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Bar Fight in Ballston Sends One to Hospital

by ARLnow.com | February 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 9,128 views | No Comments

Arlington County police carAn early morning bar fight at A-Town Bar and Grill (4100 Fairfax Drive) in Ballston sent one man to the hospital with severe lacerations.

The incident happened around 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12. Arlington County police say a fight between two men led to one man stabbing and/or slashing the other with a broken beer bottle.

“The victim sustained lacerations to the face and neck,” according to the police report. “He was transported to GW Hospital.”

“The suspect fled the scene, but was later located and taken into custody,” police said. “Mohammad Islam, 33, of Leesburg, VA, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding.”

Taylor Gourmet Eyes May Opening in Ballston

by ARLnow.com | February 12, 2014 at 10:45 am | 3,398 views | No Comments

Taylor Gourmet (photo via Facebook)Taylor Gourmet, the Philadelphia-inspired hoagie shop and “gourmet deli,” is hoping to open in Ballston as soon as May.

Interior construction on the restaurant, at the Liberty Center South development (4000 Wilson Blvd), is scheduled to start this month, we’re told.

Construction is expected to take about three months, shortly after which the restaurant will open.

Photo via Facebook

Man in Pajama Pants Seen Masturbating in Ballston

by ARLnow.com | February 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 4,761 views | No Comments

Arlington County police car (file photo)A young man wearing pajama pants was reportedly seen masturbating in Ballston Friday morning.

The incident was reported at 7:25 a.m. on Friday. According to Arlington County police, an 18-year-old woman said she saw a man pleasuring himself next to a fence on the 1100 block of N. Stafford Street, which is about two blocks away from the Ballston Metro station and one block away from Washington-Lee High School.

“The suspect is described as a white male, 20-30 years of age, and approximately 6’0”,” according to the ACPD crime report. “At the time of the incident he was wearing a blue skull cap, a dark blue jacket, and red plaid pajama pants.”

Air Force Plans to Move Research Office Out of Ballston

by Ethan Rothstein | January 30, 2014 at 11:00 am | 1,781 views | No Comments

Air Force research logo(Updated at 2:15) The U.S. Air Force is planning to move the Air Force Office of Scientific Research from Arlington to Ohio, and Arlington’s representatives in Congress are fighting to keep it here.

The office employs 170 people at 875 N. Randolph Street in Ballston and focuses on improving the Air Force’s technological capabilities. If the move were to become official, the AFOSR would follow the National Science Foundation and federal Fish and Wildlife Service as another federal entity leaving Ballston for more affordable space. In this case, the Air Force would move the AFOSR to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.

“There are major advantages to being located in Arlington’s hub of innovation,” Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) told ARLnow.com. “Much of this human and technological infrastructure would be forfeited in a move to Ohio. I hope the Air Force realizes what it could lose if they decide to relocate the Office of Scientific Research.”

Moran joined with Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine in sending a letter to Air Force Commander Janet C. Wolfenbarger asking the military branch to reconsider its plans.

“Northern Virginia offers a unique and valuable ‘critical mass’ of military resources, technology infrastructure, world class universities and cutting-edge talent,” Warner said in a press release. “We strongly urge the Air Force to reconsider these compelling benefits before moving the Office of Scientific Research to Ohio.”

The Air Force has issued a Request for Information on moving the office to Ohio, according to a congressional source.

“A move like this requires several levels of decision-making once the RFI is complete,” the source told ARLnow.com. “No decision is expected until FY 2016″

After the jump, the full text of the letter the congressmen sent to Wolfenbarger.

Gen Janet C. Wolfenbarger
Commander, Air Force Materiel Command
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433

Dear Gen Wolfenbarger:

We write to you today to express our concern over the possibility of a relocation of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research from its current site in Arlington to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

As you know, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) has a long and proud tradition of basic research in collaboration with the world’s leading academic institutions. AFOSR has invested in wide-ranging academic efforts, from radiochemistry and superconductivity in the 1950s to environmental technologies and advancements in the treatment of battlefield injuries in the present day. This organization has funded everything from spacecraft to lasers to flat screen television sets, all in collaboration with academia. Critical to this partnership has been its proximity to the vibrant research community in Arlington and neighboring communities.

The growing research presence in Arlington boasts academic institutions such as Virginia Tech and George Washington University, as well as government agencies such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation. Finally, Northern Virginia and neighboring Maryland are home to some of the world’s leading defense companies. Together these institutions provide fertile ground for the cultivation of collaborative research, the benefits of which AFOSR has been reaping for decades. We believe the research synergies achieved here cannot be replicated at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. We fear the impact that such a move would have on current and future research efforts, not just for the Air Force but for the wider academic and defense communities.

We understand the Air Force’s impulse to seek potential savings by consolidating some of its facilities within the fold of the Air Force Research Laboratory.  Such efforts are commendable in the current fiscal environment, with declining defense budgets. However, given the undeniable benefits of maintaining its location in what has become a global hub of science and technology, we ask that the Air Force promptly provide any information regarding current plans to relocate AFOSR to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, to include the projected timeline and costs associated with such a move, expected savings, and the anticipated impact on the current AFOSR workforce.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from the Air Force on this matter.

Car Crashes into Westwood College in Ballston

by ARLnow.com | January 29, 2014 at 10:35 pm | 2,840 views | No Comments

A car crashed into the front of the ground floor office of Westwood College in Ballston tonight.

The incident happened just before 8:30 p.m. at 4420 Fairfax Drive. A man driving a sedan suffered an apparent seizure, lost control of the car and crashed it into the front of the building, according to Arlington Deputy Fire Marshal Brian McGraw.

“A car hit [the] building and looked split up the middle of the engine compartment,” one passerby told ARLnow.com via email. “The driver had been removed from the car by the time I got there and was lying on the ground nearby, very dazed.”

The man suffered minor injuries and was transported to the hospital, McGraw said. No one inside the building was hurt.

Photos courtesy Betsy Frantz, John R. and @LemurFestival

County Board Approves ‘Blue Goose’ Redevelopment

by Ethan Rothstein | January 27, 2014 at 10:45 am | 1,787 views | No Comments

Rendering of proposed development on "Blue Goose" siteThe distinctive “Blue Goose” building in Ballston is heading for the proverbial wrecking ball after the Arlington County Board approved replacing it with an office and a residential building.

The Board unanimously voted to redevelop the 1963 building, allowing the developer The Shooshan Company, in partnership with Marymount University, to build a nine-story office building and a 15-story, 267-unit residential building with 11 dedicated units of affordable housing.

The entire site will sit on three levels of underground parking, with 317 office spaces and 264 residential spaces. There will also be 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.

Marymount University will occupy the first six stories of the office building with plans to expand into the final three floors in the future. The office building will front on Fairfax Drive while the residential building will sit on the corner of Fairfax and N. Glebe Road.

In additional to the affordable housing — which includes a $275,000 donation to the Arlington Housing Investment Fund — the Shooshan Company also agreed to contribute more than $4.5 million toward the construction of a west entrance to the Ballston Metro Station and $1.15 million for improvements to the Ballston beaver pond restoration project and Custis Trail. The buildings are expected to be built to a LEED Gold environmental standard.

The developer will also build a 7,600-square-foot public plaza and an east-west pedestrian walkway between the two buildings, a 10-foot-wide cycle track on Fairfax Drive and allow public access to the planned auditorium inside the office building. The “Blue Goose” is considered a model of the 1960s-era “Modern Movement” architecture, and some of its distinctive panels will be preserved and displayed in the new buildings, as well as distributed to local museums.

“The plaza will have blue seating, blue lighting and benches with panels that will depict the history of the building, re-using blue and white panels from the existing building,” according to a press release. “The office building will incorporate a blue panel design at its base that will be reminiscent of the ‘Blue Goose,’ and a horizontal blue spandrel glass band at the top of the second story.”

“Marymount University is an important institution in Arlington, and it is great to see it expanding its presence in Ballston,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in the press release. “The new buildings will be attractive and energy efficient, and will come with many benefits for our community, including affordable housing, a public plaza, and a significant contribution to building a western entrance to Ballston Metro.”

‘Blue Goose’ Redevelopment Includes Funds for Pond, Custis Trail, Metro Entrance

by Ethan Rothstein | January 22, 2014 at 11:00 am | 3,266 views | No Comments

"Blue Goose" building in Ballston (photo courtesy Preservation Arlington)The developer that plans to demolish the “Blue Goose” building in Ballston has agreed to contribute more than $6 million to community improvements for the Ballston area.

The proposed site plan amendment for the project will go before the Arlington County Board at its meeting this Saturday, Jan. 25. The Shooshan Company hopes to bulldoze the distinctive blue building at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Glebe Road and replace it with a nine-story office building — to be used to house the Marymount University programs now in the Blue Goose — and a 15-story residential high-rise.

The request for increased density comes with a proposed donation of $1.15 million toward the Ballston beaver pond restoration project and improvements to the Custis Trail, and a $4.57 million contribution to the Ballston Metro west entrance project.

County Planner Samia Byrd said the contributions would connect the Custis Trail to a cycle track that the developer plans to build along Fairfax Drive. The final designs for the improvements “are still under review,” Byrd said, but they could include building a planted buffer between the existing sidewalk and Fairfax Drive and making the sidewalk smoother for pedestrians and cyclists.

Rendering of proposed development on "Blue Goose" siteThose improvements would first have to be approved by the Virginia Department of Transportation, but Byrd said they would effectively extend the Custis Trail to N. Glebe Road.

The contribution to the Metro entrance is just one chunk of the proposed $75 million project. The entrance, which is partially designed and planned for the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street, still has no timeline for construction, according to Byrd.

The Ballston Pond restoration project is already underway. Logs were removed that were holding the water in the pond and it drained completely by November. Construction on Ballston Pond to improve the habitat for wildlife is expected to begin in the spring.

The redevelopment, and demolition of the infamous building, drew criticism from historic preservation group Preservation Arlington, which named it one of the most “Endangered Public Places.” The developer has since agreed to keep some of the blue panels as elements in the new buildings, while others will be donated to local museums.

The “historical attributes” of the 1960s-era building will be “incorporated into the design of the proposed office building and landscaping in the public plaza and courtyard,” according to the county staff report.

Other community benefits proposed in the site plan include a $75,000 public art contribution, a $106,000 utility underground fund contribution, a $567,000 Transportation Demand Management contribution over 30 years, a public plaza and walkway, a $258,000 contribution to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund and LEED Gold certification.

Construction will remove the surface parking lot on the site and, because the office building will be largely used for education purposes, the Shooshan Company has requested a reduced mandatory parking ratio. The residential building includes 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail and 267 units, some of which will be committed affordable housing.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | January 21, 2014 at 8:55 am | 1,470 views | No Comments

Sunset over Metro 29 Diner on Lee Highway (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

County Gets $500k for Beaver Pond Project — Arlington County has received a $500,000 state grant for a project to improve the Ballston beaver pond. “The $2.7 million improvement project, paid for mostly from stormwater funds, includes changing the flow pattern to keep water in the pond longer, allowing wetland plants to remove nutrients and other pollutants before it flows out,” the county said in a press release. “Construction is expected to begin in the summer 2014.” [Arlington County]

Fisette’s Disclosure Doesn’t Include Husband — County Board Chairman Jay Fisette’s annual financial disclosure did not include the finances of his husband. Fisette was married in D.C. this past September, but Fisette says he’s not required to include his spouse in the disclosure since their marriage is not recognized under Virginia law. [Washington Post]

Howze Tops Fundraising Battle — Democratic County Board hopeful Alan Howze has raised the most money of any County Board candidate, with $16,245. Fellow Democrat Cord Thomas appears to be completely self-funding his campaign, while independent candidate John Vihstadt’s donors include a number of local Republicans. [Blue Virginia]

Congressional Primary Date Set — A date has been set for the crowded Democratic primary in the race to succeed the retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). The primary will be held on June 10. [Twitter]

APS Budget Forum Dates Set — Arlington Public Schools will hold three community forums on the upcoming FY 2015 budget. The forums will be held on Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 3. [Arlington Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

‘Blue Goose’ Panels to Be Donated to Museums

by ARLnow.com | January 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm | 2,625 views | No Comments

"Blue Goose" building in Ballston (photo courtesy Preservation Arlington)The distinctive blue panels from Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building will be “made available for display at several local museums,” according to the group Preservation Arlington.

The building, at 1000 N. Glebe Road, is slated to be torn down to make way for two new buildings: one with 165,00 square feet of office and instructional space, and another with 267 residential units and 3,000 square feet of retail space.

The 1960s-era building was named one of the most “Endangered Historic Places” by Preservation Arlington last year. Many local residents, however, say it’s an eyesore.

“This building represents an excellent example of mid-century architecture that is quickly disappearing,” Preservation Arlington wrote of the Blue Goose. “It is one of those buildings which engender strong feelings but it also represents a period of time in architectural design that is just beginning to be fully appreciated.”

Rendering of proposed development on "Blue Goose" siteWhile the group isn’t going to be able to save the building from the proverbial wrecking ball, it has negotiated for some of the building’s blue panels to be preserved.

In a blog post today, Preservation Arlington said some of the panels will be used as part of the retail space and for a a historical marker to be placed on the site. Other panels will be donated to local museums.

“The Arlington Historical Society has requested pieces for their Museum on South Arlington Ridge Road,” a Preservation Arlington representative told ARLnow.com. “Another museum related to a long term tenant of the building has expressed interest.”

(Before Marymount moved in, the building housed government agencies.)

The Arlington Planning Commission will consider the site plan for the Blue Goose redevelopment tonight at 7:00 p.m., in Room 307 of the county government building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. The Arlington County Board is expected to approve the redevelopment at its meeting later this month.

County Inspectors Shut Down Ballston Water Fountain

by Ethan Rothstein | January 13, 2014 at 9:35 am | 3,396 views | No Comments

Child cooling off at fountains in Ballston (photo by Maryva2)The water fountain between N. Randolph and Quincy Streets on Wilson Blvd in Ballston has been shut down and it’s unclear if it will be turned back on in time for warm weather.

Located next to Rustico restaurant in the Liberty Center development, the fountain is privately owned and operated by property owner the Shooshan Company, according to county officials.

It has been on for years and children have played in it during the summers, but the Shooshan Company voluntarily turned it off this past fall after county inspectors discovered it had never had a health and safety license.

In fact, it was only discovered to be permit-less when a county Department of Human Services inspector was driving by and noticed the fountain and realized it hadn’t been inspected.

“The fountain at Liberty Center didn’t have the right water monitoring and quality control,” DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick said. “If children have access to it, then the water quality needs to be regulated. They have to follow the same code as other water features.”

The Shooshan Company has applied for a license, Larrick said, but the county sent back their plan, asking for it to include water quality measuring and a monitoring schedule, as well as signage and a proposal for remote shut-off capability. The “ball is back in their court,” Larrick said.

Calls to the Shooshan Company were not immediately returned.

The fountain is considered “an interactive water feature” which, according to county ordinance, needs to have lifeguards and fencing, but, as is the case with a similar fountain at Penrose Square on Columbia Pike, the county can waive those requirements if they are deemed unnecessary, Larrick said.

Flickr pool photo by Maryva2

Ballston Movie Theater, Doorways Home Closed Due to Flooding

by ARLnow.com | January 8, 2014 at 8:00 pm | 2,144 views | No Comments

Ballston Regal theater closed due to flooding Ballston Regal theater closed due to flooding

Update at 8:45 p.m. — First Down Sports Bar and Grill had to shut down tonight, also due to a burst water pipe. From the businesses’ Facebook page: “We have had to close down suddenly for tonight because of a water pipe burst. Hopefully, we’ll be back up and running tomorrow. We will have an update on here as soon as we figure it out. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Update at 8:35 p.m. — Tonight’s Arlington County Democratic Committee debate for County Board candidates was briefly evacuated tonight when a reported burst pipe triggered the fire alarm in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association building.

(Updated at 11:40 p.m.) The Regal Ballston Common 12 theater was closed tonight due to flooding from ruptured water pipes.

Three pipes burst this afternoon, sending water spilling across several floors of the theater, we’re told. A clean-up is underway and the theater is hoping to reopen tomorrow (Thursday).

The water also impacted elevators in the mall building.

“Please be advised this afternoon, the sprinkler pipe broke in the Ballston Mall movie theatre and water is going into the freight elevator,” said a memo sent to workers in the offices above the mall. “As of right now, all elevators are out of service.”

Burst water pipes have plagued homes and businesses across Arlington this week, as temperatures dipped into the teens and single digits. The Trader Joe’s store in Clarendon reopened this morning after a burst water pipe last night. Also last night, the Doorways Family Home in North Arlington, which houses homeless families and victims of domestic violence, was closed when “a sprinkler head in a second floor ceiling burst due to freezing conditions” and flooded the floors down to the basement.

The women and children who were in the home were evacuated to hotels. Restoration crews worked today to make the house habitable again.

Suspicious Man Causes Scare at Ballston Metro

by Katie Pyzyk | January 7, 2014 at 5:50 pm | 4,718 views | No Comments

Police respond to suspicious man at Ballston Metro (photo via @SRod17)(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Reports of a suspicious person at the Ballston Metro station had police racing to the scene shortly after 5:00 p.m. to investigate.

In addition to the Arlington County Police Department, WMATA spokesman Dan Stessel says Transit Police were on the scene investigating the report of a suspicious male subject aboard an inbound train.

Few details are being released right now, but police scanner traffic first indicated the suspect may have lit WD-40 on fire inside the Ballston Metro station or inside a Metrorail car. Scanner traffic also indicates police are interviewing Metro employees at the East Falls Church station, where reports suggest the suspect may have gotten off the train.

Orange Line trains had been single tracking between Ballston and East Falls Church while police searched the station and the train, but the train in question has been released and was taken out of service. Normal service has resumed but some delays remain.

Photo courtesy @SRod17

Ballston Startup Wages War on Bots

by Ethan Rothstein | December 30, 2013 at 10:00 am | 823 views | No Comments

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The Ballston office of Distil Networks“If we let our guard down, the bots win.”

That’s the attitude of Distil Networks Founder and CEO Rami Essaid, and it is what has driven his company from something he built while living with his parents and crashing on his co-founders’ couches in 2011 to a thriving business with hundreds of clients and millions of dollars in funding and revenue.

Distil started out as a web scraping prevention company. Essaid was selling cybersecurity for a Northern Virginia company — he declined to say which one — when he realized that almost every company he was dealing with was having its content stolen by web scrapers. Seeing no company out there preventing scraping, in early 2011 he decided to quit his job, sell some of his possessions, rent out his apartment and move in with his parents in order to start his new company.

It’s not the first time Essaid had tried to launch a startup. Soon after Apple launched the App Store, Essaid and some friends began building a mall directory app. As Essaid put it, they “missed the Black Friday deadline.” He said an app with a worse design and smaller database launched on Black Friday, Apple featured it, and, selling for $3.99 each, it made hundreds of thousands of dollars almost overnight.

A few of his other ideas came close to turning into a business, but never quite made it over the finish line.

Theft Bot from Distil Network's websiteEssaid and his two co-founders, Engin Akyol and Andrew Stein, are all computer engineers. Once they had an idea of what kind of product to build, the building part was relatively free of speed bumps. The other side of the business — raising money and finding clients — was a different story.

“We didn’t know anything about being a venture-backed company,” Essaid said. He approached his first potential investor with his company not incorporated and without a lawyer; two requirements if a company wants to raise large sums of capital. “I thought if you just built a product, people are going to give you money. It was a rude awakening.”

Essaid said he was batting “about .010″ in venture meetings, but raised $400,000 at the end of December 2011, another $300,000 in July 2012 before completing a $2.1 million round of investment in December 2012. Distil will do another round of fundraising in 2014, Essaid said.

Distil Networks has grown beyond just preventing web scraping, expanding to four different products blocking different types of bots. Essaid calls each system a “vertical,” and there’s one to prevent online merchants from having their prices scraped by competitors. Another prevents fraud bots, which can drive up the price of online banner advertisements and clog servers. There is a vertical to prevent bots from stealing data, and another that shifts a company’s website onto Distil’s servers, increasing the website’s speed and performance.

“People kept asking us to help with problems tangential to the services we offered,” Essaid said, so Distil grew into a more diverse company.

(more…)

Crime Report: Man Stabbed Near Ballston Metro

by Katie Pyzyk | December 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm | 4,312 views | No Comments

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) A man reportedly was stabbed in the chest early Wednesday morning after exchanging words with his assailant near the Ballston Metro.

From this week’s crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 131218005, 4200 block of N. Fairfax Drive. At 1:30 am on December 18, an unknown subject allegedly stabbed a 30 year-old victim in the chest after a verbal altercation. The suspect fled on foot towards the Ballston Metro. The victim was driven by a friend to Virginia Hospital center with non-life threatening injuries. The suspect is described as a black male in his thirties, approximately 5’9” tall and 150 lbs. He was wearing a khaki colored jacket with a black vest over top of it and a light blue skullcap at the time of the incident.

The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. (more…)

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | December 18, 2013 at 8:45 am | 1,354 views | No Comments

Starts at Pentagon Row (Flickr pool photo by jordanhiggins)

Bluemont Neighborhood Plan Approved – The Arlington County Board last night accepted an updated Bluemont Neighborhood Conservation Plan, which will ”[allow] the Bluemont Civic Association to pursue funding to transform the neighborhood to a true ‘urban village’ with slower traffic, better sidewalks and revitalized commercial corridors.” The plan also calls for a grocery store to remain at the current Safeway site. [Arlington County]

APS Plans to Use ‘Big Data’ to Reduce Dropout Rate — Arlington Public Schools is launching a competition that will challenge teams of scientists to figure out a way to reduce the school system’s dropout rate by combing through 12 years of student data. The winning team will receive $10,000. [Washington Post]

SuperStop Makes ‘Wastebook’ — The $1 million Walter Reed SuperStop on Columbia Pike has made Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook,” which highlights “100 examples of wasteful and low-priority spending.” The bus stop, which can be found on page 32 of the Wastebook, was partially paid for with federal funds. “This report speaks volumes about why confidence in government is at an all-time low,” Coburn said of his publication. [Wastebook 2013, ARLnow Forums]

Fisette to Serve as Board Chair — County Board Vice Chair Jay Fisette was sworn in to a fifth four-year term on Tuesday. He will serve as County Board chairman in 2014. [Arlington County]

Research Firm Moving to Arlington — Research firm Hanover Research is moving its main office from the District to 4401 Wilson Blvd in Ballston this month. “The company’s extremely skilled staff, 61% of which hold advanced degrees, will help Ballston grow its reputation as a knowledge hub and significantly contribute to the area’s entrepreneurial spirit,” Hanover said in a press release. Arlington Public Schools is one of the company’s clients. [Hanover Research]

Flickr pool photo by jordanhiggins

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