Smoke could be seen near the Pentagon this afternoon due to a brush fire.
The fire and the resulting smoke was seen in the median near the southbound I-395/Route 1 split.
Arlington County firefighters arrived on the scene and quickly extinguished the fire, but not before it scorched some dry brush in the median. Two lanes of southbound I-395 are currently blocked by the fire department activity.
Update at 4:10 p.m. — An accident with two injuries was reported in the same area at the time of the brush fire. It’s unclear if the two incidents are related.
Update at 4:50 p.m. — The scene has been cleared. All lanes are open.
Update on 6/27/12 — RedRocks is hoping to open in “early December.”
RedRocks Pizzeria will be opening its first Arlington location in the Penrose Square development (2501 S. 9th Road) along Columbia Pike, according to public permit records.
RedRocks, which has locations in the District and in Old Town Alexandria, specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. In addition to various varieties of specialty pizza, its menu features Italian appetizers, salads, paninis, calzones, desserts and a wide variety of beer and wine.
The restaurant’s Columbia Heights location, in the District, first opened in 2007. It opened its Alexandria location in 2010. Arlington will be the D.C.-based company’s third location.
No word yet on when the Pike location will open; it appears to be in the early pre-buildout stages.
RedRocks will be joining a variety of restaurants and other businesses that have opened or will be opening soon in Penrose Square, located along the 2400 block of Columbia Pike. This afternoon construction was taking place in the future Eamonn’s Dublin Chipper. Work is also either underway or about to get underway at future locations for Mancini de Paris Salon & Day Spa and Menchies Frozen Yogurt. Taqueria Poblano and Columbia Pike Family Dentistry, meanwhile, recently opened in Penrose Square.
For the first time in nearly two years, amplified music has returned to the beer garden at Westover Market (5863 Washington Blvd).
Market manager Devin Hicks says Arlington County, at long last, granted an amplified music permit to the beer garden on Saturday, June 16. This past Saturday, June 23, about 90 people came out to see the Front Porch Rockers play the first full amplified set at the beer garden since 2010.
It has been an arduous journey for music at the beer garden, according to Hicks. The Market has “bent over backwards” to fulfill the county’s requirements for a live music permit — including building a restaurant within the Market, since only restaurants are allowed to have live music permits in Arlington. The beer garden was allowed to have non-amplified music this past April and May, but Hicks said it doesn’t compare to the full experience of amplified music.
“It was great having the music back, but you couldn’t really hear it,” he said.
Hicks said that so far, he hasn’t received any complaints about the music from neighbors. Per the terms of its music permit, the Market has hired an acoustic engineer to try to ensure that excessive noise from the concerts doesn’t disturb local residents. One of the methods being used to keep noise pollution to a minimum is a “sound curtain” around parts of the beer garden.
“It’s working out well,” Hicks said of the noise-muffling curtain.
Amplified music will continue at the beer garden every Saturday through the end of October. This coming Saturday, local soul and rock group lower case letters will perform. Non-amplified music will still be performed at the beer garden throughout the summer and into fall, on Wednesdays and Fridays.
“We have a lot of great bands on the agenda, so it’s going to be a great summer for everybody,” Hicks said. A full music lineup is available on the Market’s website.
When the Westover Market’s live music permit comes up for renewal in January, Hicks says he plans to ask the Arlington County Board for permission to host amplified music on more than just one day per week.
In addition to music at the beer garden, Hicks said he’s also excited about a new addition to the Market’s restaurant: Sunday brunch. From 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sundays, the restaurant is now serving brunch, using meats from the Market’s butcher shop. Hicks said the decision to add brunch service was made thanks to the new Westover Farmers Market, which has brought large crowds to Westover on Sundays.
Despite initial fears that it might hurt businesses in the area due to a scarcity of parking and competition from farmers market merchants, Hicks said the farmers market has been a net positive.
“I’ve never seen so many people on a Sunday morning around Westover,” said Hicks.
Arlington County’s vision for Columbia Pike would result in 10,000 new housing units being added to the corridor by 2040.
County planners are currently putting the finishing touches on the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan, a sweeping vision for the Pike that seeks to transform the area into a more urban, walkable, transit-oriented community. The plan calls for taller buildings along the Pike — up to 10 stories — and for the replacement of some existing surface parking lots with new infill development (and underground parking). It also calls for streetcar service and stops along the Pike and enhanced local bus service in the neighborhoods around the Pike.
In total, the plan projects that more than 10,000 new market rate and committed affordable housing units will be added to the Pike by 2040. By design, the plan calls for “a wider mix of incomes” in the various areas along the Pike.
“The Plan seeks to balance a range of housing affordability, improved forms of buildings and open spaces, and the preservation of historically significant buildings,” according to a draft of the neighborhoods plan. “The result is a comprehensive vision that targets redevelopment along the Columbia Pike frontages and areas further off the Pike in the eastern and western sections.”
While the plan calls for the preservation of affordable housing, it would result in the elimination of market rate affordable housing for those making 60 percent of less than Area Median Income (AMI). Under the plan, 60 percent AMI market rate housing would drop from 2,917 units today to zero units by 2040. Market rate housing for 80 percent AMI (those making 60 to 80 percent of AMI) would increase from 3,213 to 4,100. Meanwhile, committed affordable housing would increase from 1,120 to 4,300 for 60 percent AMI, and from 84 to 600 for 80 percent AMI.
Much of the added committed affordable housing would be funded by developers; Arlington County would provide added housing density allowances in exchange for either committed affordable housing within new developments or a contribution to the county’s affordable housing investment fund.
The plan specifically calls for more residential development and retail space along Columbia Pike and S. Orme Street in the tiny Foxcroft Heights neighborhood near the eastern end of the Pike. Single-family homes and rowhouses would be maintained along Ode and Oak streets, according to the plan.
The plan also includes a vision for a greener, more aesthetically-pleasing look for the Columbia Pike corridor, along with wider sidewalks and better route options for cyclists.
“New streets and bicycle connections, particularly running east and west, offer more circulation options for neighborhoods and make traveling along the Pike safer and more pleasant,” according to the plan. “Wider sidewalks, residential buildings set back from the sidewalk, and more trees will provide a boulevard experience that will be a contrast to the commercial areas.”
Arlington County is hoping to accomplish its Neighborhoods Plan vision through the use of zoning tools like Form Based Code and density awards for property owners who develop according to the plan.
The Neighborhoods Plan was developed with resident input via numerous public planning sessions, workshops and discussions. A public hearing on the plan will be held next month.
“Change is underway along the Pike,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said, in a statement. “Through the hard work and careful planning of a lot of neighborhood leaders, community members and county staff, we’re beginning to see a more pedestrian-friendly Pike emerge — a Pike served by great transit, that offers a vibrant mix of retail, residential and commercial development and public spaces that will bring people together.”
Hynes continued: “The Neighborhoods Plan helps ensure that, even as the Pike changes, the things that we all love about it — the mix of housing affordable to people of various incomes and all walks of life, the sense of community and of history, the strong neighborhoods — continue to thrive.”
A congressional candidate who recently joined the race is trying to get some recognition in an unconventional way. Jason Howell will be wearing a name tag from now until the election on November 6.
Howell, who actually got the ball rolling on his campaign last year, was informed on Monday, June 18, that he had officially made the ballot. He’s up against incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D), Patrick Murray (R) and Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy in the 8th District congressional race. He’ll be running as an independent.
Howell believes part of the problem with campaigning, particularly as an independent, is the lack of name recognition. To remedy that problem, he’ll wear a name tag every time he’s in public until the election. Howell hopes he’ll get enough exposure so people will recognize his name by the time they get to the polls. He said there’s only one exception to the name tag rule: “When I’m wearing a campaign t-shirt in the gym.”
A major sticking point for Howell is the partisan nature of politics today.
“People don’t vote for the people they know, they vote for the ‘D’ or the ‘R.’ They vote for the branding,” said Howell. “Unfortunately the politicians have figured that out. They don’t have to be the best candidate, they just have to have the ‘R’ or the ‘D.’”
Howell believes being an independent in Congress would give him the ability to make changes that current members struggle with.
“The ability to go in there and create relationships without parties’ strings is what I bring to the table,” said Howell. “The biggest problem we have is our politics. It’s not that we don’t have enough money to take care of problems or we don’t have enough ideas, but the partisanship has locked them out of solutions.”
Howell views America’s current economic situation as something that needs fixing right away. Howell, who started out with a career in accounting and is now a writer and speaker, says the financial crisis prompted him to run for Congress. He doesn’t think current lawmakers are handling the situation well, and believes it’s time for Congress to sport fresh faces from a younger generation.
“Someone from my generation needed to get involved,” he said. “I decided to step up and be a part of the solution.”
Last Monday, Metro officially launched its Rush+ service.
Designed to reduce the rush hour “Orange crush” by adding three additional Orange Line trains per hour, Rush Plus accomplished the enhanced Orange Line service by directing three formerly Blue Line trains per hour over the Yellow Line bridge into the District.
Metro billed Rush+ as “rush hour reinvented,” promising to “reduce crowding and provide new transfer-free travel opportunities.” Has it lived up to expectations?”
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA