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Just Listed in Arlington

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 24, 2014 at 5:00 am 0

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Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

Arlington saw only 48 new listings come on the market this week, ranging in price from $155,000 to $2.275 million. The drop in interest rates last week has not inspired buyers this week as only 44 properties went under contract, one sale less than last week’s figure.

Mortgage interest rates have held steady at 4 percent for a 30-year fixed rate loan. Of those properties that sold this week, the average list price was $612,851 and the average days on market jumped to 68. Economists and real estate professionals are scratching their heads wondering why markets across the U.S. and here are so sluggish when interest rates and other economic indicators are trending well.

Check out the listing of the week at 5812 N. 37th St. priced at $2.275m.

You can access all active listings in Arlington on the Cathell Team website.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm 956 0

Wilson School (photo courtesy Preservation Arlington)(Updated at 10:35 p.m.) The option to make the Wilson School site in Rosslyn a new, 1,300-seat middle school does not appear to have support on the Arlington County School Board.

Although no final decision will be made until December on Arlington’s plan to construct school facilities for 1,300 middle school seats by 2019, School Board Chair James Lander and School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez both said last night they are not in favor of an urban middle school location.

“I still look at middle school kids, 1,300 middle school kids needing more green space, more fields,” Violand-Sanchez. She also said that, despite the strong support for keeping the H-B Woodlawn program in its current home at the Stratford facility, “alternative programs have been moved. I know that H-B Woodlawn is a very, very valuable program. It’s an outstanding school. However, sometimes we may have to be open to see if there’s options for movement.”

Lander echoed Violand-Sanchez’s comments, saying “It is still my preference that the [Wilson School] site is not one that would be my first option.”

School Board member Abby Raphael, however, said she believes “the Wilson School site is a viable option.” New School Board member Nancy Van Doren did not express an opinion on the issue at the School Board’s meeting last night.

The School Board will vote on Dec. 18 to determine which middle school plan they would move forward with:

  • Building a 1,000-1,300-seat neighborhood school at the Wilson site
  • Building an 800-seat secondary school at the Wilson site and expanding the Stratford building to 1,300 seats
  • Building 1,300 seats in additions onto the Reed/Westover Library site and Stratford
  • Building 1,000 seats in additions onto the Reed/Westover or Wilson sites and 300 seats onto an additional middle school

By the time the vote is cast, either Barbara Kanninen or Audrey Clement — who are running against each other for the Board’s vacant seat — will also have a say.

One option that appears to no longer be on the table is constructing additions onto four existing middle schools. The plan, which was the least-preferred by Arlington Public Schools staff, was determined to be too expensive and complicated relative to the others.

Thiry-six speakers from the public spoke before the Board, many of whom were advocating for keeping H-B Woodlawn in its current location. One of those speakers was Elmer Lowe, the president of the Arlington chapter of the NAACP, who said if the School Board decided to make Stratford a neighborhood school site, it would be turning its back on the country’s racial history.

Making Stratford a neighborhood school “was added on very late in the process in response to intense pressure and lobbying from parents in the surrounding neighborhood,” Lowe said. “It should be noted that these neighborhoods are made up almost entirely of white, affluent families… Choosing the neighborhood school option, which means that the current diverse and high-achieving student body would be moved out and the new students coming in from the neighborhood. It would therefore approximate the segregated student body that existed before the former Stratford Junior high School (integrated) in 1959.”

Lowe, who received applause for his speech, was not directly addressed by School Board members, but Lander and Violand-Sanchez both mentioned preserving diversity in their comments.

“The diversity issue often comes up, and folks manipulate the conversation to strategically make a point, and sometimes I take offense to that because, Arlington, I sometimes say, is a great party with a huge cover charge,” Lander said. “The population in Arlington is what it is. The Board and the county does not control, nor should they penalize for, where people live. I want a diverse school system. There’s people who prioritize what’s most important for their child. And we all have that right.”

Photo courtesy Preservation Arlington

by ARLnow.com — October 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm 1,360 0

Police Chief Doug Scott at a community forum on policing

Could another Ferguson happen in Arlington?

Yes it could, admitted Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott, but it’s not likely.

Scott and other local law enforcement and community figures were speaking at a community forum on policing last week at Wakefield High School when he was asked by WJLA’s Jeff Goldberg whether a police shooting — like the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. — could happen and spark unrest here. Yes, he said candidly, but Arlington County Police has been doing its best to ensure it does not.

For one, said Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, Arlington officers are well-trained in the proper use of force.

“The level of professionalism, training… and the degree to which Arlington police exercise restraint in terms of the use of force,” make a controversial police shooting very unlikely, she said.

However unlikely, though, Scott said the department was prepared for a Ferguson-like shooting, in which the suspect turns out to be unarmed and conflicting witness statements are given. ACPD would stay in close contact with the local community in the wake of the shooting, would release information in a timely manner and would thoroughly investigate the shooting, he said.

“Part of my charge as the Chief of Police and working with members in the community, is to assure them that we’re going to do a comprehensive, objective and fair investigation,”said  Scott. “We’re going to put the officer on restricted duty. [He or she] is going to be compelled to give us a statement. There are going to be two investigations, a criminal investigation and an administrative investigation.”

Scott said the Ferguson police department seemed to be “trying to hold something back” after the shooting. “I think that those kind of things fueled the mistrust.”

Speakers at a police forum at Wakefield High SchoolDespite the police department’s efforts to build trust with minority communities — like Nauck, Arlington’s oldest African American neighborhood — speakers at the forum expressed concern about policing in the community. Some accused specific officers of being too aggressive, while others said that officers don’t spend enough time trying to be a part of the community.

“We should not be prisoners in our own house. Were were born and raised here,” said one Nauck resident, who said she was concerned about police “harassing” her sons. “You don’t go to my church. You only come out what, during Community Day? How are we supposed to trust you?”

“The way they speak to us is unacceptable,” said another woman. “The way they treat us in Nauck is not right.”

One young woman said she gets pulled over by ACPD at least once a week because she’s mistaken for her boyfriend, the co-signer on the car, whose drivers license is suspended. Another speaker said Nauck residents get stopped for riding bikes without helmets.

“Yet you put bikes without helmets in here,” he said, referring to Capital Bikeshare stations.

After the forum, Chief Scott said it’s clear that ACPD has more work to do.

“I thought I had a pretty good pulse on some of the issues that are out there in the community,” he told ARLnow.com. “I heard some things tonight that really have made me pause and think we have work to do in some of these communities in terms of trust in the police department.”

by Ethan Rothstein — October 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm 765 0

Ed Gillespie in RosslynEd Gillespie is the Republican challenger for Sen. Mark Warner’s (D) seat in the Nov. 4 election, and he knows he has an uphill battle to claim votes in deeply Democratic Arlington.

Gillespie is behind by double-digits in statewide polls, but he sees an opportunity in Arlington to connect with young voters frustrated by the lagging economic recovery.

“We enjoy a lot of strong support here from a lot of young professionals,” he said. “There’s big numbers here, and we have to get our numbers up. It’s an important part of the Commonwealth. I want to be a servant leader for all Virginians, that means taking your message everywhere, including places that I know historically, in the voting patterns, aren’t Republican strongholds. But that doesn’t matter to me. I think it’s important to take your message everywhere.”

Gillespie served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee and counsel to President George W. Bush, and started his own lobbying and consulting firms. His consulting firm, Ed Gillespie Strategies, closed in Old Town Alexandria earlier this year to allow Gillespie to focus on his campaign.

Gillespie is against same-sex marriage, but said he prefers to let the states legislate their own marriage laws.

Gillespie lives in the Mount Vernon area of Fairfax County, and said “there was a time when I used to play golf,” but he spend most of his time on the campaign trail or with family nowadays. The time he spends in Arlington, he said, is either campaigning or making the occasional trip to the Pentagon City mall. Gillespie visited Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices last week and sat down with ARLnow.com for an interview.

Ed Gillespie in RosslynAround his favorite Arlington hangout, office vacancies have skyrocketed in the years since the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure plan that moved thousands of defense jobs out of Arlington. Gillespie said he doesn’t think the BRAC process needs to be changed, but admitted “it has made mistakes.”

“We’ve cut about $986 billion from our military and our defense since Sen. Warner took office, $500 billion through the sequester, which is a random, arbitrary and deep cut,” he said. “I would work to restore those cuts because I think our military does need to be a higher priority than it is under this administration. ”

Gillespie wants to replace the Affordable Care Act and “supports oil, coal and natural gas production, including deep sea drilling.” He also said he advocates widening I-66, both inside and outside the Beltway.

Gillespie said he realizes Arlington “has got a set of priorities” — county leaders have repeatedly opposed proposals to widen the Arlington stretch of I-66 — but thinks the highway should be widened regardless.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,544 0

Columbia Pike streetcar renderingThe three state senators and four delegates that represent Arlington in the Virginia General Assembly have sent a letter to state Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne in support of the Columbia Pike streetcar project.

The letter calls out County Board members Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt for their continued opposition to the project. On Friday, Garvey laid out alternative uses for the hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local transportation funding that are being directed toward the streetcar.

“We strongly disagree with the efforts of Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt to deprive Arlington of those state funds dedicated to the streetcar project,” the letter states.

The letter also cites the return on investment study the county funded that predicted more than $3 billion in economic impact in the first 30 years of the streetcar system. It refers to the support the streetcar has already received from state officials, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The letter was signed by state Sens. Janet Howell, Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola and Dels. Alfonso Lopez, Patrick Hope, Rob Krupicka and Rip Sullivan.

The full letter is posted, after the jump. (more…)

by Mark Kelly — October 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm 862 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyThe Washington, D.C., streetcar is finally up and running in a limited, testing phase. According to this Washington Post story on the new line, it is not going so well.

It seems the first cars “running east of Union Station, have snarled traffic and been in two minor accidents.”

If you have ever driven on Columbia Pike during rush hour, you know traffic conditions will not be any better in Arlington with fixed rail cars running in the same lane as cars and buses.

Second, buses in D.C. are facing significant delays behind the streetcars, and are having to go around the streetcars to stay on schedule.

According to County plans, the Arlington streetcars will only supplement bus service, meaning our buses along the Pike will likely also have to navigate around the light rail. And, in not so good news for Arlington commuters, the streetcars may actually be even slower than buses at getting you to work. This does not include the time it takes you to get to the Pentagon if you need to catch a bus, as the the line will not go directly there.

Third, while D.C. planned to charge $1 or more per ride, “DDOT has determined that fares will not be collected at the start of revenue service.”

D.C. needs to entice riders since ridership is already projected to be “underwhelming” according to the story. Not that D.C. could charge a fare yet, they still don’t have the system in place to do so.

We were told that people would naturally want to ride the new streetcars along Columbia Pike, but communities across the country are having issues with paid ridership. The very real possibility exists that Arlingtonians will not only have to subsidize some portion of each ride forever, we may get to foot the whole bill (at least during a “rider attraction” phase). Of course, instituting a charge for a previously “free” service becomes more difficult later.

The bottom line is we can look across the river at what not to do. Supporters will probably say we can learn from their mistakes, but similar problems continue wherever this transit experiment has been tried.

Fortunately for us, we have only wasted a small percentage of the total cost thus far. We can still stop it. Two Columbia Pike streetcar proponents are on the ballot next year. The results of the Nov. 4 election may intensify the pressure on them to have a change of heart before it’s too late.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by Alfonso Lopez — October 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm 669 0

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Alfonso LopezAs a member of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation and long-time resident of neighborhoods along Columbia Pike, I have been a strong advocate for implementation of the Columbia Pike Neighborhood Plan adopted after many years of planning and community involvement — a fundamental component of which is a modern streetcar system.

I am pleased that our governor, after receiving broad approval (nearly 72 percent) from Arlington voters as a candidate, has strongly supported key transit projects like the streetcar.

Virginia’s Transportation Secretary has repeatedly praised the streetcar as a sound example for leveraging transportation investments to enhance economic competitiveness, noting that implementation of a seamless streetcar system between Columbia Pike and Crystal City will provide significantly more mobility benefits than enhanced bus service.

Just this past week, Virginia’s Director of Rail and Public Transportation told the Washington Post that the state remains “fully committed” to providing $65 million from a state funding stream dedicated solely to fixed guideway rail projects. This brings the total state streetcar investment to more than $200 million.

Why is the Pike Neighborhood Plan and streetcar component important? It is how we will:

  • accommodate anticipated growth along Columbia Pike;
  • protect Pike neighborhoods and affordable housing units;
  • create important links to Crystal City/Pentagon City on one end of the Pike and Bailey’s Crossroads on the other;
  • create a “main street” feel with appropriately scaled buildings and dining/retail options;
  • provide street-level transit options for people to visit restaurants, libraries, community centers, shopping outlets, and office buildings;
  • and generate economic development and tax revenues we will need to build schools and acquire open space.

The streetcar system will not just create additional commuting options. It will foster livable and healthy communities with robust businesses, create destinations easily accessible to Arlingtonians and revenue-generating tourists, and improve our quality of life.

I am disappointed that the carefully-planned and long-needed investments along Columbia Pike are now being treated as a political football. That is why I oppose the Garvey-Vihstadt plan announced on ARLnow.com that would cause Arlington to forfeit millions of dollars of state funding.

And I am disappointed that the Garvey-Vihstadt plan would similarly renege on commitments that Arlington County has made to help revitalize Crystal City after the poorly-planned federal decision to move thousands of military jobs to Mark Center and Fort Belvoir with the attendant losses of many more private sector jobs.

In the name of saving some unspecified amount of money on the streetcar by using inferior bus service, the Garvey-Vihstadt plan suggests that we can instead fund major Metro improvements. That makes no financial sense.

The Metro expansion projects alluded to in the Garvey-Vihstadt plan would, according to the long-range strategic plan released last year by Metro, cost many billions of dollars — many times the streetcar’s cost. A new Rosslyn Metro station — $1 billion. A second Potomac tunnel — $3.3 billion. An Orange/Silver express track to a second Rosslyn Metro station — $2.3 billion.

These may all be worthy projects, but suggesting that even Arlington’s share of the cost would become feasible merely by killing the streetcar is irresponsible. (more…)

by Peter Rousselot — October 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm 989 0

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotI’m a proud Arlington Democrat. Like thousands of other Arlington Democrats, I will be voting on Nov. 4 to re-elect Independent John Vihstadt to the Arlington County Board.

On April 8, 57 percent of Arlington voters elected John as an independent voice on the Board. The other four Board members are Democrats. Having an Independent as one of the five Board members provides balance, oversight and accountability.

Reasons To Vote For Vihstadt

Thirty years of community activism and consensus-building

John’s record of public service and relationships built over three decades has provided a firm foundation for immediate effectiveness and accomplishment. This record shows him to be inclusive and open-minded.

Re-calibrating County Board spending priorities

John Vihstadt:

  • prioritizes long-term, cost-effective investments in our public schools, public safety, infrastructure maintenance and neighborhood quality of life;
  • opposes wasteful and extravagant projects like a $500 million streetcar, million dollar bus stops, a gold-plated aquatics center or another $1.6 million dog park.

Since Arlington already has the highest tax bills in Northern Virginia, setting priorities is essential.

Arlington’s current priorities have been set by a group of three long-term incumbent County Board members (Jay Fisette, Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes). They happen to be Democrats. Many of their priorities (streetcars, aquatics center, fancy dog parks) are wrong. Their wrong priorities are not core Democratic values.

By voting to re-elect John Vihstadt on Nov. 4, Arlington voters will send another strong message that we support John’s priorities and oppose these wasteful and extravagant projects.

Fresh perspective already making a difference

John has led the effort to hire an internal auditor to improve checks and balances. He will continue to advocate that the auditor report directly to the County Board, not the County Manager. He will work to ensure no backsliding in recent commitments to implement a fraud and abuse hotline and employee whistle blower protection. 

Conclusion

Some Arlington Democrats may be struggling with the decision to vote to re-elect John or vote for his Democratic opponent. I support John because being the Democratic candidate in this County Board election is not enough of a qualification.

Alan Howze lacks the stature to stand up to Fisette, Hynes, and Tejada, and to vote against their positions when he thinks they are wrong. Moreover, on major current and important issues, like the $500 million streetcar and spending at least $80 million on the Aquatics Center, he agrees with their positions.

You can read more about John Vihstadt’s extensive community service, the issues on which he is running, and his support from across the political spectrum here.

***

John Vihstadt deserves re-election to the County Board.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 23, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,168 0

Arlington resident Matthew LaMagna with Alex Trebek (photo courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.) Arlington resident Matthew LaMagna, right, on Jeopardy (photo courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.)

A digital consultant in Arlington will be giving answers in the form of questions on national television tonight.

Matthew LaMagna will be on Jeopardy! tonight on WJLA (channel 7 for Comcast subscribers) at 7:30 p.m. LaMagna works as a data science and research manager for Targeted Victory, a campaign consultant firm.

On LaMagna’s company biography page, he claims to have “a near-encyclopedic memory of 80s and 90s song lyrics, which helps him to win numerous rounds of pub quiz throughout the Washington metropolitan area.” He’s a Georgetown graduate and a native of Freehold, N.J., almost 50 miles south of Hoboken.

LaMagna is far from the first Arlington resident to compete on Jeopardy! in recent years. One woman, Liz Murphy, advanced to the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions in 2010. Lawyer Melissa Jurgens competed on the game show last year.

Photos courtesy Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 23, 2014 at 5:00 am 1,198 0

The ultimate in urban living is found in this two-level condominium townhouse at 1418 N. Rhodes Street, Unit B107. Conveniently located between the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro Stations, this property…

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