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by ARLnow.com — December 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm 1,130 0

James Hunter Park ribbon cuttingJames Hunter Park, which reopened in 2013 following a $1.6 million renovation, has been recognized as the “Best New Facility” in the parks category by the Virginia Recreation and Park Society.

The Clarendon park, which has facilities for both dogs and humans, was called “a model for today’s urban parks” by the society.

“From using rainwater for irrigation to solar power to native plantings to increasing the urban tree canopy, this park is at the forefront of environmental sustainability,” the group said, according to a county press release.

“It’s wonderful that James Hunter Park was recognized,” Arlington County Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph said, in a statement. “Its development was very important to the County. We were able to turn an empty lot in a very urban corridor into something that the community really values and enjoys. This recognition by VRPS makes it even more special.”

The honor was bestowed by a jury of statewide park and recreation professionals, who based their decision on criteria like “innovative nature of the facility design, funding, construction,” “effectiveness in addressing the goals as defined in terms of community needs” and “efficiency in use of resources.”

Detractors of the park have said it was too expensive and doesn’t have enough shade.

The county’s description of the park, located at the corner of N. Herndon and 13th Streets, after the jump.

(more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — December 19, 2014 at 11:35 am 892 0

Artisphere during the Silver Clouds exhibitArtisphere is very likely to close on June 30, barring a change of heart from the majority of the Arlington County Board, and while many agree with the Board’s decision, the local art scene is lamenting the loss.

Artisphere — with multiple theaters for programming of everything from local orchestras to international groups with experimental sounds and galleries for its free visual art displays — will continue operating as planned, Executive Director Jose Ortiz said.

“The show must go on,” he told ARLnow.com yesterday. “It was definitely a disappointing decision … We have programs that are planned and on the books, from exhibitions and performances to rentals. The items that are on the books must continue.”

ARLnow.com’s unscientific poll yesterday asked readers if they agreed with County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s recommendation to close Artisphere at the end of the fiscal year. Some 57 percent of poll respondents – out of nearly 3,000 votes – said they agree with the decision. Ortiz said he didn’t necessarily disagree with it.

“Barbara said it. This was a business decision,” he said.

Some critics of the move are calling it “short-sighted,” alluding to the multimedia center’s uptick in both revenues and visitors in the past year or more. Donnellan said the theater would require $2 million or more per year to stay open, but vowed to continue the revitalization efforts in Rosslyn.

In an era when communities throughout the country and especially in the D.C. area have used arts and culture to successfully revitalize neighborhoods, Donnellan’s recommendation to close the county’s most vital cultural asset is both shocking and remarkably short-sighted,” wrote Phil Hutinet, editor of D.C. arts website East City Art.

Ortiz started at Artisphere four months after it opened to lots of hype and hope the it would be revenue neutral. He said he would have “helped people understand what Artisphere was” if he had been involved from the beginning. Still, he said, he’s proud of the four years of programming the center has showcased.

“My hope is people will remember us because they were part of a project or they attended something here that blew their minds,” he said.

A full statement from Oritz on Artisphere’s closing, after the jump: (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — December 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm 4,732 0

Red, Hot & Blue in Rosslyn Red, Hot & Blue in Rosslyn

Red, Hot & Blue, the barbecue chain restaurant at 1600 Wilson Blvd, is closing on Sunday.

Manager Chris Hawkins confirmed to ARLnow.com that the restaurant — which he says has been open since at least 1989 — will have its last day on Sunday, but he said the staff has been kept in the dark as to why.

“I haven’t the slightest idea” why the restaurant is closing, Hawkins said. “It was brought to my attention this week. We’re still trying to figure it out.”

Until the restaurant closes after Sunday, it will still offer everything it’s promised, including a holiday meal to go for $69, that customers can pick up on Sunday.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 17, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,796 0

Water Pollution Control Plant and fence (photo via Google Maps)

(Updated at 1:45 p.m.) Tejo Remy, an artist for the Netherlands whose work has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, is designing a fence for the plant that filters Arlington’s sewage.

The fence surrounds the Water Pollution Control Plant, on the 3400 block of S. Glebe Road, and it will be designed in Remy and design partner Rene Veenhuizen’s style of reusing common objects to create engaging works of art.

Tejo Remy (photo courtesy Alan Henney)The perimeter fence includes a long stretch along the Four Mile Run trail.

“The design-duo’s ethos stems from a strong industrial design background, reusing existing resources rather than consuming new materials, and building awareness about our connection to the environment,” Arlington Cultural Affairs spokesman Jim Byers said. “Remy and Veenhuizen have developed and will implement a compelling, innovative design concept which will serve as a unifying element within the Four Mile Run area, while creating distinct enhancements for the fence at the Water Pollution Control Plant.”

The project is expected in 2015, Byers said. It was approved by the Arlington County Board in April 2012.

Some of Remy’s noted work includes a “chest of drawers” displayed at MoMA and a chair made of rags. He spoke briefly about the fence project this week at an exhibition on Dutch design at the Netherlands embassy in D.C.

Photo (top) via Google Maps, (bottom) courtesy Alan Henney

by Ethan Rothstein — December 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,722 0

(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Arlington-based reggae band SOJA has been nominated for the “Best Reggae Album” Grammy award for “Amid the Noise and Haste,” released in August.

Amid the Noise and Haste is the nine-member band’s fifth full-length album and first Grammy nomination. The band’s 2012 album, “Strength to Survive,” was No. 1 on the Billboard Reggae charts in the U.S. for more than a year.

SOJA, which stands for Soldiers of Jah Army, played on the Tonight Show in 2012 and played Clarendon Day in 2006.

The band was formed by lead singer and guitarist Jacob Hemphill – an Arlington native who spent part of his childhood in Liberia while his father worked for the International Monetary Fund — and bassist Bobby Lee while the pair attended Yorktown High School in 1997. They recorded part of Amid the Noise and Haste at Lion and Fox Recording Studio in College Park, Md.

The band is currently on tour in Brazil and unavailable for interviews, its manager told ARLnow.com. The 57th Annual Grammy Awards will air on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 8:00 p.m.

by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,101 0

Unveiling of a half cab-half police cruiserSoberRide, 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.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,236 0

Microphone (photo via Wikimedia)Starting in January, Arlington Public Library is offering classes for funny people who want to develop their talent into a marketable skill.

For four consecutive Thursdays, starting Jan. 8, at 6:30 p.m., prospective stand-up comedians can take a crash course in live comedy from library manager and comedian Kerby Valladares.

The classes are at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), and available for online registration. According to library spokesman Peter Golkin, “space is limited and seats are going fast.”

You’ll learn how to shape your act, meet some local comics, get a feel for the area comedy scene and find out how to play to the audience,” the event listing says.

Each week, class will begin with an hour-long workshop before taking a field trip to the Comedy Spot in Ballston Common Mall for open mic night, starting at 7:30. The classes and shows are free.

Photo via Wikimedia

by ARLnow.com — December 12, 2014 at 11:45 am 816 0

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.

Wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery by Sunday MoneyTrucks carrying the wreaths are expected to start arriving in Arlington today. They will arrive at the cemetery in a convoy at ANC’s main gate between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.

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

by Ethan Rothstein — December 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm 1,365 0

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is planning to reshape the sidewalks of Rosslyn next year.

Recently, BID employees have tagged newspaper boxes around the area for removal by tomorrow (Friday), but Rosslyn BID Urban Design Director Lucia deCordre said they will soon be replace by modern newsbox corrals in high-pedestrian areas, instead of the current semi-scattered layout around various parts of Rosslyn.

The corrals, new benches designed with slots placed to resemble the lights of Rosslyn’s skyline, parklets for outdoor dining and WiFi-enabled streetlights are among the elements the BID is planning on bringing to Rosslyn, starting in the spring. No active newsboxes will be removed, the BID says — the notices were placed on the boxes to have the vendors contact the BID about the plans for the corrals.

“We’re really looking to give a facelift to the sidewalks,” deCordre told ARLnow.com today. “We did an inventory of everything we have out there with streetscape, how to make them more pedestrian friendly and hang out a little more and support the retail.”

The BID is in the process of submitting plans to Arlington County to install prototypes of several of the designs at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street. If approved, the prototypes would be installed in the spring, and, if it’s successful, more elements will be introduced all over the BID’s footprint, which extends to N. Quinn Street.

“We’re going to take a full block and at least get one or two of the pieces so we can see how it all interacts together, how it works together,” said Mary-Claire Burick, the president of the Rosslyn BID. “It’s really all about the pedestrian experience. This really just takes us to that next step of that really modern, high-end contemporary feel.”

Some of the design elements will also have functions for those in the neighborhood. One of the mobile phone charging kiosks is already operational at the corner of N. Moore and 19th Streets, and Burick said it’s “very popular.” The streetlights would be enabled with WiFi, creating a network throughout the district.

Disclosure: Rosslyn BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by ARLnow.com — December 11, 2014 at 10:35 am 1,835 0

Voting began this morning in the contest that will determine the design of Arlington’s 2015-2016 vehicle decal.

The winning decal will appear on more than 160,000 windshields next year.

The decals were designed by Arlington high school students. The four finalists above — entitled “Hats of Our Heroes,” “A Nod to History,” “Barcroft Community House” and “A Day at the Farmers’ Market” — were chosen from 113 student entries.

The student behind the winning entry will receive $750 from John Marshall Bank. The other three finalists will receive $500.

Arlington residents can vote for their favorite on the county website. Voting closes at midnight on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 10, 2014 at 5:10 pm 1,119 0

A retail space at 1800 N. Kent Street that has been vacant for six yearsFour vacant retail spaces — three in Rosslyn and one in Courthouse — could be converted into medical or office space following action by the Arlington County Board this weekend.

The Board has four items in Saturday’s consent agenda dealing with the conversion of space mandated to be retail, based on building’s site plans, to office or medical uses. One of those items is for a dentist’s office already in operation in Courthouse Plaza under a temporary site plan amendment.

The other three agenda items are for:

  • Two vacant retail spaces, totaling 3,696 square feet, at 1800 N. Kent Street. One space (pictured above) was a private school space that has been vacant for six years. The other had been occupied by dry cleaners, but has been vacant for 10 years, according to the staff report.
  • A 2,830-square-foot vacant space on the ground floor of 2001 15th Street N., in the Odyssey Condominiums. The space fronts Clarendon Blvd, but it has been vacant for five years, other than serving as a temporary leasing office for the now-opened apartments across the street, the staff report states. Since the leasing office has relocated, the owner reports difficulty finding a tenant for the space.
  • A 1,520-square-foot space at 1600 Wilson Blvd, the former site of the Sir Speedy Printing Center, which has been vacant since July. The space, according to the staff report, “has a history of retail vacancy and poses some location challenges for retail attraction.”

County staff identified no issues for any of these sites, suggesting a “medical/physical therapy office, will help activate the street and pose no adverse impacts to the neighborhood,” in all of the reports.

The county seems to be taking a softer line on mandated ground floor retail spaces, in recognition that some storefronts are just not viable for traditional retail. For instance, 1800 N. Kent Street is well hidden from Rosslyn’s main N. Lynn Street drag, resulting in a relative paucity of the foot traffic that could bring customers to a small business.

County staff, in recommending approval of the motions, used the draft Arlington Retail Action Plan as guidance in its decisions.

The draft action plan, which would replace and expand upon the 2001 Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor Retail Plan, includes a map that specifies which type of retail can go where. According to the county’s planning staff, all four locations on Saturday’s agenda are considered appropriate for medical or office use under the draft retail map.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 10, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,612 0

The outside patio Copperwood Tavern, the farm-focused restaurant at 4021 Campbell Ave. in Shirlington, is going to have a campfire-esque feel this winter.

The restaurant, which opened last fall, has installed two propane-powered fire pits, which it will turn on every day starting at 5:00 p.m. The tables surrounding the fire pits will be first come, first served and there will be complimentary fleece blankets available, according to director of operations Jon Gardiner.

“Nobody else in the area is doing it,” Gardiner told ARLnow.com yesterday. “It looks nice and it distinguishes us even more from the surrounding businesses.”

In addition to the blankets, Copperwood is also rolling out a hot cocktail menu with outdoor patrons in mind. On the menu will be “Moonshine with coco syrup, coffee and crème; Spiced Rum with apple cider redux, lemon and nutmeg; Apple Brandy with port-vanilla syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange; and Bourbon with lemon, honey syrup, orange and clove.”

Copperwood is also offering s’mores kits for customers to roast over the flames, Gardiner said.

by ARLnow.com — December 9, 2014 at 3:45 pm 1,097 0

InsideNova paywall meterLocal news buffs will now have to pay to read more than 15 Arlington Sun Gazette articles per month online.

The Sun Gazette’s parent company, Northern Virginia Media Services, says it activated a metered paywall on its Northern Virginia news site, InsideNova.com, on Dec. 1. Sun Gazette articles are published on the site.

The paywall is designed to force readers to complete a free registration after reading five articles per month, according to an announcement last week. After reading another ten in the course of a month, the site will require a $4.99 per month subscription.

“Many news sites have gone in this direction,” Northern Virginia Media Services COO Bruce Potter said in the announcement. “We are simply asking our heaviest users to contribute a little bit toward the cost of providing the outstanding content on which they rely every day.”

While the online subscription is described as a “minimal monthly fee,” it’s actually more expensive than another way to get online access: by subscribing to the Sun Gazette print edition. The company says a subscription to the weekly newspaper is $39 per year and includes full online access.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 9, 2014 at 10:30 am 1,728 0

Rosslyn is finally getting a restaurant that serves pizza by the slice.

Wiseguy NY Pizza is opening a location, at 1735 N. Lynn Street, in the former Quiznos Subs location. In October, Wiseguy owner Tony Errol told Eater.com that the shop should open “in about three months or so.” So far, Wiseguy has not replied to a request for comment from ARLnow.com.

The pizza place’s first location is on 3rd Street and Massachusetts Ave. NW in the District, where it has received plaudits for coming close to replicating authentic New York-style pizza. It claims to make its pizza with “New Yorkinized water” thanks to a “special filter system.”

The eatery also offers garlic knots — a rare sight in the District — and cheesecake from New York staple Junior’s Cheesecake.

by Ethan Rothstein — December 8, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,067 0

Future Highline bar in Crystal City (photo courtesy Robert Mandle) Highline with job posting signs Dec. 4, 2014

Highline, the new Crystal City bar from the owners of CarPool in Ballston and the Continental in Rosslyn, is taking the last steps before an anticipated early January opening.

The bar applied for a live entertainment and dancing permit, which the Arlington County Board is set to review on Saturday, laying out plans for “musical ensembles, solo performers, deejays, karaoke, and comedians” to perform nightly until 2:00 a.m. County staff has recommended approving the permit with conditions that amplified music be limited to Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, when all windows and doors to the outside are closed.

Highline conducted open job interviews last week, and co-owner Peter Bayne told ARLnow.com “we had a lot of people show up, more than we ever expected.” The stack of applications is pretty full, but the bar “isn’t going to turn away a rock star,” he said.

The picture of the offerings for patrons is also starting to become a little clearer. Highline will have side-by-side pop-a-shot games as well as a “full shelf” of board games old and new. There will also be arcade games and, a month or two after opening, a new, high-tech gaming table.

“It’s an interactive game table with an LCD TV as the surface and Xbox Kinect cameras overhead,” Bayne said. “You can play games like tic-tac-toe or air hockey just by moving your hands above the table.”

The bar will also have 36 beers, a few wines and a “pre-mixed cocktail” on tap. Bayne also plans to incorporate some barrel-aging and other creative ideas around the libations. “We’re going to have a lot of fun with the beer program,” he said.

“This is definitely one of the more beautiful bars we built,” he said. His company, Bedrock Bars, co-owned with Geoffrey Dawson, owns 24 bars and restaurants, largely in the D.C. area. “I think Crystal City is going to love it.”

File photo (left) courtesy Robert Mandle

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