69°Scattered Clouds

by Ethan Rothstein — September 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm 2,439 0

Hazmat teams respond to suspicious package in Ballston (photo via @Louis3E)Arlington County emergency personnel are responding to a reported suspicious package at the National Science Foundation’s headquarters in Ballston.

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

by Ethan Rothstein — September 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm 3,728 0

A-Town Bar and GrillA-Town Bar & Grill could have its permit for live entertainment and dancing renewed this week, the next chapter in its tenuous relationship with the Arlington County Board and staff.

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.

by Ethan Rothstein — September 15, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,269 0

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.”

by Ethan Rothstein — September 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm 5,100 0

ZIP code map (image via City-Data)(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

by Ethan Rothstein — September 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm 2,079 0

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.

by Ethan Rothstein — September 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm 1,577 0

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

by Ethan Rothstein — September 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm 5,501 0

(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) The Arlington County Police Department apprehended three bike theft suspects in Ballston this afternoon (Friday).

The suspects were caught with a bicycle that had been reported stolen this morning, according to Lt. Dan Murphy, who heads the ACPD’s property theft division. Around 12:30 p.m., police pulled over a minivan with four suspects inside. One female suspect ran away from police and is still at large. The other three were handcuffed and taken into custody, although one managed to flee from the van before police caught and detained him.

“Recognizing the larceny of bikes is an ongoing problem,” Murphy told ARLnow.com at the scene. “We’ve developed plans to prevent bike theft, including plainclothes surveillance, GPS tracking and bicycle registration.”

In total, nine police vehicles responded to the call, at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street in front of Pizza Autentica. Murphy said the large response, which included plainclothes officers, was warranted because of the number of suspects in the minivan, which was later towed from the scene. The van had chemicals and cleaning supplies in it, leading onlookers to question whether it was, as one put it “a rolling meth lab,” but Murphy said the individuals were only suspected of bike theft.

Murphy couldn’t release information about the suspects, either the ones in custody or the one at large. He did say, however, that this wasn’t the only bike theft bust this week. ACPD officers arrested an alleged bike thief who had three stolen bikes in his possession on Wednesday.

To help increase the likelihood that a stolen bike is returned, cyclists are encouraged to register their bike with the police, a free service for residents and non-residents who cycle in Arlington.

The stolen bike is expected to be returned to its owner, a 10-year-old girl who had received it as a Christmas gift, according to Murphy.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 27, 2014 at 1:00 pm 1,419 0

Tina Leone and Casita owner Christina Campos at the Ballston BID's annual meeting 06/23/14Christiana Campos, the new restaurateur who won the Ballston Business Improvement District’s Restaurant Challenge this year, plans to open her new restaurant this winter.

Originally branded as “Casita,” Campos’ project at 1110 N. Glebe Road, next to The Melting Pot, will now be called “SER,” an acronym for “Simple, Easy, Real,” and a play on words with the Spanish verb “to be.”

As part of the Restaurant Challenge prize package, SER received a year of free rent from the building’s owner, Brookfield Properties, and a $245,000 interest-free loan. Campos told ARLnow.com that the restaurant needs “a bit more,” than the loan, so she has launched a Kickstarter campaign for another $15,000.

“The money we raise here [will] be used for the design and renovation of the place,” the Kickstarter says, “for an open kitchen where you can watch the cooking magic happen before your very own eyes, patio furniture… tables, chairs, lighting, a new dishwasher… an indoor herb garden, frames for our walls (with photos of friends, family and neighbors), linens, plates, glassware.”

As of this morning (Wednesday), SER has raised $2,925 of its goal. The fundraising round will close on Oct. 20. Among the perks that donors can receive:

  • For pledging $2,500, a donor will receive a five-course tasting dinner party for eight people and an invitation to SER’s soft opening.
  • For $800, the donor and a guest will get to shadow SER’s chef for a day, plus a five-course tasting meal for two and an invitation to SER’s soft opening.
  • For $500, the donor and a guest will be given a blind tasting menu; they will be given dishes by SER’s chef while blindfold, and receive an invitation to SER’s soft opening

The restaurant will specialize in “authentic, comfort Spanish food that goes beyond tapas,” Campos said in her email, adding that it is planned to be a casual, neighborhood spot, but the food will be “a gastronomical journey and cultural adventure throughout every region of Spain.”

File photo

by ARLnow.com — August 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm 2,856 0

A homeless man was arrested last Friday after allegedly writing “racist” graffiti around Ballston, according to Arlington County Police.

From this week’s Arlington crime report:

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY (series), 140815014, 4200 block of N. Fairfax Drive. Between 4:30 and 6:55 am on August 15, an intoxicated subject wrote profane language with a green marker on buildings, vehicles, bus shelters and signs. Phillip Cannon, 55, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with five counts of destruction of property and drunk in public.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump.

(more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — August 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm 3,632 0

Rendering of the proposed 672 Flats apartment building (image courtesy The Penrose Group) The corner of N. Glebe and Carlin Springs Roads (photo via Google Maps)

The Ballston development boom doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon: a developer has submitted plans to Arlington County for a six-story, 175-unit apartment building on N. Glebe Road.

The Penrose Group has purchased parcels of land on which the Prestige Certified Motors and Macy’s surface parking lot sit, between N. Carlin Springs Road and 7th Street. It also has a contract to purchase the Exxon station at 660 N. Glebe Road, according to Penrose Group Founder and President Mark Gregg. The Washington Business Journal first reported the development.

The building, called 672 Flats, will have 4,400 square feet of retail on the ground floor facing Glebe Road, next to a 725-square-foot bicycle storage area, a lobby, “club room” and fitness center. Andrew Gregg, Mark’s son, told ARLnow.com the number of parking spaces is yet to be determined — the county hopes for 175 while Penrose is angling for fewer — but there will be an underground garage.

Mark Gregg said he expects the site plan process to conclude with County Board approval by spring 2015, and for construction to begin later that fall. Gregg expects the building to be complete in 2017. Along with the building, Andrew Gregg said Penrose plans to put on-street parking along N. Glebe Road for “off-peak hours only,” and build a right turn lane on 7th Street.

“We want to make that intersection safer,” Gregg said. He added there would be no parking in a proposed alley between the building and the townhouses along N. Carlin Springs Road and Tazewell Street, but there could be street parking along 7th Street. According to the WBJ, “The Bluemont Civic Association in February offered its conditional support for the project,” with the conditions including traffic and pedestrian safety improvements.

The Penrose Group is also building the Latitude Apartments in Virginia Square and Pike 3400, coming at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road. Latitude should deliver in 2016, Andrew Gregg said, and Pike 3400 could begin leasing by the end of this year.

With the Rosenthal Mazda dealership on the other side of 7th Street N. from 672 Flats also in line for redevelopment, Gregg said the plot of land is one of the last remaining redevelopment opportunities in Ballston.

“I think that it’s conveniently located for the Ballston area. It’s a block and a half from Metro, and it’s across from the mall” which will be redeveloped, Mark Gregg told ARLnow.com today. “We think the whole Ballston area along Wilson and Fairfax and Glebe will be an area people want to live in.”

Image, left, courtesy The Penrose Group. Photo, right, via Google Maps.

by Morgan Fecto — August 11, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,216 0

Among farmers’ market attendees, corporate commuters, and bar-goers in Ballston last Thursday night (Aug. 7), something else stood out. Two new interactive art displays debuted on Ballston’s sidewalks in the forms of beach chairs and Craigslist poetry.

The brightly painted chairs on the corners of Fairfax Drive and N. Taylor Street, Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd, and in Welburn Square encouraged passersby to sit back and consider rising sea levels. Outside of A-Town Bar and Grill, the jumble of words pulled from Craigslist and projected onto a screen piqued the interests of pedestrians.

These two art installations were part of a series of “Public Displays of Innovation” sponsored by the Ballston Business Improvement District. “Beachfront Potential” and “Missed Connections” were the first of eight projects in the series intended to “bring the character and personality of Ballston to its streets,” according to Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone.

“We wanted to see how to incorporate technology and different forms of media for people to experience on the streets,” Leone said.

With Beachfront Potential, artist Patrick McDonough wanted to pose Ballston residents with the a new, hypothetical shoreline, and suggested that climate change could bring the beach to Ballston. Those who sat down at each of the beach chairs’ three locations were educated and engaged by mobile activities accessed by scanning unique barcodes with smartphones.

“With this project, it’s really the juxtaposition of leisure and this mixing of serious and non-serious imagery and content that’s really an effective way to deal with these things,” McDonough said.

Scanning the barcode at the Fairfax Drive location outside Zoe’s Kitchen and The Nature Conservancy brought up an informative video on climate change. McDonough created the 7-minute video using footage he took along Maryland’s eastern shore and from interviews with Nature Conservancy scientists. A “Skippin’ Stones” melting ice caps game and a list of suggested “beach reads” showed up from the Glebe Road and Wellburn Square locations’ barcodes, respectively.

“If you sit in your house and think about global warming, then you might become so morose that you never leave your house,” McDonough said.

McDonough teaches art at Corcoran College of Art + Design and American University. He said he got the idea for Beachfront Potential when he was looking at a map of rising sea levels.

“It was a happy correlation that this [predicted shoreline] went straight through the Ballston corridor,” McDonough said.

Artist Peter Lee projected a slideshow of black and white imagery and word fragments pulled from Craigslist’s Missed Connections section onto a small screen outside of A-Town.

“I worked in the area and it’s IT heavy and government heavy,” Lee said. “One of the most human things you can have is romance, and living in the D.C. area that’s normally synonymous with power and stuff [made it] interesting to find a human element here.”

Lee used a prepared slideshow Thursday because of a bad wi-fi connection outside the bar, but he said he can funnel bits of text from Craigslist as they’re posted with the algorithm he and co-creator Blake Turner wrote.

“We definitely tailored the data and the aesthetic toward Ballston,” Lee said. “We wrote the algorithm so it can chop up the data more, [because] previously we were just pulling subject lines from Craigslist. Now we’re pulling the content, and it’s like stream of consciousness poetry.”

Some of the pre-prepared bits of text said, “was wearing sunglasses” and “interested noww hit me/regularly/up.”

Lee and Turner are both George Mason University graduates and members of the Floating Lab Collective art group in D.C. Although their installation only showed Thursday, Friday (Aug. 8) and Saturday (Aug. 9), McDonough’s installation will remain on Ballston’s streets through September, Leone said.

Leone said the BID plans to debut its other six projects in the next three months. “Quantum Tours Americana” and  “Site: WA + FC (Ballston)” will show in September, “Cloud,” “Urban Oasis,” and “Forest of Knowledge” in October, and “Axon Xylophone Bridge” in November, Leone said. 

“We really try to look for things that are unique or haven’t been seen before,” Leone said. “It’s been a long time in the works, but they’re really amazing, extremely high quality projects that people can experience together.”

by Ethan Rothstein — August 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm 4,116 0

Protein Bar in Ballston closes  Protein Bar closes in Ballston

The Ballston location of the health food chain Protein Bar has closed and apparently plans to relocate.

The shop, which specialized in smoothies, raw juices and healthy food choices, cut its hours in February to lunchtime only. Its location on the ground floor of 800 N. Glebe Road, next to Mussel Bar, opened in January 2013 but did not get the traffic Protein Bar CEO and founder Matt Matros had in mind. It was the eighth location for the Chicago chain, and third in the D.C. area.

“While we were excited to serve the customers of Ballston,” Matros told ARLnow.com in an email, “we weren’t pleased with our specific location and have decided to relocate the store. Because the other lease is not quite final, I can’t comment yet on the location.”

As Protein Bar closes, the first Arlington location of gourmet pizza shop Pizza Vinoteca plans to open next door by the end of the month, a spokeswoman said in an email.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 29, 2014 at 12:45 pm 2,516 0

The Ballston property manager that replaced planters to prevent people from sitting says benches will soon be installed in their place.

Stephen Gilbert, the vice president of marketing for Gates Hudson, the property manager of the building adjacent to the Ballston Metro station, said the company plans to install 15 benches near the station and next to the new planters by mid-August.

Additional “street furniture” is also planned for the busy bus stop.

“This is a cross promotion with the Ballston [Business Improvement District] and we are investing nearly $28,000 to improve the seating area,” Gilbert wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “The bus shelters currently in place and managed by WMATA and Arlington County are not adequate in our opinion.”

Gates Hudson replaced the planters earlier this month because, as an employee told ARLnow.com, “they’re meant to be planters and that’s it… A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.” Gilbert said that the new planters’ capstones “were only a small part” of Gates Hudson’s master plan for improving the space on N. Stuart Street.

“I ensure you that once you see what we have under construction you will see that we are creating a very convenient and comfortable space for commuters and pedestrians,” Gilbert wrote.

by ARLnow.com — July 28, 2014 at 9:45 am 2,020 0

Geese crossing the road near the Pentagon

Silver Line Now Open for Business — Metro’s Silver Line opened Saturday, with local officials, reporters and curious residents crowding the new stations in Reston and Tysons to get a ride on the first Silver Line trains. So far this morning, on the first big commuting day of its debut, the Silver Line seems to be functioning normally, without incident. Over time, the Metrorail line is expected to bring further economic development to Tysons and Reston. [Reston Now, Washington Post, InsideNova]

Nation’s Oldest Female Vet Visits Arlington — The nation’s oldest female veteran, 108-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Lucy Coffey, visited the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery over the weekend. [Stars and Stripes]

Pizza Vinoteca Opening Delayed — Pizza Vinoteca, a New York City-based gourmet pizza restaurant, will not be opening in Ballston this month, as originally planned. The pizzeria is now expected to open at 800 N. Glebe Road by the end of August, according to a PR rep.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm 6,096 0

Ballston planter before it was replaced (photo courtesy Jana Lynott)  Ballston planter after it was replaced (photo courtesy Jana Lynott)

Several planters on the sidewalk of N. Stuart Street in Ballston, just outside the Ballston Metro station were recently rebuilt to stop people from taking a seat.

The planters were replaced by property manager Gates Hudson this month, and while the trees are still there, the flat surface around the soil has been converted into a sharply angled corner designed specifically to prevent people waiting for the buses from sitting down.

“They’re meant to be planters and that’s it,” a Gates Hudson employee told ARLnow.com. “There are many benches outside, and the goal was to have people sit there and not on the planters. A lot of people were loitering there, damaging the plants and leaving trash.”

In a letter to the Arlington County Board, Metrobus rider Jana Lynott said the property owners around the Metro station had “vitriol” for transit riders who are perceived as loiterers.

“As a regular Metrobus 1A rider, I was offended by the insinuation that we riders were viewed as dirty loiterers that bring down commercial property values,” Lynott wrote. “I’m not convinced that my fellow transit riders are a scourge upon society that need to be dealt with through exclusive design… Why in Arlington, VA, a community that invests millions of dollars a year into recruiting new riders to our world-class transit system, would we possibly embrace such a backward notion of transit accessibility? Please. Do not let this exclusive design become standard practice in our community.”

Photos courtesy Jana Lynott

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