Holiday Closures in Arlington — Arlington County government offices and courts will be closed Friday in observance of the Independence Day holiday. [Arlington County]
Police Seek Witnesses to Fatal Crash — Arlington County Police have officially identified the victim of a fatal pedestrian crash on Route 50 early Saturday morning. Christopher Barton, 36, was killed after being struck by “at least two vehicles.” Investigators say they are seeking witnesses to the accident. [Arlington County]
Mark Schwartz Takes the Reins — Following the retirement of Barbara Donnellan, Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz is now serving as acting county manager. In a memo to county employees, Schwartz said: “We need an all-hands-on-deck effort to bring down our historically high office vacancy rate, and to fill the empty offices of Crystal City and Rosslyn with new, vibrant businesses. Our commercial base is crucial to Arlington’s tax base, to its ability to provide high-quality services, programs and schools to our residents, and to our success.” [Arlington County]
‘Inside Edition’ Filming in Crystal City — The television show Inside Edition is scheduled to film a segment in Crystal City today. The program will be profiling Kristin Beck, a transgender former Navy SEAL who’s challenging Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in next year’s primary election. The interview is being held at the Crystal City-based 296 Project, an art-based veteran service organization.
Fourth of July, USWNT Watch Parties — Mad Rose Tavern, among other local bars and restaurants, will be hosting viewings of the Fourth of July fireworks and the U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup championship match this weekend. On Saturday those who would rather watch the fireworks on TV can do so at Mad Rose, followed by a DJ set. On Sunday the bar will be holding a viewing party for the U.S. vs. Japan World Cup final.
Flickr pool photo by David Bender
Arlington County is warning people and their pets to avoid the waters of Four Mile Run below S. Walter Reed Drive, for now.
An unknown petroleum product was discovered in the stream this morning, just before 11 a.m. The Arlington County Fire Department’s hazardous materials team used booms to try to contain the spill, while firefighters and the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services investigated the source.
The size of the spill has not been determined and authorities are warning against making contact with the contaminated water, particularly at the nearby Shirlington dog park.
“The public is advised to stay away from the affected water and to keep pets away until further notice, to eliminate the risk of exposure to petroleum products in the stream,” the county said in a press release. “People should not fish in the stream or have any contact with the water – including wading or swimming – until further notice from the County. The advisory to avoid all contact is considered an extra precaution to allow the effect of the discharge to be diminished by natural flushing of the streams.”
The fire department, meanwhile, has been tweeting about the incident.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 1, 2015
@MrAndersonELA product was coming from a culvert draining into the creek. Probably originated from being dumped or washed into a manhole.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 1, 2015
Update- Although contained, residual product is still in creek. Dogs and their owners should avoid being in the creek until further notice.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 1, 2015
Update: Product is contained. 1 source identified. Investigation for additional sources continues. County will issue press release shortly.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) July 1, 2015
Photo courtesy ACFD
Whole Foods Eying Ballston Development? — Whole Foods is reportedly considering leasing a 43,000 square foot retail space in a new 12-story, 431-unit apartment building that’s set to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd in Ballston. The organic grocer is said to be “in advanced talks” to fill the space and is “very bullish” on Ballston in general. [Bisnow]
Car Drives Off I-66, Into Woods — A car drove off the eastbound lanes of I-66 and into the woods yesterday afternoon. Nobody was hurt in the accident, which happened between the Monroe Street bridge and Spout Run. [Twitter]
More Opposition to Fire Station Move — Residents of the Old Dominion community aren’t the only ones opposed to a proposal to move Fire Station 8 to the neighborhood. Some residents of the Hall’s Hill/High View Park community, where the fire station is located, say that it is a “hub of the neighborhood” and should stay put. Fire Station 8 has some historic distinction, as the first African-American-run firehouse south of the Mason-Dixon Line. [Falls Church News-Press]
Metro Proposes Blue Line Boost — The good news: Metro is proposing changes to its rush hour service that would have trains on the overcrowded Blue Line run every eight minutes instead of every 12 minutes. The bad news: the proposal would increase the headway between trains on the Orange, Silver, Green and Yellow Lines, from six minutes to eight minutes. [Greater Greater Washington, WAMU]
Arlington Startup Raises $21 Million — Ballston-based Distil Networks, a cybersecurity startup founded in 2011, has raised $21 million in a “Series B” venture round. The company is planning to add 100 new employees over the next 12 months. It has offices in Arlington, San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C., and has plans to open another office somewhere in Northern Virginia. [DC Inno, Tech Crunch]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The storm, which hit just before 1:00 a.m., packed frequent, strobe-like lightning, high sustained winds and very heavy rain.
Several trees were reported down around Arlington, including one blocking Washington Blvd at 2nd Street N. Dominion reported 3,144 customers in Arlington County without power as of 1:30 a.m.
Today is Donnellan’s last day as the top executive in Arlington County government, before her retirement, which was announced in March.
Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz will serve as acting county manager while the county continues to conduct a nationwide search for Donnellan’s permanent replacement.
Donnellan sent the following goodbye memo to county staff this afternoon, after spending much of the morning walking around county government headquarters and saying goodbye to staffers in person.
Friends: I could not leave today without thanking you all for your hard work and your many contributions that have helped make Arlington a great community.
How quickly thirty-one-and-a-half years have flown by. It has been an amazing ride. Together, we have accomplished so much. For me, the most satisfying aspect of this job has been the opportunity to come to work each day and interact with such a talented group of people. But all great things must come to an end.
Tomorrow, I start a new chapter, and I’m looking forward to exploring new opportunities. Under Mark Schwartz’s able leadership, I know that you will continue to do great things.
Again, thank you for everything. It has been such a privilege.
All the best,
Also bidding adieu is Artisphere, which is set to permanently close its doors after today.
The staff of the cultural center in Rosslyn sounded a proud, defiant note in a goodbye message sent to its email list this afternoon. That note is below, after the jump.
The incident happened at about 1:24 a.m., on Route 50 at the intersection with Montague Street.
Police say the man was trying to cross Route 50 when he was struck by an eastbound vehicle. He was thrown into the westbound lanes, where he was again struck by a second vehicle.
The first responding police officers arrived on scene and determined that the man was dead. Route 50 was shut down for several hours while police investigated the incident.
Charges are not expected to be filed against the drivers. The man has yet to be identified, but police say he was a white male and believed to be in his 30s.
Historic Affairs Board: Preserve Stratford — Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board has voted unanimously to recommend designating Stratford Junior High School, the current home of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program, a local historic district. The School Board will now decide whether or not to go along with the historic designation, which could delay plans to build a new middle school on the site by 2019. [InsideNova]
Three Arrests at Bar Crawl — There were only three arrests made at the All-American Bar Crawl in Clarendon on Saturday. Arlington County police were out in force, keeping the peace among the thousands of revelers who participated in the rain-drenched event, which the department again live-tweeted. Among the arrests were one for being drunk in public and another for failure to pay, according to a police spokesman. [Twitter]
Man With Knife Arrested at McDonald’s — A man was arrested at the McDonald’s on the 3000 block of Columbia Pike on Saturday afternoon. Police responded to the restaurant for a report of a fight in progress and encountered a man who was brandishing a knife. The suspect was arrested but was acting disorderly and spitting on officers while in custody, according to a police spokesman. It was later determined that the man was wanted for a probation violation in Loudoun County.
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The 5-4 ruling was almost immediately decried by the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, but others in the county have enthusiastically endorsed the landmark decision.
Board member Jay Fisette, who in 1997 became the first openly gay elected official in Virginia, said he was overjoyed by today’s ruling.
“I had absolutely no idea that this day would come in my lifetime — let alone while I was still in office,” said Fisette. “The Court’s action validates the lives of millions of Americans, reinforces the value of equality to our nation, and puts us in step with the civilized free nations on the planet.”
Board member Libby Garvey echoed Fisette’s excitement about the Supreme Court decision, telling ARLnow that she was delighted by the news and had “been exchanging happy texts this morning with my sister and her wife and other family.”
In a statement today, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring called the vote “an extraordinary moment in our nation’s recognition that Americans cannot and will not be denied dignity, rights, and responsibilities, including those of marriage, simply because of who they love.”
“I am proud we put Virginia on the right side of history on this issue,” Herring said, referencing the fact that gay marriage has been legal in Virginia since 2014. Herring held a press conference about marriage equality outside the Arlington County courthouse this afternoon.
Don Beyer, member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Virginia’s 8th district, also issued a statement this morning in which he applauded the Supreme Court and called the nationwide guarantee of marriage equality a “watershed moment in American history.”
“Gay rights are human rights and today we have ensured that all Americans, regardless of their sexuality, have the right to share the rest of their lives with the person they love,” said Beyer. “I could not be prouder to stand with my LGBTQ constituents and celebrate this incredible moment.”
Several of the area’s gay pride groups have upcoming events where residents can celebrate. The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance is hosting a Pride Month Social this Sunday evening from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar & Restaurant (555 23rd St S.), and NOVA Pride has a SCOTUS Ruling Happy Hour scheduled for Monday night at A-Town Bar & Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive) from 5-10 p.m.
Arlington officials cautioned that this ruling only deals with one aspect of discrimination against the LGBTQ community, however. According to Fisette, the next big LGBTQ issue facing the nation is employment discrimination, and though some local governments — like Arlington’s — prohibit hiring discrimination on the basis of sexual identity, many still don’t.
“In most states, including Virginia, it is legal to fire someone simply because they are gay,” said Fisette.
Delegate Patrick A. Hope of the Virginia General Assembly agreed with Fisette, saying “Tomorrow, we must continue our efforts to end LGBT discrimination in other areas, such as in workplace, with the goal to treat every American fairly and equally.”
Bishop Paul Loverde, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, has issued a statement opposing today’s 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court to legalize marriage in all fifty states.
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington represents most of northern Virginia in the Catholic Church. Loverde released his statement along with Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Richmond diocese.
The full statement is below:
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to two persons of the same sex, and requires a state to recognize as marriage the union of two people of the same sex when it was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. We are deeply distressed by this decision which fails to uphold marriage as the union which unites one man and one woman. This fundamental institution, grounded in natural law, predates any religion or nation.
All persons have inviolable dignity and deserve love and respect. Unjust discrimination is always wrong. However, our commitment to marriage is a matter of justice and fidelity to our Creator’s original design. Marriage is the only institution uniting one man and one woman with each other and with any child who comes from their union. Redefining marriage furthers no one’s rights, least of all those of children.
As Bishops, we believe it is more vital than ever that we share the Church’s consistent witness to the truth about marriage, and we call on Catholics and those concerned for the common good to continue to pray, live and speak out with charity about the true nature of marriage. The truth cannot be marginalized.
We will join with our brother bishops from across the country when we shortly share an additional statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will provide further analysis.
County Touts Smart Growth 2.0 — In Mary Hynes’ recent State of the County speech, and now in a press release, Arlington officials are suggesting that the era of big economic gains from smart growth is over, and a new path forward is necessary. “This is a moment unlike many… it maybe will be comparable in some ways to what happened on September 11 (2001), in terms of being a fundamental questioning of ourselves and a stepping into the space,” Hynes said in the speech. [Arlington County]
Arlington Startup Raises $4.7 Million — Brazen, an Arlington-based startup formerly known as Brazen Careerist, has raised $4.7 million in new venture funding. The company offers an “enterprise-focused chat platform” that “combines event hosting with speed dating.” [Washington Business Journal]
Cinnabon Coming to Pentagon City Mall — A Cinnabon location is coming to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City this fall. The cinnamon roll seller will be located on the third level of the mall, near Macy’s. On Thursday the Fashion Centre also announced that restaurants Charley’s Grilled Subs and Which Wich will be coming to its food court later this summer.
Hynes Hoping to Strike Hospital Land Deal — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said she hopes to strike a deal to trade or sell county land to Virginia Hospital Center by the end of the year. The hospital is interested in acquiring soon-to-be-unused county land next to its campus, in exchange for cash or for hospital-owned land elsewhere. [InsideNova]
Nearly 1,100 new apartment units could be coming to Pentagon City as part of a major planned development of the 37-acre RiverHouse apartment complex.
RiverHouse owner Vornado presented the initial development plans to largely skeptical members of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association last night.
The plans call for 934 new market rate apartment units, to be added to the existing 1,670 units on the site across three buildings, which date back to the 1950s and 60s. Vornado is also proposing a 150 unit, stand-alone affordable apartment building, to be developed with a nonprofit affordable housing partner.
The new market rate units will be built across three buildings, each about seven stories tall — half the height of the existing buildings — to preserve the views of condominium residents on Arlington Ridge.
The first two buildings are to be built on what is currently a surface parking lot across from the Pentagon Row courtyard. Between the buildings will run a pedestrian corridor that leads up to the ridge, with 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.
The surface parking will be replaced with a large underground garage. RiverHouse aims to reduce its overall parking ratio from just over one spot per unit to 0.85 spots per unit, as currently only about 70 percent of its parking spots are filled at night. With a total of 2,754 units, RiverHouse would have 2,340 parking space.
The third building will be built on what is now a pool and detached fitness center behind two of the buildings. In place of the current amenities, the new building would have a larger, improved fitness center plus a large, new outdoor pool, for use by residents of all three buildings.
Grace Hopper Park, located on the RiverHouse grounds, would remain untouched. Beside it, in front of the southernmost RiverHouse building on S. Joyce Street and across from county softball fields, Vornado is proposing the 150-unit building, affordable for those making up to 60 percent of area median income.
Labor Protests in Rosslyn — Two labor unions, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Union Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, held separate protests near the Central Place development in Rosslyn yesterday. The unions were protesting the use of non-union labor, and used an inflatable rat and an inflatable “fat cat” to underscore their complaints. [Twitter, Twitter]
Boundary Channel Bike Path Plans — Conceptual plans for a new bike trail from Long Bridge Drive to the Mount Vernon Trail have been revealed. The trail is set to be built as part of the reconfiguration of the I-395 and Boundary Channel Drive interchange. [The Wash Cycle]
The Life and Times of Preston Caruthers — A brief biography of Preston Caruthers, the Arlington developer who built Dominion Towers, among others, and who at 88 still shows up daily at his Ballston office of his firm, Caruthers Properties LLC. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Airamangel
The neon light sculpture which has graced the facade of the Arlington Arts Center’s historic Maury building for the past 10 years will be moving on this summer.
The piece is moving across the river to the Anacostia Arts Center. Kraft’s studio is located in Anacostia.
“I’ve been proud for the piece to call AAC home for the last 10 years,” Kraft said. “Following refurbishment and conservation in my studio, the piece will be re-installed at the Anacostia Arts Center where it will be a part of Anacostia’s renaissance for years to come.”
Arlington Arts Center said in an email that they are “thrilled that the piece will live on in the region.” Once it’s gone, AAC plans to use its portico space and grounds to feature the works of other artists, including an artist who’s part of the center’s new PLAY: Tinker, Tech & Toy exhibition, which starts next month.
“AAC will also be working with Arlington Public Art to select and install a longer-term sculpture to be sited on the portico in 2016,” the center said.
Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes told the Arlington Chamber of Commerce today that the cancellation of Arlington’s streetcar project was the toughest decision she made during 20 years in office — and she’s still not sure of the long-term consequences.
Hynes, who’s retiring at the end of the year, made the remarks during a question-and-answer session following her “State of the County” address.
“The hardest decision I had to make not just on the County Board but in 20 years of elected office was to discontinue the streetcar,” said Hynes, who previously served on the School Board for 12 years.
“The reasons had to do with my belief and care for the community overall,” Hynes explained. Given the strong opposition to the streetcar, “I really didn’t believe there was enough bandwidth in our community to address these other pressing needs. Everything was being evaluated under this streetcar lens, not on its own merits. I was worried that we were going to miss other things that needed to be attended to if we continued to keep it alive.”
Hynes still suggested that the streetcar was a sound plan to improve transportation on Columbia Pike.
“Let me just say for myself personally, if the plan that the Board adopted for Columbia Pike continues to build out, I don’t have a whisper of a doubt that bus service will be insufficient in the long run,” Hynes said. “But our community wasn’t there, our community didn’t understand it, and it was just coloring the conversation to an extent where we couldn’t move forward.”
Hynes said her second-toughest decision was on the 2012 update to the county’s sign ordinance. The Board was considering more restrictive measures, including a ban on roofline signs on office buildings that was supported by Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman. Ultimately, Hynes sided with Board members Jay Fisette and Libby Garvey, plus county staff and the business community, in arguing that banning such signs would discourage businesses from locating in Arlington.
“I was the swing vote,” she recounted. “I thought my job was to find the compromise.”
During the speech, Hynes said Arlington is unlikely to experience the rapid economic growth of the early- and mid-aughts again, at least any time soon, due to economic pressures from federal government belt-tightening to regional competition with Fairfax County and the District.
“The reality is that those incredible ups that Arlington experienced will not be coming again,” she said.
Hynes encouraged the business community and the next generation of Arlington leaders — she and Tejada are both retiring from the Board at the end of the year — to continue to honor Arlington’s values of diversity and inclusiveness, make long-term investments in infrastructure like Metro, and build consensus for decisions through robust community processes involving residents and other stakeholders.
“I challenge each of you to be part of the solution,” she said. “I look forward to watching it on TV.”
Graduation Live Streaming Nixed — Arlington Public Schools canceled internet live streaming of its high school graduation ceremonies this year due to budget cuts. Graduation ceremonies has been streamed online for the past two years. [InsideNova]
Police Foot Chase in Pentagon City — Last night, after the Pentagon City mall was evacuated due to a power outage, mall security spotted two men lingering and entering closed stores. Police were given a lookout and one of the alleged suspects was spotted outside the mall. A foot chase ensured and the man was apprehended behind nearby Pentagon Row. No word yet on any changes.
Economic Chief Has a Plan For Arlington — New Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins says he has a plan for economic growth in the county that will reduce the county’s office vacancy rate from the current 21 percent to 10 percent over the next six years. The plan includes “a mix of much more aggressive marketing efforts, incentives and other government aid, and the help of ‘frenemies’ in competing local governments such as the District and Alexandria.” [Washington Business Journal]
A-Town Plans ‘Sunday Funday’ Summer Kickoff — “Ballston’s rowdiest bar,” A-Town Bar and Grill, will be kicking off its summer “Sunday Fundays” this weekend with “squirt guns, beach balls, popsicles, barbecue, water balloons” and multiple DJs. [Clarendon Nights]