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by Katie Pyzyk — November 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm 7,018 158 Comments

Next week, the Arlington County Board will be asked to approve the County’s acquisition of a building in Courthouse that will house offices and a homeless shelter.

At its meeting next Saturday (November 17), the Board will examine the purchase contract for the building (2020 14th St. N.), which has an expected purchase price of $27.1 million. County staff estimates the total project cost at approximately $42 million over five years, factoring in additional costs for design, renovation, and tenant relocation.

The building purchase has been controversial since it was proposed nearly a year ago, both due to the cost and resident complaints about safety.

As far as funding for the project, the county said the following in a press release:

Includes $20 million of revenue bonds issued through the Arlington County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), $12 million of previously approved Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) funding, and $6 million from Fiscal Year 2012 close-out funds. In approving the property acquisition, the County Board will also be asked to approve a temporary loan of $20 million from the Utilities Fund PAYG account to the General Fund PAYG account. This will be a temporary “bridge” loan, which will be reimbursed by the issuance of IDA revenue bonds. Funding for the $4 million in out-year costs is not proposed for County Board action at this time. Staff will request these funds once floors 4-7 of the building are available and renovations can take place.

If the measure is approved, the county expects to acquire title to the property at a closing on November 20. More information about the project is available on its website.

More from the county’s press release:

Acquiring 2020 14th St. N. will help the County government meet immediate space needs and provide the flexibility needed to support growing community needs. For ease of public access and efficiency, it is important that the County government’s office space and staff be located in the Courthouse area, which is the center of County government operations.

If the County Board approves the County’s acquisition of the property at 2020 14th Street N., County staff will host a series of public discussions and workshops to solicit input on certain physical and operational aspects of the property, including elements relating to the homeless services center.

Community dialogue: The first meeting is scheduled for Dec. 5, 2012, 7-9:30 p.m. at Key Elementary School. At this session, County staff will be listening to community questions and concerns. The result of this initial session will be community-generated input, ideas and preferences that County staff and building designers can use during the design and operational planning phases of the project.

Workshop: At the second meeting, an interactive workshop scheduled for Dec. 17, 2012 (7-9:30 p.m.) at Key Elementary, participants will be able to review draft building and operational plans, which will incorporate input from the first meeting. Participants will have the opportunity to provide further suggestions at that meeting.

Design review: The third meeting, scheduled for Jan. 14, 2013 (7-9:30 p.m.) at Key Elementary, will include a presentation of the County’s final plans.

Concurrent with these meetings, the County will solicit input on aspects of the project through its PLACE/OpenArlington online virtual town hall meeting website.

The project timeline is expected to include a Planning Commission hearing and a Use Permit hearing before the County Board in spring 2013.

by Katie Pyzyk — November 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm 3,288 24 Comments

(Updated at 10:55 a.m. on 11/10/12) For nearly two weeks, stories of devastation have continued pouring out of New York and New Jersey, where Hurricane Sandy struck the worst. Today, members of the Arlington County Police Department did their best to ease the pain of some of the hardest hit victims.

Sgt. Steve Meincke and Det. Colin Dorrity (who is with Metro Transit Police) are both from Toms River, NJ, an area that experienced widespread devastation. Hearing about the hardships their family members and friends are enduring in the surrounding areas prompted Det. Dorrity to ask Sgt. Meincke about sending out an email to the entire department, asking for donations of supplies. The response was overwhelming and in just one week, the effort exceeded Det. Dorrity’s anticipated goal of one carload of supplies. Instead, the haul required a moving truck.

The donations will go to the Keansburg, NJ police department to be distributed to those in need. The department headquarters was demolished in the storm, so officers there are working out of an old building. Det. Dorrity has a friend on that force, who sent a request for help.

“He said, ‘Can you help us out? We have nothing. We’ve been working for the last 10 days, we’re running out of equipment, we’re running out of underwear, we’re running out of socks. We can’t even wash our clothes because we’re never off duty,’” said Det. Dorrity. “If you think about the first responders, in particular, their houses got destroyed but those guys now have been working for 10 days straight without any relief. They can’t even get back to their houses to check on them.”

On top of the existing devastation from Sandy, this week’s Nor’easter left homeless victims facing freezing temperatures and up to a foot of snow while trying to clean up their towns.

“Now that the second storm hit, they’re dealing with the snow issue, and no power,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “We’re just trying to provide some items for these families who are going through a tough time. Items for infants and babies, food, and basically anything that can keep people warm up there.”

There was a big push to get not just warm clothing and food, but also games and toys to keep displaced children occupied while they stay in shelters. Animal food is another item that’s often forgotten but is in high demand. Many people brought their pets to the shelters, but shelters don’t have a supply of foods for pets.

On Wednesday (November 7), Det. Dorrity helped take two trucks of supplies to New Jersey. Those items were donated by members of various law enforcement agencies throughout the D.C. metro area, along with a couple of schools. He said seeing his hometown in such a state was painful.

“It’s really bad up there, it’s really terrible. It’s hard, you know, when I went up the past few days,” he said. “Seeing your home and a National Guard checkpoint in your neighborhood, it’s a little bit surreal.”

More, including photos, after the jump.

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by Katie Pyzyk — November 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm 3,575 24 Comments

The froyo craze continues in Arlington, this time as a new store apparently targets the Williamsburg Shopping Center.

According to its website, national chain Zinga Frozen Yogurt plans to move into the vacant space at 2914 Sycamore Street, which used to house Garden City Florist.

Like many of the froyo stores popping up around the county, Zinga allows customers to serve themselves one of the three dozen rotating frozen yogurt flavors. There are more than 50 toppings to choose from, and the finished product is sold by weight.

Zinga sets itself apart from similar establishments with its freshly baked “bottomz” — such as waffle bowls, brownies and vanilla cake — which customers can use as a base on which to build their frozen creations.

So far there has not be an announcement about when construction will begin or when the store is expected to open.

by Katie Pyzyk — November 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm 1,998 6 Comments

Sometimes it seems like Arlington is a revolving door for small businesses and restaurants, but one store owner in Crystal City is bucking the trend and holding an anniversary party. Gossip (566 23rd Street S.) is holding its “5 Year Anniversary Festa and Fashion Show” tomorrow (November 10).

Owner Katherine Glorioso, who hails from Falls Church, had known for years that she wanted to open a boutique featuring Southern California fashions. She started off by selling a few items at Eastern Market. After four straight weeks of selling out halfway through the day, Glorioso’s parents pushed her to set up a brick and mortar establishment.

Glorioso originally thought her boutique would fit well in Georgetown, but she discovered that rent prices were too high. Her goal was to keep all pieces of merchandise below $100 each, which would make it difficult to pay Georgetown rents. Her father tipped her off to a potential space in Crystal City. Upon seeing the area her father had suggested, Glorioso had a flashback to being on 23rd Street when she was younger.

“I used to walk down the block my store is now on and thought, ‘One day I’ll have something on this block,’” said Glorioso.

She credits her father, an entrepreneur, for assisting her with opening the store.

“It was so much hard work, but it was the best decision I ever made. I feel very blessed,” Glorioso said. “I worked my butt off, I knew what I was doing and I had my wonderful father to help along the way. I was going to make it no matter what. There was no option of failure.”

Gossip began in a small 450 square foot space, then expanded last summer. In addition to clothing and accessories, the expansion allowed for adding vintage clothing, undergarments, shoes and children’s clothing. Glorioso continues keeping her eyes open for potential areas for expansion, because she would eventually like to open a store in North Arlington.

As part of tomorrow’s anniversary celebration, Gossip will run a sale from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Customers who purchase at least $25 worth of merchandise will receive a free goodie bag with a surprise inside.

Additionally, there will be a fashion show across the street at Tortoise and Hare Bar and Grille (567 23rd Street S.) at 8:00 p.m. It will feature items from Gossip’s fall and winter collections. The event is free to attend and there will be complimentary appetizers. Raffle tickets will be sold at the fashion show for five gift bags filled with up to $100 in merchandise from Gossip. The raffle tickets are $2 each and all proceeds will be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

by ARLnow.com — November 9, 2012 at 11:55 am 1,830 7 Comments

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

Even though some people like to assume that I’ve sampled every good beer on this green earth, I can still be pleasantly surprised by a brew.

Just the other day, a distributor brought by Chris Knight, a representative of New Zealand’s MOA Brewing Company. I hadn’t heard a lot about MOA, but am always curious to try different things so we sampled a couple of their beers. The first one we tried was MOA’s Pale Ale, which uses New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops along with that stalwart of American Pale Ales and IPAs, Cascade.

With MOAs bottle conditioning bringing a focused carbonation, both of the hop varietals show their best aspects with floral, tropical, and earthy notes. It was a good start and I enjoyed it a lot, but it was the next of their beers that caught me off-guard. St. Josephs is a Belgian-style Tripel that uses good amounts of Belgian yeast and candi sugar to somehow create something that had the smoothness of a classic Belgian with shockingly intense cherry and eucalyptus notes.

For all of the power of the Belgian yeast in St. Josephs it doesn’t cross the line into cloying territory. I don’t get blown away by a beer often, but St. Josephs did it mostly because that was the last thing I was expecting it to do. Look for MOA beers to be available in the area soon.

People like to assume that because you work in a field, or have an interest in something, that you know everything there is to know about it. I personally can’t even keep track of how many times during the average week I hear something like “I don’t know, I’m sure you’ve tried every beer out there” in conversation with someone at the shop.

While I’ve been at this for some time and have been fortunate to try many different beers and wines, this certainly doesn’t mean I’ve tried everything or even a fraction of everything. I often find myself saying “It’s a big world out there” when chats swing in this direction, and that’s true. Part of what I love about my job is that the next beer you haven’t tried before is always around the corner; it’s part of what I think makes beer great.

There is an aspect of perpetually discovering new things that I don’t get to talk about a lot, and it’s more subtle than simply losing interest. I’m talking about leaving yourself open to being surprised; keeping yourself from allowing years of accumulated tastings and knowledge to create a mindset that says there is nothing new under the sun.

As we get older, our palates change — to decide on a favorite style or specific beer as a young person to the exclusion of everything else is not only narrow-minded, but ignores the breadth of options in the world. We all have lifelong favorite, and I’m not encouraging abandoning them; what I’m saying is that if there are really no more surprises, no chance of being struck out-of-the-blue by a beer, then why bother?

Every new beer we try is an opportunity to find a new favorite. Keep yourself open to possibilities and you’ll find those unexpected treats out there. What was the last beer you had that took you by surprise? Let’s hear about it in the comments. Until next time.

Cheers!

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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by Katie Pyzyk — November 9, 2012 at 10:30 am 5,075 89 Comments

Boy Scouts will be hitting the streets on Saturday (November 10) for their annual “Scouting for Food” drive.

The scouts will stop at homes in a number of neighborhoods to collect food donations to benefit Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). They will directly visit residents who received bags and fliers last week explaining the drive. Out of courtesy for residents, scouts don’t knock on doors; instead residents are asked to leave food donations in plain sight near their front doors, by 9:00 a.m. All donations are expected to be collected by noon.

Residents who didn’t receive a bag on their door will not be visited by the scouts. These residents can still participate, however, by taking food donations to the Cherrydale or Harrison Street Safeway stores.

Suggested foods for donation include pasta, peanut butter, breakfast food, tuna, soup, fruit and beans. AFAC and the scouts both ask that items in glass jars are not donated.

The goal is to exceed last year’s total of 60,000 pounds of donated food.

Right now, AFAC serves about 1,400 people each week, but that may increase as temperatures grow colder.

by Katie Pyzyk — November 9, 2012 at 9:45 am 6,625 71 Comments

The McDonald’s (5009 Wilson Blvd) in the Bluemont neighborhood that was razed in July has been rebuilt and should open next week.

A representative for McDonald’s said the rebuilt restaurant will help further the chain’s focus of modernizing and elevating the restaurant experience.

“McDonald’s wants to show customers that they can change with their times and needs, while retaining the basic principles that have made them the global iconic brand they are today,” a press release stated.

According to the representative, some of the new exterior features include landscaping, a clearly identifiable drive through and “a more defined and inviting entry into the restaurant.” Inside, features include plasma screen TVs, free wi-fi access and some lounge-style seating.

Although no exact day has been named, the re-opening is expected to occur “early next week.”

by Katie Pyzyk — November 9, 2012 at 8:45 am 3,631 138 Comments

Green Party Outperforms Past Results — By pulling in 12.4 percent of the vote for County Board, Green Party candidate Audrey Clement roughly doubled the percentage of the vote Green candidates have typically received during past County Board races. The question now is can the Greens get that percentage even higher next time by better identifying who is voting for the party’s candidates? [Sun Gazette]

Miss Saigon Coming to Signature Theater — Signature Theater has secured the rights to the well known musical Miss Saigon, and will open its 2013-2014 season with a version of the production. It will be the first time a theater company in the D.C. area has taken on the show in 15 years. [Variety]

Ballot Wording Angers Aquatics Center Opponents — Voters passed all four bond referenda on the Arlington ballot on Tuesday, including one for a park bond that funds the proposed $79 million Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center. Opponents of the facility, however, say the measure only passed due to vague wording on the ballot which stated that the bond was for “various capital projects for local parks and recreation, and land acquisition for parks and open space.” [Washington Examiner]

ABBIE Voting Ends Today — Today is the final day to cast your votes for Arlington’s best businesses. The businesses in 17 categories were nominated by residents and winners are determined by popular vote. ABBIE winners will be announced at the County Board meeting on November 27.

Disclosure: The ABBIE Awards/Arlington Economic Development is an ARLnow.com advertiser

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