Friday, December 12, 2008

HeraldTrib Today: Dec. 12, 2008

The CVS is gone, but a police substation is in the mix…

Just when it looked like things in the Buckingham Shopping Center plans were coalescing, they are not.

Recall these are the plans in which the Glebe Market, and El Paso/Popeye’s buildings would be razed and a four-storey mixed use building of ground floor retail and apartments would rise in its place.

Call it a difference in philosophy, but elected county officials did not want a drop-off prescription window near the busy, urban intersection of N. Glebe Road at N. Pershing Drive, and the CVS pharmacy, which was to fill much of the ground floor of the new building at that corner, sees the store as suburban, and CVS’s suburban stores have drop-off windows.

So the philosophy of urban development versus suburban killed plans for the CVS.

“That space…will now be a multiple of stores,” said Bob Moore, a principal of the potential developer Georgetown Strategic Capital. They have been pursuing this project for well over a year.

Although the HALRB will consider Georgetown Strategic’s certificate of appropriateness for that corner at the Wednesday Dec. 17 meeting, neither side is expecting much success.

“Staff isn’t recommending approval of it at this point,” said Rebecca Ballo. “The ground level is really different than what we’ve been dealing with for the past year.”

For his part, Mr. Moore said, “We’re not going in for a vote.” This is just continuing what has been a “collegial” discussion he said, adding, “What we’re trying to do is to update them on all these possibilities.”

But his company, which has been drawing plans and adjusting them to try and fit the wishes of the HALRB, is near the point of pulling out altogether.

“If [the HALRB] just really can’t adapt to this change, then we’re not going to want to pursue it any further,” Mr. Moore said. “I think they don’t know what they want.”

Some of the changes include a police substation, slightly lower heights, and fewer apartments. Mr. Moore said he has been talking to Sam Chon owner of the Glebe Market, and it looks like he will return to the new building with a smaller store.

One positive note: the poor economy has been driving down construction costs, especially for the underground parking.

“It’s making it a bit more affordable,” Mr. Moore said.

The current plan would rebuild the northwest corner of the intersection first and then wait for the CVS to run-out its lease before razing that building and redeveloping it.

More about the mini-golf…

The county is zipping their lips on alternative uses for the patch of green space outside the Ballston Commons Mall parking garage. Staff has been pursuing the idea that the triangle at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Randolph Street will house a “world-class” mini-golf course. The main reason staff has said is that it fits with the pedestrian nature of the area and is an activity that can be pursued much of the year and by people of all ages.

File photo of the unimproved space outside the Ballston Common Mall parking garage. (Click to enlarge the image.)

For months however, county staff from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources; Arlington Economic Development; and Community Planning have been meeting to consider alternate uses for the 20,000 square foot site, especially after some citizens in the area voiced concerns about the lack of input from people early in the planning process.

"We're still working internally to develop these [ideas],” said Scott McPartlin, the lead planner on this project. The committee that is researching will let the public know, “Hopefully really soon."

Rich Dooley, a senior land use planner, said the different ideas are still going through internal vetting, but that the research and discussion is not necessarily tricky.

“There’s nothing unique about this” process, he said.

For a just-posted letter on this subject, click here--ST

Ashton Heights Sidewalk Improvements Coming...

Ashton Heights readers may be interested to know that item #14 among the “consent items" on tomorrow’s county board meeting asks the board to accept two deeds that will allow sidewalk and storm water drainage work along N. 4th Street at its intersection with N. Irving Street. The board generally votes on consent items en masse, unless the item is removed from the consent list to be discussed at the recessed meeting next week.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Today's Headlines:

  • Letter: Choose Gardens Over Mini-Golf (For a history of the Glebe/Randolph plans, click here, and scroll to see many stories.)
  • Police Notes

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Santa Visits Lubber Run!
  • Last Week's Police Notes
  • Summer Flashback: About Arlington with Deb Byrwa
  • Labels: , ,


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