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by Ethan Rothstein — November 18, 2014 at 3:35 pm 2,838 0

Pedestrians on Rosslyn sidewalkArlington is considering adopting a plan to incorporate design guidelines, best practices and incentives to increase retail activity throughout the county.

The Arlington County Board will discuss a proposed update to the 2001 Retail Action Plan, which covered the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. The update expands the plan’s footprint to the Crystal City and Columbia Pike corridors, includes recommendations to improve the county’s retail environment and asks the Board to change regulation to allow for retail growth.

“This is a big deal and this has taken a long time to work through,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan told the Board. “This is a report that will guide us for many years to come on how we’re going to move forward. Retail will succeed where it can thrive.”

The Virginia Department of Taxation reported more than $2 billion in retail and food and beverage sales in Arlington last year, but the opportunity is there for much more local retail spending, the plan states.

“The estimated demand for retail and food and beverage is in excess of $4.7 billion dollars,” the report states, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Surveys. “With a demand greater than sales, Arlington is considered to have a leakage of retail opportunity — customers must travel outside of Arlington to purchase many goods and services — in most broad retail categories.”

Among the key recommendations are developing design guidelines to make “retail look like retail,” developing a specific retail map to guide which kinds of retail businesses should go where — encouraging clustering of specific types of retail to draw in more customers — and encouraging public art and accessibility.

Stores should be encouraged to design their exteriors creatively, the plan says, and to “design storefronts for three miles an hour (pedestrian speed) rather than 35 miles per hour (vehicular speed).” That’s a bit of a departure from years past, when retail signage rules were more stringent in Arlington, discouraging retailers from standing out too much. For interior design, the plan advocates for higher ceilings on the ground floor of buildings and to ” to allow for maximum flexibility and use of the space.”

The draft plan also recommends softening regulations on food trucks and other mobile vendors. It says “vending zones” are under consideration in Rosslyn, Courthouse and Ballston, which would allow food trucks to park for more than two hours at a time.

“With social media and serial followers, vending can help pull customers into different areas,” the plan says. “Establishing vending zones, to allow trucks to vend for longer than two hours or for alternative hours, can help prime an area that is not quite ready for retail or can attract people to other uses — parks, cultural venues or other businesses.”

Grocery stores are seen as a key component of Arlington’s retail plan, as they serve as anchors for retail districts. The plan generally lauds the Arlington County Board for its flexibility in approving grocery stores, including most recently the store planned at 1401 Wilson Blvd, whenever the property is redeveloped. However, it says the term “grocery store” should be more clearly defined for administrative purposes. “The policy should clearly articulate how and when incentives or mechanisms to support the construction of a grocery store are applied,” according to the plan.

Many of the actions the plan suggests include amending the county’s Zoning Ordinance and special exception policies to factor in broader retail goals. It’s those changes that gave some of the County Board members pause and led them to schedule a work session in January, before the plan is up for a vote in February.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm 490 0

Ask Adam header

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

Q. We recently purchased a home and are loving it so far. We haven’t had any problems with flooding and hopefully never will, but being worrywarts we are wondering if we should purchase flood insurance for our home.

A. Interestingly, you are the third person who has asked me about flood insurance in Arlington during the last month. Typically this is the type of question that comes up more in Alexandria where flooding is more prevalent. Maybe the hard rains we had this summer have caused some concerns.

Almost all lenders require flood zone certification prior to them lending you money to purchase a home. They want to be sure that you have flood insurance in place if your home is in a flood zone as determined by FEMA. It sounds like your concern goes beyond just the minimum standard of protection.

I shared your question with insurance expert Max Olson at Nationwide Insurance. Below is what he had to say:

A great place to look to see the likelihood of a flood for your property is www.floodsmart.gov. This website will tell you what the likelihood of a flood is for your property and will even give you ranges on the cost of flood insurance as long as you type in your address. People think that floods only happen in high risk flood zones, but 20 percent of all flood claims occur in low to moderate risk flood zones.

On the other hand, keep in mind that certain scenarios people call “flooding” would already be covered under most home insurance policies (like a pipe bursting and ‘”flooding” a basement or a sump pump failing and “flooding” a basement). Your insurance agent can go through all the different scenarios and what would be covered under a flood policy vs your home insurance policy.

Below is contact information for Max incase you have additional questions or need a great insurance agent.

Max Olson
Olson Insurance Agency
Nationwide Insurance
(571) 438-6902 office
olsonm13@nationwide.com
nationwidemax.com

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

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2014 at 12:10 pm 22,989 0

Update at 3:55 p.m. — The County Board voted 4-1 in favor of Fisette’s motion to stop the streetcar project. The dissenting vote was Walter Tejada, who said the streetcar would have reduced congestion and helped the Columbia Pike’s revitalization. “Turning away from a modern streetcar system is a dramatic step backwards,” Tejada said. “Arlington’s credibility in the region will now be adversely affected.”

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) Arlington County’s half-billion-dollar streetcar project for Columbia Pike and Crystal City is being canceled, County Board Chair Jay Fisette announced today.

“I have come to the conclusion that the only way to move forward together … is to discontinue the streetcar project,” Fisette said solemnly, before a large crowd of reporters. “After close consultation with [County Board members Mary] Hynes and [Walter] Tejada, with our partners in Fairfax and Richmond and with members of the community, Ms. Hynes and I have agreed that all spending on streetcar must end.”

Fisette will make it official with a motion at this afternoon’s County Board meeting. Tejada is said to oppose canceling the project and may vote against Fisette’s motion.

The streetcar project was to be funded by commercial transportation revenue, along with funding from the state and Fairfax County, which was to benefit from the Pike streetcar running to the Skyline area.

Fisette said the county will instead explore options for improving bus service on Columbia Pike. The transitway between Crystal City and Alexandria will continue to operate and be developed, but will be served only by buses. Existing streetcar contracts — like the $26 million engineering contract awarded in September — will be “wound down” as quickly as possible.

Fisette acknowledged that many business owners and residents along Columbia Pike will be disappointed by the streetcar project’s cancellation.

“There are those who moved there or developed in anticipation of the streetcar,” Fisette said. “I will say that we are committed and remain committed to the Columbia Pike corridor. We will continue to work towards the realization of that vision [of high quality, mixed use development] in a modified form, and that is the commitment of this Board. We will enhance the bus system to the extent possible.”

Fisette said that he believes a streetcar still makes sense on Columbia Pike, as it would increase transit capacity and spur economic development, adding that he’s “proud” of his vote for it. The decision to kill the project was made after the election of streetcar opponent John Vihstadt on Nov. 4, which “sent a powerful message to the Board.”

“We cannot ignore the political realities… this was not a formal referendum, but I believe it serves as a proxy,” Fisette said. “Right now the level of discord is such that I haven’t seen for awhile. It keeps us from addressing other pressing needs in the community.”

Fisette said county staff and the county manager were “caught flat-footed” by organized opposition to the streetcar, which materialized in “the past year or so.” Efforts to communicate the streetcar’s benefits were ineffective, he said.

The cancellation is an improbable victory for Vihstadt and his anti-streetcar ally on the Board, Libby Garvey. Together, they have been pushing the county to cancel the streetcar project and instead work to implement enhanced bus service on Columbia Pike.

Garvey was in attendance at Fisette’s press conference (which can be viewed online) and said afterwards that Fisette’s announcement “was a complete surprise.” Hynes was at an event this morning and “gave a ringing endorsement” of the streetcar, Garvey said.

“I’m delighted,” Garvey said. When asked about the impact the decision will have on businesses and residents who moved to the area in anticipation of the streetcar, she said “people need to understand that we will get a bus rapid transit system going. It will do everything the streetcar could and more. They’re going to be just fine.”

The streetcar plan for Columbia Pike was developed over nearly a decade of community meetings and deliberations and approved in 2006. Its backers have consistently said that consensus was behind the streetcar and it’s what the community wanted, but Fisette conceded that the feeling around the county has changed.

The struggles of the streetcar along H Street NE in Washington, D.C. has only added to the growing sentiment that the streetcar was more trouble than it was worth.

“The D.C. streetcar was a gift for those of us who oppose the streetcar,” Garvey said.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2014 at 11:45 am 774 0

"Investors" talk to entrepreneurs at ARLive Startup Smackdown, July 2014Arlington County is the best “city” in the U.S. for young entrepreneurs, according to a new set of rankings.

The website Nerdwallet crunched the numbers and determined that Arlington has the best combination of access to funding, networking and mentorship, affordability and a robust local economy.

Placing behind Arlington, in order, was: Madison, Wisc.; Lincoln, Neb.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Denver, Colo.; Seattle, Wash.; and Austin, Texas. Washington, D.C. ranked No. 14.

“Arlington, Virginia, is the best city for young entrepreneurs with a high percentage of educated young people, the highest per capita income in the nation and access to businesses in the Washington, D.C., area,” the website wrote. ” Nearly 28% of the city’s residents are 25 to 34 years old, and at least 74% of all residents over 25 hold a bachelor’s degree or higher — both of these figures are the highest in the nation”

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2014 at 10:45 am 2,869 0

Columbia Pike streetcar renderingUpdate at 12:40 p.m. — Fisette has announced that the streetcar project is being canceled.

Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette will make a “significant announcement” regarding the Arlington streetcar program today, according to a media alert from the county.

Fisette will hold a press conference at county government headquarters in Courthouse at noon, we’re told. There’s no word yet as to what will be announced.

The press conference will be broadcast on the county website and on Comcast channels 25 and 74 and Verizon FiOS channels 39 and 40.

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,720 0

Stag at Arlington National Cemetery (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Japanese Noodle Bar Coming to Ballston — Yona, a new Japanese noodle bar and Korean-inspired small plates restaurant, is coming to 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston. It will be the third restaurant from restaurateur Mike Isabella in the building. Isabella’s Kapnos Tavern is expected to open there next month and his Pepita cantina is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015. [Washington Post]

Leonsis Praises Ballston — Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is a big fan of Ballston, where the Capitals have their Kettler Capitals Iceplex practice facility. In a blog post responding to reports about the Wizards looking for a practice facility in either D.C. or Arlington, Leonsis wrote that “we feel fortunate that [the Capitals] ended up in the welcoming community of Ballston.” [Ted's Take]

Wakefield Wins First Playoff Game — The Wakefield Warriors football squad celebrated its first-ever playoff victory on Friday. Wakefield will next face undefeated Tuscarora in the second round of the 5A North Region playoffs. Washington-Lee and Yorktown both lost their first-round playoff games. [InsideNova]

‘State of Affairs’ Producer Lives in Arlington — Rodney Faraon, a father of three whose 14 years as a CIA analyst helped inspire the NBC drama “State of Affairs,” is an Arlington resident. Faraon serves as an executive producer on the show, which premiered last night. [Washingtonian, WNEW]

Plane Complaints Explained? — Over the past couple of years, numerous Arlington residents have made occasional complaints about hearing what sounded like a single-engine plane flying overhead for an extended period of time. At the time, there was no ready explanation for who or what might be flying around Arlington. However, some now think those planes might have been flying for a recently-revealed Justice Department cell phone spying program.

Soccer Tourney For At-Risk Kids — A 9th annual soccer tournament for at-risk kids was held in Arlington on Sunday. [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 18, 2014 at 9:00 am 506 0

John Nguyen HeadshotThe following article was written by John Nguyen. John is a lifelong Arlingtonian and the Managing Partner of Clarendon Wealth Management, a financial advisory firm focused on comprehensive wealth management for high net worth individuals, medical professionals and small business owners.

With the holidays fast approaching, now can be a great opportunity to perform a comprehensive review of your financial situation and plan for next year. Use this year-end financial checklist to focus on where you stand and make any adjustments necessary for the New Year. Spend a little time now and make your holidays brighter knowing you’re on solid financial footing.

Budget and SpendingReview your spending and fine tune your budget. Take a look at your 2014 spending. Are there areas where you were consistently over budget? Were there unanticipated expenses? Did you meet your savings goals? Use this year’s fresh figures to prioritize your expenditures for next year.

Determine your net worth. This is a worthwhile yearly exercise to find out where you are — and where you need to go. Simply add up what you own (home, car, savings, business interests, personal property, investments, etc.) and subtract what you owe (mortgage, loans, credit cards, etc.). Your net worth can be used to track your progress each year and incentivize you to save more or reduce debt.

Add more to your 401(k). You can contribute up to $17,500 to your 401(k) for 2014 ($23,000 if you’re over 50).  You have until December 31st to reach that limit. The contributions must be made through your employer’s payroll deduction.

529 College SavingsContribute to a 529 college-savings plan before December 31st. The beneficiary of the account (your child, grandchild, etc) can use the money tax-free for college tuition, room and board and fees. In many states, you get a state income tax deduction for your contribution. Many 529 plans require you to make your contributions by December 31st to count for that tax year.  For details, see SavingforCollege.com.

Rebalance your portfolio. Market movements may have resulted in portfolio drift altering your targeted asset allocation. Check to see if your portfolio still reflects your goals and risk tolerance. If not, bring it back to your target allocation by reducing your over-weighted asset classes and increase the underweighted classes.  If you’re retired, this is a good time to set aside money for next year’s cash needs.

Take your required minimum distributions. If you’re older than 70½, you generally need to take required minimum distributions from traditional IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement-savings plans by December 31 (except for the year you turn 70½, when you’re given an extension until April 1 to make your first withdrawal; also, you don’t need to take RMDs from your current employer’s 401(k) while you’re still working).

Taxes and CharityStart tax planning. It’s not too early to think about taxes. If you’re selling stocks to rebalance your portfolio, consider harvesting your losses to get a tax break. Capital losses can be used to offset taxable capital gains, plus up to $3,000 in ordinary income ($1,500 for married couples filing separately). Losses you can’t use this year can be carried over into future tax years.

Giving money to charity before the end of the year is a great way to boost your deductions if you itemize. You may be able to deduct various kinds of charitable contributions, including cash, appreciated stock and non-cash donations.

Update your estate plan. New baby? Newly married or divorced? Make sure your beneficiary designations are updated to reflect any changes. Don’t have an estate plan? Make that a new year’s resolution!

The preceding article was submitted by an ARLnow.com sponsor. Please consult a tax advisor for all tax-related information.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Fixed insurance products and services offered by Clarendon Wealth Management. 3033 Wilson Blvd. Suite 430, Arlington, VA 22201. Phone: 571-257-3252.

by ARLnow.com — November 17, 2014 at 11:55 pm 7,669 0

"Don Tito" logo and partners“Tacos, tequila and beer” — that’s the quick pitch for the new bar that will be taking the place of Eventide restaurant in Clarendon.

Don Tito is likely to open in the 10,000 square foot space at 3165 Wilson Blvd by early March, according to Scott Parker, one of the establishment’s five partners. Construction is expected to start as soon as next week.

The restaurant will feature “flex Mex” cuisine — Mexican dishes plus traditional American fare with a “Mexican twist” — but the emphasis will be more on the aforementioned beer and tequila. A bar will be added to what is now a dining area on the second floor, and a second bar will be added to the center of the rooftop.

The partners in Don Tito are Parker, Nick Cordero and Mike Cordero — the owners of the popular but oft-maligned A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston — plus newcomers Ryan DeMagistris and Jason Fisher. All five are Arlington residents, Parker said.

The Cordero crew is on a roll since closing the financially-sound but stagnant Caribbean Breeze and reopening as A-Town in 2012. In addition to purchasing Eventide — for a sum just shy of $1 million, sources say – the company has also secured a 6,000 square foot space in Rosslyn for a bar/restaurant that’s expected to open in the fall of 2015, Parker tells ARLnow.com.

Parker declined to reveal additional information about the future Rosslyn watering hole, including its exact location.

The Eventide purchase will give its owners two big advantages, according to those with knowledge of the transaction. For one, the sublease offers five years of well below-market rent. For another, it offers a prime location in a Clarendon business district that’s well established as a nightlife spot — as opposed to A-Town’s location, where condo-owning neighbors have railed against late night noise.

Don Tito will remain open until 2:00 a.m. seven nights per week, according to Parker.

Parker said the partners were able to buy Eventide despite stiff competition from other restaurant owners, both local and national. The concept for Don Tito has been in the works for some time now, he said, and 3165 Wilson Blvd was judged the ideal place for it to open. In 2013, a Northern Virginia Magazine article about the opening of another Cordero restaurant, Flat Iron Steak & Saloon in Alexandria, described a planned Arlington venture that was then dubbed “Tacos and Beer.”

The owners of Eventide spent a reported $3 million constructing the restaurant, which opened in 2008. Parker said changes are necessary to “liven up the space and give it a little spark,” including renovations to the second floor which is “looking a bit too much like a monastery or something.”

Parker said he thinks Don Tito will compare favorably to what he described as an overabundance of American-style bars and restaurants in Clarendon. As for more direct competition, like nearby Mexicali Blues and Fuego Cocina, Parker said he and his partners are not too worried.

“Fuego is an incredible venue and we’ve been there many times,” he said. “Fuego is a great Mexican restaurant, [Don Tito] will be a great Mexican bar.”

by Ethan Rothstein — November 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm 1,899 0

The Arlington County Board, Nov. 15, 2014The “Public Land for Public Good” initiative the Arlington County Board launched last December has led to miscommunication and confusion, and County Board Chair Jay Fisette admitted as much this weekend.

The Board asked County Manager Barbara Donnellan to identify at least three public land sites that could be identified for public housing. One was with the redevelopment of the Lubber Run Community Center, a proposal that initially was the brainchild of an Arlington interfaith group and was floated as a potential solution by Donnellan.

The proposal set off broad opposition in the county to the idea of building affordable housing on parkland. Fisette said on Saturday that it was never the intention to do that — at most, the community center would be redeveloped and affordable housing would be built on top of it.

“It was never the intent… to have a standalone affordable housing building on an officially designated park, nor is it the interest of the Board to do that,” Fisette said. “I think there’s a real understanding that the way the concept was put forward in the direction for the manager didn’t work the way it was anticipated… We all felt this was a way to start a conversation. It was the very beginning of a discussion that would have taken quite a bit more time to solve. Some people were anxious that it was the end of a conversation, and it was the beginning.”

Several speakers during the County Board’s public comment session spoke about the issue, including one, Max Lyons, who presented a statistical breakdown of the 577 responses the county received to its public land site evaluation survey. Lyons said that 61 percent of respondents commented on using park land for affordable housing. Of those comments, 94 percent opposed the idea.

“Chairman Fisette, I was concerned by your recent characterization of those comments,” Lyons said. “You wrote, ‘As we have reviewed the summary of comments received to date on the draft Public Land Site Evaluation Guidelines, we recognize that many commenters agree with these goals and practices, which will surely inform the final guidelines.’ My review of the comments led me to a very different conclusion. ”

Lyons said that more than 100 respondents gave unsolicited endorsements of other county affordable housing policies, but 75 percent of those responses still opposed affordable housing on park land. Another speaker, Rick Epstein, said he understands where the miscommunication came from, but still thinks the Board is taking the wrong approach.

“I genuinely believe that much of this miscommunication could have been avoided if the Board had followed the Arlington Way prior to passing the December resolution,” Epstein said. “The Board and county manager should preferably have engaged the entire community in open and thorough discussion, not simply about public land for public good, but for the future use of public lands. The site review process by the county manager is not a substitute for a broad community discussion” on public land.

County Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes plans to take on a larger role on the issue in the coming year, she said, and responded to many of the comments by promising to engage the community more, although she didn’t say how.

“We need to take a look collectively at how this community moves forward to meet any number of needs,” she said. “We need to understand that there are short-term, medium-term and long-term needs in our community, and we need to focus on all of them. In the end, it is about our collective future and where as a county we go, and the time really has come to dive deeply into that question.”

by Ethan Rothstein — November 17, 2014 at 3:45 pm 1,760 0

Sand volleyball at Quincy Park (photo via Arlington Parks and Recreation)There are dozens of lighted athletic facilities in Arlington’s parks — like turf fields, basketball courts and volleyball courts — but not a single sand volleyball court is among them.

At least one Arlington resident thinks that should change. Mikael Manoukian, who says he’s an Arlington native, told the County Board on Saturday that the county has 26 lighted rectangular fields, 19 lighted diamond fields and dozens of lighted basketball and tennis courts.

“There are 11 sand volleyball courts and none are lighted,” Manoukian said. He advocated putting lights on the volleyball court at Quincy Park in Virginia Square, which is currently undergoing the design process for a renovation.

“Every other facility at Quincy Park — the basketball court, tennis court, soccer field, diamond field — has lights,” he said. “And there’s good tree coverage if light pollution is an issue. Perhaps money could be found outside the maintenance fund to do that later.”

County Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish confirmed that there are no lighted sand volleyball courts owned the county. In fact, she said, sand volleyball lighting hasn’t even been formally proposed, as far as she’s aware.

“I’ve never heard about that before, that would be a new one,” she said. “So many of the other sports have user groups or things that, and volleyball doesn’t necessarily. There’s no one coming forward to say a lot about that.”

There is some good news for Arlington volleyball players, however. There are two privately owned, but publicly accessible, lighted sand volleyball courts at 2451 Crystal Drive in Crystal City.

Photo via Arlington Parks and Recreation

by Ethan Rothstein — November 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,778 0

Fatal S. Emerson Street fire (photo via Fox  5)The online fundraiser set up to help Bill and Sarah Barkes — the survivors of the fatal house fire from earlier this month — has reached more than $70,000 in donations, but at least one scam artist appears to be trying to profit from the family’s pain.

According to an update on the Barkes family’s GoFundMe page, a Craigslist post was made by someone posing as a relative of the family under the guise of “collecting money through Paypal.”

The GoFundMe page is maintained by Joy Chadwick, the sister of the mother who died in the blaze trying to save one of her daughters, Emily, who also died. Chadwick has been updating the nearly 1,000 people who have donated to the cause in the two weeks since the fire. Chadwick wrote yesterday that Sarah was released from the hospital after more than a week in intensive care.

“[Bill Barkes] said the doctors were very excited about how fast Sarah was healing and at the this time no surgery is needed,” Chadwick wrote last week. “He said she is working hard on her physical therapy. If she continues with this progress she might be able to leave the hospital by Saturday. She is excited that some of her teachers are coming to visit her today.”

Chadwick wrote the family still has “not decided where they will live.” The cat that was missing after the fire was found and is currently living with Chadwick’s other sister, according to the page.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm 405 0

The Scratching Post banner

Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Cats are true, obligate carnivores and should be treated as such. Walk into any grocery store or pet store today and you can find a vast variety of cat food available. So much variety it is difficult to choose what can be considered an extraordinary diet vs. just a good diet.

Commercial cat food started in the early 1900s and gained popularity in the ’30s and ’40s with dry food due to World War II’s metal rations, and a few select companies producing pet food. Step ahead a century later, and there are so many brands it can make your head spin. No longer are cats just eating birds, squirrels or anything else they can hunt for, they have their human counterparts they can count on!

For the past decade, there has been a rise in feeding “natural” cat diets vs. stuff in the bag that is full of cornmeal, byproducts, pillow fluff and staples (just kidding about the last ones). Now you have whole meats, veggies, omega fatty acids added etc… to make them more nutritionally complete.

But what makes a good diet vs. a bad diet? Why are we not feeding cats a raw diet based on ground up mice, squirrels and birds?  They have berries and grains in them too. They must be the perfect diet! It can be if you are an outdoor cat and can manage to hunt five-to-six rodents per day; they sure can sustain a cat easily.

Many cats that hunt leave behind the digestive tract of the rodent, and other parts they find less appealing, so saying they eat the whole thing is not a true statement.  I have yet to see a commercial pet food company jump on the bandwagon on making foods with the names of “Chipmunk Stew and Robin’s Delight.” It is expensive and time consuming to create diets based on a true outdoor, natural diet, not to mention a public outcry on grinding up songbirds and other fuzzy critters.

Commercial diets are readily available and they are easy to feed, which is why the public likes them vs. making a homemade or raw diet. Commercial pet food must meet the minimal AAFCO standards on nutrition as well. A company cannot just dump in a bunch of ingredients, hand it to the consumer with a smile and say “There you go! Enjoy the food! Your cat will live a long life thanks to us!”

They must go through rigorous testing and formulations to meet the minimal standards. If a company wants to go above and beyond those standards, they can and that is what makes the premium diets popular, and a good majority is grain free!

This is where the huge controversy on cats that should not be eating grain takes place. While it is true that cats are carnivores, in some situations carbohydrates can help ill cats by being a source for fast energy or assisting in treating a metabolic disease. So carbohydrates do have their places in cat diets. Not all carbohydrates are bad. 

For those people who wish to feed a raw diet, there are two options. Purchase one that is made correctly and meets the safety standards for creating these diets, or make one at home. While you do feed less with a raw diet, it is expensive and time consuming, but those who feed it find it totally worth the price and labor involved. (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — November 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm 1,228 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.

Ageit Yourself co-founders Michael Volz, left, and Bryan OlsonMichael Volz and Bryan Olson look like kids in a candy store in Volz’s kitchen, filled with jars of differently colored and aged liquors, with wood charring in the oven and a German shepherd peeking his snout in for smells of the activity.

This is ground zero for Age it Yourself, the company Volz and Olson started this year that allows anyone with their kit to barrel-age whiskey — or any liquor, for that matter — without waiting years and using giant, or even small barrels.

The method is simple. Each kit comes with a mason jar and freshly charred American oak, from fallen trees in the backyard of Olson’s family’ home in Great Falls. The oak is cut in a specific way to maximize the long grain wood – the only part of a real barrel liquor touches – and charred in a custom oven Volz built with his carpenter father.

The wood, jar, a special glass bottle, a flask, a funnel and instructions are then shipped, ready to use. Whoever buys the kit simply has to add the liquor, which can be anything from moonshine, to create a standard aged whiskey, bourbon, to age it further, or even cocktails like Manhattans. The kits sell for $50, and each batch of oak can be used about three times.

Age it Yourself's sample batchesTo help launch the company, Volz and Olson created a Kickstarter with a goal of $10,000 to buy more glass, fulfill orders faster and generate buzz. Volz admitted that he and Olson have slaved over the method and recipes so much that they haven’t focused much on the digital marketing side of the business — the Kickstarter has 12 backers and $731 donated with 17 days to go — but the Kickstarter is just one component of the business.

“We’re sort of going at it with three tiers,” Volz said. “There’s the retailers and customers and, there’s the wholesalers to push it to more people, and one thing we’re seeing that we didn’t expect is the producers, the distilleries, have interest.”

One distillery, Iowa Legendary Rye, is already in contact with Volz and Olson. The market is there, as Olson said, because “If you want to start a new liquor company, and you want to sell aged liquor, you can’t sell it until it’s aged. You need to age it quicker.”

The Age it Yourself kitVolz and Olson met at law school at George Mason University in Arlington, and both graduated this spring right as they were developing the idea. Volz is a veteran of the D.C. bar and restaurant scene, and he’s used his connections to place Age it Yourself in a few locations, including The Liberty Tavern in Clarendon, that want to barrel-age their cocktails on the bar.

The interest from businesses along the supply chain of the liquor market gives the pair confidence that regardless of the Kickstarter, they have a viable path to move forward as a successful endeavor.

Of course, the big question with a company like Age it Yourself: how does it taste? How does it work?

Volz and Olson indulged ARLnow.com with a brief tasting session, starting off with a sip of moonshine “to see what we’re starting with.” After that, it was on to the whiskey, aged in the jar for just over a week. The first difference was the color: the spirit starts to brown within hours after contacting the oak. After a week it’s a deep, translucent color, and it tastes sweeter, and, like Volz described, a little like a campfire. (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — November 17, 2014 at 11:15 am 801 0

Woodstock Park (photo via Google Maps)The residents of the Waverly Hills neighborhood in North Arlington want more mixed-use development and to be able to age in place, according to the community’s just-approved Neighborhood Conservation plan.

Waverly Hill is the area north of I-66, south of Lee Highway between N. Glebe Road and Utah Street. According to a survey of almost 400 residents in the 3,800-person neighborhood, 70 percent of Waverly Hills residents want to retire in the neighborhood.

“Seventy percent is a very large number, and I don’t want to say we’re transient, but there are a lot of people that come and go from Arlington,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “It shows how many people like it enough to suggest that they want to live their whole life here and take advantage of the services into retirement.”

The County Board approved the new neighborhood conservation plan, which includes a request to implement a master plan for Woodstock Park (pictured), which would include a vision for future improvements. The County Board approved a $644,000 renovation for the park in June, which will include a new playground and basketball court, under construction now.

County Board members said they expect the update to the NC plan for the community to serve as a model for other civic associations, both with a focus on aging in place and the update’s thoroughness; according to the county’s press release, the civic association spent more than 1,000 hours on the process.

“This plan gives us an inclusive outline for preserving our livable community while addressing the concerns of our residents,” Michael Polovina, president of the Waverly Hills Civic Association, said in the release. “We are very proud to have accomplished this revisioning after a process that took several years to complete. The next 15 years look very bright for Waverly Hills.”

Other priorities for the update include facilitating mixed-use development along Lee Highway and Glebe Road, with nods to affordable, senior accessible housing. The neighborhood also requests a sidewalk on 20th Road N. adjacent to N. Utah Street and further pedestrian improvements for walking to nearby schools like Washington-Lee High School and Glebe Elementary.

by ARLnow.com — November 17, 2014 at 10:25 am 1,526 0

Rainy morning on Glebe Road in Ballston (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Glencarlyn Park, Sewer Main Upgrades Approved — The Arlington County Board over the weekend unanimously approved a sewer main construction project for Old Dominion Drive. The Board also approved upgrades to Glencarlyn Park, including a rain garden, plaza and bicycle facilities. [Arlington County]

Arlington’s Per-Pupil Spending Tops Region — Arlington Public Schools spends $19,040 per student, the highest such figure of any Washington suburb. On a per-pupil basis, Arlington spends 24 percent more than Montgomery County schools, 41 percent more than Fairfax County schools and 84 percent more than Prince William County schools. [InsideNova]

Loan Approved for Senior Housing — On Saturday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a $1.35 million loan to help keep the Culpepper Gardens I apartment complex affordable. The complex include 204 committed affordable units for seniors. [Arlington County]

No New Westover Middle School? — The Arlington School Board has informally voted to remove the Reed School site in Westover from consideration as a potential location for a new middle school. Many residents have said they would rather see the building used for a neighborhood elementary school. [InsideNova]

Board Updates Green Building Incentives — The Arlington County Board voted 4-1 to require higher sustainability standards for its Green Building Incentive Program, which rewards developers for environmentally-sound building practices. [Arlington County]

Local Reporter Travels to Germany for Streetcar Story — WAMU reporter Michael Lee Pope traveled to Germany to report on the use of streetcars in Berlin, tying his findings back to Arlington’s proposed streetcar project. Streetcars run in formerly Communist-controlled East Berlin, but no longer in West Berlin. One interviewee said people ride East Berlin’s streetcars partially out of a sense of nostalgia and the “special feeling” one gets from riding them. [WAMU]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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