Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Possible Big Changes Along N. Glebe: Harris Teeter to Goodyear

Planning Commission hopes to meet this summer with owners of ASC, HT, and Goodyear to discuss potential plans.

Representatives of Harris Teeter, Goodyear, and the American Service Center have been meeting with each other over months to discuss possible redevelopment options in the 500 and 600 block of N. Glebe Road. The potential changes—a long-shot at best—would completely change the look of the block, especially the section north from the Harris Teeter grocery store to the Goodyear Tire company at the corner of N. Carlin Springs Road. The ideas floating would move or expand the businesses, creating underground or garage parking, retail space and apartments.

This is according to Terry Serie, an Arlington County Planning Commission member who spoke at the Buckingham Community Civic Association last night. (He actually was invited as a member of the Bluemont Civic Association, and was not speaking officially for the Planning Commission last night.)

The companies have been speaking on their own, and the Planning Commission hopes to get all of them in the room together this summer to see what, if anything, would be worth pursuing, Mr. Serie said.

“I’m expecting that nothing will happen,” he said, given the complexity and scope of a project like this.

He said that last year’s proposed redevelopment of the Goodyear and the small house on N. Carlin Springs next to the tire company is currently off-line, but that has nothing to do with the discussions with the other companies, he said.

The Planning Commission is a citizen advisory board that helps the elected county board with "orderly development of the locality" the county's web site says.

The topic that Mr. Serie actually came to speak about, however, was the newly approved outdoor seating at the Union Jack’s pub, located on the ground floor of the Ballston Commons Mall with a store-front on N. Glebe Road. The outdoor space allows for 54 seats, but many more people than that for standing room. Couple that with Rock Bottom Brewery’s Wednesday night outdoor kegger next door, and the noise, especially in the evening is a bit much for people living in the townhouses across the street from the mall, said Mr. Serie, who lives in one of the townhouses, part of the Bluemont Civic Association.

That civic association only learned last week about the proposed expansion of the outdoor seating, too late to mount an effective campaign. Plus, the company scaled back its plan so that it did not need the complicated Site Plan review or an Arlington County Board vote. County staff could OK the project on their own, consulting only the Ashton Heights Civic Association where the mall is located.

Bluemont Civic Association voted to write a letter to County Manager Ron Carlee, asking that Bluemont receive notices of decisions being made in the 600 block of N. Glebe Road that face the Bluemont, even though the mall and garage property are inside the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

The BCCA voted to write a similar letter.

Also speaking at the BCCA meeting was Tom Hutchings, an Arlington County planner who ran through the $2.4 million renovations of three N. Glebe Road intersections at Fairfax Drive, Wilson Blvd., and Carlin Springs Road, called the North Glebe Road Pedestrian Improvements Project. This has been years in the making, and much of the construction has already been completed.

County planner Tom Hutchings runs through changes that have or are being made at three intersections along N. Glebe Road. Members of the BCCA look on. (Click to enlarge the image.)

Wider sidewalks and skirts on the Exxon gas station and Goodyear corners has been completed, as has been shrub removal —allowing greater driver/pedestrian visibility—on the median just south of the intersection.

The most heated of the discussions among the people was how best to calm traffic entering and exiting the Ballston Mall parking garage.

Mr. Hutchings explained that planners tried to place raised crosswalks across the entrance to the garage, but the Virginia Department of Transportation would not allow it.

“We were hoping the bump-up would slow the cars down,” he said. VDOT also would not allow 10.5 foot traffic lanes, insisting instead on 11 feet.

People talked about getting better signs alerting drivers to watch for pedestrians. Mr. Hutchings said he would ask, at the request of the BCCA, that the entire corner, and especially the exit from the mall, be made “no right turn on red.” No promises in that, though.

This project started in 1999 and was projected for completion at least six months ago. Last report put the project at $1.9 million.

Finally, BCCA President Pat Hope made official what was clear to many: he will not seek another term as BCCA president. Mr. Hope is running as a Democrat in the 47th District of the Virginia House of Delegates. As a Democrat, he is widely expected to win the race and will not have time for both positions. He can serve until November, he said at the meeting. The BCCA will pick up the search for a replacement at the September meeting.

Related stories…
  • Proposed Mixed-use Building for Goodyear Site
  • A Decade for New Lights and Curb Cuts

  • I am still on summer hiatus, but the news was just too big to ignore at last night's meeting, so I thought I'd give a quick post. More on this in the fall, no doubt. --ST

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    Wednesday, July 08, 2009

    HeraldTrib Today: July 8, 2009

    Trying not to sound like Sarah Palin, but the hiatus starts today...
    Well, those of you who follow the blog know that I have not posted anything much in the last two weeks. That’s just how the summer has to be for me (see a list of recent posts, below). I’m realizing that more than ever now. Once the kids are out of school, they become my focus. Plus, my house needs work!

    It’s tough, too, to make the argument that I must keep up this blog. It’s time consuming, and I get no money for it. I use it as professional development. That has been my largest argument—I stay up-to-date on media trends, and I keep covering stories so that I can, with more authority, tell my journalism students at Montgomery College how it’s done.

    That’s the problem, though. I spend enough time at the blog that I don’t have time to prepare classes as fully as I would like. In short, I don’t have time to fully engage either as a placeblogger or as a professor. I can’t make the money off the blog that I would need to make, and I spend many hours blogging while worrying over papers to grade or wondering what more I could be doing with my students (or, as now, thinking about the screen door I must install, getting my daughter to camp, and getting both kids to the pool for races and lessons).

    So, I’ll be going on hiatus now, immediately (geez, I feel a bit like Sarah Palin suddenly, and I hope I don’t sound as much like a quitter as she did). I need time to regroup and figure out how to balance everything, and of some imporatance, how to make money at this.

    I’ll still be attending events and meetings, and such, and I hope to be back in September with fresh posts, maybe a fresh perspective. Maybe an Angel Investor?? I’d take one.

    A couple thoughts on the Arlington Public Schools...

    Before I go, I wanted to give my two cents to the new Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools. Dr. Pat Murphy is meeting with people in living rooms across Arlington this summer, and I must say it irks me, a touch. This is one of those times when you need to know something is available in order to take full advantage.

    Anyone can contact the people who own the living rooms and go, so long there is space left in their living rooms (for contact info, click here). However, to be one of the people whose living room is used, you must have known to ask APS for the opportunity. That is, people who knew to call APS to set-up a meet-n-greet were able to set one up. APS tells me now that the space in Mr. Murphy's calendar is full.

    Three of the meetings are at public venues with plenty of space (Arlington Education Center, Macedonia Baptist Church and Courthouse Plaza), but the rest are living rooms, with limited space. Only one lists Spanish translation (though others might have it).

    I’ve put myself on the list should space for another arrive, and I plan to contact some Buckinghamsters to see who might host (I’m thinking either the Gates of Ballston Community Center or the Arlington Oaks Community Center), and you can bet I’ll get a translator. Sheesh.

    Even if I do get asked to set-up a meeting, I still think there has to be a better system for setting the calendar.

    At the same time, Arlington Public Schools adopted new facilities use plans that seem more clear and look fair to me.

    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: heraldtrib@gmail.com --Steve Thurston).

    Today's Headlines:

  • County Board to Take Up a Number of B'ham Items, Saturday.

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • HeraldTrib on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show
  • Police Notes for June 13 - 30; the police notes were updated on July 8 to include a few missing items.
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    Board to Take Up A Number of B'ham Items Saturday

    Federal stimulus money may be appropriated in two projects.

    The county is set to issue $43 million in bonds, with $14.8 million going to purchase property on Village 1 that will become a street and park, between N. Pershing Drive and N. Henderson Road, west of N. George Mason Drive (the four-storey Madison at Ballston Station apartment building is there). The vote comes this Saturday at the county board's monthly meeting.

    As part of the 2007 agreement between the county and Paradigm Development Company, the owner of the property, the county would buy road and park space on the Village 1 property.

    The road will extend N. 3rd Street from N. Henderson to N. Pershing and would build a park, about the size of a football field, on N. 4th Street just west of N. George Mason. According to county documents, Paradigm will complete the road and park; the money spent includes those improvements.

    County funds will be put toward this "Village Green" park on N. 4th Street. George Mason Drive runs vertically to the right of this image. (File image from Paradigm Development Co. Click to enlarge the image.)

    According to the county manager’s report, “Under the terms of the purchase agreement, closing on the acquisition is dependent on the developer’s completion of certain site work, including demolition and removal of above and below ground structures and site grading. This work is anticipated to be completed later this fall, with closing and settlement of funds to occur on the acquisition shortly thereafter.”

    These bonds are not part of the “general obligations” fund but the “annual appropriations pledge” and therefore will likely carry a “double-a” rating, and therefore higher interest. They might also be issued under the “Build America Bonds” as part of the federal stimulus package, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” the report said.

    “Estimated annual debt service in [fiscal year] 2010 on the bonds totals $0.9 million. Approximately $0.2 million will be paid for from the Transportation Investment Fund and is attributable to the portion of the Buckingham Village 1 acquisition related to the public street extension. The remaining $0.7 balance will be paid for from the General Fund and is within the County’s adopted FY 2010 budget,” the report states.

    Federal stimulus money will also go to Carlyn Springs apartments for energy improvements. The board is set to approve up to $151,120 of “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” money to Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing for the apartments at 4318 N. Carlin Springs Road (on the corner of Carlin Springs and N. Thomas Street). The complex, two buildings, is a mix of market-rate and affordable units.

    Union Jack’s Pub in the Ballston Commons Mall is looking to expand its outdoor café from 20 to 54 seats, and the plan they have puts tables and chairs at the boundary of the right-of-way along the Glebe Road sidewalk. County staff, according to the manager’s report, felt it required a site plan amendment to make sure chairs and tables do not encroach on the walkways. The report says that Ashton Height’s Civic Association was notified and no comments were made. The restaurant must maintain a six-foot, barrier-free walkway between any fencing that corrals their tables and chairs, and the “tree pits” that run along N. Glebe Road, according to the report. Citizens may comment on this item at the recessed meeting Tuesday July 14, 6:30p.m. (see the comment, below).--ST

    Public comment starts 8:30a.m. July 11 at the county board meeting room, third floor of the county office building, 2100 Clarendon Blvd.--ST

    Related stories…
  • Buckingham Villages Update (June 2009).

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  • Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Police Notes June 13 - 30

    These notes are compiled from Arlington County Police Department crime reports. They cover the reports from in and around the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhoods. (This post was updated on July 8 to reflect three missing reports.)--ST

    June 13: Assault/Indecent Exposure, 900 block of N. Irving St. At 3:30a.m. a woman was walking when an unknown man grabbed her behind. When the victim turned around, the suspect then exposed his buttocks to her before fleeing the area. The suspect is described as an African-American male in his early 20s, 5 feet, 10 inches tall and 160 pounds. He was wearing a light colored t-shirt and dark pants.

    June 20: Attempted Sexual Assault, 900 block of N. Taylor St. At 3:45a.m., a woman was walking when an unknown male approached her. He forced her into some bushes and attempted to remove her clothing. She fought him and yelled “Fire.” Witnesses ran to the area and the suspect fled. He is described as a white Hispanic male, 20 to 30 years old, wearing a button down shirt, dress pants, dress shoes, and a dress belt.

    June 30: Assault and Battery (Arrest), 200 block of N. Glebe Road. At 11:45a.m., a woman attacked an adult and three juveniles while on a bus. The suspect was located by police. Angela Orji, 26, of Arlington, was charged with four counts of Assault and Battery. She was held on a $4,000 bond.

    June 30: Disorderly Conduct (Arrest), 200 block of N. Glebe Road. On June 30 at 11:45a.m., a man interfered with the investigation of the above assault and refused to leave the area. Santos Cabrera Gonzalez, 44, of Arlington, was charged with Disorderly Conduct. He was held on a $1,000 bond.

    June 19 (From a press release): The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a critical pedestrian accident that occurred on Wilson Blvd.on Friday evening.

    Shortly before 11 p.m. on Friday, June 19, 2009, a pedestrian was struck by a white Ford F-150 truck. The accident occurred at the intersection of North 10th Street and Wilson Blvd. A pedestrian was crossing North 10th Street when he was struck by the vehicle. The driver of the striking vehicle stayed on scene and was interviewed by police. The pedestrian was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

    Mark Planisek, 49, of Washington, died on on Wednesday, June 24, 2009.

    The Arlington Police Department asks that any witnesses to the accident contact Det. Richard Conigliaro at 703-228-4159. Det. Conigliaro can also be reached via email at Rconig@arlingtonva.us.

    Click the icons and lines for more information. Red=Person-to-person crime; Yellow=person-to-structure/vehicle crime; Blue=stolen vehicle; Purple=vehicle-to-vehicle crime; Aqua=miscellaneous. A dot in the icon indicates more than one suspect or victim. Click here for a larger map

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