that after previously considering a nearly two-mile stretch of bike lanes from N. Sycamore Street to George Mason Drive, staff has revised their plan.
Instead, a bicycle lane will be added to a shorter stretch, westbound between N. McKinley and N. Sycamore streets; eastbound the lane will stretch from the hill at N. Sycamore Street near the East Falls Church Metro station to N. Quintana Street. There they will be directed along parallel neighborhood streets before reconnecting with Washington Blvd near Westover.
“The revised plan would still provide bicycling facilities both eastbound and westbound from East Falls Church to Westover Village, albeit with a section along neighborhood streets, while also minimizing the impact to parking in the middle section that was most heavily impacted in the initial proposal, including the preservation of parking in front of and across from the Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, which does not have off-street parking,” DES spokesman Eric Balliet said.
The project is part of a wider re-paving plan by the Virginia Department of Transportation, which controls that section of Washington Blvd.
The initial plan of bicycle lanes in each direction, improved pedestrian crossings and other improvements was shared publicly last March and received more than 400 comments. County staff then broke them down into categories to get a sense of the main areas of support and concern. Staff then integrated those comments into their revisions of the proposal.
Balliet said the revised plan “continues to meet all major goals with fewer impacts on parking in the middle section where impacts were most acute.”
But bicycling advocates vented their frustration at the change. In a blog post published yesterday on the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s website, WABA staff member Garrett Hennigan blasted the changes.
“Following the first meeting, supportive comments poured in from neighborhood residents. 65 percent of comments supported the bike lanes as did 55 percent of comments from neighborhood residents,” Hennigan wrote. “Now, to save some parking spaces and appease a vocal minority, the County has thrown out the public process, abandoned years of planning and determined that putting people on bikes at risk is a fair compromise.”
A community meeting on the project’s latest iteration will be held tonight at 5 p.m. in the Reed-Westover Building at 1644 N. McKinley Road.
Photo via Google Maps
More Beds Likely at VHC — Virginia Hospital Center is likely to receive authorization to add more than 40 new beds. That’s less than its original request of 100 new beds, for which it received push-back. [InsideNova]
New Library App — Arlington Public Library has released a new app for iPhone and Android. Users can perform tasks including checking their accounts, searching the catalog, booking meeting rooms and checking operating hours. [Arlington County]
Kaine Staff to Hold Arlington Office Hours — Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D) staff will hold office hours at the Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) on Thursday from 1-3 p.m. They will be available for one-on-one meetings with citizens to answer questions or address concerns. Those interested in speaking with a staff member are encouraged to make an appointment in advance, but walk-ins also are welcome. [Sen. Tim Kaine]
A community meeting is scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) to discuss a road re-striping plan that would add bike lanes but remove some parking on the western portion of Washington Blvd in Arlington.
The meeting is set to take place at the Westover Branch Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) from 5-8 p.m.
“We invite community members to provide ideas and insights on how we achieve the maximum benefits for bicycle access and pedestrian safety, while minimizing potential impacts in the area,” says the meeting’s web page.
Among the changes being proposed:
- “Create nearly a two-mile stretch of bike lanes from Sycamore St. to George Mason Dr.”
- “Narrow unnecessary wide travel lanes to help calm traffic.”
- “Install a dedicated left turn lane for westbound Washington Boulevard at N. Ohio Street to help reduce backups.”
- “Sidewalks will be more comfortable for walking due to buffering provided by the new bike lanes.”
The restriping, as proposed, would add bike lanes in both directions to where they don’t already exist on Washington Blvd between Westover and East Falls Church, but at the expense of some on-street parking.
The project is being planned by Arlington County but will be performed and funded by VDOT, which maintains that stretch of Washington Blvd.
Photo via Google Maps
The stabbing happened around 5 a.m. Saturday, on the 5700 block of 11th Road N. in the Westover area.
We’re told that the victim was stabbed multiple times in the chest by her boyfriend during some sort of dispute. The woman was rushed to George Washington University Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.
“Jose Vasquez Cuadra, 35, of no fixed address was arrested and charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding and Stabbing in the Commission of a Felony,” Arlington County Police said in a press release.
County to Continue Westover Study — Arlington County’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board has asked county staff to study garden apartments in the Westover neighborhood. The study is expected to take 6-12 months, after which the board will consider whether to recommend a historic designation. Some residents want Westover designated as historic in order to prevent redevelopment. The study limits the historic designation to the garden apartments and not to other parts of Westover. [InsideNova, Arlington County]
Donations Needed for ANC Wreaths — The nonprofit Wreaths Across America is seeking donations to help sponsor wreaths for the gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. Without additional donations, nearly half of the graves at the cemetery may be bare for the holidays. [Washington Examiner, WTOP]
New Name for New Street — A new street that will be built as part of a planned apartment development along Columbia Pike may be getting a new name. Originally set to be called S. Smythe Street, the short connector road behind the Wellington apartments may instead be named S. Ross Street. [InsideNova]
High School Boundary Change Approved — Despite some resident complaints, the Arlington School Board on Dec. 1 approved a series of high school boundary changes that will move students, starting with high school freshmen next year, from overcrowded Washington-Lee High School to Wakefield and Yorktown. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Murder Victim Feared for Her Safety — A friend of murder victim Bonnie Delgado Black said in court that she “was concerned if she would wake up in the morning” because of her estranged husband. A defense attorney for David Black, however, emphasized at trial that there’s a lack of physical evidence linking him to his wife’s murder. [Washington Post]
Rush Hour Offloading Peeves Riders — Metro riders were “furious” yesterday after a crowded train offloaded at the Rosslyn station during the morning rush hour due to a door problem. [Patch]
Pets Banned at Arlington Nat’l Cemetery — In addition to most bikes, the Army has also banned all pets at Arlington National Cemetery. Only service animals or working military dogs will be permitted onto the cemetery grounds. [Washington Post]
Bra Collection at Ballston Market — Ballston’s weekly farmers market will be Halloween-themed this afternoon. The market will also be collecting new and gently used bras, to be donated to those in need. [Twitter]
Westover Neighborhood Profiled — One of the main attractions of living in the Westover neighborhood is the collection of stores and restaurants at Westover Village, residents say. [Washington Post]
Board Funds Westover Apartment Purchase — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $10.9 million loan that will allow the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to purchase 68 affordable but aging apartment units in the Westover neighborhood. Separately, an effort to designate Westover as a protected historic district, with the goal of preserving other affordable apartments, is continuing. Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board will hold a key meeting on the topic in November. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Outreach Planned for Bluemont Baseball Project — Following a raft of complaints and letters from nearby residents, county officials will be holding a community meeting Oct. 5 to discuss an approved contract to renovate one of the baseball fields at Bluemont Park. County Board members on Saturday chastised county staff for inadequate neighborhood outreach on the project prior to its July approval by the Board. [InsideNova]
Aurora Hills Community Center Upgrades OKed — As expected, the County Board has approved a $555,800 contract to upgrade the interior of the Aurora Hills Senior Center and Library. Separately, the Board also approved a $2.7 million utility undergrounding project for the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road, which is slated for future streetscape improvements. [Arlington County]
Rodney Hunt Fighting Mansion Eviction — Once a wealthy information technology executive, Rodney Hunt was recently released from a jail sentence on drug charges and is now fighting the foreclosure auction sale of his $24 million mansion on Chain Bridge Road in Arlington. Over the past few months the sprawling home has been used to host “mansion parties,” one of which resulted in a drive-by shooting in McLean. [Washington Post]
High School Boundary Changes Coming Soon — Arlington Public Schools will be hosting a series of public outreach events next month as part of a boundary “refinement” process for the county’s high schools. The usually-contentious process of adjusting school boundaries will this time determine which students attend Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools: Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown. The changes will not affect current high school students. [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Local CVS Accused of Selling Expired Shakes — A CVS store on Columbia Pike is being accused of selling nutritional shakes that expired a year ago and made an elderly woman sick last month. In response to a TV station’s outreach, CVS promised to work with the store to make sure that it’s removing expired products from shelves. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Arlington County Board is set to consider a plan to lend about $11 million to a nonprofit organization looking to save affordable garden apartments in Westover.
The Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on the eight-figure loan from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund. The financing would allow the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to buy eight apartment buildings in the neighborhood, according to the county. The purchase would account for 68 affordable units — all but four are one bedroom units — at an average acquisition cost of about $215,000 per unit.
“The Westover neighborhood in North Arlington has a substantial inventory of market and committed affordable apartments,” APAH says on its website. “But many have been eliminated, or are at threat of elimination.”
The vote comes as Westover comes to grips with the redevelopment of some area properties, including an aging garden apartment building that are being replaced with luxury townhouses.
The Arlington Green Party is lobbying for a local historic designation in an effort to make it harder to tear down Westover buildings or renovate them. Already, much of the neighborhood — which was developed between 1938 and 1948 — is a national historic district.
The Coalition of Arlingtonians for Responsible Development, which advocates for an equitable distribution of affordable housing across the country, is supporting the proposal.
“CARD hopes that this acquisition [by APAH] will enable families the opportunity to live in Westover and enjoy its excellent schools and amenities,” Kay Langenbeck, chair of the group’s housing committee, wrote in a letter to the Board.
The total estimated cost of acquiring and renovating the apartments is $27.2 million, according to the county staff report. The project will be completed in three phases.
Photo via Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing
A group of residents want to have Westover designated a local historic district.
Most of Westover — which was developed between 1938 and 1948 — is currently designated as a national historic district, but that hasn’t prevented redevelopment of some properties, most recently an aging garden apartment building that’s being torn down and replaced by townhouses.
The Arlington Green Party is pushing for a local historic designation, which would impose restrictions on tear-downs and renovations.
“This action occurs because developers have demolished about a dozen historic apartment buildings in Westover to build luxury townhouses,” wrote the Green Party’s John Reeder. “In the process, many old trees and green space was destroyed as well as over 60 moderate income rental apartments. These apartment buildings were built in 1940, and have housed moderate income renters in Westover for the past 75 years.”
“With local historic designation, building owners [would] be required to maintain the current building, and could not demolish it unless it was offered for sale for one year to another property owner who would maintain the building,” Reeder explained.
This summer Arlington County officials have participated in community meetings, explaining the process and what it would mean for the community. Cynthia Liccese-Torres, coordinator of Arlington County’s historic preservation program, says the county has not yet taken a stance on the designation.
“The local historic district designation process for Westover is still only in the very beginning stages,” she said. “The County did not initiate this designation request, but since a formal request was received on June 23 the County staff will facilitate the public process as detailed in Section 11.3.4 of the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance.”
Some in the neighborhood are not convinced of the virtue of a local historic designation. A anonymously-distributed flyer that recently wound up on Westover doorsteps warned of a loss of property rights with a historic designation.
“You and all future owners will permanently lose the right to change the exterior of your property, including demolishing it to build a new dream home,” the flyer said, calling a historic designation “a discriminatory action” and encouraging residents to petition the county to call off the process.
Liccese-Torres said a local historic designation does not preclude all changes to homes.
As we explained at the meeting, developing design guidelines will be a collaborative process with the community and involve many conversations with owners about what types of changes they would like to manage in their neighborhood. It does not mean that 1940s-era materials would be the only ones allowed to be used, nor does it mean that homes and buildings could never be changed. Rather, the design guidelines and the design review process itself help ensure that certain types of exterior changes respect the architectural character of what’s already there. Design guidelines are not one-size-fits-all but crafted to address the particular characteristics of each district and the desires of the property owners. We will rely on community input to help shape the draft guidelines.
Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) is expected to hold a public hearing on the Westover historic designation this fall. If the board votes to move the designation request forward, a study would officially begin. Ultimately, it will be up to the Arlington County Board as to whether to approve the request, its proposed design guidelines and the historic district boundaries.
“Overall, from start to finish, the local designation process will take many months to complete, including the updated architectural survey, continuous outreach with the property owners and community, and multiple public hearings with the HALRB, Planning Commission, and County Board,” Liccese-Torres said.
Photos by Jackie Friedman
A plan to put a 16-bike Capital Bikeshare station at Westover Library has been delayed, according to Arlington County.
The bike rental service delayed installing the Westover Library station because construction crews are using the site as a staging area while they renovate the Westover Branch Library’s windows, according to Arlington County spokesman Peter Golkin.
“Instead, we’ll be installing this station at Westover Park over the next month and installing at the Library in the fall when construction is supposed to be completed,” a Bikeshare representative said in a statement Golkin shared with ARLnow.com.
Three Capital Bikeshare stations are planned for Westover, according to county staff. In addition to the Westover Libary and Westover Park stations, another hub is slated to be installed at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Patrick Henry in 2018.