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BREAKING: Bank Robbery Reported on S. Glebe Road

by Katie Pyzyk | December 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | 3,166 views | 54 Comments

(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Police are on scene at the Bank of America on the 3600 block of S. Glebe Road, for reports of a bank robbery.

Police scanner traffic indicates a note was passed to a teller and a weapon was implied, but there is no confirmation that a weapon was actually seen. Police are searching the area and interviewing witnesses as part of their investigation.

Initial reports said the suspect escaped in a silver sedan. According to scanner traffic, the suspect is described as a black male between 5’10″ and 6’0″, who was wearing black pants, a knit hat, black gloves and had a dark brown or black scarf wrapped around his face.

Earlier today, police were called to a nearby BB&T Bank (2947 S. Glebe Road) when a teller told police two men dressed all in black and holding a gun had entered the first set of bank doors, but then turned around and left. They reportedly left with one other man in a silver sedan.

Also today, an armored car guard was shot during a robbery attempt in Oxon Hill, MD. The Washington Post reports that the incident occurred around 1:00 p.m. and three or four suspects were seen leaving in a silver, four-door car.

No connection has been confirmed among any of today’s incidents involving silver, four-door vehicles.

Kite Runner Cafe Coming to Cherrydale

by Katie Pyzyk | December 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | 3,188 views | 17 Comments

A new eatery is making its way to Cherrydale, although most of the details of the future business are still a mystery.

Signs have gone up on the ground level of 3800 Lofts (3800 Lee Highway) announcing that Kite Runner Cafe is coming soon. It will sit between Subway, which opened earlier this year, and House of Steep, which opened in September.

No permits have yet been displayed and no workers could be spotted on site. So far we have not been able to get in touch with the owner to get more information about the type of restaurant Kite Runner Cafe will be or when it’s scheduled to open.

Volunteers to Place Wreaths on Veterans’ Graves

by Katie Pyzyk | December 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm | 2,352 views | 6 Comments

Tens of thousands of volunteers will make their way to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday (December 15) to ensure that veterans’ graves are honored with wreaths for the holidays.

Members of the non-profit group Wreaths Across America coordinated efforts not just here, but at cemeteries across the country. The organization’s website states: “Fresh evergreens are a symbol used for centuries to recognize honor, and a living tribute renewed annually. To use plastic wreaths that are put in storage each year is exactly the kind of tradition we want to avoid – it makes for great photos but misses the point… We want people to see the tradition as a living memorial to veterans and their families, whom we remember amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We believe that the sacrifices they made are more than worth the effort.”

The wreaths are currently on a solemn week-long journey from Maine to Arlington in what is sometimes referred to as “the world’s largest veterans’ parade.” The convoy stops at schools, monuments and veterans’ homes along the way as a reminder of the importance of remembering, honoring and teaching. Other trucks will head to participating cemeteries in all 50 states.

Donations can be made online through Thursday (December 13) for sponsoring wreaths to be laid on Saturday. A representative for the organization said “anyone and everyone is welcome” to show up on Saturday to assist with placing the wreaths. The convoy should arrive around 8:30 a.m. and volunteers are asked to arrive prior to the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony and briefing. More information, a map and a schedule can be found online.

Last year, more than 15,000 volunteers spent nearly two hours placing around 90,000 wreaths. This year’s total of wreaths and volunteers is expected to exceed last year’s. The organization hopes to reach the 100,000 mark with wreaths this year.

Board Passes PPTA Following Heated Debate

by Katie Pyzyk | December 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm | 3,221 views | 88 Comments

(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Following a heated debate, last night the Arlington County Board adopted guidelines allowing the county to enter into public-private partnerships for transportation projects like the planned Crystal City streetcar.

The Board spent hours discussing and hearing testimony about the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995 (PPTA) before ultimately adopting the guidelines in a 4-1 vote. Board member Libby Garvey was the lone dissenter, raising numerous questions about the PPTA and its safeguards. She reiterated previous statements she made about wishing for more time to examine the implications of adopting the guidelines.

“This is an incredibly complex legal document here and I don’t know that we should be doing it on the fly,” Garvey said.

“We’re not doing it on the fly,” countered Board Chair Mary Hynes. “You’ve had it since November 9. We’ve all spent time on it and have been briefed on it.”

Last week, Garvey brought up a concern regarding Board member Chris Zimmerman’s participation in the PPTA vote, claiming it was a conflict of interest due to his consulting work with AECOM, a large construction, design and transportation conglomerate. Arlington County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac informed the Board there was no conflict of interest, and the three other Board members spoke out on Saturday (December 8) against Garvey’s request for Zimmerman to recuse himself from the vote.

Audrey Clement, who ran for County Board as a Green Party member, spoke to the Board in support of Zimmerman recusing himself.

“The matter before the Board tonight involves no monetary transaction. Nevertheless, Mr. Zimmerman may well have the appearance of a conflict of interest because his employer, or client, will undoubtedly seek a contract in the future,” said Clement. “The guidance to be adopted by the county tonight will be the vehicle by which it secures the county’s business. Therefore, I think Mr. Zimmerman, and I agree with Libby Garvey on this point, ought to recuse himself from tonight’s vote.”

Clement further suggested that the county’s desire to adopt the PPTA indicates it doesn’t have enough other funding to construct the streetcar without help from the private sector.

Current state senator and former Board member Barbara Favola also took to the podium. She congratulated the Board for considering the guidelines.

“I see no reason why you would not pursue this additional tool,” said Favola. “Of course, you have to work at it, you have to make it work for you. You have to remember your job, you have to remember that you are responsible for being transparent. But I have confidence that you will do that.”

Garvey, who has previously expressed reservations regarding the streetcar project, said she believed Monday’s vote brings the county one step closer to implementing the streetcar plan.

“If we vote today we are one vote away from awarding the contract for the streetcar,” Garvey said.

She was reminded that the vote was about adopting guidelines, not making a decision about the streetcar construction.

“I would respectfully disagree with your interpretation, Mrs. Garvey, of what this Board has just talked about,” said Hynes.

Zimmerman largely refrained from participating in the debate, only offering a statement immediately before the vote. He noted his disclosure of his consulting work in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, and re-stated the County Attorney’s view on the matter.

“I take very seriously my obligation to maintain the highest ethical standards, to which I have held myself since I took office,” said Zimmerman. “I have been advised in consultation with the County Attorney that I do not have a conflict of interest arising out of my professional work that would require me to make a formal disclosure or would disqualify me from participating in the consideration of the PPTA guidelines now before the Board.”

The guidelines will go into effect on April 1, 2013. Until that time, the county will work on putting in place the necessary processes and resources for considering proposals under the PPTA.

Police Looking for Would-Be Bank Robbers

by Katie Pyzyk | December 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm | 5,885 views | 18 Comments

Police are on the lookout for three individuals who looked ready to perform a robbery this morning but, according to a bank teller, may have reconsidered at the last minute.

Around 11:00 a.m. a teller at the BB&T Bank on the 2900 block of S. Glebe Road spotted two men dressed all in black approaching the bank, police say. The teller reported that the men both had their faces covered and one had a gun, although police cannot yet confirm there was a weapon. The teller told police that just after the men walked into the first set of glass doors for the bank, they turned around and returned to a vehicle where another man was apparently waiting.

Police are currently on the lookout for the vehicle, which is described only as a silver sedan, so they can speak to the individuals. Should police catch up with the individuals and arrest them, the primary charge would be brandishing a firearm, we’re told. The individuals likely could not be charged with attempted bank robbery unless police found hard evidence of a robbery plan.

Police stress that this is an ongoing situation and they are in the very early stages of their investigation, so details may change as more information comes in. Police are also looking into a possible connection between these men and a bank robbery in Alexandria this past weekend.

This BB&T location was robbed two years ago, prompting the locking down of nearby schools.

File photo

Ask Adam: Are There Any Bargains Left in Arlington?

by ARLnow.com | December 11, 2012 at 11:15 am | 4,371 views | 36 Comments

This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Question: Are you seeing any bargains on the market still? My preference is not to deal with a fixer upper.

The usual knee jerk reaction is to hunt for the elusive foreclosure deal. At the time I’m writing this, there are seven foreclosure listings in Arlington. I used to sell foreclosures for the big banks, and I can tell you firsthand that they are not always the great values that consumers perceive them to be, especially when they turn into bidding wars. You should also take into consideration that many have not been maintained very well.

From my vantage point, homeowners who purchased new construction in 2012 saw very lucrative gains. Two new townhome neighborhoods that come to mind: Mosaic in Merrifield and MetroWest near Vienna metro station.

In an inclining market, the key is getting in early. The developers have a lot of homes to sell in these neighborhoods and they start off their sales, priced to be very competitive with resale inventory. Then they often begin steadily increasing prices throughout the remainder of their sales cycle. I have clients who purchased early in the two neighborhoods I mentioned, who saw nearly double digit percentage appreciation last year. I’m basing this off of the difference between what they purchased their homes for and what they are selling / appraising for today.

This an Arlington based website so I won’t go into much detail about these communities, which are located in Fairfax County. I do however, expect even greater demand (and appreciation) when similar neighborhoods become available in Arlington County this next year.

There is a construction site that recently broke ground in Ballston that looks interesting. It is a townhome development by local builder, Madison Homes.  It will consist of 28 new homes and will be called Ballston Park. If they deliver a good value and have initial housing options in the $600-$800k range, I expect that they will do very well.

I’m also keeping an eye out for the 44 townhome development that will occupy a portion of the 5-acres that was formerly a Rosenthal Jeep dealership at 3400 Columbia Pike. I hope to see these initially priced in the $500-700k range.

It would be nice to see some of the rental buildings that were originally slated to be condos, convert back to condos. Two prospects that would not surprise me at all are The Joule in Ballston and Zoso Flats in Clarendon. There is a huge shortage of newer condos along the Orange Line and I would expect to see people line up for either of these buildings, if priced well.

There is also a chance that JBG will decide to sell Sedona or Slate as a condo. They are 12 and 14 story residential buildings being constructed three blocks from Rosslyn metro station with 12,000 square feet of retail on the ground floors. As of right now the word on the street is that they will both be rentals, but I am sure they are exploring the possibility of going condo with one of them. JBG is planning to sell 25 townhomes as part of this development, which I am guessing will be offered in the luxury price range.

(more…)

Board Nixes All-Electric Cab Fleet

by Katie Pyzyk | December 11, 2012 at 10:10 am | 3,517 views | 82 Comments

(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) Following months of discussion and pushing back a final vote, the County Board has decided not to approve permits for an all-electric fleet of cabs.

Arlington start-up EV Taxicabs had requested permits for 40 cabs, for which County Manager Barbara Donnellan gave a stamp of approval in October.

The topic has garnered much discussion over the past few months, and was held over from last month’s Board meeting to allow for more time to examine the details.

One of the sticking points is Arlington’s lack of infrastructure to support electric cars, namely charging stations. EV had promised to install charging stations throughout the county that residents would be able to use as well.

“There is no question that we do not have the infrastructure,” said Board member Jay Fisette. “Again, part of this application’s strengths was that in fact, after two years we would, without any public investment.”

Board member Chris Zimmerman said although the charging stations are part of the plan, the electric car technology is too new and there’s not enough evidence to prove it can be a long term option.

“This is a very interesting technology and very well may be the wave of the future. I don’t think we, at this point, know exactly how that technology is going to shake out,” said Zimmerman. “I feel like we’re not quite ready for this yet.”

Fisette pointed out that there were many skeptics when EnviroCab first proposed launching a hybrid fleet, but the company’s idea has since transformed the community.

“We’re out in front of the pack in most instances, this would put us further out,” Fisette said. “This is exactly the kind of  innovation, the kind of opportunity that is needed for us to meet in the community energy plan.”

Board Chair Mary Hynes agreed that the electric fleet would be in line with the county’s long term energy plan, but feels it’s currently not a viable option.

“We’re at the infancy stages of this, we don’t yet have our county-wide strategy related to chargers,” Hynes said. “And I recognize that this proposer would jump start this a little bit, but I think we really do need to have our strategy in place.”

The board members encouraged EV to return during the next cab certificate allocation, in two years, to put in another request.

“I would hope that two years from now they’ll be back and we will have our game plan together and we’ll be in a position to allow this sort of a launch,” Hynes said.

Board members Libby Garvey and Jay Fisette voted in favor of EV Taxicab’s request, but Chris Zimmerman, Walter Tejada and Board Chair Mary Hynes voted no.

Despite going against Donnellan’s recommendation to approve the EV permits, the Board did side with Donnellan’s suggestion to grant additional cab permits. It’s the first time in four years the county suggested increasing the number of taxis on the road, during the certificate allocation process which takes place every two years. Prior to the increase, seven companies owned 765 licensed cabs.

Wheelchair accessible taxis make up a significant portion of the newly granted permits. Red Top Cab and Blue Top Cab companies each received five such permits. Friendly Cab Co. received 12 permits and will also launch a dispatch service. The total of 22 granted taxi certificates is well below the 65 suggested by Donnellan.

The Board sided with the county Transportation Commission in denying permits for EV Taxicab, but against the commission’s recommendation to divvy up some of the permits proposed for the company to Arlington-based EnviroCab.

Before her vote, Hynes also dealt a blow to taxi drivers hoping to obtain individual cab operating certificates. Hynes said that in the future, the Board is unlikely to approve new cab permits for companies that do not plan to utilize dispatch service.

Morning Notes

by Katie Pyzyk | December 11, 2012 at 8:40 am | 2,660 views | 138 Comments

Old Post Office Property Vote Tonight — This evening the County Board is scheduled to vote on the property at 1720 S. Eads Street in Crystal City, which used to be a post office. The proposal before the board is to re-zone the property and build a nearly 211,000 square foot residential building. County staff members recommend the Board approves the measures.

Food Stamp Use Doubles in Arlington — The number of people receiving food stamps in Arlington doubled over the past decade. That’s lower than the number of people in Fairfax County (triple) and the city of Alexandria (quadruple). The spike isn’t just due to the recession, it’s because more people are now eligible for food assistance. With expanded eligibility it’s estimated that half of the food stamp recipients now live above the federal poverty level. [The Arlington Connection]

Items with Arlington Logo on Sale — If you’re looking for holiday gifts, now is a good time to give the gift of Arlington — at a discount. The official Arlington County Shop, which is located in the Plaza Branch Library (2100 Clarendon Blvd), is holding an end of the year sale. Items such as shirts, hats, pens, water bottles, golf balls and USB thumb drives all feature the Arlington logo and are marked down, some as much as 50%. [Arlington Public Library]

Today’s Featured Event

by ARLnow.com | December 11, 2012 at 6:00 am | 1,499 views | No Comments

The following is today’s featured event from our newly-redesigned event calendar. Submit your event to the calendar here.

National Chamber Ensemble’s Annual Holiday ConcertDec. 16 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. — The National Chamber Ensemble (NCE) celebrates the spirit of the holiday season on Sunday, December 16 with a show for the whole family. The performance will feature great music, an international guest artist and outstanding young musicians. An annual tradition, the concert will include seasonal favorites like Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride”, a Hanukkah Medley and more. The event will take place at the Spectrum Theatre at Artisphere (1611 N. Kent Street).

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