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Metro PD Looking for ‘Inappropriate Touching’ Suspect

by ARLnow.com | April 23, 2014 at 11:15 am | 3,559 views | No Comments

Assault and Battery suspect (photo courtesy MTPD)Metro Transit Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying an Orange Line rider (pictured, left) who they say touched a woman inappropriately.

During the Feb. 12 evening rush hour commute, while on an Orange Line train near the Ballston Metro station, the man “allegedly rubbed the inner thigh of a patron as she sat next to him,” according to police. The crime is being described as “assault and battery.”

“Anyone who is able to identify the individual pictured below is asked to call Metro Transit Police Detectives at (202) 962-2121 and reference case #2014-07734,” MTPD said in a press release.

Concrete Crosswalks in Ballston Deteriorating

by Ethan Rothstein | April 18, 2014 at 11:05 am | 1,949 views | No Comments

Crosswalk at Fairfax Drive and N. Stuart Street (courtesy photo)(Updated at 1:10 p.m.)The concrete, brick-like crosswalks that cross Fairfax Drive in Ballston and other main roads around Arlington are susceptible to disrepair and are more costly to fix than an average sidewalk.

The crosswalks, called “pavers,” were installed by the county on VDOT roads like Fairfax Drive, Lee Highway and Columbia Pike. They were built roughly 20 years ago as part of a county project to try to construct a brick-like crosswalk without material as fragile as the clay that bricks are made from.

“When brick sidewalks in old cities were in vogue, the industry developed concrete pavers as a flexible and durable surface for sidewalks that could adapt to tree roots without cracking and looked attractive in many areas,” county Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman told ARLnow.com. “However, the heavy volumes of large vehicles such as what is typical of Fairfax Drive and most major arterials where Arlington has such crosswalks installed have made them very difficult to maintain as they’ve aged and become more prone to failure.”

Heilman said the crosswalks, like the one on N. Stuart Street crossing Fairfax Drive, captured by an ARLnow.com tipster in a state of disrepair on Tuesday, costs $20 per square foot to repair, which is four times the cost of repairing a standard concrete sidewalk.

Because of this winter’s extreme weather, the many crosswalks have been repaired with asphalt, like the ones at Lee Highway and N. Military Road and Columbia Pike at S. Walter Reed Drive. In high-density areas like Ballston that see a comparatively high volume of car and foot traffic over the crosswalks, developers and property owners contribute to the repair of the crosswalks through a county pedestrian maintenance program.

The crosswalk above, however, was repaired quickly by the county because it’s near a major transit hub. Heilman said there are 70 crosswalks with concrete pavers in the county at 35 intersections, but there are no plans to install any more in the future. Residents can report crosswalk failures to DES online.

Courtesy photo

Taste of Arlington is One Month Away

by Ethan Rothstein | April 18, 2014 at 9:30 am | 1,667 views | No Comments

Taste of Arlington 2012Taste of Arlington, the annual street festival in Ballston, returns on May 18.

The event, hosted by the Ballston Business Improvement District, will close down Wilson Blvd and part of N. Stuart Street to accommodate about 50 restaurant booths, two live music stages, a beer and wine garden, three golf putting holes and a rock climbing wall.

Among the restaurants being featured are Willow, the yet-to-open Kapnos, World of Beer, Big Buns, Pete’s Apizza, Circa and Red Rocks, among others. The restaurants will compete in competitions for best appetizer, best entrée and best dessert. The beer and wine garden will also feature national and local breweries like Port City in Alexandria, Devil’s Backbone, Flying Dog and Starr Hill, plus wine and sparkling wine from Barefoot.

The event will go from noon to 5:00 p.m., rain or shine. Tasting tickets can be bought online 10 for $30 before May 1, and 10 for $35 after that. Tickets for unlimited beer, wine and champagne, plus seats to watch the tasting up close can be had for $100, and $110 after May 1,  in the VIP champagne tent. Starting April 23, Harris Teeter locations in Arlington will also be selling ticket packets at a discount.

Before the event, at 10:00 a.m., there will also be a 5k organized by Girls on the Run, open to runners of all ages.

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

Despite Ridicule from Yelp Reviewers, Ballston Cafe Keeps Phallic Sign

by Ethan Rothstein | April 16, 2014 at 10:35 am | 11,911 views | No Comments

The logo for Market Place & Cafe in Ballston

Yelp reviewers and out-of-town passersby alike see the same thing when they look at the sign for Market Place & Cafe in Ballston: a phallus.

But despite giggles from around the internet and outside the doors, the store at 901 N. Glebe Road has kept the logo plastered on its windows for at least 5 years. And there’s no indication that it will be changing any time soon.

The restaurant’s owner declined requests for comment, demanding that an ARLnow.com employee leave the store after identifying himself as a reporter — but before even getting a chance to ask about the sign.

It’s unclear why the store has stuck with the logo — which seems intended to be a mustachioed figure with an prodigiously tall chef’s hat — for all these blush-inducing years. Commentary about the sign on Yelp dates back to 2009.

“My coworkers refer to the place as CnB Deli,” Steve L. wrote in 2009. “If you look at the picture I’ve attached you’ll see why: the logo for this place is of a huge c— and balls.”

“Welcome to Dong Deli,” Steve T. wrote in 2011. “Despite the ridic [sic] logo, the food isn’t that bad.”

The most recent review on the Yelp page was written last year by Matt R., who gave the deli five stars. Matt wrote: “I have never eaten here but their logo is a PENIS WITH A MOUSTACHE. 5 stars.”

Brandon Kline, visiting the area from his home on Long Island, N.Y., said he didn’t notice the sign at first, until he was walking from the Ballston Metro to the Holiday Inn a block away from Market Place Cafe and saw that a crowd had gathered to take photos.

“It was soon apparent why the crowd was taking pictures,” Kline told ARLnow.com. Kline said it reminded him of the phallic sign for the Austin Motel in Austin, Texas, “but even that isn’t as bad” as Market Place’s.

“They definitely knew it was a [penis] sign when they made it,” Kline’s girlfriend, Abby Koppa, said. “There’s no way it was unintentional.”

‘Modern Comfort’ Restaurant Comes to Ballston

by Ethan Rothstein | March 25, 2014 at 10:00 am | 5,101 views | No Comments

Republic Kitchen and Bar, a “modern comfort food” concept, is open for dinner in the former Leek American Bistro space in Ballston.

Republic, at 801 N. Quincy Street, is open for dinner this week at 4:30 p.m. for a soft opening and will fully open for lunch business next week, according to General Manager Anthony Catselides.

Republic opens after Leek closed in November, after only a year in business. Before Leek, Thai Terrace occupied the space across the street from the Liberty Center development. Catselides said Republic hopes to be known for its from-scratch cooking: everything in the restaurant is made from scratch every day, with the exception of the french fries.

“We’re serving high-quality good at a medium price point.” Catselides told ARLnow.com yesterday. No entrée on the menu will cost more than $20, he said, and most will cost less than $15.

Executive Chef and operating owner Alan Newton — who comes from the Charleston, S.C., restaurant scene before working at McCormick and Schmick’s, among other restaurants — said there are going to be hints of international, Asian fusion and Southern cooking in the menu. He said he’s as serious as can be about the food’s freshness.

“We’re using our microwave as a bread box right now,” he said. “It’s not even plugged in.”

Catselides said he wants Republic to be looked at as a more mature spot — somewhere for an affordable date, a lunch meeting or drinks after work — and, when the night gets later, to become more of a lounge atmosphere. The restaurant will also have outdoor seating with heat lamps when the weather warms up.

World of Beer Touts Itself as Business Venue

by ARLnow.com | March 18, 2014 at 10:20 am | 1,759 views | No Comments

World of Beer (courtesy photo)Despite a name that suggests a place more appropriate for after-work activities, Ballston’s World of Beer (901 N. Glebe Road) is trying to position itself as a daytime business venue.

The tavern, which carries more than 500 types of beer, has been touting itself as a location for lunch meetings, corporate training and teleconferencing.

“We are a great place for off-site meetings,” said owner Evan Matz, in a press release. “With little notice, CEOs and managers can reserve a separate room equipped with our IP-based video and wall monitor systems. It’s a perfect place to hold working lunches.”

Matz is also trying to draw attention to World of Beer’s new lunch menu — bratwurst sliders, bacon burgers, etc. — and to his loyalty program, for those who have sampled all 500+ brands of beer.

“One customer has sampled more than 2,000 brands,” Matz noted. “But we don’t recommend this be done during business meetings.”

World of Beer plans to open a new location in Reston in May.

Retail Experts Say R-B Corridor Set for Future Success

by Ethan Rothstein | March 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 2,714 views | No Comments

Clarendon bars (photo by Maddy Berner)The Arlington retail market is well-positioned for the next decade or so, say several retail and real estate experts.

Those in and around the retail industry say the recent trends toward mixed-use, urbanized development and the growth of “milennials” among consumers in the post-recession years add up nicely for Arlington.

Bruce Leonard, a managing principal at Streetsense, a real estate, retail and marketing firm, gave a lecture at George Mason University’s Arlington campus last month called “the changing face of retail.” He contended that the retail market is catching up to the real estate market in seeking urban, walkable centers.

Downtown areas were the dominant retail markets at the turn of the century, he said, until “construction of the interstates it moved away from the cities.”

“Now, ironically, we’re coming back to more urban- and downtown-focused retail,” Leonard said. “So for the [Rosslyn-Ballston] corridor, that’s really a good thing because it’s really urban. It’s relevant to the consumer in that it has the ability to provide an immersive and engaging environment… which is what [the consumers] are looking for.”

Kevin Shooshan, who oversees the leasing for The Shooshan Company in Ballston, said that’s why Arlington will still have an advantage over Tysons Corner when the Silver Line opens.

“I think specifically in the Courthouse-Clarendon-Ballston area, it’s more that it’s a walkable area, even more than Tysons,” he told ARLnow.com yesterday. “In Ballston, in Courthouse, in Clarendon, you can go on a leisurely four-block, five-block walk, passing ground floor retail with every step, with options to grab a paper, grab coffee, meeting with someone. It’s not just a walk down a Metro access corridor. I do see that as a huge asset.”

As the D.C. area apartment rental market continues to surge, that retail market can be key for attracting tenants. Most of the new buildings have fitness centers, pools, computer lounges and other amenities, but the shops in the neighborhood are every bit as much of the pitch to a tenant these days.

“Retail, in these markets, is really becoming an amenity,” Leonard said. “We’re seeing the conversation is ‘what kind of retail will I get that will match the demands of my tenant?’ Co-tenancy is going both horizontal and vertical, and that’s a really new trend.”

Billy Buck, the vice president of Buck & Associates, said the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor sells itself.

“In a 10-minute conversation, it’s mentioned in the first minute or two by the client before we have to bring it up,” Buck said. ”It’s not something you have to sell. The client or the purchaser or the tenant, they get to us because they’ve already realized that all those things are super important to their use.”

Lastly, the top trend Leonard said the retail market will see, both locally and nationall, is continued downsizing of big retailers. With online shopping and a shift in consumer behavior, chains that had giant, big box stores are looking for spaces sometimes half the size as before.

Most national retailers have square-footage requirements for any space they are looking for, Buck said, but that never prevents them from squeezing themselves in Arlington.

“These retailers are smart enough to realize that it may not fit their corporate mold, they know better than to skip Arlington,” he said. “You’re not going to just pass on Arlington in general, it’s just a bad business decision.”

IHOP Offering Free Pancakes Today

by Ethan Rothstein | March 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 1,150 views | No Comments

Ballston IHOP by Tim KelleyThe IHOP in Ballston (935 N. Stafford Street) is far more crowded than usual today for National Pancake Day.

The restaurant chain’s location is the only one in Arlington, and it’s offering a free short stack of pancakes to all its customers today while collecting donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma society, according to an IHOP employee.

The employee said the wait is about a half hour for parties of four and 15 minutes for parties of two at about 12:15 p.m. today. The promotion lasts all day, and the store is open 24 hours.

File photo by Tim Kelley

Va. Square Snowball Fight Attracts Big Crowd

by Ethan Rothstein | March 4, 2014 at 10:30 am | 3,698 views | No Comments

More than a hundred people gathered in Quincy Park in Virginia Square yesterday afternoon to participate in the Battle at Ballston snowball fight.

Snowball fight organizer Danny Douglass set up a game area and held four dodgeball-style games, with more than 90 people participating in some of the matches.

Douglass said he was drinking at Wilson Tavern (2403 Wilson Blvd) Saturday night with some friends when he had the idea. Sunday night, he launched a website, created a Facebook event and got a sponsor — Wilson Tavern, naturally — and a charity for which to collection donations: Research Down Syndrome.

“We were just talking about it and thought it would be fun,” Douglass told ARLnow.com between games, for which he served as referee. “I had no idea so many people would show up. I was expecting no more than 25 or 30, just my D.C. street hockey friends. But very few people here are friends of ours.”

Douglass got help organizing — and refereeing — from his friend Robert Heintz and Wilson Tavern bar manager Conor Mattil. Mattil said he went around other Courthouse-area bars and recruited people to participate Sunday night.

“Once the charity got involved, it was more than just drunken fun,” Mattil said. “Hopefully we do this every time it snows and it will keep picking up.”

The event generated well over $100 for the charity.

Friends Manuel Cordoves and Van Dang were among the participants who heard about the snowball fight from word of mouth. Each have lived in the area for at least two years and this was the first snowball fight in which they had participated.

“It’s been a while since there was enough snow,” Dang said. “It was much more fun, and more organized, than I expected.”

“I was expecting more of a free-for-all,” Cordoves added. “It was great that so many people came out and it was so organized.”

Bailey’s in Ballston Closes, Could Take Former Union Jack’s Space

by Ethan Rothstein | February 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 5,092 views | No Comments

Bailey's in Ballston Mall closes Bailey's in Ballston Mall closes

(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) The Bailey’s Pub and Grille in Ballston Common Mall at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street has closed, but it may not be gone for long.

A Bailey’s employee who was cleaning out the space told ARLnow.com that the restaurant is “under contract” to take over the former Union Jack’s space along N. Glebe Road, but couldn’t say for sure that the move was imminent. ARLnow.com reported the move was possible in December.

Two of the mall interior doors at Bailey’s have signs saying Bailey’s closed due to “a maintenance issue.” It’s unclear if the restaurant will actually reopen in the new space.

An ARLnow.com tipster said employees were instructed to close out their tabs yesterday and the restaurant closed abruptly during the lunch hour. Another tipster said that the restaurant is closed for good and will not be opening back up.

County Seeking to Acquire Ballston Park Apartments

by ARLnow.com | February 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm | 4,276 views | No Comments

Ballston Park apartments (photo via Google Maps)

Arlington County, via a complicated real estate transaction, is seeking to acquire the sprawling Ballston Park apartments on the 300 block of N. Glebe Road.

The 20-acre, 52-building complex has 513 apartments, 233 of which are committed affordable to those making 60 percent or less of the area median income. If the county’s purchase were to go through, the county would increase the number of units committed as affordable and keep them affordable for another 75 years.

The complex is expected to sell for around $100 million, but the net cost to the Arlington — from the county’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund — is not expected to exceed $16 million. That’s because the county already has a partial stake in the apartments, and because the county is only providing 25 percent of the sale price. The rest is being supplied by affordable housing nonprofit AHC Inc., through loans.

The terms of the proposed sale specify that the county will own the title to the apartment complex, but will grant AHC a 75-year ground lease and will help provide AHC with partial financing. Barring the sale, the existing affordable units would expire in 2027 and become market rate units.

“The County is taking this action in order to preserve the Ballston Park community – an important affordable housing asset,” said Arlington County Housing Director David Cristeal. “We believe that through this transaction, the County can preserve long term affordability and acquire a historically valuable asset for less than an estimated $70,000 per unit.”

“This transaction offers the opportunity to not only to extend the duration of current affordable units but to increase the number of affordable units within the property, obtain greater control over the long-term future use and development of the property and receive residual income in the form of lease payments for 75 years,” Cristeal continued.

The sale was quietly approved by the County Board at the end of its Tuesday, Jan. 28 meeting. The item was not originally on the Board’s public agenda. The sale agreement provided by the Board caps the total sale price at no more than $105 million.

Photo via Google Maps

Do-Gooders Help Police Chase Down Alleged Thief

by ARLnow.com | February 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 5,235 views | No Comments

Zachary Dewulf (photo via ACPD)Two shoppers helped the Arlington County Police Department arrest a suspect accused of robbery in Ballston yesterday.

The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. on the 900 block of N. Stuart Street, about a block away from Ballston Common Mall.

The suspect — Zachary DeWulf, 22, of Springfield, Va. — allegedly pushed a 65-year-old man down while he was trying to withdraw money from an ATM and stole the man’s two wallets. According to police, that’s when two witnesses took action.

“Two patrons of an adjacent shop witnessed the robbery and immediately chased the suspect on foot,” according to a police press release. “During the chase, one of the witnesses was able to flag down an Arlington County officer, who joined the chase and apprehended the suspect shortly after in a parking lot in the 4200 block of Fairfax Drive.”

The victim was not hurt. Dewulf was charged with robbery. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County Detention Facility after his bond was denied.

Update at 5:00 p.m. — DeWulf is a competitive figure skater and works as a skating coach at nearby Kettler Capitals Iceplex, we’re told.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | February 19, 2014 at 9:00 am | 1,503 views | No Comments

Snow overlooking the Potomac (Flickr pool photo by lifeinthedistrict)

Another Dem Enters Congressional Race — Derek Hyra, an associate professor in Virginia’s Tech’s Urban Affairs and Planning program, has thrown his hat into the ring for the June 10th Democratic primary to replace Rep. Jim Moran in Congress. Hyra is also a member of the Alexandria Planning Commission. [NBC Washington]

Young Dems Hold Meet and Greet – Arlington Young Democrats will hold a meet and greet with some of the Democratic congressional candidates tonight. The event is taking place at 7:00 p.m. at Ireland’s Four Courts (2051 N. Wilson Blvd). [Facebook]

Cost of Police Reports May Rise — County officials are considering raising the price of accident reports and criminal checks from $3-5 to $10 apiece. The increase in fees could bring in an additional $32,000, which would offset the police department’s cost of supplying the reports. [Sun Gazette]

Marymount Signs Ballston Lease — Marymount University has signed a lease for 87,000 square feet of space in the office building at 4040 N. Fairfax Drive. The building was renovated last year after it sole tenant, the Dept. of Defense, moved out due to the Base Realignment and Closure Act. [Federal Capital Partners]

Registration Open for Fairlington 5K — Registration is now open for the Fairlington 5K Run and Walk. The non-competitive event will take place at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 5. It will benefit Abingdon Elementary School and Ellie McGinn, an Abingdon student who’s battling a degenerative mitochondrial disease for which there is no known cure. [Fairlington 5K]

Flickr pool photo by lifeinthedistrict

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | February 14, 2014 at 10:00 am | 1,869 views | No Comments

Snowy Rock Spring (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Va. Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional — A federal judge has overturned Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, in what the New York Times describes as “the strongest legal reversal yet of restrictive marriage amendments that exist throughout the South.” The judge stayed the ruling, pending an appeal, meaning that gay couples will still not be able to get married in Virginia for the time being. [New York Times, Blue Virginia]

Blue Goose Redevelopment a Year or More Away — A groundbreaking on the redevelopment of Marymount’s “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is not likely to take place until next winter at the earliest. [Sun Gazette]

Behind Arlington’s Snow Decisions — There’s a reason why Arlington County typically makes a decision on whether to open, open on a delay or close for the day at 5:00 a.m., well after some other jurisdictions. Arlington and Alexandria both usually wait until after a 3:00 a.m. Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments conference call, in which various governments and agencies discuss street conditions and their go or no-go decisions. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

Arlington Shuts Down for Snow, Bars Stay Open

by Ethan Rothstein | February 13, 2014 at 3:35 pm | 2,808 views | No Comments

A walk down the streets of Ballston in the immediate aftermath of the biggest snowstorm in years reveals a consistent trend: most businesses — like banks, barbers, and many restaurants — are closed, but bars are open.

Even in Ballston Common Mall, the Starbucks was closed, although the Panera Bread and Noodles & Company were open and filled with customers during the lunch hour. One of the busiest businesses in the area was First Down Sports Bar (4213 N. Fairfax Drive), which was crowded enough that the one bartender scheduled wouldn’t suffice; owner Ramesh Chopra had to come in and help.

“We’re always open. We were open during Snowmaggedon,” he told ARLnow.com at about 1:30 this afternoon. “I expected it to be busy later, around 3:00, but people were calling us early making sure were going to be open.”

At the Front Page Arlington (4201 Wilson Blvd), owner George Marinakos decided to open, but he had to pick up one of his employees and drive them to the restaurant to work. Other employees at his and other businesses walked to work or took the Metro.

“Everybody wanted us to open,” he said. “I did, employees did, customers did.”

Most offices were shut down — along with schools and county and federal government offices — but Blake Gilley and two coworkers had to come in. By noon, they had left, and an hour later they were enjoying drinks in First Down.

“Literally no one else was there,” he said of his office. “All of our other offices along the East Coast were shut down. I haven’t received an email in three hours.”

Wilson Blvd and N. Glebe Road were drivable, but covered in slush. The streets were far from empty, however, as most residents seemed to be enjoying their snow days. A few impromptu snowball fights even broke out.

Rock Bottom Brewery (4238 Wilson Blvd) manager Avery Minor expects that later in the day, much of the outdoor merriment will continue in bars like his.

“Bars and grocery stores are the places that have to stay open,” Minor said. ”People will always need food and drinks. What else are you gonna do?”

(In Virginia, alcohol-centric establishments — which we refer to above as bars — must serve food and are technically considered restaurants.)

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