VIRGINIA

Demolition to begin on new Arlington development

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Major development will soon replace an Arlington eyesore. The County Board approved plans over the weekend to demolish the former Bergmann's dry cleaning plant off Lee Highway near Courthouse.

If you travel around that Bergmann's, you'll notice some disarray. Windows are punched out of the building, and several boarded up homes surround it.

Construction crews will soon clear the area for new residential properties and commercial businesses.

Arlington resident Zeke Bergeron said, "It really doesn't jive with the rest of the neighborhood which is pretty nice and clean and not necessarily all new, but the stuff that isn't new has a lot of character."

Bergeron rides his bike past the dry cleaning plant and the deserted homes next door all the time. He lives down the road and is ready for new neighbors.

Arlington County's first "Mom's Organic Market" is expected to be one of them.

"I'd love to have something closer, where I don't have to deal with parking at the Whole Foods in Clarendon," Bergeron added.

About 200 apartments will also move into the area.

The county promises 11 units will be classified as "affordable housing" for the next 30 years.

Kate Donahoe of Arlington said, "I think Arlington is an incredibly expensive place to live, and I think giving people an opportunity to live in a nicer place at a lower income is very great for the community."

"It's a major milestone for Lee Highway," added Arlington Co. Planning Director Robert Duffy.

He shared artist renderings of what the North Highlands community can expect. They include more than 13,000 square feet of retail space.

Duffy said, "The developer is making major contributions to improve both sidewalks and pedestrian safety - a new traffic signal, on street parking, streetscape improvements and a sizable improvement to McCoy Park."

Demolition will start in the coming months with a completion date expected within two years.

Residents are excited by the changes in store, but they add only time will tell how big an impact they'll make.

Mike McKeever of Arlington said, "There's not a good sense of community right there on that block. Maybe with some new affordable housing or some apartments it'll change."

The mixed-use development will be paid for with funds from the developer, not tax payers.

Construction is expected to start in the next six months.

The Bergmann's building will be torn down and will not re-open in the area.  Right now, it serves only as a dry cleaning pick up and drop-off site. The dry cleaning operations moved out of Arlington. The owner of Bermann's could not be reached for comment.

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