A new restaurant is coming to Virginia Square. “Coming Soon” signs have gone up for a Tropical Smoothie Cafe at 3811 Fairfax Drive.
The chain restaurant highlights its use of fresh, simple ingredients. Fresh fruit and turbinado sugar are used in the smoothies, and the wraps, salads and sandwiches are also made with healthy ingredients.
Patrick McKiernan, Area Developer for Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC, said two partners who recently graduated from William and Mary College in Williamsburg were interested in bringing the franchise to the metro area. They liked what they saw in Virginia Square.
“They liked the mix of business and residential there, and the proximity to the Metro,” McKiernan said. “It’s our first location near a Metro, so we’re anxious to see how it goes.”
McKiernan stresses that the restaurant is more than just a place to grab a smoothie; the sales are about 50 percent smoothies and 50 percent food. He thinks the sandwiches, wraps and salads will bring in a good lunch crowd, while the focus on fresh foods will bring in those seeking health conscious options.
McKiernan says they’re pretty early on in the process, and hope to start construction next month if all the permits are obtained quickly. He said it’s tough to estimate an opening until things move along a little further, but he’s guessing sometime during the summer.
There are a number of Tropical Smoothie Cafes throughout Northern Virginia, but this will be the first location in Arlington.
The board’s unanimous approval will make $500,000 in Moderate Income Purchase Assistance Program (MIPAP) funds available to seven or eight first-time homebuyers who qualify. The loans will be made available to residents at Buckingham Village 3, and other Buckingham neighborhood families, to help with down payments and closing costs on homes.
County Board Chair Mary Hynes explained that there has been a plan in place to help Buckingham residents who had been displaced by development.
“We had intended to create a homeownership option in Buckingham Village 3 — but, as the economy changed due to the recession, that option became prohibitively expensive,” Hynes said. “The board is fulfilling the spirit of our commitment to these residents, who might not otherwise have been able to stay in our community as homeowners.”
Last month, the county scrapped a plan to sell some of the units at Buckingham Village 3 as condos. At that time, county staff was instructed to find new ways to help lower income residents buy homes.
To be eligible for the loans, Arlington residents must earn less than 80 percent of the area median income, which is listed as $86,000 for a family of four. They also must not have owned a home in the past three years. Buyers can qualify for a subordinated loan of up to 25 percent of the purchase price, with a maximum loan amount up to $90,700.
Homeowners are not required to repay the loan until the home is either refinanced or sold. At that point, the owner must repay the loan to the county, plus up to 25 percent of the difference between the purchase price and the appreciated sales price.
Currently, about $3.6 million in MIPAP funds has been used to help about 236 borrowers purchase their first homes in Arlington.
The incident happened around 3:45 p.m. near Courthouse Plaza, on the 38B bus from Ballston to Farragut Square.
“An adult male passenger reported that the bus operator of the 38B bus physically removed him from the bus in the 2300 block of Clarendon Boulevard, following an altercation,” Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato told ARLnow.com. The passenger suffered a broken arm and was taken to a local hospital.
“The bus operator continued on his route and reported the incident to his supervisor. He was asked to hold his bus at the Pentagon, where he was arrested,” Asato said. “The operator has been with Metro since Sept. 2000. He is currently on paid administrative leave.”
No word yet on whether charges have been formally filed against the bus driver.
Your days of waiting in long lines to pick up and send packages at the post office could be over. Ballston Common Mall is one of the first commercial locations in the country to debut a new program from the United States Postal Service called gopost.
The service is designed to make sending and receiving packages easier, because they’re delivered just like regular mail. There’s no need to bring a slip to the post office and wait in line to receive the item. Postal carriers pick up and drop off items at the boxes just like a regular mail box. There’s no additional fee to use the service.
Users set up an account online and choose which location they’d like a package sent to. They’ll receive an email or text message that their package has arrived. At the gopost site, customers check in on a computer and receive their items from the designated post office box. If a signature is required, the customer simply signs the computer screen with a finger.
Users who want to send a package will print postage from their home computers, attach it to the package and drop the package off at a gopost site. The onsite computer informs the postal service that a package needs to be picked up.
USPS spokeswoman Laura Dvorak believes the program will be popular because it’s convenient.
“Why do you want to wait for your package, when your package can wait for you?” Dvorak said. “This way, you don’t waste your time.”
Several post offices throughout Northern Virginia, including the Arlington South Post Office (1210 S. Glebe Road), have installed gopost boxes. Ballston mall is the first non-post office site to feature the service. Dvorak says the location was chosen due to its proximity to many businesses and hotels in the area, as well as the mall being open to the public most hours of the day. It has 80 lockers of three different sizes.
“It’s a matter of convenience,” Dvorak said. “Customers would have access nearly around the clock.”
Customers will need to make one trip to a post office while setting up their registration. A USPS employee will validate the person’s identity and give more information about what items are allowed to be shipped. When the user logs in from a personal computer, the postal services knows who’s requesting shipping services.
“We know the account, we know who that person is,” Dvorak said. “It’s a very important security feature for gopost.”
The service kicked off at Ballston mall last week. It will be expanding throughout Northern Virginia this year. Future gopost locations include grocery stores, pharmacies, transportation hubs and other shopping centers.
The County Board has awarded a $1.92 million contract to AM-Liner East, Inc., to reline sewer pipes throughout the county. That contract includes work to a main line that runs along Four Mile Run Drive, from Columbia Pike to Walter Reed Drive.
A second contract, worth $360,000, was awarded to AM-Liner East, Inc., to rehabilitate sewer manholes. The work prevents water from seeping into the system and overwhelming the treatment plant, which could force a release of partially treated sewage into Four Mile Run.
The county has 13,000 manholes, and the ones receiving first attention are located in Crystal City. Evaluations and repairs on others will follow.
Arlington’s sewer system is made up of 465 miles of mains. Each year, the county’s Capital Improvement Program funds rehabilitation on about 1.5 percent of the system, which typically covers seven miles of pipe.
During its meeting on Saturday, the County Board voted unanimously to award the $1.9 million contract to Ardent Company, LLC. In addition to the street conversion, the three phase project will improve intersections along Crystal Drive with new traffic signals and ADA compliant ramps and crosswalks. A southbound bicycle lane will also be added.
The new design is expected to make the street safer and easier to navigate, as well as preparing the area for future development and a streetcar.
Construction for phase one is supposed to begin in June and is scheduled to finish by the end of this year. That covers the portion from 12th Street South to 15th Street South. Two other construction phases will follow — one from 23rd Street South to 26th Street South, and another from 26th Street South to 27th Street South.
The county will post notices about periodic lane closures before they happen. The goal is to only close down one lane at a time to minimize the impact to drivers.
Funding for the project was previously approved and appropriated in the Transportation Capital Fund.
Well, it seems that McLaughlin’s good luck in the roommate department didn’t end there. He recently proposed to his roommate — his girlfriend, Lisa — and the pair are now engaged.
McLaughlin said he spent the prize money ($10,000 plus free rent for a year) on an engagement ring.
“I was able to spring for a ring with the money I saved by winning the grand prize and not having to pay rent this past year,” McLaughlin said in a press release. “If there had been any question before, now I am definitely Roommate of the Year, at least in my fiancee’s eyes!”
Apartments.com is now seeking entries for its 2012 Roommate of the Year contest.
Westover Farmers Market Approved — The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a use permit for the proposed Westover Farmers Market. The market will operate on Sundays starting on May 6. [Arlington County]
Complaints About Parking Meters at New Park — The Arlington Soccer Association has raised concerns about parking meters at the recently-opened Long Bridge Park. It’s expensive for parents and referees to park their cars in the Long Bridge Park lot, Arlington County Board members were told over the weekend. Board members asked county staff to study the impacts of allowing free parking on Saturdays. [Sun Gazette]
‘Earth Day Every Day’ in Arlington – Sunday might have been the nationally-recognized environmental awareness day known as Earth Day, but to the county government “every day is Earth Day in Arlington.” In a press release, the county touted some recent environmental initiatives, including obtaining LEED Silver certification for Fire Station No. 3, reducing county government electric and natural gas use by 3 percent, and work in progress to install 153 energy-efficient LED streetlights along Columbia Pike. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Alex