Donnellan made the recommendation at today’s County Board meeting, after being charged by the Board earlier this year to study Artisphere and suggest a way forward for the money-losing, county-run center.
“I will be recommending that the county close the Artisphere as a cultural center in fiscal year 2016,” Donnellan said. “This was a business decision… this was a tough decision, a disappointing one. The reality is that the Artisphere has not lived up to projections.”
Donnellan said Artisphere, in her opinion, would require “substantial ongoing tax support.”
“That is not what we promised our community when we opened Artisphere,” she said. Artisphere will remain open through June 30. It will close after that, if the County Board adopts Donnellan’s recommendation. After Donnellan gave her report, it became clear that the Board was behind her decision and it’s likely the art center will close on June 30.
“I support what you suggested, that next June, Artisphere would close as we know it,” Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “My hope is whatever option will move forward on our economic competitiveness goals one way or another.”
County Board member John Vihstadt, who had used the Artisphere as an example of wasteful county spending in his election campaign this year, obliquely referenced the county’s cancellation of the streetcar last month.
“I think we all realize the changing course on a long community initiative, as has happened in the last few years and months, is never easy,” he said. Speaking to reporters after the meeting had adjourned, he added, “I think it was the right decision. I was concerned about the Artisphere all along.”
County staff will be studying options for sub-leasing Artisphere to a private company or a private-public partnership in the “arts, media, technology” space, or returning it to landlord Monday Properties, Donnellan said.
She called the recommendation “a repositioning, not a retreat.” County staff will be tasked with coming up with a new art plan for the county, one that reflects current fiscal realities.
“Smart communities know when to reevaluate decisions,” Donnellan said.
The 62,000 square foot facility opened with a flourish, at a cost of $6.7 million in October 2010. Optimistic projections of a quarter million annual visitors quickly crashed down to earth in 2011. Visitor revenue was 75 percent below expectations, and Artisphere’s in-house restaurant closed after just a few months in business.
Arlington Economic Development assumed control of Artisphere by the end of 2011, and began implementing a business plan that included shorter hours and actively renting the facility for non-art-related events. The changes were successful by some measures, but problems remained — the facility again went over budget in Fiscal Year 2013. Last month, County Board allocated $1.3 million in its annual budget close-out for Artisphere-related expenses next year.
Donnellan told reporters after her report that 20 part-time and 12 full-time staff work at Artisphere, and some may be able to continue working in other areas of the county, but there will be some who lose their jobs.
The County Board may officially decide to close Artisphere before its April budget motion, Vihstadt said, and Donnellan said she will soon begin discussions with Monday Properties about the space’s future.
This evening, Donnellan will ask the Board to approve a $5 million loan to another art center, Signature Theatre. She said the two recommendations are “business decisions” and should be looked at separately.
Current Board chair Jay Fisette announced the expected leadership succession at the Board’s afternoon meeting today (Wednesday). Hynes is currently vice chair of the County Board.
Walter Tejada, meanwhile, is to be next year’s County Board vice chairman. The changes will take effect with the Board’s Jan. 1 organizational meeting.
Hynes and Tejada are both up for reelection in 2015.
Today Obama announced that his administration will normalize diplomatic relations and ease economic restrictions on the island nation. Also announced: that American Alan Gross and a U.S. intelligence asset were freed from Cuban jails, in exchange for three jailed Cuban spies.
Kaine’s brief statement:
“I am overjoyed by today’s announcement of Alan Gross’s release and wish him the very best as he reunites with his family and loved ones. His release marks a victory for American diplomacy. I’d like to especially thank Pope Francis and the Canadian government for their role as intermediaries in this effort.”
“Our relationship with Cuba will not change overnight – human rights and political freedom are important concerns that we will continue to raise with the Cuban government. But as the reestablishment of U.S. diplomatic ties with Vietnam proved, engagement rather than isolation is often more effective at advancing American interests and democratic values.”
Arlington County has been trying to figure out how to better reach out to the hordes of young apartment-dwellers who make up a significant portion of the county’s population, but who are usually nowhere to be found during community meetings.
“It’s not always easy to reach certain parts of the community,” Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh says in a new county-produced video (above). “We’ve tried several methods over the years — community meetings in schools, in community centers — and typically the same people would come out each time. So what we decided we needed to do was try something different.”
To help design events and services tailored to the elusive mid-20s to mid-30s professional set — dubbed “Metro Renters” — county staff is taking an approach called “Design Thinking,” which builds a needs profile through interviews with members of a given group.
“Design Thinking is a system of methods and processes that uses a designer’s sensibility to match people’s needs with what is feasible and viable,” explains Dept. of Environmental Services program manager Joan Kelsch.
Via interviews, the county developed the following profile of “Metro Renters.”
- They want their resources to be quick and convenient and are willing to pay top dollar if it fulfills their needs in a hurry
- They’re tech savvy and they can’t function without their mobile devices
- They’re highly educated with varied reading interests
- They listen to NPR on weekday mornings and track the news online all day
- They work hard and play hard
- Hanging out with friends is important
- They like good food
- Many don’t have cars so location is important
- They enjoy a quiet, relaxing environment for conversation with a friend
- Many are also interested in meeting potential life partners, so activities and places that give them something to do where they can meet new people with common interests are good
- They consider themselves hard working and busy people without a lot of free time, so anything they attend should have an immediate impact on their lives or otherwise be important to them
If you have first-hand familiarity with the “Metro Renter” set, how would you grade the county’s job of producing a broadly accurate profile of the average 25-35 year old Metro corridor renter in Arlington?
HOT Lane Lawsuit May Haunt County — At a time when the state is studying HOT lanes and other possible changes to I-66 inside the Beltway, Arlington County’s past actions may come back to haunt it. County officials “burned some bridges” when they filed a lawsuit against VDOT in 2009 to block HOT lanes on I-395. The county has also lost some regional credibility by abruptly canceling the streetcar project. Efforts by Arlington to oppose any changes on I-66, therefore, may fall on deaf ears. [InsideNova]
Incubator Launches in Crystal City — Eastern Foundry, a “veteran-owned government technology and innovation incubator,” celebrated its launch in Crystal City yesterday. The company held a ribbon cutting ceremony with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Vornado/Charles E. Smith president Mitchell Schear. [PR Web]
Man Arrested for Arlington Attack — Fairfax County Police have arrested a man wanted for allegedly attacking his ex-wife’s boyfriend in Arlington. In the June 15 attack on Columbia Pike, police say Edwin Patino-Medina ripped two necklaces off the boyfriend’s neck then tried to run him over with a car. [WUSA 9]
Menorah Lighting Tonight — Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Tonight, in the park next to the Clarendon Metro station, Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington will hold a menorah lighting and community celebration. The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and features a “giant 6 foot menorah” plus music, potato latkes, chocolate gelt and “dreidels for all.” Tomorrow, the group will hold its annual Chanukah on Ice event at the Pentagon Row ice rink.
Flickr pool photo by Alves Family
Arlington-based PBS is celebrating the upcoming fifth season of its hit Downton Abbey with a building-sized mural on its Crystal City headquarters.
The temporary art installation, featuring the likeness of Downton character Lady Mary , is 90 feet high and 54.5 feet wide — 4,900 square feet total — and took about 140 hours to complete. It was installed at 2100 Crystal Drive in partnership with the Crystal City Business Improvement District and building owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith.
“Downton Abbey is the top PBS drama of all time and we are thrilled to showcase that in Crystal City, where PBS calls home,” said Angela Fox, president and CEO of the Crystal City BID, in a press release.
“Crystal City residents, workers, and visitors are encouraged to take photos of themselves with the project, and hashtag #DowntonPBS,” the press release said.
The fourth season of the British period drama drew an average audience of 13.2 million viewers, according to PBS, making it one of the highest-rated dramas on American television. The fifth season will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.
Q. I saw a mention on ARLnow this past Tuesday that Arbour Realty has been acquired. Isn’t this your company? Are you going to continue the Ask Adam column?
A. Yes, Arbour Realty is a company that my wife and I started in 2008. We were recently acquired by a company called Real Living | At Home. Real Living is a national brand owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Real Living | At Home is the regional franchise.
They have been one of the fastest growing real estate brokerages in D.C. and Maryland. Purchasing Arbour Realty is part of their strategy to begin their rapid growth in Northern Virginia. Real Living is on the cutting edge of technology and real estate services, providing a clear advantage over traditional brokerages.
We will now have an in-house staff of PR, marketing, photography, videography and technology professionals working on our behalf when we are selling homes. We are looking forward to leveraging the myriad of resources provided by Real Living to take our real estate services to the next level.
We are keeping the Arbour Realty team together under the new brand. I will remain a leader in the Virginia office, but will focus more on our clients and less on the administrative duties of running a company.
I will continue to write the Ask Adam articles for ARLnow so please keep the questions coming. I truly enjoy responding to your questions and following the comments that follow my articles.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Last week, we reported on a gift shop in Ballston that had been robbed not once but twice by the same armed robber.
It turns out, the same guy has actually robbed the store three times in the past month or so.
Police say the man, pictured above, robbed the City News and Gift Shop inside 950 N. Stafford Street on Nov. 8, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. The first time, he displayed a handgun and demanded money. The second time, he displayed a “large kitchen knife” and demanded money and Newport cigarettes. The third time, he again flashed a gun and demanded money.
Arlington County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man. The police department’s press release, below.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying an armed robbery suspect who has robbed a Ballston convenience store on three occasions and has been captured on surveillance video.
On November 8, 2014, the suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop located inside 950 N. Stafford Street at approximately 3:10 PM. The suspect was wearing black pants and was layered in a Washington Nationals jacket over a red and white striped polo shirt which was over a black hoodie. The suspect displayed a handgun tucked into his front waistband and demanded money. After the robbery, the suspect fled towards Fairfax Drive.
On December 3, 2014, it is believed that the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 2:55 pm. This time the suspect was wearing black pants and a black jacket layered over a tan hoodie. The suspect displayed a large kitchen knife, demanded money and Newport brand cigarettes before fleeing towards the Ballston Metrorail station.
On December 4, 2014, the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 8:20 pm. The suspect appeared to be wearing the same clothing as the day before with blue jeans. During this robbery, the suspect again displayed a handgun before demanding money. It is believed that the suspect fled again towards the Ballston Metrorail station after the robbery.
The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s-30s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’10″ tall, with a medium build. In all three robberies, he appears to be wearing black and white soled tennis shoes, similar to Converse All-Stars, and a black beanie-style winter cap.
There were no reported injuries during any of these armed robberies
If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective P. Mulvaney of the Arlington County Homicide/Robbery Unit at (703) 228-4239 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous tips can also be provided through the Arlington County Crime Solvers Hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Blue, Orange, Silver Lines Suspended — Metrorail service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was suspended during the morning rush hour due to a water main break in D.C. Those in Arlington hoping to get to work via Uber were being charged four times the normal rate, thanks to the company’s “surge pricing” practices. An Arlington Alert, meanwhile, contained an oddly appropriate typo — it noted that service was suspended at “Farragut Wet” due to the water main break. [Washington Post]
Board: Traffic Light Coming in 18 Months — The Arlington County Board had good news for activists at its Saturday meeting: the traffic light they’re seeking at Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street is coming. The bad news is that it could take up to 18 months. Board member Walter Tejada said that is “too long” and “we have to find a way to make it happen.” [InsideNova]
Zoning Change Advertised for Wendy’s Redevelopment — The County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a potential zoning change for 2026 and 2038 Wilson Blvd, the current site of the Wendy’s restaurant in Courthouse, which is slated for a redevelopment. Developer Carr Properties wants to build a 12-story office building on the site. Public hearings will now be held in advance of Board consideration of the rezoning request. [Arlington County]
Arlington Book Store Wins Grant — East Falls Church bookstore One More Page Books has won a $9,000 grant from novelist James Patterson. The store plans to use the grant to launch a “bookmobile” — a modified food truck that sells books around the community. [Washington Post]
SoberRide, the local anti-drunk driving program that offers free cab rides during certain festive occasions, has launched for the entire holiday season.
The program started up Friday night and will run through New Year’s Day.
Every night through Jan. 1, between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., those in the D.C. area who have been drinking and need a lift home can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free cab ride up to a $30 fare.
Arlington’s Red Top Cab is among the local D.C. area cab companies participating. Organizers say SoberRide saves lives.
“Last December, nearly 1,900 (1,877) Greater Washington residents did the right thing and availed themselves of this lifesaving service rather than possibly driving home impaired,” said Kurt Erickson, president of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), which runs SoberRide. “For SoberRide’s hours of operation during just last New Year’s Eve, such ridership (463) translated into the removal of a would-be drunk driver from our shared roadways every 62-seconds.”
WRAP and the Arlington County Police Department unveiled a half-cab, half-police cruiser (pictured) in 2012 to help promote the SoberRide program.
Tejada Rips Streetcar Decision — Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada made a forceful seven-and-a-half minute speech at Saturday’s Board meeting, ripping into the decision to cancel the county’s streetcar project. Tejada said the county government “has failed” and wasted the time of those involved in the streetcar’s 15-year planning process. Tejada was joined by two members of the public who spoke out against the decision. [Blue Virginia, Washington Post]
Wilson School Supporters Speak Out — Supporters of the Wilson School in Rosslyn are making what might be a last push to save the 104-year-old building — which they claim is historic — from potential demolition. Stan Karson, president of the nearby Radnor/Fort Myer Heights Civic Association, told the School Board week that “if you tear down Wilson School, you are saying to Arlington students history is important only in the classroom, not in the board room.” Meanwhile, Karson wrote in a newspaper letter to the editor that “the concerned community has been silenced.” [InsideNova, Washington Post]
Abby Raphael Won’t Seek Reelection — School Board member Abby Raphael says she will not seek reelection in 2015 and has no plans to run for County Board. Raphael is on her second term on the School Board. Some believe she may have her sights set on a state-level office. [InsideNova]
Moran Laments ‘Demagoguing’ Left — Retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says the left wing of the Democratic party is starting to pick up some traits of the Republican party’s Tea Party wing. Moran said liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was “demagoguing” the issue of financial reform by opposing a compromise spending bill — a bill that avoided a government shutdown but contained some changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law. [Blue Virginia]
Board Approves Bond Refinancing — Arlington County will save $147,000 a year over the next 16 years thanks to a refinancing of three wastewater and water system bonds. The County Board unanimously approved the refinancing on Saturday. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Dave Prentice
The announcement follows the I-66 Multimodal Study, which wrapped up last year and presented a number of options for improvements to I-66 inside the Beltway, including high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes and a third travel lane in each direction. County officials have vehemently opposed widening I-66, and the county successfully sued VDOT to block HOT lanes on I-395.
In a letter to Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette today, Virginia Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne, Jr. said that the Commonwealth is pursuing a multimodal improvement package that includes converting I-66 to HOT lanes during peak hours. (I-66 is currently HOV-only during rush hour.)
Layne said the Commonwealth will be initiating an environmental assessment as the first step toward pursuing changes. He also said the package would include capacity improvements for Metrorail and buses along the corridor, but did not specify whether a third travel lane is to be added, according to a county spokeswoman.
Fisette responded to Layne’s letter with the following statement Friday afternoon.
Arlington is passionate about giving people travel choices. I have just received this letter and have shared it with my Board colleagues and the County Manager. The letter references the I-66 Multimodal Study (inside the beltway) as the basis for any future improvements. It is fair to say that Arlington contributed heavily to that study and largely embraced it. With that in mind, we will consider this new effort and determine how best to constructively respond and engage as a community. We are all concerned about congestion along this vital corridor. It is important to note, however, that whatever changes are made, must enhance all multimodal options – as the I-66 Multimodal Study concluded.
More than 25,000 volunteers are expected to flock to Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 13) to place wreaths on the graves of hundreds of thousands of veterans for the holidays.
The group Wreaths Across America, now in its 23rd year, hopes to place wreaths on all 230,000 graves in the cemetery this year.
An opening ceremony will be held at 9:00 a.m. at the McClellan Arch, and volunteers will begin laying wreaths at 9:30 a.m. Separate wreath laying ceremonies are planned at the President Kennedy gravesite, the USS Maine Mast and the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Instructions on how to volunteer and how to get to the cemetery (take Metro, don’t drive) are available on the Wreaths Across America website and in the video above.
Flickr pool photo by Sunday Money
A man stole $450 at knifepoint on Wednesday, Dec. 3, then came back the next day and stole $400 at gunpoint, according to police.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ARMED ROBBERY, 141203034, 900 block of N Stafford St, On 12/3/14 at 1501 hours, an unknown male entered the store and demanded money from the victim at knife point. The suspect was given $450.00 from the cash register then fled on foot towards the Ballston Metro. The victim confirmed this was the same suspect who robbed this store several weeks ago. The suspect is described as as black male, 5’08″-5’10″, medium build, 170 lbs, wearing a black coat with leather sleeves, black pants, a black beanie, a tan hoodie pulled halfway over the beanie, and black shoes with white soles. The knife is described as a large kitchen knife, 8-10″ in length with a black handle and silver blade. The suspect was seen entering the Metro platform through the handicap gate without paying and jumping on a train just prior to police arrival.
ARMED ROBBERY,141204049, 900 block of N Stafford St, On 12/4/14 at 2020 hours, an unknown male entered and robbed the gift shop at gunpoint. After the clerk gave the subject $400.00, the subject fled on foot towards the Ballston Metro. The subject is described as a black male, 5’08″-5’10″, medium build, a tan hoodie underneath a black leather coat, blue jeans, black beanie, and black shoes with white soles. The gun was held in the subject’s right hand. It is believed this is the same subject that robbed the store yesterday at knife point.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
Arlington Hopes to Attract D.C. Law Firms — Arlington, and Rosslyn in particular, hope a recent Virginia Bar rule change will help draw law firms across the river from D.C. Commercial office owners JBG and Vornado helped to push for the rule change, which makes it easier for lawyers admitted to practice in another state to practice in Virginia. [Bisnow]
Malis Resigns from Planning Commission — Inta Malis, treasurer of the Arlington County Democratic Committee and a fervent streetcar supporter, has unexpectedly resigned from the county’s Planning Commission. Malis told ARLnow.com that she’s resigning with a year left in her third four-year term in order to join the Board of Zoning Appeals, which “has always held some interest for me as another aspect of land use planning.”
Video: SoberWoman in Arlington — SoberWoman, the anti-drunk-driving superhero who’s the “witty better half” of SoberMan, visited Clarendon last month to encourage bar patrons to party responsibly. A video of that visit, complete with SoberWoman getting down on the dance floor, has been released. SoberWoman fans can find her spreading the anti-DUI message in Bethesda tonight. [YouTube]
Holiday Crafting in Shirlington — The Shirlington Branch Library will be holding a Holiday Craft Program for adults on Saturday, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Instructors will show attendees how to make various holiday-themed crafts. [Arlington Public Library]
‘Best of Arlington’ List — Washingtonian has released a list of Arlington’s “local gems,” including stores, restaurants and people to know. “There’s a lot to explore in this sprawling suburb,” the magazine writes. [Washingtonian]
Obituary for Homicide Victim — The Chronicle-Telegram of Lorain County, Ohio has published an obituary for its native daughter Kristy Flowers, the victim of this week’s homicide in Westover. Flowers was a George Mason University graduate and was working as an intelligence analyst for government contractor Leidos. Flowers’ shooting death, allegedly at the hands of her boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself, is the first homicide in Arlington since 2012. [Chronicle-Telegram]
Flickr pool photo by Desiree L.C.