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by Ethan Rothstein — April 21, 2015 at 10:00 am 2,200 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 2,300 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 Ethan Rothstein — April 15, 2015 at 4:45 pm 1,792 0

Mosaic Park, the largely unused green space in Ballston along N. Quincy Street next to the Gold’s Gym parking lot, is close to taking the next step toward its planned redesign.

Arlington County is still planning on adding a public plaza, interactive water feature, multipurpose court, tree plantings and walkways. On the Arlington County Board’s agenda this Saturday is a public hearing for a rezoning, changing the park, at 544 N. Pollard Street, from a residential zoning to “public,” which allows construction to begin on the new features.

“Currently, construction drawings are near completion and the County will soon be prepared to go to bid,” the staff report reads. The Shooshan Company has agreed to fund the $6.6 million costs of Phase I construction.

In 2012, in our last update on the future of Mosaic Park, we reported that the county still needed to acquire land to build the park. According to the latest staff report, the county has acquired four of the five parcels that make up the park, and a portion of the fifth.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm 2,611 0

The FroZenYo in Ballston might not reopen The FroZenYo in Ballston might not reopen

The FroZenYo in Ballston, which has been closed all winter to await the return of warm weather, now appears likely to not reopen at all.

The FroZenYo in Crystal City (2231 Crystal Drive) reopened this week, according to the D.C.-based company’s Facebook page. On that same page, the company posted in a comment that the Ballston location is likely closed.

Unfortunately  it doesn’t look like we will be reopening the Ballston store this year, sorry about that,” the comment reads.

On FroZenYo’s website, the Ballston store is no longer listed — the Crystal City and Rosslyn locations are now the only branches the company claims in Virginia.

The Ballston FroZenYo store opened in 2012.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm 2,606 0

Demolition of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is ramping up.

While the building at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road has been slowly, methodically taken apart for months, today demolition crews seemed to reach an inflection point.

This morning, construction crews were hacking large pieces off the distinctive, blue Marymount University building using high-reach excavators, similar to the ones used to tear down the building across from the Rosslyn Metro station last December.

When the building’s demolition is complete, it will be replaced by a nine-story office building and 15-story residential building. The redevelopment is a partnership between Shooshan Company and Marymount University. Shooshan has a ground lease for the land and is developing the new buildings, while MU owns the land and will occupy six of the nine floors of the new office building, with plans to fill the other three over time.

The buildings are expected to be completed by summer 2017, Shooshan Company Vice President Kevin Shooshan told ARLnow.com in February.

Photos via Twitter and Facebook, as noted

by Ethan Rothstein — March 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,824 0

Taste of Arlington 2014 crowds(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) The annual Taste of Arlington food festival in Ballston will be back for 2015 on Sunday, May 17.

Last year, the festival drew a record 40,000 attendees, according to its organizer, the Ballston Business Improvement District. This year, the BID hopes to surpass that mark, with new restaurants Pizza Vinoteca and Kapnos Taverna joining Taste of Arlington regulars P.F. Chang’s, Pete’s Apizza and Fuego Cocina y Tequileria.

There will also once again be a beer garden with brews from 24 breweries, plus wine from Barefoot.

All food and drinks can be tasted with the purchase of a ticket booklet, which costs $30 until May 1, when the price goes up to $35. Each booklet contains 10 tickets. Tickets to the VIP Pavilion, which includes unlimited beer, wine, champagne and appetizers, cost $75, and go up to $100 on May 1.

With three stages, there will also be music pumping throughout, including from Arlington bar staples Jumpin’ Jupiter, White Ford Bronco and Burnt Sienna.

There will again be a KidZone and a Bark Park and World Pup Tournament, so families with pets and children can all have something to participate in. There will also be a Girls on the Run 5K race in the morning, before the main event, which runs from noon to 6:00 p.m.

The actual event is free for all to roam around Wilson Blvd and surrounding streets that will be closed to traffic for the afternoon.

File photo. Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

by ARLnow.com — March 27, 2015 at 9:45 am 1,307 0

Traffic on I-66

New Democratic County Board Contender — A field of six has been finalized for the Democratic Arlington County Board primary. The candidates include all five who spoke before the Arlington County Democratic Committee earlier this month, plus Bruce Wiljanen, “who is largely unknown to the Democratic political establishment.” [InsideNova]

New Tenant for Fmr. Marvelous Market Space — Empty for years, the former Marvelous Market storefront at 888 N. Quincy Street in Ballston has a new tenant. The space is being built out as an office for the real estate sales and marketing firm Smith | Schnider.

Coming Soon: More Dedicated Bus Lanes — A mile of dedicated bus lanes for the new Metroway route are set to open in Arlington this summer. Another 1.3 miles of peak-hour bus lanes are also planned. The route runs from the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria to Crystal City. [Washington Post]

Medal of Honor Recipients in Arlington – On Tuesday, 26 living recipients of the Medal of Honor flew in to and then attended a luncheon at Reagan National Airport. The following day, on national Medal of Honor Day, they gathered for a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. [Army Times, Stars and Stripes]

Grant for APS Program — Arlington Public Schools has received a $25,000 grant from Rosslyn-based Graham Holdings to support the school system’s award-winning Traveling Trolley summer reading initiative. [Arlington Public Schools]

by Ethan Rothstein — March 19, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,741 0

Sushi will soon be available just steps from the Ballston Metro station.

A new restaurant called Sushi 2Go is moving into the space next to Italian bakery Tivoli Gourmet, in the Metro plaza at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Stuart Street.

Previously in the space was Primo Fresh Deli, which served smoothies and sandwiches. According to Yelp reviews of Primo Fresh, the space is very small. Said one reviewer, “Depending on the speed of your gait, you could probably cross the whole damn place by the time you say ‘One Mississippi.’”

Any indication as to what the place will serve — outside of, presumably, grab-and-go Sushi — was not evident from the outside, nor was any notices for building or an opening date.

Hat tip to @HeatherMCarroll

by ARLnow.com — March 11, 2015 at 9:20 am 2,429 0

Icy and foggy Potomac River (Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber)

Apartment Tower Proposed for Carpool Site — A 22-story, 330-unit luxury residential tower has been proposed for the site at 4000 Fairfax Drive in Ballston currently occupied by Carpool. It’s unclear if the bar would move to a new location during construction or whether it would move back after. [Washington Business Journal]

Buses to Use Shoulders on I-66 — Monday, March 23 has been set as the launch date for a pilot program that will allow buses to use the shoulder lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway. The speed limit for buses using the shoulders will be 25 mph. [Washington Post]

Equalizing Treatment of Ticketed Cars — This weekend, County Board members are expected to approve a measure that would treat tickets issued by police officers the same as tickets issued by so-called public-service aides. The change would specifically apply to tickets for expired registration tags, personal-property decals and state safety inspections. Currently, tickets for such violations issued by officers can be dismissed administratively by the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, while tickets issued by PSAs require a more lengthy appearance before a judge. [InsideNova]

Wardian Sets Another Crazy Record — Superhuman ultramarathoner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian has set another record. This time, he set the record for fastest 50K on a treadmill. And he set the record after attempting it, unsuccessfully, 30 hours prior to his record-setting run. What’s more, Wardian accomplished the feat on a cruise ship in the Caribbean while sweating profusely. [Runners World]

Sondheim Revue Coming to Signature — In honor of composer Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday, Signature Theatre in Shirlington is planning a “Simply Sondheim” revue, to run from April 2-19. [Playbill]

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber

by Ethan Rothstein — March 10, 2015 at 11:40 am 4,075 0

(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) The wait to try the winner of last year’s Ballston Restaurant Challenge is over: SER, the traditional Spanish restaurant, is open for business.

Serving dishes from every region of Spain, chef and co-owner Josu Zubikarai doesn’t shy away from the idea that only “foodies” might try certain items from his menu, like the Txipirones — squid in its ink, tentacles and all.

“Spain is less than half the size of Texas, but the variety of food is incredible,” Zubikarai said from his resturant at 1110 N. Glebe Road yesterday. He’ll cook up baby eels, octopus and barnacles. “I love barnacles and the baby eels are very good, but I know not everyone will order them.”

While some of the dishes suit the more adventurous, the chef who founded D.C.’s La Taberna del Alabardero 26 years ago is also happy to offer up Spanish crowd pleasers like six different kinds of paella, including seafood, duck and rabbit. He’s especially proud of his bacalao al pilpil, a traditional Spanish cod dish made in a salt and olive oil emulsion.

SER — which is both the Spanish word for  “to be,” and an acronym for “Simple. Easy. Real.” — is in the midst of a soft opening the next two days, offering 20 percent off all food. Thursday will be the restaurant’s grand opening. SER will only open for dinner, at 5:00 p.m., until Monday, March 16, when it will start serving lunch at 11:00 a.m.

Happy hour is every day from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the bar, which also features an extensive list of cocktails, three different sangria options and eight different sherries.

Customers will not only be able to enjoy Zubikarai’s traditional seafood options, but they can also order plates of Spanish charcuterie and a “cochinillo,” which is a roasted suckling pig and serves up to three people for $58. It’s safe to say there are not many restaurants in Arlington offering such dishes.

The bold menu is partly a representation of the special circumstance SER — which is co-owned by Javier Candon, whose wife, Christiana, is “the face” of the business — finds itself in. As the winner of the Restaurant Challenge, after the other finalist, D.C. chef Victor Albisu, dropped out, the restaurant was given a year of free rent and an interest-free, $250,000 loan. SER can afford to find a customer base without having to compromise with a more broadly appealing menu.

That’s music to Zubikarai’s ears, because he reminisces about the days back in Spain when restaurant critics wouldn’t write about an establishment until it had been open at least three years.

“In Spain, people love bullfighting and they say a restaurant is like a bull: it has to be 4 or 5 years old before it’s ready to fight,” he said. “With the year of free rent, we can hire more people, spend that money on training and have much more opportunity to find customers.”

by ARLnow.com — March 9, 2015 at 2:45 pm 11,749 0

Arlington police car parked in the snow (file photo)Police had to break up a fight outside Carpool (4000 N. Fairfax Drive) over the weekend after some snowball throwing turned violent.

Police say two men in their mid-20s were chucking snowballs near the entrance to the Ballston bar early Sunday morning when a couple approached.

The male half of the couple asked twice that the men stop throwing the snowballs so he and his girlfriend could safely enter the establishment.

“[Expletive] your girlfriend, and [expletive] you,” was the reply, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

At that point, one of the suspects threw a snowball that pegged the woman in the back. The boyfriend, 30, and the snowball tosser then came face-to-face, police say, at which point the suspect “threw a haymaker” at the boyfriend. The boyfriend responded by dodging the punch, then landing a punch of his own, breaking the suspect’s nose, Sternbeck said.

The suspect’s acquaintance, who moments earlier tried and failed to break up the fight, then allegedly stepped in and attempted another wild punch. The boyfriend dodged that punch, as well, then “body slamed suspect No. 2 to the ground,” according to Sternbeck.

Shortly thereafter, Arlington police officers arrived and broke up the fight.

Neither suspect required an ambulance ride to the hospital, Sternbeck said. All parties involved declined to prosecute and were subsequently released without any charges being filed.

by Ethan Rothstein — March 3, 2015 at 4:30 pm 1,493 0

Orangetheory Fitness' future location in BallstonThe second location of Orangetheory Fitness in Arlington is coming to Ballston, just two blocks from the Metro.

After opening in Rosslyn last summer, franchise owner Mark Steverson said the reception has been good enough to expand further in the county.

“We’ve been very busy, but more importantly, the community has really responded well and taken off with the concept of what we do here,” he said. “It’s great to see he community in better shape since we’ve moved in.”

Orangetheory’s next location will be at 4201 Wilson Blvd, in the ground floor of the National Science Foundation’s headquarters.

The space, a former Bank of America branch, is 4,200 square feet, Steverson said, and it will be the largest of Orangetheory’s 180 gyms in the country when it opens this summer.

“The bigger space will allow us to fit more people into a class, while keeping the group personal training feeling,” Steverson said.

Orangetheory specializes in hour-long group interval training workouts that use a combination of treadmills, rowing machines, free weights and a suspension system, monitoring each participants’ heart rate to maximize calorie burn.

While Steverson is prepping for a July opening in Ballston, he’s also looking for a third Orangetheory location in Arlington. He said he has a franchise agreement to open in Crystal City and Pentagon City, and is currently exploring locations. He hopes to open in south Arlington by the end of 2015.

by Ethan Rothstein — February 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm 7,759 0

(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) In a matter of months, a Washington Boulevard house thought to have been built in the 1800s will be torn down.

The two-story shingle and frame house at 4210 Washington Blvd will be replaced with a four-story duplex with a rooftop patio. It was built sometime between 1895 and 1910, according to Arlington County records, but little, if anything, is going to be preserved.

American Signature Properties owns the house, and Virginia Division Manager Mark Benas told ARLnow.com that the Arlington Historical Society combed the house for artifacts and he’s offered materials to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The AHS found nothing of value, Benas said, and all the ReStore wanted were some newer small appliances.

“It is literally just an old house,” county Preservation Planner Rebeccah Ballo wrote in an email. “Nothing particularly noteworthy about it.”

Former AHS President Tom Dickinson toured the house, and said it’s “pretty trashed inside.” It has been divided into apartments and there’s nothing “visible” that was in place around the turn of the 20th century.

“All of the radiators have frozen and exploded, spewing black goo everywhere,” Dickinson said via email. “The only interesting ‘original’ part is the exterior furnace room, with old T-111 walls, and old piping.​ It’s a place everyone has seen, and the new duplex going in there will be markedly different. I even climbed up into the attic.. It was interesting to see how the house has had various additions and expansions tied in over the years, i.e, a roof over a roof, rafters, splicing, etc.”

Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark first reported on the planned demolition, writing the house “is now deserted — save for some reported homeless squatters.”

The house, which became infamous for the giant flag that used to hang in the window, was approved for redevelopment in 2013 by the Arlington County Board, and sold to American Signature Properties last December for $827,500. Benas has applied for construction and demolition permits, and expects to tear down the house this spring.

“It’s a landmark in Arlington, for sure,” Dickinson said. “Wish there was more history as to its provenance around.”

by ARLnow.com — February 23, 2015 at 9:00 am 1,984 0

Marine Corps War Memorial (Iwo Jima) in the snow (Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson)

Iwo Jima Anniversary — Today marks the 70th anniversary of the famous photo of Marines raising the flag during on Iwo Jima during World War II. Veterans of the battle gathered at the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn, which depicts the flag raising, to mark its anniversary last week. [Stars and Stripes]

Impromptu Marriage at Fire Station — A Marine and his fiance got married at Arlington’s Fire Station 5 Saturday night. Firefighters got the call at 6:00 p.m. that the Marine, who was deploying the next day, was in desperate need of a hall after their venue was closed due to broken pipes. Firefighters were able to hastily mop the floor and set up chairs in one of the station’s bays before the bride and groom arrived for the short ceremony. [Facebook]

Man Falls on Tracks at Ballston Metro — Around 8:15 this morning, a man somehow fell onto the outbound tracks at the Ballston Metro station. Bystanders were able to hoist the man back onto the platform. According to scanner traffic, he suffered a head injury.

SUV Rollover Near Columbia Pike — An SUV crashed and rolled onto its side at Walter Reed Drive and 13 Street S., near Columbia Pike, on Friday night. The vehicle’s occupants were unhurt and were able to get out on their own, according to a fire department spokesman. Also Friday night, a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on N. Glebe Road near Pershing Drive. The victim was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [Twitter]

Benjamin Banneker Park to Expand — At its Saturday meeting, the Arlington County Board approved the purchase of a 8,375 square foot lot and home adjacent to Benjamin Banneker Park in East Fall Church. The $688,710 purchase will allow the park to expand, following the deconstruction of the house. [Arlington County]

James Hunter Park Cost Infographic — What caused the James Hunter dog park in Clarendon to cost so much? Washingtonian has created an interactive graphic that details some of the park’s features and their price tag. [Washingtonian]

Condo Parking Space Kerfuffle — At Saturday’s County Board meeting, the last item of the day, before the Board adjourned early due to the snowstorm, was a site plan amendment for the Virginia Square Condominiums building. The site plan amendment was proposed by the condo association to try to ameliorate a dispute over the size of two parking spaces. ARLnow.com live tweeted the absurdist theater that followed. [Storify]

Flickr pool photo by J. Peterson

by Ethan Rothstein — February 20, 2015 at 5:10 pm 6,626 0

The Avalon Ballston Square apartment building(Updated at 2:45 p.m. Sunday) A 22-story apartment building in Ballston has been without heat all week, including today, the coldest Feb. 20 on record in D.C.

Residents in the East tower of Avalon Ballston Square, at 850 N. Randolph Street, have been forced to bundle up indoors while the building’s management has said crews are working on the issue, but no solution is in sight.

One resident, who declined to be identified, told ARLnow.com the temperature in her apartment has “hovered between 50 and 60 degrees since Tuesday morning.”

“Management has made no efforts to put us in a hotel or another apartment building with working heat,” she wrote in an email at about noon today. “Their only solution has been to pass out space heaters, which are dangerous to leave on all day or night. The D.C. area is going through record breaking cold temperatures and I cannot get a response from the management on site or corporate management.”

At least one other resident has reached out on social media about the heat, with no response from Avalon’s parent company, Ballston-based Avalon Bay.

Avalon Bay is in the midst of a trying time as a company after a large luxury apartment complex in New Jersey went up in flames last month, causing massive damage and displacing hundreds of residents. The fire caused Avalon Bay to add more fire sprinklers and protections to its planned developments in New Jersey, and has sparked a discussion about more stringent fire code requirements at the state and local level.

When ARLnow.com spoke to a building employee, he simply said the heat was still off and they can’t say when it will be restored. The building’s management declined to comment, and a message left for Avalon Bay’s corporate public relations official has not been returned.

Below is the full text of the last email address Avalon Ballston Square has sent to its residents, according to our source, sent at 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

Hello,

We wanted to keep you as updated as possible regarding the heat in the East Tower. Our maintenance team is continuing to work with several contractors on returning heat to the building as soon as we can. We are constantly monitoring all temperature levels. We will keep you updated as soon as there are any changes.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make you more comfortable. Thanks again for your patience.

Update Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2:15 p.m. – Power was fully restored to the East Tower at about 10:00 p.m. on Friday night, Avalon Bay spokesman Richard Wolff told ARLnow.com. One hundred units had been with “diminished” heat since Monday, out of 714 in the community, Wolff said. Avalon Bay offered on Friday to place residents in hotels. 

After the jump, the full explanation Avalon Bay sent to residents Saturday morning for the origin of the heat malfunction.

Dear Residents,

The heating has been fully restored to the East Tower. Full heat was restored at approximately 10PM Friday evening and we have monitored the system throughout the night. The temperatures have stabilized where they should be for the entire building.

If your home is still cold, blowing cool or if the heat is off altogether, you should be able to simply reset your unit and get heat. The best way to fully reset your heating unit is to turn off the thermostat first, then go to your fuse box, turn off the breaker for your HVAC (they are labelled but typically it’s the double breaker switch at the bottom right), wait about 30 seconds and then turn the breaker and the thermostat back on. Our maintenance team is here and can provide assistance if needed. Please do not hesitate to stop by the office or call for assistance. If you had a space heater in your apartment, please return it to the office or call us to come pick it up.

We want to thank you for your patience and understanding while we were working to resolve this issue. Please either visit our office or call 703-243-7368 if you have any additional questions or concerns or if we can help in any way. We hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend. To start it off, please join us in the lobby this morning for a light breakfast.

In addition, this is an internal memo, sent Friday night, Avalon Bay shared with ARLnow.com explaining the problem:

We have been receiving an increased amount of heating calls since Monday afternoon. Approximately 100 apartments are getting reduced heat from the boiler system. The apartments are all in the East Tower, but are not in one tier or floor; the distribution is random throughout the tower. The North Tower is operating normally. The root of the issue is that we are not able to maintain the correct water temperature in the loop. Since Monday afternoon the maintenance team has had three different contractors on-site; none have been able to identify the cause of the loop’s low and irregular temperature. Each day since Tuesday, the loop temperature has increased to normal or close to normal levels, giving the impression of a solution, but each night the temperature drops again. We now have the original mechanic that installed the system at the property and working to find the issue/fix.

At this moment, we have made an adjustment to the balancing valve between the two towers and the loop temperature is rapidly rising to normal; higher and faster than any of the temperatures we experienced this week. We are optimistic that the issue has been resolved but are going to check in periodically and return tomorrow morning to confirm.

In the interim for residents, we notified the East Tower residents to contact us if they are affected and need assistance with temporary solutions. The team and I have been in the lobby all evening greeting these residents and offering them space heaters or stays in the Residence Inn. Most residents are choosing to stay in their homes as the apartment temperatures are 55 – 60 degrees.

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