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by Ethan Rothstein — November 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm 2,867 0

4000 Wilson Blvd, the future home of Pepita, Kapnos Taverna and Yona (photo via Google Maps)Another restaurant owned by Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella is coming to 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston, but this one will be focused on ramen noodles and Japanese food.

The restaurant will be called Yona, and unlike the under-construction Kapnos Taverna and Pepita, Isabella won’t be found anywhere near the kitchen. Instead, Jonah Kim — formerly the executive chef at PABU Izakaya, now closed, in Baltimore — will bring his take on the traditional noodle dish to Ballston, with a planned opening in spring 2015.

“The restaurant is going to focus around ramen,” Kim told ARLnow.com today. “It’s like Asian comfort food. Noodles and broth, it’s the Asian spaghetti and meatballs. The perception of ramen is like the cheap college kid, that’s what you’re surviving on, but ramen is such a huge tradition in Japan.”

Jonah Kim (photo by Greg Powers)During the lunch hour — which Kim expects to be busy, based on the number of offices in the surrounding area — the menu will feature quick dishes and takeout. In the evening, the 1,500-square-foot space will become more of a sitdown restaurant. Kim said the number of ramen dishes on the menu will shrink and there will be more small plates available.

The restaurant will also have a full bar, with sake, shochu and Japanese whiskey, along with cusotm cocktails, Kim said.

While ramen has become a trendy restaurant specialty in New York, the District and even border jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, when it opens, Yona is believed to be the first ramen-focused restaurant in Arlington. Kim says Ballston is the perfect spot for it.

“I think the dining scene is definitely growing with everything else,” Kim said. “We’re about offering more choices to the neighborhood. I think the demographic there works for this kind of concept as well. I think that whole area is dying for more food, more dining options.”

Isabella is now highly invested in the area, and in a press release he said that Yona will be another component of bringing Ballston to the forefront of the restaurant scene in the D.C. metropolitan area.

“The Ballston food scene is growing as fast as its business district,” he said in the release. “By the time we’re done, Ballston will be the next dining destination for Northern Virginia and D.C.”

Photo (top) via Google Maps. Photo (bottom) by Greg Powers.

by ARLnow.com — November 18, 2014 at 10:00 am 1,720 0

Stag at Arlington National Cemetery (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Japanese Noodle Bar Coming to Ballston — Yona, a new Japanese noodle bar and Korean-inspired small plates restaurant, is coming to 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston. It will be the third restaurant from restaurateur Mike Isabella in the building. Isabella’s Kapnos Tavern is expected to open there next month and his Pepita cantina is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015. [Washington Post]

Leonsis Praises Ballston — Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is a big fan of Ballston, where the Capitals have their Kettler Capitals Iceplex practice facility. In a blog post responding to reports about the Wizards looking for a practice facility in either D.C. or Arlington, Leonsis wrote that “we feel fortunate that [the Capitals] ended up in the welcoming community of Ballston.” [Ted's Take]

Wakefield Wins First Playoff Game — The Wakefield Warriors football squad celebrated its first-ever playoff victory on Friday. Wakefield will next face undefeated Tuscarora in the second round of the 5A North Region playoffs. Washington-Lee and Yorktown both lost their first-round playoff games. [InsideNova]

‘State of Affairs’ Producer Lives in Arlington — Rodney Faraon, a father of three whose 14 years as a CIA analyst helped inspire the NBC drama “State of Affairs,” is an Arlington resident. Faraon serves as an executive producer on the show, which premiered last night. [Washingtonian, WNEW]

Plane Complaints Explained? — Over the past couple of years, numerous Arlington residents have made occasional complaints about hearing what sounded like a single-engine plane flying overhead for an extended period of time. At the time, there was no ready explanation for who or what might be flying around Arlington. However, some now think those planes might have been flying for a recently-revealed Justice Department cell phone spying program.

Soccer Tourney For At-Risk Kids — A 9th annual soccer tournament for at-risk kids was held in Arlington on Sunday. [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — November 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm 5,540 0

Changes are coming to the plaza surrounding the Ballston Metro station.

Arlington County is in the process of designing improvements to the plaza and gathering public input. The improvements are intended to reduce bus congestion, enhance pedestrian safety, prepare for future population growth and make the plaza more functional and aesthetically attractive.

Metrorail ridership is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent at the station between 2010 and 2020, while bus ridership is expected to increase 20 percent. Cyclist use of the plaza, currently a relatively small percentage of transportation uses, is expected to rise by 200 percent during that time period.

Plans so far include increased bike parking, new bus stops and new sidewalk cafes. The plans call for moving tree planters closer to the curb to improve pedestrian circulation and enhance retail viability.

A public meeting about the changes was held at Arlington Public Library earlier this week. Residents were generally supportive, but objected to a proposal to narrow a side street that’s currently clogged with bus and taxi traffic.

Project engineering is expected to wrap up next fall, with construction beginning in early 2016, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet. Separately, the county also has a long-range plan for a second Ballston Metro station entrance.

After the jump, a list of goals for the project, from the county’s public presentation.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — October 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm 1,105 0

The eyes have it. A new art installation featuring interactive LED-lit eyes launched today at the final Ballston Farmers Market of the season.

The display is called “The Eyes of Ballston” and users interact with it through their mobile device. The concept is that five characters live in the tree in the middle of Welburn Square — the baby, the grannie, the flirt, the grump and the raver — and they look at users through the interactive eyes.

Visitors stand near the tree and answer a character’s questions on their mobile device, to which the character responds via the eyes. The character will display different emotions depending on the user’s answer. They can perform numerous actions, including crying, winking and blowing a kiss. Each character has a circadian rhythm, so they’re not all awake and interacting with people at all hours of the day.

“I want them [users] to have fun and interact and enjoy public art, and understand that a great piece of public art is great for place-making and bringing people together,” said artist Lola Lombard, who came up with the eyes concept. “It’s showing them it’s OK to have a little fun. I like my artwork to always have a sense of humor and I think this does that.”

More than 3,000 LED lights, hundreds of feet of wiring, a metal structure and a Linux-based computer make up the project’s technical components.

“It’s really nice to make this stuff as art,” said Branden Hall, whose role focused on the electronic aspects of the art display. “It’s nice to make people smile, I really enjoy that.”

The display is part of the Ballston BID’s “Public Displays of Innovation” series, which also includes the lifeguard chairs placed throughout Ballston.

“We want to bring the amazing creativity and imagination of the people who live and work in Ballston to the street level,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone. “We weren’t even sure at first if it could be done. I didn’t realize it was going to be this cool. It makes you stop to think about how you interact with your neighborhood.”

Sen. Tim Kaine showed up at the farmers market, campaigning for County Board candidate Alan Howze. He checked out the electronic eyes and said he likes the idea of having more public art in communities.

“Why not make communities beautiful?” Kaine said. “I think art, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, I think it makes people feel better about the place where they live.”

The interactive eyes will be in Welburn Square through November.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm 7,388 0

Tutto Bene in Ballston closes Tutto Bene in Ballston closes

Italian restaurant Tutto Bene, at 501 N. Randolph Street in Ballston, across from Ballston Common Mall, is now closed.

Owner Orlando Murillo posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that its last day open was Sept. 29, and a sign on the restaurant’s front door reads “We’re going out of business as of 09/29/2014.” Murillo said in his post that the restaurant never recovered from the recession, despite the continued growth of Ballston’s food scene.

“The great economical problem that hit us since 2009 was [the] number one problem and not easy to resolve,” Murillo wrote. “We were hoping that in a couple years we will come back on our feet, but that never happened. It was very sad to see how things were going down hill and all the progress coming to Arlington bring the increases that we were not able to overcome.”

“On September 30, 2014 we decide that there was no way for us to continue in business, and it was an extremely sad day for me and my employees. The fact that they stayed with me from the first day to the last, 26 years together living every day as a big family I will keep all of them deeply in my heart.”

The restaurant drew rave reviews from Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema in 2004 for both its Italian food and its special Bolivian food offerings on the weekend. There’s no word on what will replace it.

by ARLnow.com — October 7, 2014 at 10:15 am 5,947 0

Arlington police carThe Arlington County Police Department wants residents to be on alert for a police impersonator who tried luring a woman into his car this past weekend.

Police say a 31-year-old woman was driving through the Ballston area around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday (October 4), when the suspect pulled up behind her and turned on a rotating red light on his dashboard. The victim pulled over on N. 11th Street near Quincy Park and the suspect approached her car, displaying a badge. The man reportedly told the victim to get out of her car and go with him to the police station. The woman was skeptical and stayed in her car. She told the man she was going to call the police to have an officer in uniform respond to the scene. At that point, the man took off in his car.

“This suspect had the intention of getting the victim into his vehicle,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If something doesn’t seem right to you, trust your instincts and contact police. This woman’s actions likely kept her from being abducted.”

ACPD will confirm if a traffic stop is legitimate for any citizen who calls the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222.

The police impersonator is described as a black man, around 6′ tall and 200 pounds. He was driving an older, dark colored car that appeared to be a Crown Victoria or a similar car resembling an unmarked police vehicle.

Anyone with information about this incident should contact ACPD Detective Conigliaro at 703-228-4193 or rconig@arlingtonva.us. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).

by Ethan Rothstein — October 3, 2014 at 1:45 pm 2,304 0

White flag flying outside Ballston's Office of Naval Research (photo courtesy Lori Klein) White flag flying outside Ballston's Office of Naval Research (photo courtesy Lori Klein)

Update at 2:15 p.m. Office of Naval Research spokesman Doug Abbotts said that the flag is that of the building’s property manager, and it was left up overnight this week while the American flag was taken down. Abbotts said that while it looks like a plain white “surrender” flag, the logo is “faded, but it’s there.”  The white flag has since been taken down.

For two days this week, the Office of Naval Research building, at 875 N. Randolph Street in Ballston, was flying a white flag on its flagpole, not its usual stars and stripes.

Lori Klein lives in the building behind ONR’s headquarters, and she said the flag was up Wednesday and Thursday nights before she talked to a security guard last night. This morning, the white flag was nowhere to be seen and the American flag was back in its normal place.

“I was walking my dog when I saw the flag, so I stopped a security guard and told him about it,” Klein told ARLnow.com over the phone today. “He had no idea it was up there.”

A spokeswoman for the ONR was not aware of the flag when first contacted by ARLnow.com.

The flag was seemingly reminiscent of the work of German artists this summer, who replaced two American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with white flags.

If it was a prank “somebody really pulled something off… considering there are cameras and security guards all over the place, and how high alert they must be on,” Klein said.

The Office of Naval Research is an agency within the Dept. of Defense that “coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.”

Photos courtesy Lori Klein

by ARLnow.com — October 2, 2014 at 9:25 am 1,388 0

Student bike stand at Washington-Lee High School (photo courtesy @mikematyas)

ACPD Promotes Domestic Violence Awareness — Arlington County Police cruisers are displaying purple ribbon magnets in October to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month. [Twitter]

Closed Ballston Restaurant Expanding in Maryland – Red Parrot Asian Bistro, which closed in Ballston last year, now has locations in Hanover and Ellicott City, Md., with a third set to open in Baltimore. Owner Wendy Cheng says Ballston and another closed location, in Baltimore, were shuttered “due to location and performance issues.” SER, the winner of the Ballston Restaurant Challenge, is set to open in Red Parrot’s former storefront this winter. [Baltimore Sun]

Arlington High Schools in Playoff Hunt — With just over half the season left to play, all three Arlington public high school football teams are on pace for playoff berths. [InsideNova]

Wakefield QB Transferred from Yorktown — Wakefield High School’s football team, a perennial also-ran, is in contention this year at least partially thanks to the play of quarterback Riley Wilson. Wilson transferred from Yorktown, a perennial playoff contender, for the chance to start as quarterback. [Washington Post]

Photo courtesy @mikematyas

by Ethan Rothstein — October 1, 2014 at 3:30 pm 2,088 0

Welburn Square in Ballston(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) The last Ballston “mega market” of the year will be Oktoberfest-themed, with a beer and wine garden, live music and a new public art installation.

The market will run from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Welburn Square on N. Stuart Street, across from the Ballston Metro station. All visitors 21-and-over can enjoy a taste of beer and wine, with additional pours for $5. Anyone who purchases more than $10 of merchandise from some of the market’s vendors can have a second free tasting.

The beer will be provided by Northern Virginia breweries Heritage and Old Ox, as well as cider maker Angry Orchard.

While the beer and wine garden is happening, local band Jumpin’ Jupiter will perform their brand of, as they put it on their Facebook page, “Crash, boom, bangy kerplopabilly krap.”

The beer and wine will be accompanied by Ballston’s usual array of farmers selling vegetables, fruits, herbs and other goods, as well market vendors selling their goods. Tomorrow afternoon, the Ballston Business Improvement District will also unveil a new public art installation, called “Clouds.”

The Clouds are 50 light-and-sound interactive lanters placed all over the square. The lanterns take in and emit light and sound, and “will be programmed and then connected to form a cloud-like, networked structure,” according to a Ballston BID spokeswoman. The cloudlets were designed by artists Aki Ishida and Ivica Bukvic from the Virginia Tech Research Center in Ballston. Members of the public will participate in a workshop all day tomorrow to help build the clouds, which be displayed at 5:00 p.m.

While tomorrow is the last “mega market” in Ballston, the weekly farmers markets will continue to be held on Thursday evenings until the end of the month.

Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by Ethan Rothstein — September 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm 8,772 0

Larry Sutton (photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department)(Updated at 2:20 p.m.) A 19-year-old D.C. resident tried to stab multiple people outside First Down Sports Bar in Ballston last night before fleeing from police, avoiding a taser and ultimately being tackled and arrested, police say.

Larry Sutton was already wanted for armed robbery by the Metropolitan Police Department when, while intoxicated, he attempted “to stab several patrons with a knife” at 8:30 last night, according to the Arlington County Police Department.

First Down owner Ramesh Chopra told ARLnow.com this afternoon that the incident began when Sutton and another individual got into an argument outside the bar. Sutton began swinging a knife, after which the other individual entered First Down, where Sutton followed. Chopra said Sutton swung the knife inside the bar once before the two were kicked out and Chopra locked the door.

After that, Sutton “just started to go after passersby,” Chopra said, swinging his knife at two different people on the sidewalk before the police arrived.

Sutton ignored police demands to drop his weapon and fled toward the Ballston Metro station, the police report said.

According to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the officers hit Sutton with a taser, but it did not bring him down. Ultimately, officers had to “execute a takedown” to subdue and arrest him.

Sutton is being charged with three counts of attempted malicious wounding, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, underage possession of alcohol and drunk in public. He is being held without bond. From the crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 140929062, 4200 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At 8:30 pm on September 29, an intoxicated subject attempted to stab several patrons with a knife at First Down Bar. Police confronted the subject on scene and after failing to comply with officers commands to drop his weapon, the subject fled on foot to a heavily populated area near the Ballston Metro Station. Officers attempted a taser deployment but ultimately took the subject into custody following a takedown. The weapon was recovered and Larry Sutton, 19, of Washington, DC, was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted malicious wounding, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, underage possession of alcohol and drunk in public. Sutton was also wanted out of Washington, DC for armed robbery. He was held without bond.

Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department

by ARLnow.com — September 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm 4,090 0

It was a relatively quiet seven days in Arlington, at least according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.

In one notable incident, two men reportedly assaulted a man near Ballston Common Mall early Saturday morning, stealing his prescription medication, cash and a cell phone.

ROBBERY, 140920013, 600 block of N. Randolph Street. At 2:26 am on September 20, two subjects assaulted a 29 year-old male victim and stole his prescription medication, cash and cell phone. Suspect one is described as a black male in his twenties, approximately 6’5″ tall and 220 lbs. He was wearing dark clothing and a black baseball hat. Suspect two is described as a black male in his twenties, approximately 5’9″ tall and 160 lbs. He was wearing a white t-shirt and jeans at the time of the incident.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are innocent until proven guilty.

(more…)

by Andrea Swalec — September 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm 1,237 0

A Ballston building that served as one of three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service headquarters buildings will get "modern" renovations.One of three Ballston buildings that served as headquarters for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will remain vacant for months as it undergoes extensive renovations.

Built in 1988, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr. will receive upgrades to its offices, hallways and lobby, according to Jackson Prentice, vice president of developer MRP Realty. The renovations to the eight-story, 144,000-square-foot building will aim to create “open space, with a more modern feel,” he said.

“The whole building will feel brand new,” Prentice said. “The work will bring the building to a better prominence.”

The FWS moved out of 4301, 4401 and 4501 N. Fairfax Dr. in July and August after the General Services Administration announced last September that the headquarters would be moved to Falls Church. Under the government’s base realignment and closure plan, or BRAC, the GSA estimated moving to 5275 Leesburg Pike would save the government more than $3.8 million annually for 15 years, a news release said.

Pre-leasing on 4401 N. Fairfax Dr. has begun, Prentice said, with work expected to be complete by spring or summer 2015.

The office vacancy rate in Ballston was 16 percent in the second quarter of this year, according to figures from the real estate company CoStar cited by Arlington Economic Development. This was an increase from 14.7 percent last year. The overall office vacancy rate for the county was 20.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014, up from 16.4 percent last year, the figures state.

Representatives for the other two ex-FWS buildings did not immediately respond to inquiries.

by Ethan Rothstein — September 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm 2,748 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.”

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