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Toasting Affordable Housing on the Pike

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 6:57 pm | 1,168 views | 37 Comments

At a fundraiser last night at Clarendon Ballroom, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing touted its major accomplishments from the past year. Among them: the completion of the Columbia Grove apartments, the purchase and planned renovation of the Buchanan Gardens apartments, and the just-announced deal to build 122 units of affordable housing behind the planned Arlington Mill Community Center.

What did those accomplishments have in common? They’re all along the Columbia Pike corridor.

APAH’s focus on the Pike reflects the county’s focus on preserving affordable housing and diversity along the Pike. With the area’s revitalization well-underway, the Pike’s 3,000 aging but affordable market rate apartments will inevitably be renovated, demolished or will simply get more expensive, forcing many lower-income families out.

“Affordable housing is one of our most important policy goals and one of the most difficult policy challenges,” said County Board Vice Chairman Chris Zimmerman. He called the Arlington Mill apartment deal “a good additional step” to achieving the county’s goal of increasing the Pike’s current stock of about 1,000 dedicated affordable housing units nearly five-fold in a span of 30 years.

One problem with that goal is the potential cost. The county simply doesn’t have the money to buy or build that many apartments. That, says APAH President Nina Janopaul, is why creative dealmaking is key to the Pike’s affordable housing future.

“The economics of this deal are great,” she said. “I think they have pioneered a new model of using existing vacant public land to turn it into affordable housing… by giving away that land initially, we have an opportunity to access other funding sources.”

But public land along the Pike is limited. Those 122 units at Arlington Mill will take up all the remaining county land on the site. Future affordable housing gains will likely be achieved in large part through density transfers — letting developers build taller buildings in exchange for footing the bill for a set number of affordable housing units.

If all works out, the county’s subsidy for the Arlington Mill apartments — aside from the land — could be zero. In fact, APAH’s proposal calls for making lease payments to the county. The $30 million in development costs are expected to be financed largely with low-income housing tax credits from the state.

Construction on the apartments is expected to begin in 2012 and wrap up by the end of 2013.

Bus Fire Reported on I-395

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm | 387 views | No Comments

(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) Arlington firefighters are on the scene of a reported bus fire on Washington Boulevard near I-395. Heavy smoke could be seen in the area through traffic cameras.

The bus appears to be on northbound Washington Boulevard, near the ramp from I-395.

The fire — or whatever was causing all the smoke — appears to now be under control. Traffic in the area is moving, albeit slowly.

Crime Report: Rough Neighborhood Edition

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm | 645 views | 11 Comments

A prolific burglar somehow managed to break in to at least nine cars, sneak in to a locked garage, steal a bike and steal tools all on the same night, in the same area, without being caught.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (SERIES) 09/30/10, the 1800 blocks of N. Scott and N. Quinn Streets. Between 8 pm on September 29, and 7 am on September 30, an unknown subject broke into at least nine cars in the area. A bicycle was stolen as well, and a subject entered a locked garage and stole tools during the same time period. There are no known suspects.

That particular two-square block area is no stranger to the Crime Report. It has seen burglaries, attempted burglaries, a sexual battery, an abduction, more larcenies from auto and an unlawful entry, all within the past 10 months.

The rest of the crime report, including an inappropriately amorous cabbie and a pair of fighting cabbies, after the jump.

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Ticket Contest for Saturday’s Artisphere Opening Bash

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm | 600 views | 4 Comments

Do you like viewing art and drinking PBR? Are you high on creativity but low on cash? Well ARLnow.com and our friends at Brightest Young Things want to hook one lucky reader up with a pair of free tickets to the Burst! @ Artisphere pre-opening event Saturday night.

Held at the not-yet-open-to-the-public Artisphere, Burst will feature DJs, elaborate balloon sculptures, a camera crew from TLC following around the creator of the aforementioned balloon sculptures, and UNLIMITED FREE BEER AND WINE (until the bartender cuts you off).

Since we only have one set of tickets (normally $20 apiece) to give away, we’ll do this contest-style.

Here’s the challenge: find an example of “unintentional art” somewhere in Arlington. Photograph it. Email it to arlnowcontest[at]gmail.com by Thursday night. Include your real name, how you want to be identified on the site, the neighborhood you live in, and a Twitter-sized description of the “art” and where you found it.

We’ll show some of the entries and arbitrarily pick a winner on Friday. Good luck!

County, Rosslyn Show Off Soon-to-Open Artisphere

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm | 1,716 views | 5 Comments

Arlington County and the Rosslyn Business Improvement District held a press conference today to show off Arlington’s nearly-completed cultural center, Artisphere. The venue is a centerpiece of the effort to revitalize the workaday Rosslyn business district.

The $6.7 million, 62,000 square foot facility will open to the public on Sunday — 10/10/10 — at 10:10 a.m. A ritzy opening gala ($250 per ticket) will be held Friday night, while a hipper, cheaper “second opening” sponsored by Pink Line Project and Brightest Young Things will be held Saturday night.

Within Artisphere are three theaters, three formal exhibit spaces, a multi-use ballroom, an expansive outdoor terrace, a bar/restaurant (which is currently lacking a tenant), a two-level Wi-Fi lounge, and a retails crafts store.

The theaters include the 350-seat Dome Theater, a repurposed Imax venue; a 200-seat black box theater that will be the new home of the Washington Shakespeare Company; and the existing, adjacent 367-seat Spectrum theater.

The ballroom will be used for events, regular weekday dance lessons, and weekly late-night concerts that will be held on Saturdays and feature contemporary rock, punk and fusion acts.

The terrace will be used for openings and for private events, especially during the warmer weather months. The Wi-Fi lounge will be open to anyone who wants to hang out, get work done or get food or drinks from the restaurant. (We’re told the bidders looking to manage the restaurant space include several well-known local restaurateurs.)

If you must drive, parking garages under Artisphere and the Spectrum theater offer about 300 spaces that will be free after 6:00 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends.

Those who crave the limelight take note: a reality show camera crew from TLC will reportedly be at Saturday’s opening event. They’re following a balloon artist who will have three elaborate exhibits on display.

More photos after the jump.

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ACPD Helps Give Segways to Wounded Veterans

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 10:57 am | 711 views | 1 Comment

At a ceremony on the grounds of the Iwo Jima memorial this morning, some 50 wounded warriors will receive brand new Segway personal transport vehicles, the reward for “graduating” from a training program sponsored by the military charity Segs4Vets.

Although two such graduation ceremonies have taken place here every year for the past couple of years, this is the first in which the Arlington Police Department is playing an integral part.

ACPD, which has 12 officers trained to operate the department’s six Segways, helped train today’s recipients, and helped assemble and transport the 51 Segways that are being given away. County motorcycle officers are also helping to escort the group between the ceremony and meals at Army Navy Country Club today.

It’s a partnership that Segs4Vets and the police department hope to extend.

“Here was a way to reach out to the community,” said Capt. David Herbstreet, one of the overseers of the department’s Segway program. “How can you say no? This is an awesome cause and we’re humbled and honored to do it.”

The officers involved in the training all volunteered for the program.

“It’s a wonderful relationship that we’re really excited about,” said Mike Kelly, who serves on Segs4Vet’s advisory board.

Segs4Vets has given away 525 Segways to severely injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans nationwide since 2005. The organization says the device gives wounded vets an additional degree of freedom and mobility while not drawing attention to their disability.

Saying ‘Thank You’ for Being a Bike Commuter

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 9:32 am | 945 views | 14 Comments

A mother and daughter are planning to wake up early tomorrow morning to prepare a special treat for local bike commuters. They’re calling it “Yay for Bike Riders Day.”

The plan was hatched by a second grader who told her mom that she wanted to “say thank you to all the nice bike riders she sees every morning on her walk to school.”

From the BikeArlington forums:

We’ll be at the little covered picnic table at the intersection of the Custis and W&OD trails serving juice, muffins, breakfast bars and coffee if I can figure out a place to borrow a presspot from. The purpose is to simply thank all the cyclists who ride the trails each day that we pass on our way to school. If you have a free moment please stop and have some refreshments, or at least say hello – it will make my daughter’s day.

The pair plans to be out on the trail from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Gay Square Dance Club Offers Lessons in Arlington

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 8:44 am | 1,182 views | No Comments

Square dancing isn’t just for straight people dressed in goofy outfits anymore. It’s also for gay people dressed in goofy outfits.

Now, DC’s top gay and lesbian (and “straight-friendly”) square dancing club is offering lessons in Arlington. On Saturdays starting on Oct. 9, the DC Lambda Squares club will teach you the fine art of spinning one’s partner round and round.

It’s a beginners class, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Lessons run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. A total of four classes will be held, on Oct. 9, 16, 30 and on Nov.6.

The classes are taught in the party room of the Barkley Condominiums at 1016 S. Wayne Street.

The $155 class fee covers club membership for a year and free registration for the Harvest Festival Hoedown, held from Nov. 12-14 in York, Pa.

For those who want to take the next step, plus-level classes will start on Nov. 20.

Anyone interested should email membership[at]dclambdasquares.org.

Photo via DC Lambda Squares

Pizza Is the New Brown Flip Flops

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 7:49 am | 3,050 views | 42 Comments

Pizza shops are about to be as ubiquitous in Arlington as Starbucks stores and brown flip flops.

Clarendon, believe it or not, is getting yet another pizza place. Bronx Pizza and Subs is coming to 3100 Clarendon Boulevard in “late December,” according to the Washington Business Journal.

There’s at least one thing that may differentiate Bronx Pizza from the all the others. The pizzeria “will cater to the late-night crowd, serving up dishes until 5 a.m.,” WBJ reports. I don’t know who’s buying pizzas past 3:00 a.m. in Arlington, but being the lone late night food option when the Clarendon bars close could drive some serious business.

Around daylight hours, however, the pizza scene will be much more crowded. By the time Bronx Pizza opens, local options will include: Pete’s New Haven Apizza, Fire Works Pizza, Pizza Autentica, American Flatbread, Faccia Luna, Pupatella, Piola, Ledo’s, Jerry’s Subs and Pizza, Papa John’s, Mario’s Pizza House, Z Pizza, Goody’s and, perhaps, the Flippin’ Pizza truck.

Pretty soon, the production of pizza will be an industry in and of itself in Arlington — just below military contractors on the hierarchy of importance to the local economy.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | October 6, 2010 at 7:31 am | 418 views | No Comments

Will Capital Bikeshare Experience Distribution Problems? – Due to the one-way flow of commuters, bike share programs tend to experience some degree of distribution problems. At any given time, some stations will be full of bikes, making it impossible to return one, while other stations will be empty, making it impossible to rent one. Such a situation forces bike share officials to manually move bikes from place to place, adding costs to the system. More from TheCityFix blog.

Moran Throws Racy Fundraiser – Rep. Jim Moran is pitching a night at the theater for big donors — but they have to leave the kids at home. For $2,400, donors get two tickets to the anti-Vietnam War musical “Hair” at the Kennedy Center, along with an invite to a pre-show dinner reception. But the offer comes with a warning: “Please note: this performance contains strong language, mature content and brief nudity.” More from Politico.

Arlington Man Kicked Off Flight Due to Disability — Arlington resident Zuhair Mahmoud says a Dubai-based airline refused to allow him to board a flight because he is blind and was not traveling with a companion. The airline’s CEO says he’s sorry for the incident. More from the Associated Press.

Arlington Lawyer Stripped of License — An Arlington lawyer accused of practicing law without a license, who had his license to practice law reinstated in April, has been stripped of the license by the D.C. Court of Appeals. Howard Deiner is accused of representing families of children with special needs in cases while his license lapsed due to unpaid bills. More from the Washington Post.

Flickr pool photo by Chaita_1

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