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by Ethan Rothstein — February 26, 2015 at 5:30 pm 6,980 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.

by ARLnow.com — February 12, 2015 at 10:15 am 2,553 0

Arlington police carA drunk middle-aged man was arrested early Sunday morning for peeping into a woman’s apartment, according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.

The incident happened on the 4000 block of 5th Street N., near Ballston. Police say the man was peering into the bedroom window of a woman’s ground floor apartment.

From the crime report:

PEEPING, 150208012, 4000 block of N. 5th Street. At 1:29 am on February 8, a suspect was seen looking through a bedroom window of a ground floor apartment at a female victim. Police arrived and took the subject into custody outside of the apartment. Cesar Augusto Muz-Moya, 53, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with peeping and drunk in public. He was held without bond.

The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.

(more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — February 11, 2015 at 1:15 pm 6,469 0

(Updated at 6:25 p.m.) The distinctive “Blue Goose” building on the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road in Ballston is starting to be torn down.

The building, built in the 1960s, 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 demolition is expected to wrap up May, according to Shooshan Company Director of Leasing and Marketing Kevin Shooshan. The first step of construction will be excavation to create the three levels of underground parking. Shooshan expects the two buildings to be complete in summer 2017.

The entire property — the building and the parking lot in the rear — is fenced off as crews begin to tear out the building’s interior. This morning, workers were tossing pieces of the interior from the fourth floor window onto the ground below.

Panels from the building will be donated to local museums to preserve the building as a model of Modern Movement architecture. Some of the panels, as well as blue elements throughout the 7,600-square-foot public plaza also being built on the site, will be preserved as part of the new development.

by ARLnow.com — January 28, 2015 at 11:30 am 2,401 0

"A Nod to History," the winning 2015-2016 vehicle decalA Yorktown High School junior has won the county’s annual vehicle decal design contest for his nighttime photograph of an office building in Ballston.

Tommy Casey’s decal, entitled “A Nod to History,” was voted the winner by Arlington residents, who chose from four finalists that were announced in December. The decal is named in recognition of the design of the 10-story 800 N. Glebe Road office building, which itself is a nod to to the former Bob Peck Chevrolet dealership that the building replaced.

Later this year the decal will be mailed to residents and placed on windshields of more than 160,000 vehicles in Arlington County.

From an Arlington County press release:

The scene is a nighttime photograph of a distinctive 10-story building in Ballston, owned by the JBG Companies. Casey, a senior at Yorktown High School, creatively retouched the picture with dynamic lighting and light streaks to show more vibrancy. In his Decal Competition application, Casey wrote, “I wanted to create a photo that represents the modern city that Arlington has become while recognizing the importance of Arlington’s landmarks. The building at 800 North Glebe Road symbolizes this by incorporating the old Bob Peck Chevrolet dealership diamond design into its modern front.”

Panel reviewed 114 entries The competition’s 114 entries were narrowed down by a panel of Arlington residents. “Our Citizens’ panel worked diligently to pare down the submissions to just four finalists. This was not an easy task considering how many great entries were received,” said Treasurer Carla de la Pava. The four finalists were put to a County-wide vote conducted over a six-week period during which 2,913 votes were cast online and by mail. Casey’s design came in first.

Thanks to the generosity of John Marshall Bank, each of the finalists received a cash prize. As the winner, Casey received $750 and the others each received $500.

The other finalists were:

  • Marisa DeFranco, 11th Grader at Wakefield High School, with her design “Hats of Our Heroes”
  • Ingrid Jacobsen, 11th Grader at Wakefield High School, with her design “Barcroft Community House”
  • Lauren Graft, 10th Grader at Washington-Lee High School, with her design “A Day at the Farmers Market”

Arlington began requiring local licensing of vehicles in 1949, which took the form of a metal tag attached to the license plate. The first windshield decal was issued in 1967; decals were first produced with a color image in 2000. In 2002, residents were given the opportunity to vote on the decal image, and in 2005 the Treasurer’s Office started the Decal Design Competition for high school students.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 26, 2015 at 11:45 am 3,234 0

“Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella’s first restaurant venture in Arlington is finally opening its doors tomorrow (Tuesday).

Kapnos Taverna was announced September 2013 and planned for summer 2014. As most openings in the local restaurant industry go, delays pushed Kapnos Taverna’s debut back significantly — Isabella said they were waiting for the building at 4000 Wilson Blvd to finish construction.

The two-story 165-seat restaurant will feature small plates of largely southern and coastal Greek food. (Kapnos in the District, sister eatery to the new Ballston location, specializes in northern Greek fare.)

Isabella said he wants people to think beyond gyros and souvlaki when they think of Greek food.

“My goal is to tell people what Greek food is,” he told ARLnow.com while taste-testing dishes last week. “I want to show people aspects of the cuisine people aren’t aware of. There’s so much more to it than people think.”

The menu for Kapnos Taverna includes shellfish “platters” and “towers” for $75 and $125, respectively, and Isabella said the sauces and spreads are being brought over from Kapnos. The small plates range in price from $6 to $15 and tables can also order spit-roasted chickens — one of Isabella’s favorite menu items, along with the swordfish kebabs — and full lamb shoulders.

There will be a full cocktail program, four beers on tap as well as a moschofilero white wine on tap.

Two more Isabella-owned restaurants in Kapnos Taverna’s building will soon be opening. Pepita, the Mexican cantina that Isabella calls more “drink-centric” is in the pipeline for this spring. Yona, a restaurant that will specialize in ramen, won’t have Isabella behind the menu and plans to open this summer.

“We’re going to focus on these three concepts for a while,” Isabella said. “This is going to be our hub, and after opening these, we’re probably done in Arlington for a while.”

by ARLnow.com — January 16, 2015 at 10:10 am 6,519 0

(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) A large fire department response has been dispatched to the Ballston Metro station for a report of smoke in a Metro tunnel.

Metro called the fire department, reporting smoke in one of the tunnels between the Ballston and Virginia Square stations. Power has been cut to the track as firefighters investigate.

Metro says trains are single-tracking between Clarendon and Ballston stations as a result.

Firefighters in the tunnel are reporting a smoldering pile of trash along the third rail. There’s also a report of an arcing insulator.

The large emergency response comes after Monday’s fatal Metro incident outside the L’Enfant Metro station, in which smoke filled a disabled Metro train in a tunnel.

As of 10:40 a.m., fire department units were starting to clear the scene. Metro maintenance personnel are now working on the track problem. No additional smoke or fire has been reported.

Metro is advising Orange and Silver Line riders to expect delays.

by ARLnow.com — January 14, 2015 at 9:00 am 9,829 0

Todd Lewis (photo courtesy ACPD)(Updated at 11:15 a.m.) An Arlington man has turned himself in to police after a bar fight in Ballston Monday night.

Police say 37-year-old Todd Lewis, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as an attorney and “life coach,” got into a disagreement with a male acquaintance at Republic Bar and Kitchen (801 N. Quincy Street).

The disagreement led Lewis to smash a glass across the man’s face, according to police and, reportedly, surveillance video footage.

The victim was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with a large cut on his face. Lewis fled the scene and was at large for a time but recently turned himself in, police said Wednesday. He’s charged with malicious wounding.

It’s unclear what the disagreement was about, but football is one possibility. Lewis is listed as a graduate of Ohio State University, which was playing in the college football playoff championship Monday night.

by ARLnow.com — January 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm 10,617 0

President Obama speaks at Washington-Lee High SchoolPresident Obama will tour a federal cybersecurity office in Arlington Tuesday afternoon.

Obama is scheduled to visit the Ballston-based National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, which is part of the Dept. of Homeland Security.

The president “will talk about efforts to increase information-sharing between companies and the government and to improve collaboration against threats,” according to the LA Times.

The visit is expected to result in significant temporary road closures in Arlington. It comes a day after terrorist supporters hacked the Twitter and YouTube accounts of United States Central Command.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 9, 2015 at 11:00 am 1,973 0

Sweet Leaf Cafe is preparing to open its second location in Arlington next month in the county’s most popular spot for new restaurants.

The location, at 650 N. Quincy Street, will be one building over from 4000 Wilson Blvd, which houses Taylor Gourmet, which opened in July, and upcoming restaurants Kapnos TavernaPepita Cantina and ramen restaurant Yona.

Sweet Leaf’s fourth cafe will have the same menu as the others — the original was in Vienna and there’s another in McLean — but owner Arita Matini said the menu for all of her restaurants will change next week.

Matini has been planning on opening in Ballston for a while — the Courthouse location surprised her with how quickly it became a popular lunch destination — and is excited about the other restaurants coming in.

“We welcome the competition,” she told ARLnow.com today. “It’s crazy, the whole area is really changing. The more that’s there, the more that people will be attracted to the area.”

Matini said she’s exploring opening more locations in Great Falls or potentially D.C.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 7, 2015 at 10:00 am 4,810 0

Commuters hoping to avoid icy roads were met with huge crowds and delays on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines this morning.

A disabled train outside Stadium-Armory at around 8:00 a.m. was when the problems began, resulting in single-tracking on all three lines. According to several commuters on Twitter, a Blue Line train passed Arlington Cemetery and turned around. Some trains were offloaded, forcing passengers back out into frigid weather at outside platforms.

Uber in Arlington was instituting surge pricing at four times the regular rate at one point.

WMATA reported that the train was clear at 8:53 a.m., but residual delays persisted well after 9:00 a.m.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 5, 2015 at 1:30 pm 2,706 0

A new store specializing in upscale Swiss watches is the newest tenant in Ballston Common Mall.

Watchstyle opened in November because, as owner Eric Kim said, he was “desperate to get open for the holiday season.” He found, however, that the Ballston Mall didn’t experience quite the holiday rush that he expected. Business was steady, and remained steady after Christmas passed.

Kim offers Swiss-made watches that aren’t the most recognizable brands, but, as a former Liljenquist & Beckstead watch buyer, he says the products he offers are the “equal or better” quality and more affordable.

“The watch market has changed so much,” he told ARLnow.com last week, “Swiss watch prices have gone up a ludicrous amount with no real increase in quality.”

Watchstyle’s watches start at around $200 with Mondaine styles and go up from there. Kim said he’s the only Mondaine dealer in Virginia. He also offers watches from brands like Ball and Maurice Lacroix. Despite the Ballston Mall’s negative perception and imminent redevelopment, Kim thinks he found the right place to start his business.

“It was definitely risky, but this mall is surrounded by the right demographic for luxury watches,” Kim said. “The mall may not be ready, but the market is.”

by ARLnow.com — December 23, 2014 at 11:30 am 4,185 0

Keith Moore (photo via ACPD)(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Arlington County Police have arrested a man suspected of stealing dozens of packages from local homes.

There have been numerous reports of package thefts around Ballston this month. Yesterday afternoon, undercover cops patrolling the Ballston area, hoping to nab the suspect, observed a man acting suspiciously.

The man was seen “opening packages he took from doorsteps and removing the contents.” Keith Moore, 22, of District Heights, Md. and Washington D.C., was arrested and is now facing numerous criminal charges.

Police say Moore’s alleged Grinch-like behavior actually dates back before the holiday season.

“It is believed that the suspect is responsible for at least 40 thefts of packages over the last several months,” police said in a press release.

The police arrested Moore just in time for the holidays, it seems. ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm told ARLnow.com that some of the items Moore has stoled have “been recovered with their owners identified.” Many more unclaimed items were found, so the ACPD is encouraging those who have been victims of package theft to contact the department at its non-emergency number, 703-558-2222.

The full release, after the jump.

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by ARLnow.com — December 16, 2014 at 10:45 am 2,024 0

Last week, we reported on a gift shop in Ballston that had been robbed not once but twice by the same armed robber.

It turns out, the same guy has actually robbed the store three times in the past month or so.

Police say the man, pictured above, robbed the City News and Gift Shop inside 950 N. Stafford Street on Nov. 8, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. The first time, he displayed a handgun and demanded money. The second time, he displayed a “large kitchen knife” and demanded money and Newport cigarettes. The third time, he again flashed a gun and demanded money.

Arlington County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man. The police department’s press release, below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying an armed robbery suspect who has robbed a Ballston convenience store on three occasions and has been captured on surveillance video.

On November 8, 2014, the suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop located inside 950 N. Stafford Street at approximately 3:10 PM. The suspect was wearing black pants and was layered in a Washington Nationals jacket over a red and white striped polo shirt which was over a black hoodie. The suspect displayed a handgun tucked into his front waistband and demanded money. After the robbery, the suspect fled towards Fairfax Drive.

On December 3, 2014, it is believed that the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 2:55 pm. This time the suspect was wearing black pants and a black jacket layered over a tan hoodie. The suspect displayed a large kitchen knife, demanded money and Newport brand cigarettes before fleeing towards the Ballston Metrorail station.

On December 4, 2014, the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 8:20 pm. The suspect appeared to be wearing the same clothing as the day before with blue jeans. During this robbery, the suspect again displayed a handgun before demanding money. It is believed that the suspect fled again towards the Ballston Metrorail station after the robbery.

The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s-30s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’10″ tall, with a medium build. In all three robberies, he appears to be wearing black and white soled tennis shoes, similar to Converse All-Stars, and a black beanie-style winter cap.

There were no reported injuries during any of these armed robberies

If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective P. Mulvaney of the Arlington County Homicide/Robbery Unit at (703) 228-4239 or pmulva@arlingtonva.us. Anonymous tips can also be provided through the Arlington County Crime Solvers Hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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