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Military Art Therapy Studio Planned for Crystal City

by Morgan Fecto | July 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm | No Comments

(Updated at 6:00 p.m) A walk-in studio art facility for veterans and active-duty service members plans to open Oct. 15 in Crystal City.

Alexandria-based The 296 Project launched a Kickstarter on July 24 with a $30,000 goal to fund the 1,100-square-foot space, which it calls “A Combat Veteran’s Healing Place.” The studio will be located in a retail space at the Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive.

Kickstarter proceeds will go toward renovation materials, art supplies and equipment for the facility, which will cater to service members with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a press release.

“When the suffering is so strong words can barely describe it, when no one understands, when there’s no support system, this new facility allows our men and women in uniform to tell their stories with a paintbrush, clay, pen and pencil, chalk, through music, digital design, 3D design, spoken word or through poetry,” Scott Gordon, executive director of The 296 Project, told ARLnow.com in an email.

The project plans to give service members a place to explore art as well as socialize. It plans to provide art therapists with a space for seminars, art classes and group therapy sessions, although it will not be a therapy-providing entity, according to The 296 Project spokesperson Rebekah Wiseman.

The general public will be allowed in, according to the organization, so it can learn more about the community of service members with PTSD and TBI who are helped by art and expressive therapies.

“With or without a PTS/TBI diagnosis, our facility, our seminars, workshops, etc., will be therapeutic,” Wiseman wrote.

Service members will have to provide records to prove that they are or were members of the military, said Wiseman. The facility plans to be open six days of the week, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

“We believe we can save thousands of lives in the Northern Virginia area alone,” Gordon said. “This is just too important not to support.”

The Kickstarter will accept contributions until Sept. 22. Currently, the project has six backers and has raised $710. 

Images courtesy The 296 Project

Amsterdam Falafelshop Plans September Opening

by Ethan Rothstein | July 29, 2014 at 3:15 pm | 1,254 views | No Comments

Amsterdam Falafelshop's future space in Clarendon Amsterdam Falafelshop's future space in Clarendon

Amsterdam Falafelshop, the local falafel and “Dutch fries” chain, is planning to open its Clarendon location by the end of September.

Amsterdam Falafelshop announced in April it would be moving into the former BGR: The Burger Joint space next to Hard Times Café at 3024 Wilson Blvd. Franchise owner David Rosenstein — who also owns a dozen D.C. area Popeye’s franchises — planned a mid-summer opening, but as is the case with many restaurant build-outs, it has taken longer than expected.

The space now has a sign on the window that reads “Amsterdam Falafelshop is landing here this summer… Cause [sic] we love this neighborhood and we think you love falafel… we think you need falafel… we think you crave falafel.”

Ask Adam: Inexpensive Upgrades

by ARLnow.com | July 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm | 895 views | No Comments

Ask Adam header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We just bought our first house and are feeling a little house poor, but we are eager to make some worthwhile improvements. Can you recommend some relatively inexpensive improvements that will provide return on investment at some point? 

I love your enthusiasm and foresight. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to improve the appearance and value of your home. Below are my top five suggestions:

Paint — You just bought the home so I am hoping you plan to live there for many years to come. Updating the interior paint is probably not a strong return on investment project at this point as you are likely to paint again before selling one day. At that time it will be a good idea to speak with your agent about the trending interior colors. This year I am seeing a lot of the light grays.

I suggest concentrating on the exterior. The wood trim and shutters often get neglected. You can give them a fresh look and provide them with much needed protection from sun, rain and snow. I can’t tell you how many home inspections I have been to where we discovered rotting wood trim.

Deck Cleaning and Staining – Similar to the suggestion above, this is a project you can do by yourself to freshen and protect your investment.

Start with a thorough cleaning. I usually rent a power washer from Bill’s True Value Hardware (2213 N. Buchanan Street), but first check around to see if you have a friend that will lend you theirs. It’s a simple process of cleaning, sanding and staining. Compare stains to find one that lasts for a longer period of time.

Landscaping — I just got back from a trip to Cape May, N.J., and was extremely impressed with the beautiful landscaping that is prevalent in that little beach town. It’s amazing how much more inviting the landscaping can make a home feel regardless of the home’s age.

I suggest creating a plan for your landscaping that takes into account the placement of plants, flowers and shrubs in relations to their height and the seasons they are in bloom. You should also consider the amount of water and sun they will require. It’s nice to create a garden you don’t have to water.

Because we are talking about improvements that will add value to your home, I suggest using perennial flowers that will continue to come back season after season.

Arlington County provides free mulch. For a small fee you can even have it delivered. Mulch provides a nice accent to your yard and helps control weeds.

Hardware — No offense to those of you who have gold colored hardware throughout your homes, but it is not really the finish of choice for most home buyers right now. I’m talking about doorknobs, light fixtures, fireplace hardware, cabinet knobs, towel racks… you get the picture. You can really update the feel of your home by replacing these items with a popular finish like brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze.

ReStore – Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public. Because they depend on donations, the inventory is hit or miss, but I have seen some gems in there. Everything from hardwood flooring to stainless steel appliances. There is a ReStore located in Alexandria.

I highly recommend YouTube for any projects you would like a quick education about. In my personal experience, it has been a life saver.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

New Benches to Be Installed Near Ballston Metro Station

by Ethan Rothstein | July 29, 2014 at 12:45 pm | 1,717 views | No Comments

The Ballston property manager that replaced planters to prevent people from sitting says benches will soon be installed in their place.

Stephen Gilbert, the vice president of marketing for Gates Hudson, the property manager of the building adjacent to the Ballston Metro station, said the company plans to install 15 benches near the station and next to the new planters by mid-August.

Additional “street furniture” is also planned for the busy bus stop.

“This is a cross promotion with the Ballston [Business Improvement District] and we are investing nearly $28,000 to improve the seating area,” Gilbert wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “The bus shelters currently in place and managed by WMATA and Arlington County are not adequate in our opinion.”

Gates Hudson replaced the planters earlier this month because, as an employee told ARLnow.com, “they’re meant to be planters and that’s it… A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.” Gilbert said that the new planters’ capstones “were only a small part” of Gates Hudson’s master plan for improving the space on N. Stuart Street.

“I ensure you that once you see what we have under construction you will see that we are creating a very convenient and comfortable space for commuters and pedestrians,” Gilbert wrote.

County Survey: Residents Approve of Affordable Housing Policies

by Ethan Rothstein | July 29, 2014 at 11:30 am | 1,135 views | No Comments

Arlington County Board 5/10/14Arlington residents seem to approve of the County Board’s recent work on affordable housing, according to a county-funded study.

According to a survey, cited during last week’s County Board meeting, 65 percent of 1,744 respondents believe it’s “very important” to help senior citizens age in place. Meanwhile, 60 percent believe affordable housing options for the county’s workforce are “very important,” and 58 percent believe it’s important for “moderate and low-income families with children in public schools” to have affordable housing options.

When “very important” answers were combined with “somewhat important,” those figures jump to 92 percent, 88 percent and 90 percent, respectively.

The survey, which was conducted in English and Spanish, is a component of the county’s ongoing affordable housing study, which was launched in July 2012. The study’s recent work includes a review of best practices, a preliminary report on housing needs and a “complete assessment of strategies/program approaches, with community review.”

County Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes said the survey revealed “strong support for what [the County Board] has been doing.” She also said that the survey wasn’t an attempt to “duplicate census information,” but rather measure the priorities of the community.

“We were instead trying to find out what people thought about how housing is at the moment in Arlington,” she said. “As well as their attitudes about housing objectives and policies that this board has been pursuing… It’s good validation for us, and really helpful information for our group as they continue to work on refining what will become, we hope, a comprehensive plan.”

The study weighed residents’ opinions on the county’s affordable housing policies. Forty-six percent of respondents “strongly favor” Arlington’s affordable housing ordinance — which allows developers bonus density if they dedicate affordable housing units or donate to the county’s affordable housing fund — while 44 percent strongly favor the county’s affordable housing grant program. Twenty-four percent of survey takers either somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the affordable housing ordinance.

The County Board is expected reveal more survey results at its September meeting. Another phase of the affordable housing study is expected to conclude in June 2015.

Arlington County dedicates about 5 percent of its non-school budget to affordable housing investment.

Morgan Fecto contributed to this report

Arlington Prepared to Grant Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

by ARLnow.com | July 29, 2014 at 10:15 am | 2,596 views | No Comments

LGBT rainbow flag (image via Wikipedia)(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) If a federal appeals court ruling goes unchallenged, Arlington County Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson says his office is prepared to “start issuing marriage licenses to same sex applicants immediately.”

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond upheld a lower court’s decision that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. State Sen. Adam Ebbin who represents part of Arlington and was the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, applauded the court’s decision.

“This victory for liberty is in keeping with Jefferson’s admonition that ‘laws and institutions must go hand and hand with the progress of the human mind,’” Ebbin said in a statement. “As the birthplace of America’s civil liberties, it is especially fitting that Virginia provides full equality to all of her citizens.”

The ruling will not take effect for 21 days, according to news reports, and could be put on hold indefinitely if those seeking to uphold the marriage ban are granted a stay while appealing to the full appellate court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ferguson, who participates in an annual pro-gay marriage demonstration in Arlington, said he believes the appeals process will continue to drag out.

“From what I have heard, it is likely that a stay will be asked for and granted by the Fourth Circuit consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Utah case,” Ferguson told ARLnow.com Monday afternoon. “If the stay is granted, it is likely we will need to wait until the Supreme Court rules.”

Ferguson said he expects to receive guidance from Virginia’s Democratic attorney general, Mark Herring, “in the near future.”

Should a stay not be granted, however, Ferguson said “the Arlington Circuit Court Clerk’s office will issue marriage licenses to same sex applicants as soon as we are certain they would be valid.”

“It is possible that the court could rule rejecting the stay sooner,” he said. Asked about the possibility of a crush of gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage licenses, Ferguson said his office “will do our best to accommodate applicants in a timely manner.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 29, 2014 at 9:00 am | 1,732 views | No Comments

Construction on an apartment building at the corner of Fern and 12th in Pentagon City

Arlington’s Red Light Camera Haul — Arlington County’s red light cameras brought in a total of $588,688 in citation revenue in 2013, up from $369,000 in 2012. [WTOP]

Decision Lens Gets $6.5 Million — Arlington-based software company Decision Lens has received $6.5 million in investment. The company has 71 employees and serves 80 customers. [Reuters]

Arlington Youth Baseball Team Wins State Title — The Arlington Senior Babe Ruth 15-Under All Stars have captured a state championship. The team will now compete in the Southeastern Regional Tournament, which starts tomorrow near Richmond. [InsideNova]

Backups on SB I-395 After Accident Near King Street

by ARLnow.com | July 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm | 938 views | No Comments

Accident at I-395 and King StreetThe evening commute on southbound I-395 is especially slow today due to a multi-vehicle accident.

The accident happened in the mainline lanes near King Street just before 5:00 p.m. Medics are reportedly evaluating two people: a pregnant woman and a person with a head injury.

Currently, three lefthand lanes are blocked by the emergency response. Traffic is backing up just past the Pentagon.

PenPlace Open Space Approved Over More Resident Discontent

by Ethan Rothstein | July 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 1,589 views | No Comments

The Arlington County Board has approved a concept for two acres of open place on the planned PenPlace development in Pentagon City.

The plan calls for three open spaces: two small parks along planned 10th and 12th Street S. connections between S. Fern and Eads Streets and a “Central Green” in the middle of the large development. The Central Green is designed to allow for events like outdoor movies and concerts, according to the space’s designer, and will include a cafe in the northeast corner.

The concept was presented to the County Board during its Thursday meeting last week after three community meetings. The PenPlace development was approved by the County Board last September, with the condition that a concept for the open space be brought back within a year.

The PenPlace development, when completed, is planned to have five buildings, each between 16 and 22 stories tall, that include 1.8 million square feet of office space and a 300-room hotel. It will be adjacent to a planned streetcar station on 12th Street.

As part of the approval, the developer, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, agreed to build about two acres of public space as a component of the community benefit package required for bonus density.

“I think the overarching goal here, that we’ve shared with the public, is to create a vibrant urban space in the heart of Pentagon City,” said Hallie Boyce, a design partner with Olin Landscape Architects, which designed the open space, ”that will not only allow people to enjoy the great outdoors but also to enjoy each other’s company, and to really create a sense of community here in Pentagon City.”

In addition, Vornado plans to include up to 20,000 square feet of community-oriented space in the building at the corner of the planned 10th Street and S. Eads Street intersection. According to Vornado’s presentation to the County Board, the space could be used for educational use or a university, a business incubator, a library or community center, or large entertainment use, such as a bowling alley, movie theater or performance venue.

The concept was submitted and approved as a “base case,” which will now operate as a guiding principle for when the buildings come back before the Board for a full site plan approval. According to Vornado Senior Vice President and Director of Development Mitch Bonanno, there is still no timeline for any construction.

PenPlace was met with numerous resident objections when it first came before the County Board last year. Four speakers came to Thursday’s meeting in protest of a provision that allows Vornado additional density on the site, saying they felt they were caught unaware after the community meetings. The base case includes a provision that, if the open space costs more than the staff’s estimate of $2.65 million, Vornado is entitled to added density.

“The citizen participants were under the mistaken impression that the outdoor space improvements were part of the extremely generous deal Vornado already got,” Pentagon City resident Elizabeth Wirick said. “Those who took part in the workshops feel betrayed. This is a concept, not a plan, we don’t have any data on how much it’s going to cost other than staff estimates, and with regards to staff estimates, I’ll keep it short. Two words: aquatics center.”

(Vornado agreed to partially fund the proposed Long Bridge Park aquatics center project as part of PenPlace’s initial phased development approval. The aquatics center is now stalled after construction bids came in well above staff estimates.)

The motion passed just before midnight, 3-1, with Board member John Vihstadt dissenting and Board member Libby Garvey absent.

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