The eyes have it. A new art installation featuring interactive LED-lit eyes launched today at the final Ballston Farmers Market of the season.
The display is called “The Eyes of Ballston” and users interact with it through their mobile device. The concept is that five characters live in the tree in the middle of Welburn Square — the baby, the grannie, the flirt, the grump and the raver — and they look at users through the interactive eyes.
Visitors stand near the tree and answer a character’s questions on their mobile device, to which the character responds via the eyes. The character will display different emotions depending on the user’s answer. They can perform numerous actions, including crying, winking and blowing a kiss. Each character has a circadian rhythm, so they’re not all awake and interacting with people at all hours of the day.
“I want them [users] to have fun and interact and enjoy public art, and understand that a great piece of public art is great for place-making and bringing people together,” said artist Lola Lombard, who came up with the eyes concept. “It’s showing them it’s OK to have a little fun. I like my artwork to always have a sense of humor and I think this does that.”
More than 3,000 LED lights, hundreds of feet of wiring, a metal structure and a Linux-based computer make up the project’s technical components.
“It’s really nice to make this stuff as art,” said Branden Hall, whose role focused on the electronic aspects of the art display. “It’s nice to make people smile, I really enjoy that.”
The display is part of the Ballston BID’s “Public Displays of Innovation” series, which also includes the lifeguard chairs placed throughout Ballston.
“We want to bring the amazing creativity and imagination of the people who live and work in Ballston to the street level,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone. “We weren’t even sure at first if it could be done. I didn’t realize it was going to be this cool. It makes you stop to think about how you interact with your neighborhood.”
Sen. Tim Kaine showed up at the farmers market, campaigning for County Board candidate Alan Howze. He checked out the electronic eyes and said he likes the idea of having more public art in communities.
“Why not make communities beautiful?” Kaine said. “I think art, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, I think it makes people feel better about the place where they live.”
The interactive eyes will be in Welburn Square through November.
Italian restaurant Tutto Bene, at 501 N. Randolph Street in Ballston, across from Ballston Common Mall, is now closed.
Owner Orlando Murillo posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that its last day open was Sept. 29, and a sign on the restaurant’s front door reads “We’re going out of business as of 09/29/2014.” Murillo said in his post that the restaurant never recovered from the recession, despite the continued growth of Ballston’s food scene.
“The great economical problem that hit us since 2009 was [the] number one problem and not easy to resolve,” Murillo wrote. “We were hoping that in a couple years we will come back on our feet, but that never happened. It was very sad to see how things were going down hill and all the progress coming to Arlington bring the increases that we were not able to overcome.”
“On September 30, 2014 we decide that there was no way for us to continue in business, and it was an extremely sad day for me and my employees. The fact that they stayed with me from the first day to the last, 26 years together living every day as a big family I will keep all of them deeply in my heart.”
The restaurant drew rave reviews from Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema in 2004 for both its Italian food and its special Bolivian food offerings on the weekend. There’s no word on what will replace it.
Police say a 31-year-old woman was driving through the Ballston area around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday (October 4), when the suspect pulled up behind her and turned on a rotating red light on his dashboard. The victim pulled over on N. 11th Street near Quincy Park and the suspect approached her car, displaying a badge. The man reportedly told the victim to get out of her car and go with him to the police station. The woman was skeptical and stayed in her car. She told the man she was going to call the police to have an officer in uniform respond to the scene. At that point, the man took off in his car.
“This suspect had the intention of getting the victim into his vehicle,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If something doesn’t seem right to you, trust your instincts and contact police. This woman’s actions likely kept her from being abducted.”
ACPD will confirm if a traffic stop is legitimate for any citizen who calls the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222.
The police impersonator is described as a black man, around 6′ tall and 200 pounds. He was driving an older, dark colored car that appeared to be a Crown Victoria or a similar car resembling an unmarked police vehicle.
Anyone with information about this incident should contact ACPD Detective Conigliaro at 703-228-4193 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).
Update at 2:15 p.m. – Office of Naval Research spokesman Doug Abbotts said that the flag is that of the building’s property manager, and it was left up overnight this week while the American flag was taken down. Abbotts said that while it looks like a plain white “surrender” flag, the logo is “faded, but it’s there.” The white flag has since been taken down.
For two days this week, the Office of Naval Research building, at 875 N. Randolph Street in Ballston, was flying a white flag on its flagpole, not its usual stars and stripes.
Lori Klein lives in the building behind ONR’s headquarters, and she said the flag was up Wednesday and Thursday nights before she talked to a security guard last night. This morning, the white flag was nowhere to be seen and the American flag was back in its normal place.
“I was walking my dog when I saw the flag, so I stopped a security guard and told him about it,” Klein told ARLnow.com over the phone today. “He had no idea it was up there.”
A spokeswoman for the ONR was not aware of the flag when first contacted by ARLnow.com.
The flag was seemingly reminiscent of the work of German artists this summer, who replaced two American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with white flags.
If it was a prank “somebody really pulled something off… considering there are cameras and security guards all over the place, and how high alert they must be on,” Klein said.
The Office of Naval Research is an agency within the Dept. of Defense that “coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.”
Photos courtesy Lori Klein
ACPD Promotes Domestic Violence Awareness — Arlington County Police cruisers are displaying purple ribbon magnets in October to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month. [Twitter]
Closed Ballston Restaurant Expanding in Maryland – Red Parrot Asian Bistro, which closed in Ballston last year, now has locations in Hanover and Ellicott City, Md., with a third set to open in Baltimore. Owner Wendy Cheng says Ballston and another closed location, in Baltimore, were shuttered “due to location and performance issues.” SER, the winner of the Ballston Restaurant Challenge, is set to open in Red Parrot’s former storefront this winter. [Baltimore Sun]
Arlington High Schools in Playoff Hunt — With just over half the season left to play, all three Arlington public high school football teams are on pace for playoff berths. [InsideNova]
Wakefield QB Transferred from Yorktown — Wakefield High School’s football team, a perennial also-ran, is in contention this year at least partially thanks to the play of quarterback Riley Wilson. Wilson transferred from Yorktown, a perennial playoff contender, for the chance to start as quarterback. [Washington Post]
Photo courtesy @mikematyas
The market will run from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Welburn Square on N. Stuart Street, across from the Ballston Metro station. All visitors 21-and-over can enjoy a taste of beer and wine, with additional pours for $5. Anyone who purchases more than $10 of merchandise from some of the market’s vendors can have a second free tasting.
The beer will be provided by Northern Virginia breweries Heritage and Old Ox, as well as cider maker Angry Orchard.
While the beer and wine garden is happening, local band Jumpin’ Jupiter will perform their brand of, as they put it on their Facebook page, “Crash, boom, bangy kerplopabilly krap.”
The beer and wine will be accompanied by Ballston’s usual array of farmers selling vegetables, fruits, herbs and other goods, as well market vendors selling their goods. Tomorrow afternoon, the Ballston Business Improvement District will also unveil a new public art installation, called “Clouds.”
The Clouds are 50 light-and-sound interactive lanters placed all over the square. The lanterns take in and emit light and sound, and “will be programmed and then connected to form a cloud-like, networked structure,” according to a Ballston BID spokeswoman. The cloudlets were designed by artists Aki Ishida and Ivica Bukvic from the Virginia Tech Research Center in Ballston. Members of the public will participate in a workshop all day tomorrow to help build the clouds, which be displayed at 5:00 p.m.
While tomorrow is the last “mega market” in Ballston, the weekly farmers markets will continue to be held on Thursday evenings until the end of the month.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) A 19-year-old D.C. resident tried to stab multiple people outside First Down Sports Bar in Ballston last night before fleeing from police, avoiding a taser and ultimately being tackled and arrested, police say.
Larry Sutton was already wanted for armed robbery by the Metropolitan Police Department when, while intoxicated, he attempted “to stab several patrons with a knife” at 8:30 last night, according to the Arlington County Police Department.
First Down owner Ramesh Chopra told ARLnow.com this afternoon that the incident began when Sutton and another individual got into an argument outside the bar. Sutton began swinging a knife, after which the other individual entered First Down, where Sutton followed. Chopra said Sutton swung the knife inside the bar once before the two were kicked out and Chopra locked the door.
After that, Sutton “just started to go after passersby,” Chopra said, swinging his knife at two different people on the sidewalk before the police arrived.
Sutton ignored police demands to drop his weapon and fled toward the Ballston Metro station, the police report said.
According to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the officers hit Sutton with a taser, but it did not bring him down. Ultimately, officers had to “execute a takedown” to subdue and arrest him.
Sutton is being charged with three counts of attempted malicious wounding, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, underage possession of alcohol and drunk in public. He is being held without bond. From the crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 140929062, 4200 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At 8:30 pm on September 29, an intoxicated subject attempted to stab several patrons with a knife at First Down Bar. Police confronted the subject on scene and after failing to comply with officers commands to drop his weapon, the subject fled on foot to a heavily populated area near the Ballston Metro Station. Officers attempted a taser deployment but ultimately took the subject into custody following a takedown. The weapon was recovered and Larry Sutton, 19, of Washington, DC, was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted malicious wounding, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, underage possession of alcohol and drunk in public. Sutton was also wanted out of Washington, DC for armed robbery. He was held without bond.
Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department
It was a relatively quiet seven days in Arlington, at least according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.
In one notable incident, two men reportedly assaulted a man near Ballston Common Mall early Saturday morning, stealing his prescription medication, cash and a cell phone.
ROBBERY, 140920013, 600 block of N. Randolph Street. At 2:26 am on September 20, two subjects assaulted a 29 year-old male victim and stole his prescription medication, cash and cell phone. Suspect one is described as a black male in his twenties, approximately 6’5″ tall and 220 lbs. He was wearing dark clothing and a black baseball hat. Suspect two is described as a black male in his twenties, approximately 5’9″ tall and 160 lbs. He was wearing a white t-shirt and jeans at the time of the incident.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are innocent until proven guilty.
Built in 1988, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr. will receive upgrades to its offices, hallways and lobby, according to Jackson Prentice, vice president of developer MRP Realty. The renovations to the eight-story, 144,000-square-foot building will aim to create “open space, with a more modern feel,” he said.
“The whole building will feel brand new,” Prentice said. “The work will bring the building to a better prominence.”
The FWS moved out of 4301, 4401 and 4501 N. Fairfax Dr. in July and August after the General Services Administration announced last September that the headquarters would be moved to Falls Church. Under the government’s base realignment and closure plan, or BRAC, the GSA estimated moving to 5275 Leesburg Pike would save the government more than $3.8 million annually for 15 years, a news release said.
Pre-leasing on 4401 N. Fairfax Dr. has begun, Prentice said, with work expected to be complete by spring or summer 2015.
The office vacancy rate in Ballston was 16 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to figures from the real estate company CoStar cited by Arlington Economic Development. This was an increase from 14.7 percent last year. The overall office vacancy rate for the county was 20.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014, up from 16.4 percent last year, the figures state.
Representatives for the other two ex-FWS buildings did not immediately respond to inquiries.
Hazmat teams have closed off 9th Street N. between N. Stuart and Stafford Streets to respond to the situation. The suspicious package was found in the mailroom of one of NSF’s two buildings, according to scanner traffic.
The Arlington Alert system sent out a message advising motorists and others to avoid the area while the Arlington County Fire and Police departments complete their investigation.
Photo via @Louis3E
Thanks to a reduction in noise complaints, County Manager Barbara Donnellan has recommended the Board approve renewal of A-Town’s permit, with another county staff review in three months and another Board review in six months.
“Residents in the community have stated to staff that the site plan condition, which restrict the permitted hours the outdoor cafe can be in use, has significantly cut down on noise-related disturbances,” the county staff’s board report states. “However, disturbances related to overcrowding and over-serving of alcohol still have a negative impact on adjacent properties.”
County staff specifically mentioned an incident during the World Cup final on the afternoon of July 13, when the restaurant was found to be over capacity by “at least 100 people” and Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agents “found a truck, parked on the patio, dispensing champagne to the crowd without the proper licenses to do so.”
The County Board last approved the permit’s renewal three months ago, with conditions on limiting the times at which patrons can be on the outdoor patio. The restaurant also planned to install “theater-style curtains” on the patio to reduce noise after the Board’s December use permit review, which saw several residents of the surrounding area complain about the noise the bar was generating. However, A-Town opted to simply close the patio area early instead of putting in the curtains.
A-Town is still waiting for the results of a Virginia ABC Board hearing for a February incident in which, at an employee-only party, police say one man slashed another with a broken beer bottle in the face and neck.
County staff said A-Town gets more police calls than any other “liquor-serving establishment,” with or without live entertainment, in the Ballston area. It also “continues to have issues with compliance with local and state laws and regulations.” The situation has improved since the June decision to close the outdoor café at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and even earlier during the week, but the County Board could still revoke the live entertainment permit at its meeting this Saturday.
Four projects aimed at improving pedestrian safety, removing invasive plants and more are likely to be approved at this Saturday’s regular Arlington County Board meeting.
The final four projects funded by the 2012 Neighborhood Conservation bond, approved in June by the Neighborhood Conservation Advisory Committee, will receive a total of $2,540,175 if the Board approves them. About $1.3 million of those funds would come from the 2012 bond, while about $1.2 million is expected come from the bond referendum on the ballot on Nov. 4.
The four projects up for approval:
- Pedestrian safety and street improvements for the intersections of N. Vacation Lane with N. Stuart and N. Utah Streets in Donaldson Run. Improvements include replacing a yield sign with a stop sign at the northeast corner of N. Stuart Street, replacing sidewalks on N. Utah Street and curb extensions at both intersections. Total cost: $608,749.
- Street improvements for N. Quintana Street between Washington Boulevard and 19th Street N. in East Falls Church. This includes constructing curbs and gutters on both sides of the road and installing a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side on the street. Total cost: $756,581.
- Park improvements for Oakland Park at 3701 Wilson Blvd. in Ballston-Virginia Square. This project is meant to give the park a complete upgrade, bringing features up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards and adding new site furnishings, ornamental plantings and wood decking. Total cost: $798,845.
- Removing invasive plants from Lucky Run Stream in Fairlington-Shirlington. The project calls for creating a “pollinator habitat between the stream bank and bike trail” and creating buffers with trees on either side of the stream. Total cost: $376,000.
The four projects were selected from a pool of 26 applications from neighborhoods around the county because they scored the highest on the NCAC’s points system, which is explained in the county staff’s report.
The county also has produced a five-minute video, embedded above, in honor of the Neighborhood Conservation Program’s 50th anniversary.
“When it was created in 1964, the goal was to empower residents by having them come together to discuss and share ideas for improving their neighborhoods,” the narrator says. The video includes interviews from NCAC Chair Bill Braswell and other committee members. “Over the years, the program has moved from beautification efforts to focus more on infrastructure needs… The program enables residents to identify and plan projects in their own neighborhoods.”
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Arlington’s 22201 ZIP code, which contains Clarendon, Courthouse Virginia Square and part of Ballston, is the top area for “educated millennials” in the country, according to a new report.
Redfin, a real estate firm, released a study that found 22201 has the highest percentage educated people between the ages of 25 and 34 in the country, at 44 percent. Just behind 22201 is the 22209 ZIP code, which comprises all of Rosslyn and Ft. Myer Heights, with 43 percent.
In addition to sporting the most millennials per capita of any ZIP code in the country, Arlington also has by far the highest median income of any of the top 25 millennial-dense neighborhoods, according to Redfin’s data. 22201 is first at $110,300, 22203 — 16th in density at 30 percent — is second at $100,900. The 22206 ZIP code, which includes Shirlington, is 14th in density at 32 percent and third in income at $95,000, while 22209 is fourth in income at $94,100.
Two ZIP codes in Chicago trail immediately behind Arlington in terms of millennials per capita, with a Miami ZIP code ranked fifth. Washington, D.C.’s 20009 (Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan) is seventh in the country and 20008 (Woodley Park, Cleveland Park and north of Dupont Circle) is 18th.
“Redfin’s report looks at the common attributes of millennial ZIPs,” said Redfin’s Alina Ptaszynski. “Not surprisingly they are diverse, urban areas that are expensive places to live and buy a home.”
In addition to having the highest percentage of — and arguably the richest — millennials in the nation, Clarendon was named the D.C. area’s “best neighborhood for millennials” earlier this year by Niche.com.
Unsurprisingly, Redfin found that millennials across the U.S. have a lower rate of home ownership than the population as a whole — 42 percent for millennials compared to 65 of the overall population.
Image via City-Data
A dryer caught fire early this evening in a townhouse on the 1100 block of N. Taylor Street in Ballston, igniting the laundry room in the basement of a home.
The Arlington County Fire Department arrived on the narrow street at 5:00 p.m., according to ACFD Battalion Chief Dan Fitch. The home’s occupant found the fire, left the building and called 9-1-1, Fitch said No one else was inside and no injuries were reported.
The fire was knocked down at 5:08 p.m., before it could spread to other rooms or to any neighboring units, Fitch said. The street smelled slightly of smoke in the minutes following the small blaze, but no trace of fire damage could be seen from the exterior of the house.
Arlington has accelerated its Parkmobile rollout, installing the smartphone app service in Clarendon, Ballston and Virginia Square over the weekend.
The mobile app allows users to enter their parking “zone” number and pay from their phone with pre-saved credit card and vehicle information. It has been in use in D.C. since 2011, and it was first introduced in Crystal City and Shirlington in July, and Pentagon City soon after. Clarendon and Ballston were expected to have the service available “by winter,” county officials said at the time, but the timeline has been pushed up.
“Due to the success of the app, we’re accelerating our rollout schedule,” county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter said. “We’re anticipating that the service will be available at all the remaining sectors — Courthouse, Rosslyn and Columbia Pike — by the end of the year.”
Baxter said that, to date, the app has already processed more than 18,200 transactions in Arlington.
The county has 5,329 metered spots, all of which are now expected to be Parkmobile-eligible by 2015. According to Parkmobile CEO Cherie Fuzzell, the app is responsible for 56 percent of D.C.’s parking revenue.
In 2013, when ARLnow.com first reported the county was planning on implementing smartphone payment for parking meters, then-Treasurer Francis O’Leary said there’s a chance revenue could increase from mobile payments, since they wouldn’t pose the convenience or time issues some have with the kiosks currently installed.
Hat tip to Bill Colton