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by Ethan Rothstein — April 22, 2015 at 11:45 am 1,258 0

Artisphere signThe Arlington County Board officially canceled the Artisphere project last night, making June 30 the grand finale for Rosslyn’s critically acclaimed but money-losing arts and cultural center.

June 30 is also the deadline the County Board has set for staff to return with a recommendation for next steps for the space, coinciding with the end of Fiscal Year 2015 and the last performances at Artisphere.

Arlington’s lease for the 62,000-square-foot space ends in April 2023, according to Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten, but the County Board could elect to cancel its agreement with owner Monday Properties and hand them back the unique space.

No formal proposals for the center have come forward, but Mitten said the county has had “lots of informal conversations” with outside parties. The cancellation of Artisphere will save taxpayers $2.3 million in FY 2016, and any scheming for the next steps won’t be coming from the county.

“If someone has an idea, they need to translate that into a proposal, because the county isn’t going to come up with a proposal of our own,” Mitten said yesterday. “The desire is that we get out of the business of subsidizing the use of this space… We have this block of one-time money to close out our obligations under the lease, and anything else the county were to do would really involve an outside entity.”

The only public idea to this point has been the vision of MoDev, a software developer conference company, to transform Artisphere into a tech incubator and conference center. MoDev CEO Pete Erickson told ARLnow.com this week that he is putting together a proposal, but he’s not alone.

“I heard that there are four different parties interested in the space, all with a technology center vision, which is awesome,” he said. “It doesn’t mean a deal will get done as the county could then decide to vacate the lease and put it in Monday Properties’ hands. If this happens, this would be bad for Arlington as the benefits of the existing lease would be away and put way more pressure on a new tenant and the building owner than would be necessary.”

According to Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick, a Chinese business delegation recently toured the space and was intrigued. During the visit, Monday Properties representatives expressed a willingness to renovate and transform the space, if necessary, for the next tenant.

And while momentum seems to barreling ahead to transform the space into Arlington’s next major technology center — and potentially Rosslyn’s answer to 1776’s Crystal City investment — Burick said that the location at 1101 Wilson Blvd could return to its roots, when it was the former home of Newseum.

“We’ve had two groups that have been looking at turning it into a museum,” she said in a phone interview this morning. “Because of the grouping of other things in Rosslyn with Arlington Cemetery and the Marine Corps Memorial, we’re really starting to see Rosslyn have more tourism potential, particularly once CEB Tower delivers with its observation deck.”

All parties involved are looking forward to the unique space — with multiple theaters, high ceilings and an outdoor terrace — becoming something that can generate money for the county, rather than lose it. But the County Board’s decision has also left some wondering what the future of arts funding through taxpayer dollars will look like in Arlington.

Mitten said the cultural affairs department is developing a strategic plan that will address just that.

“There’s a belief that there is a clear nexus between our investment in cultural affairs and the arts and economic development,” Mitten said. “The part of the story that’s missing at the moment is how much is enough and in what way is the most effective in order to have it be a real investment and not just an expense.”

by ARLnow.com — April 22, 2015 at 10:35 am 1,450 0

The Arlington County Board marks up the budget, April 16, 2015(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) The Artisphere cultural center in Rosslyn will close and Arlington’s property tax rate will stay the same under the new Fiscal Year 2016 budget approved unanimously by the Arlington County Board last night.

The $1.16 billion budget will provide Arlington Public Schools with the extra $6.2 million it sought to deal with rising enrollment.

It also will fund a new internal auditor position, a campaign promise of County Board member John Vihstadt.

Other budget highlights include:

  • An additional $1.4 million for economic development efforts, including an extra $200,000 for TandemNSI, $200,000 for tourism promotion and an extra $100,000 for the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization
  • Five new sheriff deputy positions
  • Salary supplement for the public defender’s office
  • Additional jail-based mental health services
  • An additional animal control officer for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington
  • Funding for Affordable Housing Investment Fund remains steady at $12.5 million
  • An additional $1 million for housing grants, for a total of $8.9 in housing grant funding
  • The county manager’s proposed cuts to BikeArlington were eliminated. Funding for county bike and pedestrian programs remains at $812,121.
  • A merit compentation increase for employees
  • Funding restored to the “Live Where You Work” program for county employees

Under the budget, Arlington’s real estate tax rate will stay at $0.996 per $100 in assessed value. However, due to the 4.9 percent rise in residential property assessments and a 1.8 percent increase in the water-sewer rate, the average Arlington homeowners’ tax and fee burden will rise about $281 a year, to a total of $7,567, a 4 percent increase.

“Arlington’s real estate tax rate remains the lowest in the region,” a county press release noted.

County government spending will increase 1.1 percent and Arlington Public Schools spending will increase 4.5 percent compared to the previous fiscal year.

Under the budget, the per-pupil cost of Arlington Public Schools to taxpayers will drop to $18,558 per student from $19,040 per student during FY 2015.

The internal auditor position sought by Vihstadt will require $200,000 of funding. The auditor will be independent, reporting to the County Board as opposed to existing internal auditing programs that report to the County Manager.

“The auditor, and an advisory committee, will report directly to the County Board and will focus on tightening financial oversight and deepening program performance review,” according to the press release.

The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill this year giving the Board the authority to hire an auditor. The only other positions the Board can hire directly are the County Attorney, the County Clerk and the County Manager.

County officials say they were able to balance the budget without a tax increase and find additional funding for schools and other priorities by making budget cuts elsewhere, including Artisphere.

“The Board’s most significant cut was its decision to close Artisphere, a move that will save $2.3 million in net taxpayer support for the County’s critically acclaimed arts and cultural center,” said the press release. “The County has said that the center’s failure to consistently attract a large enough audience and its ongoing need for substantial County funding put too great a burden on strained County finances. The County is redirecting $496,000 of the money saved to fund alternative arts and cultural programming across the County.”

Artisphere is set to close June 30.

by ARLnow.com — April 22, 2015 at 9:30 am 2,398 0

Flowers outside a Rosslyn office building

Mercedes Catches Fire After Lightning Strike — An Arlington man’s beloved Mercedes 430 CLK convertible was “burned to a crisp” Monday night after a lightning strike. The lightning apparently struck a power pole, which then fell over. A sparking power line ignited the Mercedes. [Washington Post]

Arlington Honors 16 Trees — The Arlington County Board recognized 16 “Notable Trees” around the county at its meeting yesterday afternoon. During the 10-minute ceremony, details about each tree were read individually as the tree’s owner came up to the front of the room to collect a plaque or certificate. Of the 16 trees, 14 are located in north Arlington and only 2 are located in south Arlington. [Arlington County]

Shirlington Apartment Building Loses Power — Io Piazza, an upscale apartment building in Shirlington, had been without power for more than 24 hours as of last night. An underground transformer that serves the building failed during Monday’s thunderstorms. [Patch]

Year-Round Gift Wrapping at Pentagon City Mall — Starting May 8, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City will be offering year-round complimentary gift wrapping service. The service is available for purchases of $250 or more at luxury stores. Previously, the service was only offered during certain holidays.

Fmr. Treasurer Endorses Fallon — Frank O’Leary, who retired as Arlington County Treasurer last year, has endorsed Peter Fallon for County Board. “Peter Fallon is a mature, thoughtful, fiscally responsible candidate with an amazing grasp of the issues that confront our county,” O’Leary said in a statement. “I enthusiastically support his approach to improving Arlington.” [InsideNova]

Cristol Published Buzzfeed Listicle — County Board candidate Katie Cristol has published a Buzzfeed listicle, complete with animated GIFs, highlighting “7 Reasons to Vote in Arlington Virginia.” Among the reasons are “housing is getting less affordable,” “over 50% of Arlington is under 35,” “women need a strong voice in Arlington” and “it’s fun.” [Buzzfeed]

by Andrea Swalec — April 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm 4,749 0

It’s easy to walk past the Arlington County Detention Facility without realizing the high-rise with reflective windows is a jail.

Nestled between office buildings and apartment towers, the 12-story building at 1435 N. Courthouse Road, just a block from the Courthouse Metro station, houses nearly 500 male and female inmates.

On a recent tour of the facility, assistant operations director Capt. Jimmie Barrett Jr. said the jail offers more than 100 therapeutic and recreational programs to minimize disruptions and reinforce positive behavior.

“This is what jail is,” he said as he walked ARLnow through quiet cell blocks. “It’s not a lot of loud screaming or yelling. It’s about creating some structure to help people go on with life.”

Sessions on addiction, foreign languages and money management are among the program offerings, and quilting is one of the most popular activities for men and women alike. Started about two years ago by a jail employee who quilts in her free time, the sessions are now held three times per week.

“It started as a small group of women and expanded. Now the men are doing it, too,” Barrett said.

The inmates make baby blanket-sized quilts on the jail’s sewing machines, using donated materials. Many of the quilts are given to the local nonprofit Borromeo Housing Inc., which aids homeless young mothers and their children.

“It’s like a photograph. It’s something you can keep forever,” one female inmate said about the quilts she made. “It’s homemade, and I’m really sentimental.”

The inmate, a 22-year-old Arlington native charged with credit card fraud, said she planned on continuing to quilt once she leaves her current cell block of 41 women.

As of Friday, the jail built in 1994 housed 410 men and 58 women, for a total of 468 people. Inmates include people awaiting trial, awaiting sentencing and those sentenced to 12 months or less.

On a Yelp page created for reviews of the facility — which got comedian Stephen Colbert’s attention in 2013 — inmates praised the “polite” staff and the jail’s library.

“I almost asked for a couple of extra days I haven’t been able to catch up on my reading like that in YEARS!!” an apparent ex-inmate wrote in October.

The jail includes a full legal library, with rows of hardcover tomes. Inmates increasingly prefer to use the online tool LexisNexis to learn about laws and their rights, corrections analyst Cristen Bowers said. Librarians there try to get inmates the reading material they want.

“If they request a book and we don’t have it, we’ll get it from another library,” Bowers said.

Inmates stay in single- or double-occupancy cells with an early wakeup time. Breakfast is served about 5:30 a.m., and then guards inspect inmates’ cells about 7:30 a.m. Lunch is served about 11 a.m., and guards conduct surveillance walk-throughs every 30 minutes. Dinner is served about 4:30 p.m., and lights out is at 11:30 p.m.

Inmates are allowed two 20-minute visits twice a week, not including meetings with lawyers.

With the exception of maximum security units on the building’s 11th floor, inmates are allowed to attend programs based on their compliance to jail rules. Inmates who break rules can be placed in solitary cells for “disciplinary segregation,” Barrett said. Those who are a danger to themselves or others can be put into “administrative segregation.” The separations can last as little as an hour or extend for weeks, said Barrett, a 23-year veteran of the facility.

Maximum security units are located on the jail’s 11th floor, where just 18 men were held as of Friday. The inmates there are confined to their cells and served meals through slots in the doors. Whether they must remain on that floor is reassessed weekly, Barrett said.

Officers assigned to booking see a rush of people on Friday nights, Saturday nights and holidays, mostly for public intoxication, they said.

Detainees are escorted into the facility through back doors, some of which are connected to the court next door. Footprints painted on the floor show where they must stand as they wait to be fingerprinted and have their mugshot taken.

Every detainee receives a handful of pamphlets guiding them through everything from how to report sexual misconduct to what personal items they’re allowed to keep, like a wedding band without stones, worn only on the left ring finger.

“Think of it like your first day of college,” Barrett said. “You’re getting oriented.”

by Ethan Rothstein — April 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm 9,192 0

Jay's Saloon & Grille in ClarendonIn less than a month, Jay’s Saloon in Clarendon will join the long list of Arlington dive bars forced to close to make way for new development.

The last day of Jay’s will be May 18, after which the building will be demolished and replaced with a mixed-use development called 10th Street Flats. The building will have 135 residential units, 3,660 square feet of retail, almost 5,000 square feet of office space and nine live/work units.

Two days before it closes, on May 16, Jay’s (3114 10th Street N.) will host an auction for the multitudes of memorabilia that have adorned the walls, in growing numbers, since the watering hole opened in 1993. Among the possible auction items: a sign that says “Our house wine is Jagermeister.”

Jay’s co-owner Kathi Moore wasn’t at the bar when ARLnow.com visited this afternoon, and the manager working said the date of the auction might change. But regular patrons know Jay’s hasn’t changed much in 22 years, still serving $8 pitchers of beer during happy hour and some of the cheapest food in Clarendon.

“You don’t get good food for this price around here anymore,” the manager, Sally, told ARLnow.com. “Everybody’s going to miss us.”

The most sought-after item in the saloon, Moore told us last summer, is the naked woman painting that hangs over the bar. Despite the amount of money that would go for in a customer auction, Moore said it’s not for sale.

File photo. Hat tip to John Fontain.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 21, 2015 at 3:30 pm 875 0

Ask Adam Real Living header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

I am taking a break from answering real estate questions this week. Instead, I am turning the column over to Adam Segel-Moss, the Green Building Outreach Coordinator for AIRE and the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, to talk about LED bulbs and an Earth Day event they are hosting. 

Tomorrow is Earth Day and it’s a good time to reflect on actions that can be taken at home to save money and leave a lighter footprint. There are many actions we can take in our lives to reduce our environmental impacts, but changing a light is one of the easiest (insert joke here about how many Arlingtonians it takes to change a light). This article provides some info from the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) program and includes details about how to get a FREE LED bulb.

Lights in your home accounts for ~10% of your overall energy bill, according to the Department of Energy. Lighting has come a long way. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that were first released in the 1980s were $40 bucks each, had small amounts of mercury, did not work well with dimmer switches, and they didn’t always deliver on their promised lifespan.

Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs have followed a similar path of high costs; but the light quality, color, instant-on, and dimmer capabilities have leapfrogged incandescent and CFL technologies.  LED lights are still expensive, but the price has come down considerably over the last few years and the energy savings and life of the bulb make them worth the investment.

Here are a few tips to help you make sense of the many lighting options on the market today so you can choose the LED bulbs that are right for you.

LED 1Use Lumens, Not Watts

I am very familiar with lighting technology, but even I can get a bit overwhelmed when I walk into the lighting aisle at a big box builder store. We used to have a general sense of how bright a bulb was based on the bulb wattage.  The Federal Trade Commission recently mandated that all light bulb packages will be standardized with new labels which will make it much easier to buy light bulbs. The main indicator on the light bulb package will be “lumens”, which will replace the current “watts”. So no matter what kind of bulb you are interested in, using lumens as a guide will enable you to compare the brightness level each bulb will deliver.

LED 2Choose the bulb color temperature that you prefer

Over the years I’ve learned that people have very different opinions about light color.  Some like white light and others prefer a warmer yellow glow. The color is now noted on the package as temperature in Kelvin.  Use the graphic below to select the light color that you want.

LED lights come in an array of shapes and sizes

Up until now, LED bulbs have looked fairly wonky.  You can now finds LED bulbs in all shapes and sizes, including the ornamental filament style LED bulbs that are all the rage right now.  The LED bulb pictured here uses only ~6 watts, and it dims beautifully.

AIRE Filament LEDGet a FREE LED

You can test out a new LED bulb for FREE.  The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy will be at the events below to exchange your old incandescent bulb for a new LED bulb.  One LED per household, while supplies last. We hope to see you!

Wednesday, April 22: Crystal City Power Purge and Shred

7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., 1900 Crystal Drive

Saturday, April 25: Arlington Courthouse Farmers Market

8:00 a.m.-noon, 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 21, 2015 at 2:10 pm 2,690 0

Northside Social in Clarendon(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) Three years after the Fedorchak brothers, Stephen and Mark, opened The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, they were working to open two new businesses within, they hoped, “six months to a year of one another.”

But, as is common in the restaurant industry, the opening dates changed, and the timetables of the coffee shop and brasserie the Fedorchaks were trying to open kept lining up more and more.

“I remember when it happened, it was like a freight train coming down the tracks,” Stephen Fedorchak told ARLnow.com last week. “We thought ‘these things are going to open within days of each other.’ We’re proud that we pulled it off, but we wouldn’t necessarily try to do it like that again.”

Five years ago this month, Northside Social, the coffee house and wine bar, and Lyon Hall, the brasserie, opened seven days apart. Combined with Liberty, they give the Fedorchaks and their partner, Brian Normile, a trifecta of staples in the Clarendon restaurant scene.

“They really are anchors in the Clarendon community,” Matt Hussmann, the executive director of Clarendon Alliance, said. “The three restaurants they have, each are distinctive, they fit in really well with the community.”

That’s not a surprise, since the owners of three of Clarendon’s most celebrated restaurants all live in the neighborhood. They’ve seen it grow, seen it change, and they have had hands in both.

Before Northside Social Coffee and Wine opened, the distinctive red building at the intersection of Washington, Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards was home to Murky Coffee, where Fedorchak said his team “must have met 100 times” when discussing their burgeoning business. When Murky was closing and the space opened up, they felt they had to jump on it.

“It has a legacy of not only a coffee shop but a community gathering place, and the building itself has been a community gathering place for 100 years,” he said. “We wanted to offer a place where you could visit every day if you wanted to. We liked the idea of something versatile, open a lot of hours, and the idea of an old-fashioned coffee house vibe with a cultural center feel to it.”

To ensure business from sunrise to sunset, they installed a wine bar on the second floor, and the idea clicked. “The business has been busy since day one,” Fedorchak said. They also expanded the outdoor patio, which rarely has an empty seat on sunny days, and the food menu, a tricky feat considering the building’s historic status precludes the owners from installing some industrial kitchen equipment.

The building is part of the secret sauce that makes Northside unique. Fedorchak said people ask him all the time if a second Northside Social is in the works somewhere.

“I tell them, ‘when we can find a space we like as much as this one,'” he said. “Between the two floors and the outside capacity, it’s awesome. The visibility is unparalleled, there’s great sunshine, the upstairs during the day is quieter; it allows us to have a variety of ambiences.”

Lyon HallWhile the Northside Social opportunity opened up, Lyon Hall (3100 Washington Blvd) was the product of the ownership team seeking out a new venture.

“We thought it would provide some diversity to what’s out there,” Fedorchak said. The French-style brasserie — with some German influences — serves dishes like a Bohemian sausage platter. It provided variety to a Clarendon restaurant scene which at the time was experiencing an influx of frozen yogurt and pizza restaurants.

“Lyon Hall has been a lot of fun for us because the business continues to improve every year,” Fedorchak said. “It’s kind of worked for us, because it is perceived as distinctive. People wouldn’t normally go to a German restaurant, but we tried to offer a fun bar, we have happy hour there seven days a week, we really love the patio. It worked out great.”

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — April 21, 2015 at 12:35 pm 4,720 0

(Updated at 2:15 p.m.) Arlington County Police will be holding a community meeting in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood Wednesday to provide anxious residents information about the department’s investigation into the murder of 42-year-old Bonnie Delgado Black.

Police confirmed Monday that they’re investigating Black’s death — at her home on 18th Street S. — as a homicide, saying that the 42-year-old single mother of two was stabbed to death. No other new details about the crime or the murder weapon were released.

Investigators were back at the house this morning, processing evidence. There is still no suspect in the case, according to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, and Black’s ex-husband, who lives a few blocks away, is “fully cooperating with the police investigation.”

“We’re continuing to remain on scene with a 24/7 security detail,” Sternbeck said, “and officers continue to canvas the neighborhood.”

Black’s children, ages 3 and 5, have been placed in foster care, according to police.

The community meeting will take place at Our Lady of Lourdes Church (830 23rd Street S.) Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The police district commander, criminal investigations commander and acting police chief Jay Farr are among those expected to discuss the case. There will also be an open question-and-answer session with Chief Farr.

The meeting was arranged “to address the community safety concerns,” said Sternbeck.

“We were receiving a lot of inquiries from residents down there and we thought it would be appropriate to participate in this community discussion,” he said.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 21, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,834 0

earth-day-5RsTomorrow is Earth Day, and in honor of the 45th anniversary of the holiday dedicated to the environment, Arlington residents and workers can take part in several events around the county this week.

On the eve of Earth Day, this afternoon at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street), the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation is hosting an Earth Day scavenger hunt. From 3:00-5:00 p.m., teams will form to take pictures, find clues and solve puzzles, all with a goal of promoting sustainability. Registration is required for the event, and those interested can email to sign up.

Tomorrow, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District is providing its annual planting clinic. At the Plaza on 19th — the small public space at the corner of N. Moore and 19th Streets — from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the BID’s landscaping contractor will give demonstrations on how to plant your own garden and maintain it. Attendees will be able to take home a potted plant of their own, and one of Rosslyn’s food trucks will be on hand for the hungry planters.

On Saturday, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., George Mason University’s Arlington campus is throwing a “Go Gaga for Green” event. There will be a silent auction for rain barrels decorated by Arlington Public Schools students, a lip-sync battle, green-themed food and drink and a raffle. Tickets are $25 and free for APS families and staff. Proceeds will benefit the Arlington County Council of PTAs’ scholarship fund, GMU’s Early Identification Program, which funds first-generation college students and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment’s Energy Masters Program.

For more environmentally themed events this week and in the future, you can visit Arlington’s website.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 21, 2015 at 10:00 am 3,635 0

Manhattan Bagel in Ballston, which plans to close April 26 Manhattan Bagel in Ballston, which plans to close April 26

Manhattan Bagel, which has served bagels, coffee and sandwiches to Ballston for more than a decade, will close its doors after this weekend.

The small shop at 4201 Wilson Blvd remained a bustle of activity this morning, when the family who owns the franchise told ARLnow.com that they had “lost the lease” and were closing for good.

According to emails from customers, the bagel shop’s business has continued to thrive despite Dunkin Donuts opening up in the same building, two storefronts over, last summer.

The shop’s last day will be Sunday, April 26. The closest Manhattan Bagel franchise is in Vienna.

by ARLnow.com — April 21, 2015 at 9:15 am 3,124 0

Lightning over Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson)

Australian Restaurant Coming to Clarendon — Oz, a new Australian restaurant, will be opening in the former La Tagliatella space in Clarendon late this summer. The restaurant is owned by Australian native Michael Darby, co-founder of Monument Realty, and his wife Ashley Darby, the 2011 Miss District of Columbia winner. [Washington Business Journal]

New Ballston Apartment Project in the Works — Saul Centers, which developed the Clarendon Center project, is planning a new residential and retail development on the Orange Line. The developer is in the early stages of proposing a 12-story, 431-unit apartment building to replace the Rosenthal Mazda dealership at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]

Parking Lot Hit-and-Run Case in Court — A court hearing was held Monday for Alexandra Mendez, the woman accused of running over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot and then fleeing the scene. Prosecutors showed the court a cell phone video of the incident, which nearly killed 40-year-old Noormustafa “Noor” Shaikh. A doctor testified that Shaikh’s “bones were like shards” after being run over by Mendez in her SUV. [WJLA]

Arlington Highly Ranked by AARP — Arlington County is the 6th most livable place in the U.S. with a population between 100,000 and 500,000, according to a new survey by AARP. Also in the AARP survey, Arlington ranked No. 1 in the “Best Cities for Staying Healthy” category, thanks to an abundance of exercise opportunities. The survey targeted Americans age 50 and older. [WTOP]

VHC and County Considering Land Swap — Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington County have started discussing a possible land swap. The swap would trade soon-to-be-vacated county properties adjacent to the hospital — which would allow VHC to expand — for hospital property elsewhere in the county. Virginia Hospital Center, meanwhile, is getting kudos from the federal government. According to new hospital rankings from Medicare, VHC is the only “four star” hospital in the D.C. area. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson

by ARLnow.com — April 20, 2015 at 7:50 pm 459 0

Arlington County is under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning through 8:30 p.m.

From the National Weather Service:

AT 742 PM EDT… DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM NEAR FAIRFAX TO NEAR TRIANGLE… AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 45 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… ARLINGTON… COLLEGE PARK… VIENNA… FALLS CHURCH… BLADENSBURG… FORESTVILLE IN PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY… PIMMIT HILLS… MANTUA… THE I395 AND I495… GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY… NATIONALS PARK… CLINTON… CORAL HILLS… WOODBRIDGE… THE I66 AND I495… LANGLEY PARK… ANNANDALE… DALE CITY… CRYSTAL CITY AND HUNTINGTON IN FAIRFAX COUNTY.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE DAMAGING WINDS… DESTRUCTIVE HAIL… DEADLY LIGHTNING AND VERY HEAVY RAIN. FOR YOUR PROTECTION… MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS. HEAVY RAINS FLOOD ROADS QUICKLY SO DO NOT DRIVE INTO AREAS WHERE WATER COVERS THE ROAD.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm 808 0

The Arlington County Board marks up the budget, April 16, 2015The Arlington County Board approved measures to reduce the late fee for real estate tax payments, replace the turf field at Washington-Lee High School and grant a $6 million loan for affordable housing at its meeting on Saturday.

The County Board approved the proposal by Treasurer Carla de la Pava to reduce the late fee taxpayers are forced to pay from 10 percent to 5 percent, if taxes are paid within 30 days after the due date. Those who are more than 30 days late paying real estate taxes will continue to pay a 10 percent fee. The county estimates more than 1,000 residents will benefit from the fee reduction.

“Sometimes, people accidentally miss a real estate tax due date but make their payment a few days later — of their own accord and without collection action by the Treasurer. In these cases, I believe a 5 percent penalty is much more appropriate,” de la Pava said in a press release.

The County Board also approved a contract to replace the 10-year-old turf at Washington-Lee High School, spending $670,000 of the $1.6 million contract to install a new synthetic surface at high school. The turf had reached them end of its lifespan, according to county staff, after heavy use from students and the community. Construction on the turf — which will have an extra layer of padding to help prevent concussions — will start in June and is expected to wrap up in August, in time for fall sports.

Additionally on Saturday, the County Board approved a loan from its Affordable Housing Investment Fund to McCormack Baron Salazar, which owns and manages the Clarendon Court Apartments (3814 7th Street N.) near Virginia Square. The loan, for $5.7 million, helps pay MBS for renovating the apartment community and keeping rents at 60 percent of Area Median Income or lower until 2075.

“Ensuring that every transit corridor has a range of housing affordability is a key to Arlington’s long-term sustainability. A first step in achieving this goal is preserving our existing stock of affordable homes,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a release. “The investment in Clarendon Court Apartments, located in the busy R-B corridor, will not only secure the affordability of these homes for 60 years, but make them better places for our neighbors to live.”

by Ethan Rothstein — April 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm 1,084 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Mindcubed founder and CEO Habib Nasibdar, right, and CTO Prasad IndlaHabib Nasibdar immigrated to the U.S. from India to attend George Washington University business school just after Sept. 11, 2001, and now he’s the founder and CEO of a startup he feels is making his adopted country a better place.

He is the founder of Mindcubed, a data analytics company serving public safety agencies, based in Ballston. Mindcubed provides a platform for police departments, court systems and correctional facilities to look at all their data, analyze it easily, ensure it’s accurate and usable, and predict outcomes for potential decisions.

In a time where political pressure on public safety departments has seemingly never been higher, Mindcubed services are in high demand.

“There is a political alignment happening and more and more talking about how we understand criminal justice data,” Nasibdar told ARLnow.com from its shared workspace at Metro Offices in Ballston. “We really are helping criminal justice agencies and public safety departments understand their data for precise decision-making.”

Four states have entered into pilot programs with Mindcubed, and Nasibdar expects to sign contracts within six months on multiple deals for the service. Mindcubed’s first client, when the company launched in late 2012, was the District of Columbia’s sentencing commission, which hired Nasibdar to help it analyze why so many young people were being incarcerated for nonviolent crimes.

Mindcubed logoNasibdar got his start combining data and public safety in 2005, when he was working for a small government contractor and won a contract with D.C. to build an information-sharing infrastructure among its public safety departments, a key recommendation to localities in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

An engineer by trade, it was that first contract that gave him the bug to improve public safety. As an Indian immigrant, he said it gave him a way to serve.

“I always felt I never got an opportunity to serve this country and I felt this is a way to help my adopted country,” he said. “This is my way of serving. There’s no better way to feed my kid and my family than to do what I’m doing.”

Because Mindcubed serves government clients, it typically takes 18 months from first contact to secure a deal on a contract. But, he says, patience is a virture. He didn’t bootstrap his company to make a quick buck and move on.

A screenshot of Mindcubed's Grid platform“We are not 25-year-olds in shorts writing on a whiteboard,” he said. “Our approach is very methodical. We’re persistent in the area we know we are successful. This market is just developing, and we see so much opportunity in this domain.”

The platform allows, for instance, a police department to answer questions of policy makers about how many marijuana arrests were made in the jurisdiction, then to break the statistics down into how many of those were under the age of 25, and how many of the under-25-year-olds arrested for marijuana crimes were suffering from mental illnesses. All of the data in their system is cross-checked for accuracy and compliance.

“Agencies right now cannot answer in real time all these permutations and combinations,” he said. “All of these questions lead to more questions. We provide analytics, compliance and prediction, and combine them to make it extremely easy to use. Present that to bureaucracies, and that’s like magic to them.”

by ARLnow.com — April 20, 2015 at 3:25 pm 1,978 0

Storm clouds over Rosslyn 7/3/14A Tornado Watch has been issued for Arlington and the D.C. region through 10:00 tonight.

Forecasters say severe storms are likely late this afternoon and this evening and that an isolated tornado is possible.

Showers and thunderstorms are expected to reach the around the evening rush hour.

From the National Weather Service:

THUNDERSTORMS ARE LIKELY LATE THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. A FEW OF THE THUNDERSTORMS MAY BECOME SEVERE WITH A THREAT OF DAMAGING WIND GUSTS…LARGE HAIL AND AN ISOLATED TORNADO.

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