Sunday, October 29, 2006

Walking Tour; Lost; Icing; Books

Great Day for Walking

(As I wrote the last time I posted photos and drawings: a blog is no place to do this--sorry the quality is so bad. It's the best I can do; take that to mean that there are probably better ways to do it...)

It turned out to be a great day for a walking tour of the remaining two Buckingham Villages. The grass was a little soggy from rain Friday night, and the 20 or so people on the tour blocked traffic on the sidewalks at times, but the sun was shining Saturday morning on the changing trees as Clark Ewart of Paradigm Development Companies led us through the changes his company is proposing for Villages 1 and 3.

All of these changes are, like the balloons in the photo below, up in the air but nearing completion. The Site Plan Review Committee, one of three committees with a hand in overseeing the project, is hoping to finish its work by its December meeting.

Earlier this week, the buildings of Village 2 were demolished to make way for the “Buckingham Commons” townhome development. [See “Are We Lost?” below, and the Oct. 25 post for more on this.]

Only a couple Buckinghamsters came to the tour. The majority of the people either were county staffers or citizens from the SPRC, the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board or the Community Preservation Committee. All three have their hands in the redevelopment process.

Major changes discussed on the tour [See the Oct. 1 post for more information and drawings]:

* In Village 1, the 62 Townhouses (two fewer than the last plan) moved south from N. Henderson Road and now take up the northwest corner of N. George Mason and N. Pershing drives.

Village 1 map:

Paradigm provided two different options for the placement of the townhouses. One allows for a wide pedestrian thoroughfare through the village, the other changes that pedestrian space into a road. The different versions change the traffic patterns (see the drawings, if they’re legible). Notice in the "Pedestrian Way" drawing the entrance to the village via Pershing Drive. That entrance moves to George Mason Drive (the upper right corner of the drawing) in the "New Road" version:

The bottom of the balloons (see the photo below) mark about 40 feet, the height of the townhouses. They more closely match the height of the buildings in Village 3 than the “Octopus” did.

* The “Octopus” has moved north to N. Henderson Road at N. George Mason Drive, across the street from K.W. Barrett Elementary School. The building, with its tongue-in-cheek name derived from its seven wings, apparently lost one unit and is down to 374 apartments. The move places the four-story building across George Mason Drive from the tall townhomes going into to Village 2.

* The “Stick,” the long, narrow five-story apartment building running parallel to the Culpepper Gardens Assisted Living Center property now sports a courtyard on the side facing Culpepper Gardens, a move that breaks up the roof line of the building, Mr. Ewart said.

It looks decidedly less stick-like with courtyards carved out of its back and front. As well, a 30-foot wide greensward now runs along the backside of the building between it and Culpepper. It’s a fire lane but will look like a lawn to the average viewer. The building still holds 152 units.

* Five of the 16 buildings of Village 3, at the northeast corner of N. Pershing and N. George Mason drives, will be improved with six “bump outs” and a pool behind 4323 N. Pershing Dr.

Village 3 map:

The bump out additions, similar to those constructed at the Gates of Ballston on N. Pershing Drive, will convert the two-bed, one-bath apartments into three-bedroom apartments with either one-and-a-half or two bathrooms. A “tot lot” playground is planned for Village 3.

Mr. Ewart could not say which units would remain “affordable,” as that is still under discussion with Paradigm and the county.

Are We Lost?

I went to the web site for the new “Buckingham Commons”—the name of the Townhouse Development going into Village 2, and saw this map!

They don’t know where they are!

One page on the web site talks about a “gorgeous tree-filled setting”—sure, but that’s because you think you’re moving into Arlington Oaks, where all the trees are. Unfortunately for you, dear Marketing People, you’ll be selling units two blocks farther north. (Hint: your homes are north of 4th Road.)

It’s funny, too, that one map of Village 3 on the walking tour was mis-marked; it placed Village 3 on the block where Village 2 is.

What’s in a Name?

A couple million bucks, no doubt.

Silly me. I thought the name of the new ice skating center atop the Ballston Commons Mall was
The Arlington Ice Skating Center, as is posted on the signs, web sites, etc. But I was reading the Post story Saturday morning about a sneak peek civic leaders and press members were given of the new facility when I read:

“Next week, the center will get its name after officials announce the company that has bought naming rights.”

I’ll admit I felt a little foolish thinking something so large with an attachment to professional sports would be called “The Arlington Ice Skating Center.”

But now I want to know who it is. My dream: The Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Icing Center. (Think about it: youth hockey would be the “munchkins league;” the arena would be nicknamed “the coffee cup.” This is perfect.)

Bug in the ear to the county board: Pursue the Donuts. Dunkin Donuts (a company looking to expand in the region) and a couple other small retailers would fit nicely in a plaza-style space (with tot lot??) at the corner N. Glebe Road and N. Randolph Street.

Friends of the Library Book Sale

I swung by the Friends of the Arlington County Library Book Sale in garage of the Central Library branch on Saturday to talk to Cindy Sweet very quickly. Business was brisk, and I held myself to only a few books because I was on my way to the meet-n-greet with school board candidate Sally Baird (more on Sally during Wednesday’s post).

It was nice to meet Ms. Sweet who told me that the Friends hope to raise upwards of $55,000 that goes toward the library’s endowment and their summer programs.


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