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Naturalists Ask Residents to Look Out for Box Turtles

by Ethan Rothstein | April 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 1,648 views | No Comments

Box turtle (photo via Rachel Tolman)

As the weather has warmed up, Arlington’s box turtle population is coming out of hibernation and making its way onto roads and lawns. That has led county naturalists to ask for the community’s help in helping to protect the shelled reptiles.

While turtles have effective defensive mechanisms against predators, Arlington’s only native land turtle species is vulnerable to cars and lawn mowers, Long Branch Nature Center naturalist Cliff Fairweather wrote in an email to neighborhood newsletter editors.

“A box turtle’s shell can protect it from many dangers in nature, but danger from humans is another story,” Fairweather wrote. “Roads and traffic pose a particularly difficult challenge; even the box turtle’s portable fort is no match for a sedan. They are also vulnerable to lawn mowers; if you have box turtles in your neighborhood, check for them in your lawn before you mow. Sick and injured turtles can find help at the Long Branch Nature Center but we need your help to provide that care.”

Park Naturalist Rachel Tolman says there is no estimate on how many box turtles that live in Arlington, but said they are most common in meadows, parks and lawns, especially those that border forests.

“It’s difficult to get a good estimate for how many we have,” Tolman told ARLnow.com. “They are just hard to find. You can’t catch them on a game camera or bait for them. I’ve released a box turtle and have turned around five minutes later and couldn’t find it anymore.”

Tolman said the nature center rehabilitates about 40 injured turtles a year that residents bring in. To raise money for those efforts, the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation organizes an annual Turtle Trot 5K. This year, the race is on May 17 at 10:00 a.m. at Bluemont Park. The race is $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 12 and under.

Photo courtesy Rachel Tolman

Four Sisters Grill in Clarendon to Open Next Week

by Ethan Rothstein | April 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 4,017 views | No Comments

Four Sisters Grill, a Vietnamese fast-casual restaurant coming to the former Fat Shorty’s space in Clarendon, is planning to open next week.

Owner Hoa Lai, the executive chef at Four Sisters Vietnamese Restaurant in Merrifield and owner of the new venture, said he plans to open the restaurant to the public on April 17. After holding a soft opening last month, Lai told ARLnow.com he pushed back his planned opening date to “iron out some of the kinks.”

The restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sundays. There will be about 20 menu items ranging from $4 to $14 and Lai said the restaurant plans to serve beer.

Renovated Rocky Run Park Re-Opens

by Ethan Rothstein | April 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 2,613 views | No Comments

(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) The $3 million renovation to Rocky Run Park in the Courthouse area are complete and the park is now open to the public.

The renovations, which were approved by the County Board in November 2012, include two lighted basketball courts, a lighted synthetic turf for drop-in play, a new playground area with equipment for 5-12 year-olds, a picnic shelter and bathrooms. The park, at 1109 N. Barton Street, had its mature trees preserved while the equipment and facilities were reorganized around them.

The renovations were funded through 2010 and 2012 Neighborhood Conservation funds, parks capital maintenance bonds and pay-as-you-go funds. The park came in under budget, according to parks officials. The plans to renovate the park have been in the works since 2009, according to Arlington County.

According to county Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Roberta Korzen, the park opened on Friday and there is an official ribbon-cutting planned for April 27 at 2:00 p.m.

Korzen said an earlier plan to build “stakeable art” in the park was scrapped.

“The ‘skateable’ art feature previously designed in Phase I design development and planned for installation with the Phase II construction activities was removed from the project,” she said via email. “During the final drawing development of the art feature, it was determined that the artistic expression and functionality of the sculpture could not be effectively realized. That area will instead feature a sculpted lawn and shade trees.”

Arlington’s Cherry Blossoms Beginning to Bloom

by Ethan Rothstein | April 3, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 1,513 views | No Comments

(Updated at 4:35 p.m.) It’s cherry blossom season in the D.C. area, and the more than 1,000 trees that call Arlington home are beginning to bloom.

The most famous of the local cherry trees, those along the Tidal Basin in D.C., will be in peak bloom next week, from April 8-12, according to the National Park Service. Although spring officially began on March 20, the cherry blossoms blooming in places like Clarendon and Pentagon City are one of nature’s better indicators that warm weather is here to stay.

Arlington plants between 25 and 35 flowering cherry blossom trees each year, county Landscape and Forestry Supervisor Jamie Bartalon told ARLnow.com. The trees planted in Arlington include the Yoshino, Okame and Kwanzan varieties. The Yoshino cherry blossom is the primary species in the Tidal Basin in D.C. that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Bartalon said most of the recent tree plantings are Okame trees, which are the pink flowering trees pictured above. The Yoshino trees are the plants with white flowers.

Street Sweeping to Begin Next Monday

by Ethan Rothstein | April 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 578 views | No Comments

Street litterArlington County’s roads will be undergoing their own spring cleaning next week when the county conducts street sweeping.

Starting Monday, April 7, the county will move from neighborhood to neighborhood cleaning the streets in an effort that will continue until June. All cars parked on roads marked for street sweeping should be moved to a driveway, garage or street that won’t be swept on the days the neighborhood’s sweeping is scheduled to take place.

Here’s the schedule for the next two weeks. Sweeping will start again with the same rotation on May 5 and June 9:

  • April 7 – Arlington Forest, Barcroft, Buckingham Columbia Heights West, Forest Glen, Glencarlyn
  • April 8 — Claremont, Columbia Forest, Douglas Park, Fairlington
  • April 9 — Arlington East Falls Church, Williamsburg, Yorktown
  • April 10 — Arlingwood, Chain Bridge, Country Club Hills/Gulf Branch, Old Glebe, Rock Spring, Stafford Albemarle Glebe
  • April 11 — Bellevue Forest, Donaldson Run, Dover-Crystal, Maywood, North Highlands, Rivercrest, Riverwood, Woodmont
  • April 14 — Ballston-Virginia Square, Cherrydale, Cherry Valley Nature Area, Glebewood, Old Dominion, Waycroft-Woodlawn, Waverly Hills
  • April 15 – Clarendon-Courthouse, Colonial Village, Lyon Park, Lyon Village, North Rosslyn, Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights
  • April 16 — Alcova Heights, Arlington Heights, Arlington View, Ashton Heights, Foxcroft Heights, Penrose
  • April 17 — Aurora Highlands, Columbia Heights, Long Branch Creek, Nauck, Arlington Ridge/Forest Hills
  • April 18 — Highland Park/Overlee Knolls, John M. Langston, Leeway Overlee, Madison Manor, Tara-Leeway Heights, Westover Village
  • April 21 — Bluemont, Dominion Hills, Boulevard Manor

In the days between residential street sweeping, Arlington will perform street sweeping in commercial areas.

24-Year-Old Launches Meals-To-Go Shop

by Ethan Rothstein | April 2, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 4,430 views | No Comments

A 24-year-old Arlington native has opened a new kind of food shop in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.

Taste by Katie opened yesterday at 6017 Wilson Blvd, in the Dominion Hills Centre. The store focuses on reheatable meals to bring home to the family.

Chef Katie Gilman, who has operated Taste as a home-based catering and personal chef business since February 2013, has also worked as a banquet chef at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View hotel.

Taste will specialize in “seasonal ingredients and global flavors,” and will offer vegetarian and gluten-free options. Gilman is also offering catering for parties and business events, and offers “happy hour to go,” with selections of appetizers.

“Taste is meeting the needs of busy people who don’t have time to cook but appreciate sitting down to a gourmet meal once they get home,” Gilman said in a press release. “I’ll also work with customers to provide specialized meals that meet their needs.”

Taste offers 10 percent off meals that are pre-ordered online by 5:00 p.m. Fridays for the next week (Tuesday-Sunday). Meals can also be picked up at Taste’s storefront, which is open Tuesday-Friday from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and on weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.

DCA to Bring in New Restaurants, Retail

by Ethan Rothstein | April 1, 2014 at 5:30 pm | 1,280 views | No Comments

DCA Terminal A renovation rendering DCA Terminal A renovation rendering

(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) The list of new restaurants and retailers coming to Reagan National Airport continues to grow.

Taylor Gourmet&pizza, a politically themed restaurant named Grille District and a new Starbucks location are expected to open in Terminal B and C by the end of the year, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced this week. That’s in additional to the under-construction Ben’s Chili Bowl, Legal Seafoods, American Tap Room, Vineyard Vines, Pinkberry and Lacoste, which are expected to open within the next few months.

Along with the retail additions, Terminal A, which has been in the process of renovating, will complete its redesign by the spring of 2015, according to MWAA. The terminal will have a full-service spa, expanded security checkpoints, publicly accessible iPads and charging stations as well as yet-to-be-announced new retail and restaurant options.

The combined efforts go along with MWAA’s goal to either convert or reconstruct 95 percent of all restaurant and retail options at DCA and Dulles Airports.

Photos courtesy MWAA

McDonald’s in Rosslyn Closes

by Ethan Rothstein | April 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm | 2,093 views | No Comments

The McDonald’s restaurant at 1823 N. Moore Street has closed to make way for a new residential skyscraper.

The fast food restaurant posted a sign on its entrance on N. Lynn Street declaring Sunday as its last day. The standalone location, one of the shortest buildings in central Rosslyn, will soon be torn down as part of JBG Companies’ ongoing construction in the area, which has also claimed the skybridges over the Metro station.

The initial timeline of the McDonald’s closure indicated the restaurant wouldn’t be demolished until May. Unfortunately for local office and apartment dwellers, the timing of the closure coincided with McDonald’s two-week free coffee promotion.

The apartment building will have 25,000 square feet of ground floor retail, and McDonald’s sign stated it would be closed “indefinitely,” leaving open the possibility that Rosslyn won’t be without a McDonald’s permanently.

Moran Hosts Free Tax-Filing Info Session

by Ethan Rothstein | April 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm | No Comments

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) hosted an information briefing this morning on how low-income residents can file their taxes for free.

At the new Arlington Mill Community Center, Moran spoke briefly to a crowd of representatives from local nonprofits like Offender Aid and Restoration, AHC and from staffers at Arlington’s Department of Human Services, extolling the benefits of FreeFile, the free tax filing available to those who make $58,000 a year or less.

“The FreeFile program is a terrific example of how government and private businesses work together to help families take control of their finances,” Moran told the crowd of about 30. “Seventy percent of taxpayers in this country are eligible to file taxes for free.”

After Moran spoke, representatives from the IRS and the Intuit Tax Freedom Project walked those in attendance — at least two of whom wanted to electronically file their taxes on the spot — through the process. The talk was focused on not only saving low-income families money when filing, but making sure they understand potential refund money they’re entitled to.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit is the No. 1 poverty-fighting instrument in the world,” IRS Senior Tax Specialist Loren Johnson said.

Moran told ARLnow.com after his talk that despite the substantial average wealth of his constituents, he is still focused on making sure the financially struggling residents of the 8th Congressional District are as informed as possible two weeks before the April 15 filing deadline.

“We have thousands of people eligible for free filing who work hard, and they ought to be able to keep as much of their income as the law allows,” Moran said. “The representatives of the organizations here can now interpret what they learned to their constituents.”

$23 Million Arlington Mansion Featured on MTV Burglarized

by Ethan Rothstein | April 1, 2014 at 9:30 am | 7,182 views | No Comments

Early Monday morning, Rodney P. Hunt’s home was broken into.

This normally would not be considered a noteworthy event outside of Hunt’s family and friends — burglaries happen every day in Arlington and every minute around the country.

Hunt’s house, however, was third-priciest home in the D.C. area as of May 2012. Located on Chain Bridge Road near the border with McLean, the 23,000 square foot home has an indoor basketball court, two-lane bowling alley, 15-car garage and sits on a cliff over the Potomac River. It was featured in 2010 on MTV Teen Cribs with Hunt’s son, Bradley.

Hunt is the former president and CEO of RS Information Systems, which he said he sold for $1.2 billion. He woke up to the sound of shattered glass at 4:45 a.m. — several windows in his entryway were broken — and went downstairs to find a man in his foyer and a woman he recognized sitting in the passenger seat of a black Nissan Altima in his gated driveway.

“It was pretty scary,” Hunt said as he, a police officer, a detective and an ARLnow.com reporter walked through his Mediterranean-style mansion. “I ran after the guy thinking I was a police officer. I wish I had called Arlington police when it happened.”

Hunt would call the police just after noon on Monday. The woman in the car, he said, was an assistant he saw the day before. Her name is Stacy, but she went by “Princess,” and she had asked him for a paycheck two days early — a request he refused to grant. He wasn’t sure what, if anything, was stolen, but said it looked like the burglars got away with some crystal ware.

Wearing a red “Ride or Die” T-shirt, he took ARLnow.com on an impromtu tour of his expansive home — to the basketball court he built for his son, Bradley (who also raps as Kid Named Breezy); the bowling alley he built and named after his father who once bowled a perfect game; the special garage-within-a-garage where he keeps the Nissan Maxima his wife bought him before she was killed by a drunk driver in 1993.

He says the house has fireplaces that were once owned by John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill.

After it was featured on MTV, the house has gained notoriety for less positive reasons. It was scheduled to be sold at auction in September 2012 when the Washington Post reported Hunt owed Bank of America almost $10 million, but it was taken off the auction block after Hunt convinced the bank he could pay. It was back on the foreclosure market in early 2013, according to Washington Exec, but Hunt is still listed as the property’s owner, according to Arlington County’s property database.

Despite the coverage the home has received, Hunt said it’s the first time it has been broken into since he bought the property in 2003. Asked whether he was more surprised that the house was broken into, or whether it’s the first time it had been broken into, Hunt said it was an easy question.

“That it was broken into at all,” he said, launching into a description of the estate’s extensive security features.

The property has two gates, an elaborate security and alarm system — which Hunt said he forgot to turn on after returning late from watching basketball at a sports bar Sunday night — and has a steep hill entrance to the property.

“That’s just crazy,” he said of the boldness of the break-in.

Two-Story Snow Fort Reduced to Rubble

by ARLnow.com | March 31, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 1,712 views | No Comments

12-foot snow fort in Leeway-Overlee (photo courtesy Christina Grieg) Remains of the Leeway-Overlee snow fort

Old man winter is losing his grip on the area as spring-like temperatures have finally arrived.

Aside from the sunny, blue skies, the arrival of spring can perhaps best evident by looking at the remains of a formerly two-story snow fort.

The snow fort, built by a 19-year-old Leeway-Overlee resident, once stood 12 feet high. Now, it’s a small pile of “snow rubble,” surrounded by an area of brown grass about the size of the fort’s 11-foot-by-11-foot base.

Photo courtesy @StuNagurka

Mazagan on Columbia Pike Opening Soon

by Ethan Rothstein | March 31, 2014 at 10:00 am | 1,412 views | No Comments

Mazagan Restaurant on Columbia PikeMazagan, the Moroccan lounge and hookah bar being built next to the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, is expected to open within the next couple of weeks.

Chef/owner Riyad Bouizar said he’s hoping to open the business April 15, but after a long, drawn-out construction and licensing process, the opening could be delayed even further. Bouizar signed the lease for the space in August and was hoping to open in December or January.

For the first month, Mazagan will only be open for dinner and late night, Bouizar said, after which it will start selling lunch. During the week, the bar and hookah lounge will be open until 1:00 a.m., and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“This is something new to the neighborhood,” he said. “With the movie theater right next door it’s a chance for people to get a drink afterwards.”

The private hookah lounge, Bouizar said, will be a glass enclosure in the dining room. That way hookah smokers won’t feel like they are cut off from the rest of the patrons, but the non-smokers won’t have any secondhand smoke.

100 Montaditos Opening Monday With Free Sandwiches

by Ethan Rothstein | March 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 3,214 views | No Comments

100 Montaditos (photo via Rosslyn BID)Spanish mini-sandwich chain 100 Montaditos (1776 Wilson Blvd) is opening its first Arlington location on Monday (March 31) in Rosslyn.

In honor of the grand opening, customers on Monday will be treated to a free “montadito,” a spanish sandwich with ingredients like chorizo and serrano ham, and a drink. The montaditos typically cost between $1 and $3.

If customers can’t make it on Monday — or want to avoid the lines free food usually attracts — the restaurant is offering a buy two, get one free deal until April 6, according to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

In addition to the montaditos, the restaurant offers beer and sangria, with pitchers of the fruity wine drink and domestic beer offered for $8.

Photo via Rosslyn BID

McDonald’s Offering Free Coffee Starting Monday

by Ethan Rothstein | March 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 2,091 views | No Comments

New McDonald's at 5009 Wilson BlvdMcDonald’s restaurants in Arlington and the rest of the D.C. area will be offering free coffee during breakfast time to its customers starting Monday, March 31.

The promotion, which will run for two weeks, will include a “‘Make Friends with McCafé’ sampling events at high traffic locations and transportation hubs in multiple cities across the country. The events will provide busy commuters with free McCafé coffee and a few surprises along the way, such as live musical performances, spontaneous comedy experiences and more,” according to a McDonald’s press release.

“McDonald’s has long been part of the Greater Washington, DC community, and we wanted to show our appreciation by inviting guests to start their mornings with a complimentary cup of McCafé Coffee,” area McDonald’s owner and operator Nick Nerangis, Jr. said in the release.

The McDonald’s in Arlington are located at:

  • 1823 N. Moore Street
  • 4834 Lee Highway
  • 5009 Wilson Blvd
  • 40 N. Glebe Road
  • Ballston Common Mall (4238 Wilson Blvd) food court
  • 5005 Columbia Pike
  • 3013 Columbia Pike
  • Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (1100 S. Hayes Street) food court
  • 2620 Jefferson Davis Highway

Massive ‘Graffiti-Style’ Mural Coming to Crystal City

by Ethan Rothstein | March 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 1,253 views | No Comments

1851 S. Bell Street (photo via Google Maps)Crystal City will soon be home to Arlington’s largest mural.

The Crystal City Business Improvement District has commissioned a 215-foot-long, 2,500-square-foot mural to be painted on the Crystal Drive side of the vacant office building at 1851 S. Bell Street.

The “graffiti-style” mural will be painted by the No Kings Collective beginning April 1. According to Crystal City BID President Angela Fox, several artists will paint different parts of the mural during the times when the streets of Crystal City are busiest — during the work day, farmer’s markets, food truck Thursdays and 5K Fridays.

“It’ll just turn into a very vibrant wall like you’ll see in Miami’s Wynwood Art district,” Fox told ARLnow.com. “It’s colorful, it’s bright, it’s experiential. You’re going to watch the evolution of it going from a primed white to all sorts of colors.”

The painting process will take about three-to-four weeks, Fox said, and the mural could be continuously changing until the building is ultimately torn down, to be replaced with a 730,000-square-foot skyscraper.

Photo via Google Maps. Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

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