As Preservation Month comes to an end, Preservation Arlington is putting forward the 2015 Most Endangered Historic Places List to heighten awareness of historic sites and resources in the county and to inspire advocacy on behalf of preservation within the Arlington community. For 2015 we are also highlighting several items on a “watch list” as the story for these sites is still being told and it is hopeful it will continue in a positive manner.
Dive Bars. With the closing of Jay’s Saloon in Clarendon in Spring 2015, the Fall 2014 closing of Kitty O’Sheas in Courthouse, and the potential closing of Carpool in the next 18 months, Arlington is quickly losing the last vestiges of its “dive bars.” Dive bars provide a sense of community and character not found in newer, more corporate places. They are community landmarks in many ways. Preservation Arlington raises a toast to our remaining dive bars, such as Forest Inn and Cowboy Cafe, and hope they continue to thrive. Preservation is also about the role that place plays in our community and not just the building or its architecture.
Garden Apartments in the Westover Neighborhood. While some garden apartments in Westover are listed in the National Register, these and others in fact have no long term protection from redevelopment. The zoning on many of these properties essentially encourages redevelopment, as is occurring in the 1000 block of North Kensington. Preservation Arlington recommends that Arlington County and affordable housing advocates collaborate to develop an overlay zoning district or local historic district for Westover and other garden apartments that will protect this existing affordable housing.
Columbia Pike Commercial Buildings. While the proposed streetcar has been shelved for now, the zoning is already in place for substantial redevelopment along Columbia Pike. The unique small-scale retail buildings in the commercial nodes, as identified in the Pike’s unique zoning, will not be preserved without more focus on historic building style and design. Preservation Arlington recommends that the Columbia Pike Form Based Code historic preservation components get revisited and revised to provide stronger protections.
Lyon Village National Register Historic District. In 2002, it was one of Arlington’s first single-family neighborhoods to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Despite that recognition, over the past thirteen years, Lyon Village has undergone substantial redevelopment. Many of the changes have not respected the historic character of the community and have dramatically altered many of the components that qualified the community for designation in the first place. Lyon Village may not qualify for designation today. Preservation Arlington would like to work with neighborhoods and County staff to develop a hybrid historic preservation overlay districts for these older communities before they are lost.
Reevesland Farmhouse and Property. In May 2015, the County finally took action on this property — directing County staff to sell it to a private owner. The county hasn’t done anything to keep up this property in 15 years, letting the property deteriorate and the story of Arlington’s dairy farming history slowly and gradually disappear. Selling the property will permanently remove from public access and use a tangible connection to Arlington’s rural past and a fantastic opportunity to provide educational opportunities to current and future Arlington students and residents. Preservation Arlington asks that the County stop this procedure to sell the property and direct staff to work with the community to come up with a preservation plan prior to the end of 2015.
Watch List for 2015:
Preservation Arlington continues to monitor the following projects as outlined below. These are all an important part of our history and some on the verge of disappearing:
Wilson School, 1601 Wilson Boulevard. While not designated as a local historic district in 2015, the opportunity still exists for the Building Level Planning Committee of Arlington Public Schools to incorporate substantial portions of the building facade and/or materials in the modernist building being planned for the site. Preservation Arlington is hopeful the BLPC will includes design cues in the new building that address the soon-to-be-demolished historic school of Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn.
Arlington Presbyterian Church. While denied listing as a local historic district in 2014, the opportunity still exists for the story of the existing building and congregation to be incorporated into the planned future development. The contract owner, APAH, has submitted plans for redevelopment of the site and includes the standard language for historic preservation, which indicates that some effort is being made to recognize the importance of the existing building and site. Preservation Arlington will continue to work with APAH to forge a creative solution that provides this recognition in meaningful ways.
Webb Building, 4040 Fairfax Drive. An excellent example of our quickly disappearing mid-century modernist building stock, the Webb Building is not protected. A siteplan for redevelopment of the adjacent Carpool site is proposing to use the excess density from the Webb Building to allow a much larger building to be built where Carpool is located. This as an excellent opportunity to include a historic overlay on this building, which could provide the owner with tax incentives for renovation but also securing its future in the heart of Ballston. Preservation Arlington asks that HALRB undertake a review of the building and the Planning Commission incorporate this concept into the siteplan review.
Key Boulevard Apartments. One of Arlington’s best preserved garden apartments, which has already had its density move to an adjacent luxury condo, this complex was under threat in 2014. Preservation Arlington recommends that the proposal to move unused density from Ballston to a site in Rosslyn be tabled. Permanently.