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Arlington Hires Lobbying Firm for Navy Annex Land Swap

by ARLnow.com | July 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm | No Comments

Illustration of future land exchange between Arlington County and the U.S. Army

Arlington County has hired a lobbying firm to help facilitate a planned land swap between the county, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Department of Defense.

As outlined in a memorandum of understanding last year, the county is planning to hand over the right-of-way for Southgate Road, near the Air Force Memorial, to the DoD, which plans to use the land — along with the former Navy Annex grounds and part of the state’s current Columbia Pike right-of-way — for an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery’s burial grounds.

As revealed in a recent public disclosure, the county has hired Alexandria-based lobbying firm Congressional Strategies LLC to help move the transaction along. The land swap has already passed the House of Representatives and is now included in the under-consideration U.S. Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, according to Brian Stout, the county’s federal liaison.

The county’s contract with Congressional Strategies calls for a $5,000 monthly retainer for all services and runs through October, with an option to be extended through June 2015, according to county spokeswoman Mary Curtius.

“The purpose of the lobbying contract is to facilitate and bring to closure the Navy Annex Land Exchange project,” Curtius said. “This involves advocacy in both the legislative and executive branches to supplement the efforts of County staff.”

The land swap will benefit the county in several ways.

Google Map shows the former Navy Annex and the current alignment of Columbia PikeArlington will receive a sizable parcel of land south of Columbia Pike, on which the county hopes to build an Arlington County and Freedman’s Village history museum, additional parking and facilities for the Air Force Memorial, and other amenities that do not detract from “the dignity, honor, and solemnity of Arlington National Cemetery.”

Also, the exchange will facilitate a realignment of Columbia Pike and its intersection with S. Joyce Street. The realigned Pike will take a more direct path to S. Joyce Street, through the former Navy Annex parking lot, and will provide a better alignment for the future Columbia Pike streetcar.

In addition to an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, the DoD plans to use some of the land in the swap, near the Pike/Joyce intersection for a future visitor center for the Pentagon Memorial. The Senate is expected to vote on the NDAA later this year.

Ballston Planters Replaced To Prevent Sitting

by Ethan Rothstein | July 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 602 views | No Comments

Ballston planter before it was replaced (photo courtesy Jana Lynott)  Ballston planter after it was replaced (photo courtesy Jana Lynott)

Several planters on the sidewalk of N. Stuart Street in Ballston, just outside the Ballston Metro station were recently rebuilt to stop people from taking a seat.

The planters were replaced by property manager Gates Hudson this month, and while the trees are still there, the flat surface around the soil has been converted into a sharply angled corner designed specifically to prevent people waiting for the buses from sitting down.

“They’re meant to be planters and that’s it,” a Gates Hudson employee told ARLnow.com. “There are many benches outside, and the goal was to have people sit there and not on the planters. A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.”

In a letter to the Arlington County Board, Metrobus rider Jana Lynott said the property owners around the Metro station had “vitriol” for transit riders who are perceived as loiterers.

“As a regular Metrobus 1A rider, I was offended by the insinuation that we riders were viewed as dirty loiterers that bring down commercial property values,” Lynott wrote. “I’m not convinced that my fellow transit riders are a scourge upon society that need to be dealt with through exclusive design… Why in Arlington, VA, a community that invests millions of dollars a year into recruiting new riders to our world-class transit system, would we possibly embrace such a backward notion of transit accessibility? Please. Do not let this exclusive design become standard practice in our community.”

Photos courtesy Jana Lynott

Ballston Movie Theater Offering Free Nachos for Selfie-Takers

by ARLnow.com | July 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm | 394 views | No Comments

Moviegoers attend the late night Harry Potter screening in Ballston Common MallThe movie theater at Ballston Common Mall is offering free nachos to customers who take “cheesy” selfies and post them to Twitter or Instagram.

The theater’s parent company, Regal Cinemas, is running the promotion through Monday, Aug. 11. Customers can submit the self-taken photo by using the hashtag #RegalCheesieEntry on Twitter or Instagram, or can do so via the a web form.

The nachos are offered while supplies last, Regal says. If there are no nachos left at the theater, Regal will offer a $2 off coupon. Submitted photos will also be entered into a sweepstakes to win a “Hollywood VIP weekend.”

File photo

Your Beermonger: Setting Up Camp

by Nick Anderson | July 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm | No Comments

Your Beermonger logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

The big news for beer fans this week is the arrival of a very special, highly anticipated release: Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America 12-packs. Featuring one bottle (or can) each of collaborations between the California craft beer icon and 12 of the most renowned brewers in America, the Beer Camp 12-packs are only one part of a massive celebration of American beer.

Sierra is taking the Beer Camp on the road with a nationwide Beer Camp Across America tour, with seven stops in various regions of the country offering a day of live music, food, and dozens of different breweries sampling their wares at each stop (Note: if you’d like to try to make it by one of the Beer Camp stops, the last two are in Philadelphia Aug. 2 and in Mills River, N.C. — home to the new East Coast Sierra Nevada brewery — on Aug. 3).

In an April press release, Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman explained the rationale behind Beer Camp Across America: “We’re about to open a second brewery in North Carolina, and while that’s exciting for us, it’s an even greater reason to celebrate the future of craft brewers everywhere.”

It’s an impressive undertaking, and all with the aim of promoting and helping the beer industry overall: the same Sierra press release revealed that “a portion of proceeds from the festivals will go to brewers guilds or other nonprofits in the host state of each festival, while a portion of proceeds from the sales of the 12-pack will go to hop and barley research,” a worthwhile cause as the rapidly increasing number of commercial breweries puts a strain on both commodities.

The Beer Camp 12-packs have been popping up and selling out at retailers all over NoVA this week — we’ll only be receiving a handful at Arrowine, probably around the time this column runs, and we’re lucky to be getting even that — so what’s the fuss all about?

Put bluntly this is a 12-pack unlike any that has come before, featuring new collaboration recipes from Sierra along with a murderer’s row of the American craft brewing scene: Allagash, Asheville Brewer’s Alliance (represented here by John Stuart of Green Man and Luke Dickenson of Wicked Weed), Ballast Point, Bell’s, Cigar City, Firestone Walker, New Glarus, Ninkasi, Oskar Blues, Russian River, 3 Floyds, and Victory.

(more…)

Open Houses in Arlington This Weekend

by Ethan Rothstein | July 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 305 views | No Comments

The forecast is calling for scattered thunderstorms over the weekend, so bring your galoshes and ponchos, but don’t miss out on the slate of open houses this weekend.

See our real estate section for a full listing of open houses. Here are a few highlights:

4914-29th-road-s4914 29th Road S.
1 BD / 1 BA condominium
Agent: Giovanni Santa Ana, Move4Free Realty
Listed: $236,000
Open: Sunday, July 27, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

3288-s-utah-street3288 S. Utah Street
2 BD / 2 BA condominium
Agent: John Stacey, Washington Fine Properties
Listed: $429,500
Open: Sunday, July 27, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

851-n-glebe-road851 N. Glebe Road
2 BD / 2 BA condominium
Agent: Nathan Johnson, Keller Williams Capital Properties
Listed: $600,000
Open: Saturday, July 26, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

130-s-pershing-drive130 S. Pershing Drive
3 BD / 3 BA single family detached
Agent: Roby Thompson, Long & Foster Real Estate
Listed: $769,000
Open: Sunday, July 27, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

6923-williamsburg-blvd6923 Williamsburg Blvd
5 BD / 3 full, 2 half BA single family detached
Agent: Janet Callander, Weichert, Realtors
Listed: $999,000
Open: Sunday, July 27, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

5521-17th-street-n5521 17th Street N.
5 BD / 4 1/2 BA single family detached
Agent: Roger Nakazawa, Olympic Realty
Listed: $1,325,000
Open: Sunday, July 27, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

County to Appoint Group to Study TJ Park for New Elementary School

by Ethan Rothstein | July 25, 2014 at 11:00 am | 429 views | No Comments

Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park at Arlington County Board's meeting 07/1914(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) The Arlington County Board approved the next step in building a new elementary school in South Arlington by commissioning a working group to study land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

The working group, the members of which have not yet been announced, will first meet in September and take five months to study the feasibility of building an elementary school adjacent to the middle school at 125 S. Old Glebe Road.

The site is the preferred choice of Arlington’s School Board, which will ask county taxpayers for upwards of $50 million for the school as part of its $106 million referendum package on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“Our County is desirable and growing, and more students are entering our school system,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “We need to work together to find creative ways to meet this challenge. This working group will bring together community members, Schools, and County staff for a robust consideration of whether to use a portion of the Thomas Jefferson site for a new elementary school.”

The working group — to be comprised of members from surrounding civic associations and members of schools and county staff, advisory boards and commissions — is charged with returning to the County Board with a recommendation in January 2015. Its goals from the County Board include:

  • Retaining the current wooded eastern end of “TJ Park” as is (area along the western portion of S. Irving Street and stretching west along Arlington Blvd.); maintain a cohesive park; ensure no significant loss of green space and no net loss of recreational programming.
  • Considering the neighborhood impacts of traffic and parking and ensure safety of existing pedestrian walkways and bikeways.
  • Ensuring that the community center would remain available for use.
  • Ensuring the building massing is compatible with adjacent neighborhood.

The plan has given rise to a new group opposing building the school on parkland, the Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park. The group dressed in green and showed up a few dozen strong at the County Board’s Saturday meeting. The Board approved the working group in its meeting yesterday, but on Saturday, the group’s leader, Jim Presswood, spoke during the public comment period.

“TJ Park is Arlington’s central park and a wonderful resource that needs to be conserved,” he said. “We’re committed to enhancing our park and we’re hoping to be around for a while.”

Morning Poll: Is the Silver Line More of a Threat or an Opportunity?

by ARLnow.com | July 25, 2014 at 10:20 am | 1,173 views | No Comments

Metro’s Silver Line is set to officially open on Saturday, with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and other notable officials on hand to watch the first train depart the Wiehle-Reston East station.

The launch of the Silver Line has economic ramifications for Arlington, though there’s some debate over whether those ramifications will be mostly good or mostly bad.

On the pessimistic side, rail transit in Reston and Tysons could enhance the desirability of those areas and present Arlington with stiff competition, especially in the commercial office market.

On the optimistic side, the fact that the Silver Line will run through Arlington on the way to D.C. could actually make the county’s Orange/Silver corridor even more desirable as an economic hub. The video above makes the case that Ballston in particular is well-positioned to benefit from the Silver Line.

Publicly and privately, officials with Arlington Economic Development say they expect Tysons to take many years to develop as a truly desirable urban area, with walkable and active streets and ample housing. Even then, they believe Arlington’s multi-decade head start on transit-oriented development, and its proximity to D.C., will give the county the competitive edge over Tysons.

On balance, do you think the Silver Line will help or hurt Arlington County?
 

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 25, 2014 at 9:00 am | 916 views | No Comments

Flight touches down at DCA (Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen)

Fire at Pentagon Metro Station — A trash fire on the tracks at the Pentagon Metro station just before 8:00 this morning caused the station to fill with smoke. The fire was quickly extinguished by Arlington firefighters, but not before it resulted in delays on the Blue, Yellow and Green lines.

Capitals to Hold Blood Drive — The Washington Capitals will hold their annual summer blood drive at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston this weekend. The event will take place from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. [Associated Press]

New Bus Route Serving Shirlington — Alexandria’s DASH will begin new service to the Shirlington Transit Center on Monday. The DASH AT9 will run from the Mark Center to Shirlington to Potomac Yard. [DASH Bus]

WJLA Sale Approved — The sale of Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) has received FCC approval. Long-time owner Allbritton Communications is selling WJLA, NewsChannel 8 and seven other stations to Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group. [Politico]

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

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