Tuesday, June 27, 2006

we’re going to take you downtown/we're gonna show you how to get things claren-done.

PIAB: The Blog About Arlington Building Demolition. The Blog About Faking as a Total Scenester Snob Who Could Use A Swift Kick in the Teeth Already! The Blog by People Who Sometimes Forget they Have A Blog! (Sorry. Work's been kind of... eh.)

Anthropomorphism: If the Clarendon Metro Stop could turn it's pink collar up at the outside world while downing an Amstel n munching on some tapas after buying a sweet new sectional for their living room, it would.

Clarendon: It's been real.

* * *

Did I ever think the day would come when yrs truly would pre-emptively mourn the Clarendon Ballroom? A hearty no, but at this very moment in time? I kind of do. It' s on it's way out, you'ns, which brings back a most appropriate quote: Where does one stand when they announce that one thing you are mildly dissatisfied with is set to be replaced with something you are wildly discontented with? Fuck it, let's get superwacky and tear the entire neighborhood down, from ye olde Common Grounds, or whatever it's called these days, all the way to the bridges. If we work together, we can get this done by the first wintry mix. Who's in?

The Clarendon Center has already been mentioned round the internets, so although I previously thought I had some sort of secret extra-special-important inside scoop on this, I know realize I have no superpowers and am a normal schlub just like you. A normal schlub who's morning commute was two hours long yesterday. Thanks, Mother Nature, you scheming whore.

I do, however, get an inside glimpse to teh grumpiness of Underwood building-housed employees, already bitter because the Hard Times (aka "The Chili Hut") offers up their wi-fi for free. Okay, that's unconfirmed, and by "unconfirmed" I mean the N. might have made that up. But these folks are Small Business Employees, and in my experience, SBE are usually in the not-so-small business of getting screwed up the fanny. So, looks like these particular SBE's get the awesomest prize of working through construction noise. Again. And this time not just through the uprising of an kind evil/glamorpussish glass building across the street. This newest project involves tearing down a building attached to the back of their offices, and then building some sort of new "urban living" monstrosity on the site. The plan looks/sounds/thinks/feels a lot something like Gotham City. (Sweet Lighted Bat Turrets!) This is a problem for me on more that one level - more than the simple "urban village hatred" I seethe with. Yes, urgently, kittens, the question is posed: what do I now call Ballston? I've been calling Ballston "Gotham" since at least early Ought-one, now I'm left with no nickname because, sweet hell. Lighted. Turrets. That. look like. the. Bat mask. That's so totally Gotham. Way moreso than the rainbow pedestrian bridge of Ballston, which I always thought would make a pretty sweet place for the Bman to float down from in all his winged/caped glory. Clarendon wins.

Anyhoos. Say a tut-tut cheerio adios chào ông etc. to everything from the British Store back: Hot Shotz, Clare-n-Dons, Little Viet Garden with it's Christmas-n-July outdoor asthetic, the cleaners, the pilates place, blah etc etc. At least the the Chili Hut sticks around. I can't decide if this is good or bad. I hate Chili Hut food, and yet I'm secretly pleased, in a mopey kind of way, when establishments stick around more than 3 years before being deemed "not Maggie Moos enough."
The Clarendon Center is the first project to comply with the newly adopted Part I of the Clarendon Sector Plan and associated policies. It is the first Clarendon project to use the new preservation incentives, applying them to keep intact both the Underwood Building, built in 1939, and Old Dominion Building, built in Art Deco style in 1941.
SAUL "Historical Preservationists At heart" CENTERS INC. TOTALLY WANTS A COOKIE.

As far as our Secret PIAB SBE on the Street knows, here's how this will all go down: first, the construction crews will come in and (sans-pile drivers, since they are on top of a metro tunnel) dismantle the buildings that currently house the retailers mentioned above. Big, burly construction workers with metal lunchboxes diligently packed by their wives will handle all this without TOUCHING the Underwood building. As mentioned, the Uwood is a designated historical building, so pissed as Saul must be that they can't raise that, too, for another Chipotle - the county sez it must stay. But sucking away it's charm is easy. Once this Clarendon Center is completed, the Uwood will be surrounded on three sides by behemoth towers- they're planning on dismantling buildings across the way on Highland as well (although the Old Dominion, in the same sitch as the Uwood, gets to stay.) The only space left is the mini-park right above he metro station, and I'm sure you can't erect condos there. My guess is also that they tried for a permit, though. "Spacious arched basement/public transpo right under yr feet!"
The site plan includes preservation of the Underwood Building on the North block, with the addition of a 97,860 square-foot, six story office building and 15,725 square feet of new ground floor retail space. On the South block, the Old Dominion Building will be preserved, and two towers – one a 244-unit, twelve-story residential tower and the other a nine-story, 84,395 square-foot office tower – will be added. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH They will be separated by a landscaped second-level courtyard. Some 38,333 square-feet of ground floor retail will be added.
Chant it with me now, once more w. feeling: STAR-BUCKS. STAR-BUCKS. STAR-BUCKS! TANN. ING. BED. TANN. ING. BED!

I once had hope, but my hope is waning. Think of the children. Someday in the v. near future, 17 year olds in ball-pointed Converse will stop smoking in front of the CD cellar and peering into the GHut as they stroll down the street, shoving each other into parking meters. McKaye n his gang don't hang their hats at Pottery Barn, methinks. Atown kids will look for new personalities to grow into - older, but not wiser. They'll start frequenting the WoW lines, listening to local jam bands. They'll hit on fresh college grad consultants in minis over $45 worth of Smithwicke's at Puffy O'Madmartigans. I'm pretty sure it will all end with a whimper, instead of that bang I'd so been looking forward to.

Unless there's some kind of construction accident.

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