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by ARLnow.com — May 4, 2015 at 10:05 am 424 0

Police car lightsPolice are looking for a man who exposed himself to a girl in Maury Park, about three blocks from the Virginia Square Metro station, last week.

The incident happened just before 8:00 p.m. this past Thursday. The juvenile was playing tennis in the park, on the 700 block of N. Monroe Street, when the man exposed himself.

“The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his twenties, approximately 5’7″ and 190 lbs,” according to the Arlington County Police daily crime report. “He was wearing black athletic pants, a dark shirt and a black baseball hat.”

by ARLnow.com — May 4, 2015 at 9:10 am 631 0

Tulips at the Netherlands Carillon (Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen)

Downed Wires Close the Pike — Columbia Pike was closed in both directions between S. Greenbrier Street and S. Dinwiddie Street this morning due to a tree that brought down live wires. The road was expected to remain closed for several hours. [WTOP]

Planning Still Underway for Pike Transit — Columbia Pike residents are becoming impatient for Arlington County to complete the planning of new transit options for the corridor, following the cancellation of the streetcar project. However, a plan is not expected until 2016. County Board member John Vihstadt, who helped to scuttle the streetcar project, told a public forum last week that he wants the county to speed up its processes “but frankly I don’t know if we can.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Mill Project Wins Award — The Arlington Mill Community and Senior Center has won a 2015 Urban Land Institute Washington Trends Award for “Excellence in Housing Development.” [Arlington County]

Flickr pool by Brian Allen

by Ethan Rothstein — May 1, 2015 at 1:55 pm 2,195 0

The Maxwell Apartments, at the corner of N. Glebe and Carlin Springs RoadThe average apartment in Arlington was 5 percent cheaper in 2014 than in 2013, according to the county.

Last year, the average rent in Arlington was $1,834 per month, according to the Dept. of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

That’s a dropoff from $1,934 in 2013 and $1,999 in 2012. It’s the cheapest average apartment rent since 2011, when the price was $1,768 per month, according to county records.

The average rent has declined for two years in a row after consistent, steep increases. A decade ago, in 2005, the average rent in Arlington was $1,270 per month, and the average three-bedroom apartment cost $1,803. Today, the average three-bedroom costs $2,671.

This drop in average rent comes at the same time as soaring assessments for residential properties — the average assessment in the county went up 4.9 percent, with some areas increasing by an average of 11 percent year over year. That jump, concentrated in some of the poorest areas in the county, cost homeowners an additional $400 in tax bills this year compared to last.

The higher assessments also hit the apartment market — existing apartment assessments jumped by 4.7 percent in 2015, but it appears that price bump has not yet been passed on to apartment renters.

It’s unclear if the two-year decline in rents is a trend or a blip. Arlington’s rental vacancy rate is at 3.8 percent — its office vacancy is at 20.4 percent, by comparison — and there are currently 2,055 net new apartment units under construction in the Metro corridors, per planning staff. Some of those units — like the Central Place development in Rosslyn — won’t come online until after 2016.

Since 2000, Arlington has added more than 23,000 residential units in the Metro corridors, many of them upscale rental apartment buildings. Metro ridership continually increased over that time, until recently. From 2010 to 2014, Arlington lost several thousand weekday Metro riders in both of its Metro corridors.

So far, developers aren’t showing signs of being scared off. Arlington still projects its Rosslyn-Ballston and Jefferson Davis Highway corridors will add a combined 35,000 apartment units by 2040.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm 1,093 0

Former Army Cpl. Alvin HillFormer Army Cpl. Alvin Hill just renewed his lease on an apartment on 8th Road S. in Arlington, almost a year after he originally moved into his home.

For 20 years before that, Hill, who served in New Mexico, Italy and Nuremburg, Germany, was chronically homeless. He had lived on family’s couches and floors, and when he could no longer do that, he slept on the streets of D.C., in shelters in Alexandria and in 24-hour laundromats along Columbia Pike. There were nights he slept in Reagan National Airport, he said; anywhere with a roof and unlocked doors.

Last June, the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, after working with Hill for months getting his finances and documentation in order, found Hill an apartment, secured housing subsidies and provided support to make sure he sustained himself there.

“Housing is the key to ending homelessness,” A-SPAN Executive Director Kathy Sibert told ARLnow.com from her office yesterday. “A lot of the things people take for granted, but just getting up, getting a meal, having clean clothes, maintaining your hygiene, that can take an hour when you’re in a home. When you live on the streets, it could take all day.”

Now, Hill has a place to live and a place to take care of his infant son, who suffers from cerebral palsy and requires round-the-clock attention.

Hill’s plight was far from unique in Arlington and around the country. January’s point-in-time homeless count revealed there are 239 homeless individuals and family in the county, 19 of whom are veterans. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), 12 percent of all homeless people in the U.S. are veterans, about 50,000 total on any given night.

“You come out [of the military] and you’re lost,” Hill said. “In the Army, everyone did everything for you. You didn’t develop skills you need to make your own decisions.”

Homlessness becomes the new normal, he said. Waking up, finding the places that are giving out food, panhandling for money to buy drinks, and finding a safe sleeping spot; all of it becomes a routine that is increasingly difficult to break.

Kathy Sibert of A-SPAN“You can try to change, but for veterans will mental issues, it just takes one incident of something not happening for you, and you go right back into that mode,” he said. Even for homeless people with jobs, finding a place to live is not as easy as it sounds.

To get an apartment, you need valid ID, and proof of income. Hill, who had no need for a car and no place to store files, needed to get a valid ID. For that, he needed a birth certificate, another piece of documentation lost with his home. He needed to apply for a copy of the birth certificate and a copy of his social security cards. All of the ID applications cost money — money he did not have.

That, he said, is how he wound up on the streets for the better part of two decades. Once he relocated himself to Arlington, he immediately found A-SPAN, and the nonprofit immediately got to work finding him a home.

“Veterans don’t broadcast to each other ‘this is where you find the help you need,'” Hill said. “But when I came to Arlington, everyone knew A-SPAN.”

Last year, Arlington completed its successful 100 Homes campaign, housing more than 100 of its chronically homeless. It was part of a nationwide 100,000 homes campaign, which, when it concluded last June, wound up housing 108,000 people. Hill was honored with a ceremony in D.C. — he was the 100,000th person housed in the campaign.

(more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — April 30, 2015 at 5:00 pm 952 0

"The Pigeoning" (photo courtesy Artisphere)In precisely two months, Artisphere will end its five-year run, but it appears to be going out with a bang.

According to Artisphere Director of Marketing and Communications Barry Halvorson, most of Artisphere’s shows this spring have sold out. But then, he said, that’s not altogether a new phenomenon for the almost-five-year-old arts center.

“Over the last three years or so, we have really been hitting our stride,” Halvorson said. “We’re on track to come ahead slightly of last year. We’ve been performing to an average of 75 percent capacity. That’s above industry average.”

Despite the fact that Artisphere has consistently lost money every year of existence, Halvorson it’s been by all accounts a successful arts venture. He challenges the notion that the Artisphere is a $2.2-million-a-year sunk investment.

“You wouldn’t refer to the Kennedy Center as the ‘money-losing Kennedy Center’ when in fact it is the money-losing Kennedy Center,” Halvorson said. “Every arts organization in town is a money-losing venture… It’s almost a minor miracle that we’ve been able to really run it as well as we’ve been running it.”

Acting Artisphere Director Josh Stoltzfus said the venue has been able to achieve that by targeting international musicians and artists, catering to the D.C. area’s global diversity of heritage.

“In a lot of ways, international music has had a very strong track record in this market,” he said. “The larger Metro area, we have people from all over the world that live and work in this area, people either from all those countries or who were stationed there. We’re trying to reflect the community we serve.”

Artisphere has hosted acts like a controversial Ugandan play, Yiddish punk music, an eight-hour endurance performance and more than 100 belly-dancers. Its 62,000-square-foot space has caused sky-high utilities bills, but the unique venue has allowed performance-goers to see art installations before taking in the eclectic, international performers.

“We’ve really tried to become sort of the go-to presenter of international music in this market,” Halvorson said. “We’ve been largely successful in doing that.”

In the final two months, the venue’s remaining staff is not planning a big grand finale, but rather they will continue to put on shows most weeks; Halvorson said May will one of the busiest months they’ve ever had. Next Saturday, they will be screening a “live documentary” called the Measure of All Things in the Dome Theatre.

That documentary will be cued up and narrated on stage by its Academy Award-Nominated Director Sam Green, and will be accompanied by a live band. The documentary will focus on the lives of people in the Guinness Book of World Records, like the world’s tallest man and the world’s longest hair.

“That’s a great example of programs that is sort of representative of what Artisphere presents,” Halvorson said. “It’s difficult to describe and boil down, but that’s what we’re doing.”

Linda Hesh, the artist who installed a piece of art when Artisphere opened, called “Art Every Day” will return for another installation this spring that will take pieces of art tied to the venue and spread them across the community. After that, the doors will lock and the county will decide what comes next for the space.

“While it’s true that they physical building is closing,” Stoltzfus said, “the ideas that Artisphere has put forth in the community will last for the years to come.”

File photo courtesy Artisphere

by Ethan Rothstein — April 30, 2015 at 3:45 pm 4,924 0

Police car lightsDrivers, beware: the Arlington County Police Department is conducting a sobriety checkpoint somewhere in the county tomorrow night.

ACPD will team with the Virginia State Police, Fairfax County police and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office to conduct the checkpoint.

Wherever it is, every driver will have his or her license checked and will be asked to take sobriety tests if the officers suspect alcohol consumption.

From the police press release:

On Friday, May 1, 2015 the Arlington County Police Department will conduct a joint sobriety checkpoint with assistance from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, and the Fairfax County Police Department across two jurisdictions.  These enforcement efforts are in support of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National crackdown program on drunk driving that focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.

Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers.  Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation and possible testing for intoxication.

The maximum penalty in Virginia for the first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.

by ARLnow.com — April 30, 2015 at 9:05 am 1,950 0

On approach to Reagan National Airport (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Elementary Student Fascinated by Fallout Shelters — Nathan Eberhart, a McKinley Elementary student, has been trying to unravel the mysteries of school fallout shelters for his school’s student newspaper. Eberhart thinks the Cold War relics could be better put to use nowadays “as a community-activities storage area for things like Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, recreational sports and enrichments.” [InsideNova]

Protest Planned in Rosslyn — The Mayday Project will be protesting outside the Infectious Diseases Society of America headquarters in Rosslyn today and tomorrow. The organization wants Lyme disease recognized as a chronic illness. The protest will be held from about 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the 1300 block of Wilson Blvd. [Twitter]

Four Mile Run Cleaning Planned — Starting in a few days, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria will begin a joint project to remove excess vegetation from the Four Mile Run flood control channel, which extends from I-395 to the Potomac River. “Residents will see crews working in or near Four Mile Run, removing trees, shrubs, and other vegetation growing in the channel,” the county noted in a press release. [Arlington County]

Washington Blvd Lane Closure — A northbound lane closure on the Washington Blvd bridge over Route 110 was put in place overnight, according to VDOT. A southbound lane closure, similarly reducing the number of lanes on the bridge from three to two, is expected to be put in place next week. The lane closures were originally planned for this past Monday.

Another County Board Straw PollAnother straw poll in the race for the Democratic County Board nomination was held last night at Del. Alfonso Lopez’s campaign kick-off event at the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. The reported results were: Christian Dorsey 27%, Peter Fallon 23%, Katie Cristol 22%, James Lander 15%, Andrew Schneider 12%, Bruce Wiljanen 1%.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com — April 29, 2015 at 4:45 pm 3,770 0

(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) Arlington County Firefighters are on the scene of a two-alarm house fire near Ballston.

Smoke and fire was showing from the second floor and roof of a home near the intersection of 15th Street N. and N. Abingdon Street, in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood, according to firefighters on the scene. A second alarm has been called.

The flames have since been extinguished and crews are checking for additional hotspots.

Firefighters have also reported that a dog was rescued from the house. Witnesses said the owner also owned two cats, but firefighters on scene said they could not confirm whether cats were inside.

The fire broke out right as neighborhood children returned home from school. While several fire trucks, engines and emergency vehicles were parked on the narrow street, children were running around the scene, albeit out of harm’s way.

No other residents were believed to be in the house.

Video (above) courtesy Allan Yankosky/1411 Media, Inc.

by ARLnow.com — April 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm 3,972 0

Police car lightsA man was carjacked, Grand Theft Auto-style, near Shirlington Monday morning.

The incident happened on the 4100 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive around 8:30 a.m. Police say a man opened the driver’s side door of a car, pulled the driver out of the car and drove off.

“The suspect is described as a black male with a dark complexion, approximately 35 – 40 years old, approximately 5’8″ to 5’10”, wearing a black baseball cap, blue jeans, gray hoodie, black jacket and tan Timberland boots,” Arlington County police said in the department’s daily crime report. “The investigation is ongoing.”

by Ethan Rothstein — April 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm 2,088 0

A school group at the Iwo Jima memorial

One of D.C.’s most prominent philanthropists has turned his eyes — and his wallet — to Rosslyn’s U.S Marine Corps War Memorial.

The Iwo Jima memorial is in line to receive a $5.37 million donation from David Rubenstein, who just last year gave $12.35 million to the Arlington House Robert E. Lee museum in Arlington National Cemetery. Rubenstein co-founded the private equity firm The Carlyle Group and has also used some of his billions of dollars to fund the Washington Monument’s post-earthquake repairs and enrich the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ endowment.

Today, the National Parks Service announced that Rubenstein’s gift will go to “re-gild the engravings on the sculpture’s pedestal, wax the sculpture, and improve lighting, landscaping, and infrastructure.” The NPS will also improve the signage and educational materials on the memorial, sandwiched between the Netherlands Carillon, N. Meade Street, Route 50 and Route 110.

“It is a privilege to honor our fellow Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice to attain and preserve the freedoms we enjoy,” Rubenstein said in a press release. “I hope this gift enables visitors to the Iwo Jima Memorial to better appreciate the beauty and significance of this iconic sculpture, and inspires other Americans to support critical needs facing our national park system.”

The memorial was dedicated Nov. 10, 1954, by then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Since then, it has attracted millions in visitors. According to Arlington Economic Development, it attracted 1.4 million visitors in 2007.

“The Marine Corps War Memorial stands as a symbol of this grateful Nation’s esteem for the honored dead of the U.S. Marine Corps,” Marines Major General Michael R. Regner said in the release. “We are grateful for Mr. Rubenstein’s patriotism and generous donation to the National Park Foundation that will ensure this significant memorial continues to honor our fallen and inform public understanding of the cost and nature of their nation’s expeditionary force in readiness.”

by ARLnow.com — April 29, 2015 at 8:35 am 1,546 0

"Restaurant space available" sign in Rosslyn

Water Main Repairs Continue — Emergency water main repairs that started last night are continuing on Washington Blvd at N. Kensington Street. Drivers should expect traffic impacts, particularly during the morning rush hour. [Twitter]

Beyer Blasts Proposed Metro Cut — A U.S. House committee has released a plan to cut federal funding of Metro for maintenance and safety upgrades in half next year. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) blasted the plan, calling it “shortsighted” and saying it will “jeopardize rider safety [and] derail improvements to the system.” [NBC Washington]

Cherrydale Tea Shop Owner Profiled — Lyndsey DePalma, owner of House of Steep, is doing what she loves in running the Cherrydale tea shop. Despite the store exceeding financial expectations, however, DePalma is still “earning far less” than she did in her previous job as a human resources manager for PricewaterhouseCoopers. [Career 2.0]

County Manager Won’t Be Hired Until 2016 — The permanent successor for retiring Arlington County Board member Barbara Donnellan won’t be selected until 2016. The decision was made so that the two new, yet-to-be-elected County Board members replacing Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes have a chance to weigh in. In the meantime, Deputy County Manager Mark Schwartz will serve as acting County Manager after Donnellan retires on June 30. [InsideNova]

Rothstein to Bisnow — ARLnow reporter Ethan Rothstein will be leaving the site to report on commercial real estate for Bisnow. Rothstein’s last day is May 15. [Washingtonian]

Endorsements in School Board RaceUpdated at 9:10 a.m. — School Board candidate Sharon Dorsey has picked up endorsements from Clerk of the Circuit Court Paul Ferguson, outgoing School Board member Abby Raphael and former School Board member Noah Simon. “Sharon Dorsey’s business and technology background along with her knowledge of education issues make her the right choice,” Ferguson said in a statement. Dorsey’s opponent in the race for the Democratic School Board endorsement, Reid Goldstein, has been endorsed by School Board member Nancy Van Doren, former state Senator Mary Margaret Whipple and County Board member Jay Fisette, among others.

by ARLnow.com — April 28, 2015 at 11:25 am 5,959 0

Red, Hot & Blue in RosslynThe partners behind A-Town Bar and Grill and Don Tito are planning to open a new restaurant and bar in Rosslyn later this year.

“Barley Mac” is expected to open in the former Red, Hot & Blue space at 1600 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn by December, co-owner Scott Parker told ARLnow.com Monday. It’s described as a “high-end tavern” that will serve Italian-American fusion cuisine and have a beverage program that emphasizes beer and bourbon.

Barley Mac will target a slightly older customer base than A-Town or Don Tito and will be the partners’ “most restaurant-centric, food-driven” establishment yet, according to Parker.

Parker said he and his partners decided to open Barley Mac because they see Rosslyn as lacking places to eat and have a few drinks after work.

“There’s a market in Rosslyn that’s being underserved served right now,” Parker said. One only needs to look at the crowds at the one-year-old Heavy Seas Alehouse, he said, to see that Rosslyn workers and residents are looking for more places at which to hang out.

“They’re doing tremendous business right now,” Parker said of Heavy Seas. And despite the new competition, Parker observed, local stalwarts like Cafe Asia are continuing to do well.

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Parker — especially considering the success of the partners’ other Arlington ventures.

At 5,000 square feet, Barley Mac will be slightly smaller than A-Town and about half the size of Don Tito and its three floors. (Don Tito, which opened last month, is far exceeding expectations, Parker noted, while A-Town “continues to do much better than we ever expected.”)

Whereas Don Tito was a “flip” that required relatively simple interior changes, Barley Mac will be “built from scratch” and will thus require months of renovations. The owners are hoping to open as soon as mid-November, though December may be a more likely target.

by ARLnow.com — April 28, 2015 at 10:05 am 4,074 0

Police car (file photo)A man was bleeding from the head and another lost a tooth after a large fight erupted outside Bronx Pizza in Clarendon over the weekend.

The brawl started around 1:45 a.m. early Sunday morning, in front of 3100 Clarendon Blvd. Police say one of the victims was just trying to stop the violence.

“A male victim sustained a laceration to the head and a second victim sustained a broken tooth when he tried to break the fight up,” according to the Arlington County crime report. “The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’9″ to 6’2″, wearing blue jeans and a white button down shirt. He fled prior to police arrival.”

File photo

by ARLnow.com — April 28, 2015 at 9:05 am 2,052 0

Flower along the W&OD Trail (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

More Details in Aurora Highlands Slaying — Investigators have sent hairs found in the hands of murder victim Bonnie Black to a lab for DNA testing. Police have also thoroughly searched the house of Black’s estranged husband, confiscating items like a Swiss Army knife, computers and a hair brush. [Washington Post]

DCA Terminal Proposal Unveiled — Officials have unveiled a $800 million plan to build a new commuter aircraft terminal at Reagan National Airport. The terminal would be built to the north of the existing terminals, replacing a headquarters building and a hangar. Currently, 5,000 commuter jet passengers a day use a single gate and are bussed to their planes. [InsideNova]

Silver Line Phase 2 Delayed — The second phase of Metro’s Silver Line is delayed by just over a year, officials announced Monday. The Silver Line is now not expected to reach Dulles Airport until late 2019 or 2020. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is building the Silver Line, blames project changes intended to enhance safety. [NBC Washington]

Ballston Tech Firm Acquired — Ballston-based Applied Predictive Technologies has been bought by MasterCard for $600 million. The company “uses cloud-based analytics to help clients measure marketing, merchandising and operations efforts.” [Bloomberg]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Ethan Rothstein — April 27, 2015 at 5:00 pm 5,680 0

The Food Star at Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive (photo via Google Maps)(Updated Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.) The Food Star grocery store and strip mall at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive is being eyed for redevelopment.

The proposed building, from developer Orr Partners, would be six stories of mixed-use development — five stories of apartments and ground floor retail. The property would have to redevelop under the Columbia Pike Commercial Form-Based Code, which calls for mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly buildings.

Orr Partners Chairman David Orr said he expects the building to have about 350 market-rate apartments, and for a grocery store and other community-oriented retail —  maybe a fast-casual restaurant or two — to occupy the ground floor. He expects to submit a form-based code application in June.

“It’s going to be really great, we’re really excited,” Orr said. His Reston-based company has already built the FDIC headquarters in Ballston and Boeing’s former headquarters in Rosslyn. “We love Arlington, and we love doing business in Arlington.”

In addition to the retail and apartments, the developer plans to include underground parking and to build a public plaza where the large surface lot is now. The plaza, Orr said, would be roughly the same size as the ones at Arlington Mill Community Center and Penrose Square.

“We believe that public plaza has an opportunity to be a wonderful game changer for Columbia Pike because of its visibility and location,” he said. “Certainly the Penrose Square plaza was wonderfully done, but we think we can take it up another notch.”

Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization Executive Director Takis Karantonis is familiar with the plans, and he said the area — one of the major intersections on the Pike — is ripe for a project like this.

The massing of the planned redevelopment of the Food Star grocery store on Columbia Pike (image via CPHD)“This is a truly important intersection of the Pike and we are very interested in seeing that happen,” he told ARLnow.com this afternoon. “On the other side, we love the Food Star, it has been a staple on the Pike for a very long time. It serves three or four neighborhoods, and it will be a tough transition through the construction phase not to have a grocery store there.”

Karantonis said he would like to see the Food Star come back in the ground floor of the new building, or something similar: an affordable grocery store with a focus on ethnic foods.

The proposal is in its nascent stages, according to Urban Planner Matt Mattauszek with the county’s department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. So far, it is just a draft concept and Orr Partners is beginning to have meetings with the Form-Based Code Advisory Working Group. No official plans or proposals have been submitted to the county.

So far, the only clue as to what the development will look like is a rendering of the building’s general shape and size, submitted to CPHD, that shows a building with frontages along both George Mason Drive and the Pike. Orr said his company has retained KGD Architecture, which designed the Arlington Mill residences on Columbia Pike.

Photo, top, via Google Maps. Image, bottom, courtesy CPHD

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