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New Benches to Be Installed Near Ballston Metro Station

by Ethan Rothstein | July 29, 2014 at 12:45 pm | 2,227 views | No Comments

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.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 28, 2014 at 9:45 am | 1,989 views | No Comments

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.

Ballston Planters Replaced To Prevent Sitting

by Ethan Rothstein | July 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 5,877 views | No Comments

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

Ballston Movie Theater Offering Free Nachos for Selfie-Takers

by ARLnow.com | July 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm | 1,311 views | No Comments

Moviegoers attend the late night Harry Potter screening in Ballston Common MallThe movie theater at Ballston Common Mall is offering free nachos to customers who take “cheesy” selfies and post them to Twitter or Instagram.

The theater’s parent company, Regal Cinemas, is running the promotion through Monday, Aug. 11. Customers can submit the self-taken photo by using the hashtag #RegalCheesieEntry on Twitter or Instagram, or can do so via the a web form.

The nachos are offered while supplies last, Regal says. If there are no nachos left at the theater, Regal will offer a $2 off coupon. Submitted photos will also be entered into a sweepstakes to win a “Hollywood VIP weekend.”

File photo

Morning Poll: Is the Silver Line More of a Threat or an Opportunity?

by ARLnow.com | July 25, 2014 at 10:20 am | 2,295 views | No Comments

Metro’s Silver Line is set to officially open on Saturday, with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and other notable officials on hand to watch the first train depart the Wiehle-Reston East station.

The launch of the Silver Line has economic ramifications for Arlington, though there’s some debate over whether those ramifications will be mostly good or mostly bad.

On the pessimistic side, rail transit in Reston and Tysons could enhance the desirability of those areas and present Arlington with stiff competition, especially in the commercial office market.

On the optimistic side, the fact that the Silver Line will run through Arlington on the way to D.C. could actually make the county’s Orange/Silver corridor even more desirable as an economic hub. The video above makes the case that Ballston in particular is well-positioned to benefit from the Silver Line.

Publicly and privately, officials with Arlington Economic Development say they expect Tysons to take many years to develop as a truly desirable urban area, with walkable and active streets and ample housing. Even then, they believe Arlington’s multi-decade head start on transit-oriented development, and its proximity to D.C., will give the county the competitive edge over Tysons.

On balance, do you think the Silver Line will help or hurt Arlington County?
 

Man Jabbed, Woman Punched at IHOP

by ARLnow.com | July 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm | 6,586 views | No Comments

Aftermath of an alleged assault at IHOP on 7/20/14 (submitted photo) Aftermath of an alleged assault at IHOP on 7/20/14 (submitted photo)

A man was jabbed with a fork and a woman was punched in the face during a scuffle at the International House of Pancakes (935 N. Stafford Street) in Ballston late Sunday night.

Police say a verbal argument escalated into a physical confrontation at the restaurant around 11:45 p.m. The suspect, identified as 45-year-old Arlington resident Ernesto Juarez-Cabrera, allegedly jabbed another man in the hand with a fork, then punched a female family member in the face, according to police.

Neither victim required a trip to the hospital, although the fork broke the skin on the man’s hand, Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. The fight was broken up by an IHOP manager, who escorted the suspect outside. While outside, Juarez-Cabrera repeatedly punched a restaurant window, breaking it, according to Sternbeck.

The broken glass cut Juarez-Cabrera’s hand and he was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Juarez-Cabrera, who police say was intoxicated at the time of the incident, has been charged with malicious wounding, attempted malicious wounding, felony destruction of property, and domestic assault and battery.

Dunkin’ Donuts Now Open in Ballston

by Ethan Rothstein | July 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 3,033 views | No Comments

The new Dunkin’ Donuts in Ballston, at the corner of N. Stuart and 9th Streets, is now open for business.

The small donut shop replaced the former Quizno’s in the corner of the National Science Foundation building at 4201 Wilson Blvd. Dunkin’ Donuts signed its lease for the 1,000-square-foot space in April.

The location — Arlington’s sixth, not including locations in the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport — opened yesterday. It doesn’t have any seating inside, but has a small handful of outside tables.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 10, 2014 at 11:00 am | 2,186 views | No Comments

Storm clouds over Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Construction to Begin on Ballston Garage – Local developer The Shooshan Company says it is beginning construction on a 550-space parking garage at 4040 Wilson Blvd, site of a planned 20-story office building in Ballston. The building is the final component of Shooshan’s Liberty Center development. [Washington Business Journal]

Clarendon Day Date Set — The annual Clarendon Day street fair will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Clarendon Alliance has announced. This year the event will add a bluegrass music stage next to the Clarendon Chili Cookoff. The layout is also being changed “to make it easier for people to find the cold beverages of their choice.” [Clarendon Alliance]

VDOT Warns of E-Z Pass Scam — VDOT says some Virginia E-Z Pass users have reported receiving emails demanding payment for a past due debt. The emails are a scam, the department says. It’s unclear how the scammer obtained the email addresses of E-Z Pass holders. [Reston Now]

New Arlington Book Released — “We Are Arlington,” a book featuring 180 pages of photos and history about Arlington and Arlington residents, is now on sale. The author is Bill Hamrock, co-owner of Pasha Cafe and Billy’s Cheesesteaks in Cherrydale. [Preservation Arlington]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

Taylor Gourmet in Ballston Now Open

by Ethan Rothstein | July 1, 2014 at 11:45 am | 2,629 views | No Comments

Taylor Gourmet in Ballston Taylor Gourmet now open

Local deli and catering chain Taylor Gourmet is officially open in Ballston at 4000 Wilson Blvd today.

After a soft opening last Friday and Saturday, in which the sandwich and salad shop offered a free meal to those who stopped in, Taylor Gourmet’s owner Casey Patten announced this morning that his ninth location would be opening to the public at 11:00 this morning.

“The response from the soft opening was great,” Patten said in an email. “Really good feedback from customers that stopped by… This was the spark the team needed to work through the weekend to get the store ready for opening ASAP. We’re excited and want folks to come by before and after the World Cup game.”

The deli, at the corner of Wilson and N. Quincy Street, will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | June 30, 2014 at 9:00 am | 1,540 views | No Comments

Corgi eyes a graduation cake (Flickr pool photo by Eric)

Rip Sullivan Running for Delegate — Richard “Rip” Sullivan is the first candidate to announce his candidacy to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink. Sullivan, a Democrat and a Fairfax County resident, said he’s running “to fight the Tea Party Republicans trying to roll back social and economic progress in Virginia.” [Rip Sullivan for Delegate]

Metro Fare Increase Takes Effect — Metrorail fares have been raised an average of 10 cents as of Sunday. Other changes include hikes to Metrobus fares, MetroAccess fares and Metro parking rates. [WMATA]

Arlington-Based Agency Works to Foil Hackers — Reporters were recently given a tour of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a Department of Homeland Security-run hub for the U.S. government’s coordinated response to cyber attacks. The highly secure and classified office is located in a “non-descript” office building in Ballston, above a chain restaurant. [Bloomberg, InformationWeek]

‘Airbnb for Boats’ in D.C. — A service called Boatbound has launched in the D.C. area. It allows boat owners to rent out their boats to non-boat owners. The going rate for most boats on Boatbound is $200-500 per day. [Washington City Paper]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

Taylor Gourmet Close to Opening in Ballston

by Ethan Rothstein | June 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,460 views | No Comments

Taylor Gourmet, the D.C.-area deli and catering chain, will open in Ballston “either next week or the one after,” according to owner Casey Patten.

This afternoon the restaurant — located at 4000 Wilson Blvd, on the corner of N. Quincy Street — held a soft opening, allowing some to come in and try a sandwich or salad for free. Tomorrow (Saturday) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Taylor is offering the same deal, provided those who want to try the food first email Hilary Chattler at hc@taylorgourmet.com.

Patten said he’s hoping the soft openings give his staff and restaurant — the chain’s ninth location, and second in Virginia — time to practice, since “perfect practice makes perfect.”

“We want to spend some time to get things right,” he said. After tomorrow’s soft opening, the plan is to re-evaluate, do a little more interior work, and open within the next two weeks.

The sandwich shop’s specialty is a menu full of “cooked-from-scratch” items, Patten said, including roasting its own turkey, pork and roast beef in house and having freshly baked bread delivered twice a day.

“You won’t find a freezer in any of our restaurants,” he said. “The end goal is just to make the best sandwich we possibly can.”

Taylor Gourmet’s menu includes sandwiches with ingredients like “garlicky spinach,” white bean hummus, roasted cauliflower, as well as a kale side salad and a chickpea salad. The deli will deliver to the surrounding area, caters for groups from “10 to 5,000,” Chattler said, and plans to have WiFi when it opens, or soon after.

“We’ve wanted to come to Ballston for a long time,” Patten said. “We’d been trying to find space here for about two years. It’s kind of the perfect place for us. It’s young, super hip, there’s plenty of stuff to do and has daytime businesses as well as residents.”

New Apartments, ‘Town Center’ Planned for Revamped Ballston Mall

by Ethan Rothstein | June 24, 2014 at 11:45 am | 13,675 views | No Comments

(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) The future plans for the Ballston Common Mall include demolishing the Macy’s Furniture Store and parts of the current mall to build a 29-story residential tower and an open-air town center along Wilson Blvd, officials announced Monday night.

The 393-unit apartment building, at the corner of Wilson and N. Randolph Street, is projected to be completed by 2017, Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone revealed at the BID’s annual meeting last night. Leone said the redevelopment — including a revamp of the retail mix at the mall — will be crucial for the branding of Ballston, which is often closely associated with the increasingly run-down mall.

“The mall hasn’t quite been able to serve our public,” Leone said, noting the mall’s future is the main question she gets asked about the future of Ballston development. “The mall is going to ‘de-mall’ itself. The roof is coming off.”

The mall is owned and operated by Forest City, which purchased the Macy’s Furniture Store last September. Forest City spokesman Gary McManus told ARLnow.com at the time that the mall had planned retail space with more street access in Macy’s place, and those plans now include the residential tower.

The building is expected to have four floors of underground parking and two floors of retail space below the studio, one- and two-bedroom rental apartments. The apartment building and attached parking will have a separate entrance from the restaurants and remaining mall.

Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the main Macy’s store — which will fold in the furniture store on its ground floor — the Sport&Health Club and the Regal Cinemas will all remain in the closed-air section of the mall, which is being rebranded as “Ballston Center.”

Along Wilson Blvd, parts of the mall — which originally opened as the Parkington Shopping Center in 1951 before it was rebuilt and reopened as Ballston Common Mall in 1986 — will be torn down and replaced with an open-air, town center-like plaza. Demolition is expected to begin by late 2015.

“[Forest City] thought about what was going to have the highest impact,” Leone told ARLnow.com, saying the Ballston BID has been “on a very high level” helping to form plans for the mall’s redevelopment. “To make it a town center, this is life-altering for the people who live and work here.”

McManus said that the pedestrian bridge from the mall to the current National Science Foundation headquarters across the street is tentatively slated to be torn down — private conversations between Forest City and Arlington County Board members led the mall owner to remove it from the plans — but an agreement needs to be reached with the NSF building’s property owner before that can happen.

McManus also said that the retail mix in the mall will change, to become more restaurant and entertainment-oriented. It will be aimed at serving the immediate area, not as a mall that brings in most of its shoppers from other areas, despite the fact that it will have “some destination retail, too.”

“We don’t want to compete with Tysons or Pentagon City,” McManus said. “We’ve started this project before, but this time it’s got all the momentum behind it.”

In addition to the four-level, 580,000 square foot mall’s redevelopment, Leone announced plans for changes to public spaces expected this fall, like public art projects, Ballston-branded signs lining the streets and the new Fairfax Drive landscaping ARLnow.com reported on earlier this month.

Among the proposed projects is a redesigned Metro plaza, which Leone said she hopes will include an “interactive light installation” under the Metro canopy. The light installation is being designed in Amsterdam — it will track pedestrians’ movements underneath and project light based on that movement. The Metro plaza is also planned to include an small amphitheater and redesigned bus parking to remove some buses from N. Stuart Street. (more…)

Man Arrested for Attacking, Robbing Elderly Man

by ARLnow.com | June 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,540 views | No Comments

Melvin Baxter (photo courtesy ACPD)A Maryland man has been arrested for allegedly attacking and robbing an 87-year-old Arlington resident.

The incident took place around 4:50 p.m. Saturday afternoon on the 3800 block of 9th Street N., in the Virginia Square area. Police say Melvin Baxter, 57, grabbed the 87-year-old man by the neck and threw him to the ground before robbing him of the cash in his wallet and fleeing on foot.

“A witness immediately came to the assistance of the victim and contacted police, providing a detailed description of the assailant,” according to an Arlington County Police Department press release. “The victim sustained minor injuries and was treated by medics on scene. At approximately 5:00 p.m., an officer located and detained the suspect on the platform of the Ballston Metro Station.”

Baxter, a Capitol Heights, Md. resident, was charged with robbery and held without bond at the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Drunk Man Tries to Walk Backwards, Falls and Knocks Self Out

by ARLnow.com | June 16, 2014 at 12:05 pm | 8,289 views | No Comments

Police car (file photo)Sunday did not turn out to be a very fun day for one intoxicated 30-something in Ballston.

Police were called to the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Taylor Street around 9:30 p.m. for a report of a body lying in the street. Police and medics arrived on scene and and determined that the individual was bleeding from his head but was breathing.

Officers talked to a witness and learned that the man was “extremely intoxicated” and had been trying to walk backwards in the street when he lost his balance, fell, hit his head and knocked himself out, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The man, 33, was by himself at the time and it’s unknown where he was walking from. He was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Matsutake Closes in Ballston

by Ethan Rothstein | June 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm | 3,286 views | No Comments

Matsutake closes in Ballston Matsutake closes in Ballston

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) The Matsutake Steak and Sushi restaurants in Ballston and Crystal City have closed for business.

The Crystal City location, at 320 23rd Street S., appears to have closed some time ago — its listing on Yelp is reported closed. The Ballston restaurant may have closed this week, and an eviction notice is posted on the door notifying the restaurant to vacate by yesterday morning. It’s placed next to a sign notifying customers of the restaurant’s closure:

“Boru/Matsutake Restaurant has closed with no plans to re-open in the near future,” it reads. The restaurant was a combination of Matsutake’s hibachi restaurant and a Boru Asian Bistro. “Restaurant is for rent.”

The restaurant is on the ground floor of Stafford Place II, the headquarters of the National Science Foundation, which is moving to Alexandria by 2017.

Hat tip to Robert Lauderdale

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