The Green Valley Civic Association has laid out the conditions under which it would support turning the historic but shuttered Green Valley Pharmacy property into a restaurant.
In a Jan. 12 letter to county-government officials, association president Portia Clark and first vice president Robin Stombler laid out a host of concerns about the proposal – including several changes that already have been made.
The county government’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) had been scheduled to review the proposal at its December meeting, but notice was never given to the civic association. When leaders of that group learned about it (from coverage in the Sun Gazette), they asked for, and received, a deferral of the proposal.
Leaders of the civic association are still steamed, in part because this is not the only time the Green Valley leadership feels it has been overlooked by the county government on issues of importance to the community.
“To not seek our guidance on this item in the first place, and failing to inform us of the agenda item, was negligent and disrespectful,” Clark and Strombler wrote. “This is not the first time our community has experienced this behavior – unfortunately, it is frequent and abhorrent. It must stop.”
The HALRB now plans to consider the development proposal at its Jan. 19 meeting, one step on the road to a final decision on the matter by County Board members.
As to specifics of the proposal, the civic association raised a number of concerns and made a number of proposals:
• The organization wants the name “Green Valley Pharmacy” put back on the building with its original lettering, to retain a link to the past as things move to the future.
• The organization opposes removal of the only tree on the parcel, a mature American elm in good condition.
“It is not lost on us that the applicant wishes to cut down the tree to make way for a trash dumpster,” civic-association leaders said.
• The association’s leaders want a chimney stack at the back of the building retained rather than removed, as it is part of the building’s historic provenance, they say.
• The association asks the county government to coordinate with the property owner (and those living in nearby townhouses) to provide parking and/or green space on a nearby parcel owned by the government.
• The association wants further clarification on the relationship between the Green Valley Pharmacy building and an adjacent office building, which also is being leased by the same entity, and how parking will be allocated.
• The association believes that a proposal to add an outdoor-dining component to the restaurant would add some life (and, through plantings, beauty) to the parcel, but questions whether there would be enough parking for it.
The building, constructed in 1942 and originally serving as a grocery store, was operated by Leonard “Doc” Muse as the Green Valley Pharmacy from the early 1950s until his death in 2017. Subsequent efforts to keep it running were unsuccessful, and a developer now seeks to turn it into a restaurant under lease from Muse’s daughter.
The Arlington County government declared the parcel a local historic district in 2013, giving HALRB members a say whenever exterior alterations are proposed.