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by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2013 at 4:05 pm 2,326 19 Comments

Pines of Florence restaurant in Ballston

(Updated at 10:25 p.m.) A new restaurant is coming to 3811 Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, but details about it are sparse.

The restaurant will be run by Tim Ma and Joey Hernandez, of Maple Avenue Restaurant in Vienna. This month Ma was named “DC’s Hottest Chef” by the food website Eater. No word yet on what type of food the restaurant will serve, but Maple Avenue Restaurant serves “eclectic American Cuisine… blending Asian, Latin American and French flavors.”

Reached by phone, Ma declined to comment except to confirm that plans were in the works. A state permit application describes the restaurant generally as having a seating capacity of 100 or less and serving wine, beer and mixed drinks. So far, we’ve been unable to find any building permit applications associated with the restaurant.

Local restaurant chronicler Don Rockwell reports that the restaurant will be called “Water & Wall” and will replace the current Pines of Florence restaurant.

by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm 1,845 3 Comments

Firefighters respond to an apartment fire at 1201 S. Eads Street in Crystal City (photo courtesy @CAPT258) Firefighters respond to an apartment fire at 1201 S. Eads Street in Crystal City (photo courtesy @CAPT258)

The Arlington County Fire Department responded to a blaze in a high-rise apartment building last night.

The fire, in a 12th floor unit at the Bennington Apartments (1201 S. Eads Street) in Crystal City, was reported just before 9:00 p.m. Firefighters managed to quickly extinguish the flames, but not before the floor filled with smoke.

No injuries were reported.

Photos courtesy @CAPT258

by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2013 at 2:00 pm 2,224 46 Comments

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is applauding today’s House of Representatives passage of the Violence Against Women Act.

This original bill expired in 2011. The latest version includes specific protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people, as well as Native Americans and immigrants.

The bill, which first passed the Senate, passed the house by a vote of 286-138. It not heads to President Obama’s desk.

Today’s passage of the Violence Against Women Act will ensure that our nation’s mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends continue to receive federal resources that help keep them safe from harm. I was proud to cosponsor this bill and vote for its passage today.

Violence is an all-too-common reality in the United States. Nearly one in four women are the victims of rape or abuse by a partner during adulthood. With the programs established through the Violence Against Women Act, no man or woman should be afraid to report domestic or dating violence.

VAWA works. Since it was first enacted in 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent, while the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased 34 percent for women and 57 percent for men.

While I applaud the passage of VAWA, its reauthorization took far too long. This bill passed in the Senate last May, but Republican House leadership refused to bring it to the floor. Instead, they wasted valuable time on an alternative version that deliberately omitted protections for certain vulnerable, underserved populations, allowing VAWA programs to expire at the end of the year. Today, their version of the bill failed on the floor while the Senate version was enacted.

The bill that now heads to the President’s desk includes important reforms to ensure LGBT, Native American, and immigrant women receive the protections they deserve.

Rep. Moran’s son, Patrick, pleaded guilty last year to assaulting his girlfriend outside a D.C. bar. Despite the plea, Patrick Moran’s girlfriend later said that the incident was “an accident that has been blown out of proportion.”

by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2013 at 1:00 pm 1,162 23 Comments

A Maryland man was arrested Saturday night after he allegedly stole a female friend’s iPhone.

The man tried to surreptitiously smuggle the phone out of his friend’s apartment during a visit, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

While his friend was walking him to his car, her phone — which has a distinctive ringtone — started to ring, Sternbeck said. The woman tried to get the phone back, but the man got in his car and started to drive away, bumping the woman with the car in the process, according to Sternbeck.

The man was later arrested when he was pulled over for having improperly tinted windows. Police made the connection to the previous incident during the traffic stop, Sternbeck said. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

ROBBERY, 02/23/13, 1800 block of Crystal Drive. At 8 pm on February 23, a known subject stole a victim’s iPhone from her apartment. The victim chased the subject to the parking lot where she was bumped with the subject’s vehicle as he attempted to flee the scene. The subject was located during a traffic stop for improper tint approximately three hours later. Durell Adrian Hines, 20, of Capitol Heights, MD, was arrested and charged with robbery. He was held without bond.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump.

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by Mark Kelly — February 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm 2,120 62 Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column by published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyIt’s a big week in Virginia.

The federal government will see the sequester implemented on Friday, reminding us that despite substantial tax hikes to start this year, we are still far short of balancing our budget.

Our elected officials in Richmond, who for years on a bi-partisan basis raided revenues collected for transportation, have given us a big tax increase to pay for new transportation priorities.

We found out that the Arlington County Manager’s budget will include cuts to public safety — clearly one of the non-negotiable responsibilities of a local government.

We learned that some members of our County Board wanted to nearly double the County Manager’s recommended 3.2 cent real estate tax increase. A 6 cent rate increase would have been advertised if Chris Zimmerman had not been sick with the flu.

In short, as taxpayers, there is a lot to be outraged about these days. But are Arlingtonians outraged?

Here in Arlington, we have seen our tax bills more than double over the past decade or so. Yet, we are informed we cannot afford to pay the same number of public safety officials we paid last year.

We have the money for a swimming pool, but not firemen. We have the money for the artisphere, but not police officers. We have the money to fund about 3,700 county employees — one for every 60 or so Arlingtonians — but we are putting our safety at risk.

The County Manager, who does not live in Arlington, put this budget together and got a $10,000 raise in return. But are we outraged?

A friend of mine emailed me this week and informed me that Arlingtonians were simply willing to continually pay more in taxes for additional services. Based on my experiences attending the annual budget and tax rate hearing, history indicates that my friend is right. Everyone who wants higher taxes and more spending shows up and asks for it. Our Board is only too happy to oblige and identify new ways to spend our money.

But why are Arlingtonians resigned to pay for more but actually get less? In addition to public safety cuts, we continue to pay more in taxes, but don’t meet our ongoing maintenance needs. I am looking forward to the March 27th hearing when we can ask why the Board is willing to finance a trolley but not maintain our emergency services.

Arlingtonians deserve to know why we have to spend more of our tax dollars on vanity projects when we cannot provide the basics.

I hope Arlingtonians will ask the County Board these questions during the budget process this spring and show some outrage rather than another round of resignation.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2013 at 10:55 am 1,035 14 Comments

Panera Bread is replacing the former Tivoli restaurant in Rosslyn Panera Bread is replacing the former Tivoli restaurant in Rosslyn

Panera Bread will replace the former Tivoli restaurant near the Rosslyn Metro station.

The interior of the bakery-cafe is currently under construction at 1700 N. Moore Street. Building permits have been issued but so far there’s no word as to when Panera will be opening.

Tivoli closed in Rosslyn about two months ago and reportedly moved to D.C. A Tivoli location remains in Ballston.

by ARLnow.com — February 28, 2013 at 9:35 am 2,295 64 Comments

1812 N. Moore Street skyscraper under construction in Rosslyn

Suspicious Package Shuts Down Va. Square Metro — A suspicious package shut down the Virginia Square Metro station yesterday for part of the evening rush hour. The package was determined to be non-hazardous, according to police.

Traffic Calming Coming to Two Streets — Two Arlington streets — S. Hudson Street between Arlington Blvd and 2nd Street, and 7th Road S. between Carlin Springs Road and Greenbrier Street — will be receiving traffic calming measures. The measures include a narrowing of an intersection, a radar speed display, bike lane markings and additional signage, but no speed bumps. [Sun Gazette]

Sequester Could Be Costly for County – The federal budget sequester, set to take effect tomorrow, could cost Arlington County government between $2 and $3 million in direct federal aid. [Sun Gazette]

Support Website for Arlingtonian Accused of Murder — A support website has been set up for Chris Deedy, an Arlington resident and State Department security agent who is accused of second degree murder in the 2011 shooting of a man in McDonald’s restaurant in Hawaii. Deedy’s lawyer says his client was protecting others when he fatally shot the 23-year-old Hawaiian. “Law enforcement officers shouldn’t be treated like murderers when they protect the public,” says the website. [DeedySupport.com]

Interview with Kanninen — The Democratic website Blue Virginia interviewed Barbara Kanninen, who’s running for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board against incumbent James Lander. Asked why she’s running, Kanninen said: “If we don’t have competition, we don’t have anyone even trying to prove that they’re going to be a good School Board member.” [Blue Virginia]

by Katie Pyzyk — February 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm 2,043 87 Comments

Rep. Jim Moran at the 2012 Civic Federation candidates debate(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Rep. Jim Moran (D) has scheduled a community forum to discuss gun violence.

The forum, titled “Preventing Another Newtown: A Conversation on Gun Violence in America,” will feature a panel of experts on gun policy, public safety and mental health issues.

The following guests are slated to attend: Omar Samaha with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, retired ATF Special Agent David Chipman, Josh Horwitz with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, City of Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook, Jonathan Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and former counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee Karen Marangi.

“From Virginia Tech to Newtown, gun violence has become far too common. Each day, 32 Americans are killed with a firearm. We must improve our laws to prevent the continuation of this horrific trend,” Moran said. “This forum is an opportunity to bring together a diverse panel of experts who will share their thoughts on a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Northern Virginians concerned over gun-related violence are invited to join the conversation.”

Members of the public are welcome to attend the forum, which will be held from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on March 11 in the Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) auditorium.

by Katie Pyzyk — February 27, 2013 at 3:45 pm 1,059 15 Comments

Tom Yum District to open in RosslynIf you’re looking for a quick bite, but prefer Asian to Chipotle, a new restaurant coming to Rosslyn may be the answer.

The owners of T.H.A.I. in Shirlington are launching a restaurant called Tom Yum District at 1515 Wilson Blvd., which will focus on on fast, made to order dishes. Co-owner Aulie Bunyarataphan and her husband Mel Oursinsiri have been planning this for some time.

“We are very excited about this one. We have been working on this concept for more than two years,” said Bunyarataphan. “It’s the first Thai restaurant around in this format.”

The restaurant will be geared toward customers who want Thai food without having to engage in a full sit-down experience. The menu will feature standard rice and noodle dishes with Bunyarataphan’s special sauces, along with some of her specialty dishes.

“Thai food can be easy and healthy and top quality, fast and fresh,” she said. “By the time you get to the cashier, the food will be ready.”

Initially, customers will be able to eat in or carry out, but the plan is to add online ordering and delivery in the future. Construction is underway at the site and the owners expect a late spring opening, hopefully in late May or early June.

by Katie Pyzyk — February 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm 1,840 28 Comments

Money (file photo)(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) As the threat of sequestration looms, government workers’ salaries are under the microscope. A new study suggests that although compensation for professionals with security clearance has dropped in most parts of the country, it’s a different story in Arlington.

According to a study by ClearanceJobs.com, security-cleared professionals across the country experienced a three percent drop in compensation in 2012, with total compensation averaging nearly $88,500. Arlington bucked the nationwide trend and instead experienced a three percent increase, bringing average total compensation to more than $106,100.

The study states, “The compensation gulf between those in the D.C.-metro area and other parts of the U.S. is widening.”

Workers at the CIA received the highest compensation, averaging about $121,400. Those at the Department of State came in second, averaging nearly $108,000. Both entities’ workers experienced about a two percent increase in compensation. NSA employees rounded out the top three at about $107,000, but didn’t see an increase.

Twenty-eight percent of Arlington security professionals reported concern over the possibility of losing contracts or funding. That’s only up two percentage points over the previous year, despite the current worries over possible pay cuts due to sequestration.

ClearanceJobs.com gathered data from more than 16,300 respondents in 29 states and the District of Columbia between October 30, 2012 and January 21, 2013. Participants had to have a current, active federal security clearance and be currently employed to be included in the results.

The study included an interactive map, which is available online, showing the average compensation for security professionals in each state.

by Katie Pyzyk — February 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm 1,033 32 Comments

New site plan for Pierce Queen ApartmentsApproval for a high rise development in the Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood has been put on hold until the County Board receives more information about the plan.

Bozzuto Development Company had submitted a proposal for a large scale project in the 1600 block of N. 16th Street. It would involve redeveloping the five buildings that make up Pierce Queen Apartments; three of the buildings would be razed and replaced with a new 12-story apartment tower, and the other two buildings would be preserved and renovated. In total, the buildings would house more than 190 units.

The county’s Site Plan Review Committee raised several issues with the proposal during a January meeting. Problem areas included the proposed building bulk, lack of open space, above-grade parking, proposed locations of electrical switchboxes and the lack of a public art contribution. Additionally, concerns arose regarding the applicant’s request for Affordable Housing Investment Funds (AHIF) for the 76 affordable units and the anticipated request for competitive Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

Earlier this month, the developer submitted a revised proposal that addressed a number of the issues. The developer has agreed to measures such as installing public art, eliminating above-grade parking and re-designing an interior courtyard. However, the AHIF concerns remain a sticking point.

The staff report says the developer didn’t propose a potential Tenant Assistance Fund and no affordability commitment period had been submitted. Staff also reported that no official AHIF application had been received, but the developer is seeking a county investment ranging from $6 million to $9.5 million. The developer had presented a plan indicating each market unit would cost $365,000 to develop and the affordable units would each cost $455,000 to develop. That exceeds the VHDA development cost limit of $350,000 per unit, although sometimes exceptions can be made. Concerns also exist in the way the developer plans to repay the AHIF and the time frame for doing so.

Existing Pierce Queen ApartmentsCounty staff recommended deferring the issue until May but the Board voted unanimously to defer until March 11. That date was chosen in an attempt to approve the plan before the March 15 tax credit application deadline. Board members mentioned the unusual circumstances, but stressed that there’s no guarantee the plan would receive approval in time. The applicant still must prove that all contingencies have been adequately met.

“If this is going to work it’s going to have to be all hands on deck working really hard,” said Board member Jay Fisette. “I hope we can get there.”

Although there’s a push to get the proposal handled quickly, Board member Mary Hynes highlighted the need to still be thorough. Because the process has been so rushed to meet the deadline, she said everyone from Board members to county staff working on the matter are still fuzzy on how the specifics will work out. Board members aren’t interested in moving forward, regardless of tax credit deadlines, if the plan isn’t solid.

“We don’t have a clear understanding of how all the bits and pieces are going to fit together. It’s important for us on the Board that our staff is confident,” said Hynes. “Doing affordable housing in new construction is expensive. And doing it on the Metro is even more expensive. We have to do a lot of due diligence around this to make sure the taxpayers are getting the best value for their dollars. I think we need to give this enough time to be sure.”

by ARLnow.com — February 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm 2,067 15 Comments

Arlington Economic Development real estate forecast 2013

(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) BRAC and federal cuts are a drag on Arlington’s real estate market, but Tysons Corner will not be as competitive as some in the county fear, according to Arlington Economic Development (AED).

The county agency gave its annual real estate market review and forecast to a group of developers, property owners and local leaders on Monday. This year’s presentation was titled “Silver Line-ings,” after the new Metro line that is expected to open within a year and bring increased economic development to Tysons.

“I’m not freaked by Tysons Corner,” said AED Director Terry Holzheimer, adopting a bit of youth lingo.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a big negative from Tysons,” he continued. “Arlington will continue to be a better place. Arlington will continue to have better product. Arlington will continue to be highly competitive to Tysons Corner.”

Holzheimer said Tysons will “never catch up” with the kind of walkable, high-density, high-amenity urban corridors Arlington enjoys, and will continue to suffer from traffic problems. Plus, Holzheimer pointed out that commercial property taxes in Tysons are higher than Arlington.  He said there’s “not a chance” of Tysons becoming the region’s “new downtown” — as proclaimed by some — in the next 20 years.

The reflection of a crane seen on a building in Arlington (photo by Wolfkann)“Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will Tysons be,” he said.

Still, Arlington is facing challenges.

Office vacancies are up as the federal government makes cuts, plays hardball with office rental rates, and as BRAC continues to pull military offices out of Arlington. While BRAC was supposed to end last year, Holzheimer said Department of Defense office moves are expected to continue for the next three years, on top of the 17,000 employees that have already moved out of Arlington due to BRAC.

“It’s not even close to being done,” he said. Another 65 office leases in 25 Arlington buildings are expected to be impacted by BRAC in the next few years.

As a result of BRAC and federal cuts — “this malaise we’re in” region-wide — Holzheimer said office vacancy in Arlington has increased to 16.1 percent. Whereas Arlington usually has a lower-than-average vacancy rate for large central business districts (we’re between Boston and Houston in terms of office square footage), he described the county’s current vacancy rate as “middle of the pack” for the first time in a long time.

Interestingly, office rent in Arlington has remained high. The average per-square-foot “asking rate” is $41.13 in Arlington, compared to $18.93 in Dallas, $26.10 in Philadelphia, $31.54 in Chicago and $48.52 in the District of Columbia.

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by ARLnow.com — February 27, 2013 at 11:00 am 3,528 23 Comments

It’s no coincidence this playful hedgehog shares a name with the Egyptian goddess of joy and love. Meet our Arlington Pet of the Week, Hathor, a playful African Pygmy Hedgehog living in Crystal City.

Here’s what Hathor’s owner had to say about her:

When you first pick Hathor up, she will curl up into a ball in the palm of your hand. After a few seconds, when she senses that you’re not there to harm her, she will uncurl and begin flailing her arms around — her sign that she wants to play with you!

Hathor’s enclosure is filled with pieces of fleece, which she loves to burrow under and move around. She has a wheel that was custom-made for her, which she sometimes uses for exercise. But she seems much more interested in seeing what will happen if she jumps off the side or uses it as a swing to rock back and forth.

Even though she is fully grown, Hathor still thinks she can crawl into toilet paper tubes. If you leave one close to her, she will inevitably get it stuck on her head and walk around that way until somebody takes it off.

Hathor loves snuggling with her owner or with visitors. One of her favorite tricks is to crawl up the sleeve of somebody’s jacket, emerging a few minutes later on the other side. She also loves crawling onto people’s shoulders, licking their hair, and sniffing the inside of their ear, which really tickles!

The Arlington Pet of the Week is sponsored by Dogma Bakery, which has locations at The Village at Shirlington (2772 S. Arlington Mill Drive) and the Lee Harrison Shopping Center (2445 N. Harrison Street).

Want your pet to be considered to be the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email steph@arlnow.com. Each week’s winner receives a $25 Dogma gift card.

by Katie Pyzyk — February 27, 2013 at 9:55 am 503 0

Metro logoGetting to Reagan National Airport will prove more of a challenge this weekend. The airport’s metro station will be closed due to track work.

WMATA reports the closure is for NTSB-recommended track circuit module replacement, rail joint elimination, tie renewal and other various track improvements.

Both Blue and Yellow Line trains will operate in two segments. Blue Line trains will run between Crystal City and Largo Town Center, and between Braddock Road and Franconia-Springfield every 16 minutes from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., and every 20 minutes from 9:00 p.m. until system closing. Yellow Line trains will run between Crystal City and Mount Vernon Square, and between Braddock Road and Huntington every 16 minutes from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., and every 20 minutes from 9:00 p.m. until system closing.

There will be two routes of free shuttle buses replacing train service between Crystal City and Braddock Road. Express buses will operate between Crystal City and Braddock Road only. Local buses running between Crystal City and Braddock Road will serve Reagan National Airport. Customers using the shuttles should allow about 15 minutes of extra travel time.

The track work and closures will begin at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, March 1, and will continue through closing on Sunday, March 3. More information about track work throughout the system this weekend can be found on WMATA’s website.

by Katie Pyzyk — February 27, 2013 at 8:55 am 2,215 53 Comments

Signs of spring

Rabbit Closing — Just days after telling ARLnow.com he had reduced hours to lunch only, the owner of Rabbit Salad and Grill (3035 Clarendon Blvd) in Clarendon has apparently decided to completely call it quits. The restaurant will close on Friday to make way for Fat Shorty’s, a beer and sausage restaurant. The new restaurant is expected to open in early April. [Washingtonian]

Carlee Becomes Charlotte City Manager — Former Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee has taken a new job as the city manager of Charlotte, NC. Carlee had worked for Arlington County for 29 years, but left in 2009 for a job with the International City/County Management Association. Carlee’s new salary is reported to be $290,000 per year, a 15 percent increase over his predecessor’s salary. [Charlotte Observer]

Chuck Todd to Give Marymount Commencement Address — Chuck Todd, Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News, will give Marymount University’s commencement address this spring. He’ll speak at D.A.R. Constitution Hall on May 19, the same day the University will award Todd the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his career in journalism.

Concern Over Unlicensed Cabs — County Board members voiced concerns about reports of unlicensed taxis operating in Arlington. They asked county staff to investigate the issue and report back. The Board oversees the county’s taxi business by allotting a fixed number of operating certificates and regulating fares. [Sun Gazette]

Sun Gazette Office Moving — Today is moving day for The Sun Gazette. The paper’s office is being relocated from Springfield to 6704 Old McLean Road in McLean. The move is intended to put advertising and newsroom offices in the heart of the paper’s coverage territory, which stretches from Arlington west to Great Falls and then south to Vienna and Oakton. [Sun Gazette]

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