It’s been about a year and a half in the making, but today marked the ribbon cutting for the newly revamped Clarendon Central Park.
County Board members Mary Hynes and Jay Fisette joined county employees for the ceremony, including many from the Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Parks and Recreation directly involved in planning the renovations. Hynes was one of the speakers and thanked all the people involved, from planners to construction workers, for bringing the idea to fruition.
“It addresses so many different goals,” Hynes said. “That great collaboration has led to this amazing space, which will be well used by not only the people who live nearby, but all of the people who come and enjoy our restaurants and the other amenities that Clarendon offers. It’s going to, I think, be a great addition to this neighborhood for many, many years to come.”
Improvements to the park and Metro plaza include new bike shelters, landscaping, irrigation, tables and chairs, lighting and ADA-compliant pavers. The plaza was designed to have more open space for events, such as the farmers market, and for easier pedestrian access to the Metro.
In May of 2012, the County Board approved a contract for the first phase of the project, worth more than $760,000. Workers completed the first phase — the eastern portion ending near the Clarendon Metro elevator — last December, and an additional $197,000 was requested at that time to complete the rest of the park.
County officials believe the hard work and long process involved in this project are worth the end result: an improved “gateway to Clarendon” that thousands of people pass through each day.
“This has been a little bit of a long, torturous journey,” said Dennis Leach with the Department of Environmental Services. “But I think the result is pretty phenomenal.”
Rosslyn Apartment Building to Sell for $220 Million — The JBG Cos. has reached a deal to sell its new Sedona Slate apartments in Rosslyn for $220 million. The company spent about $150 million to develop the two-building apartment project, which had a ribbon cutting ceremony in June. [Washington Business Journal]
APS Competition to Reduce Dropout Rate — Arlington Public Schools (APS) announced a competition for data analysts to help the school system prevent students from dropping out. Analysts will help APS identify trends and hopefully will find ways to flag students who could use more one-on-one time with counselors. Assistant Superintendent for Information Services Raj Adusumilli told ARLnow.com the winning team of analysts likely will be announced by the end of this winter. Although no firm date is in place for finishing the data analysis, the school system anticipates being able to use the gathered information by about February 2014 in order to help students make class choices for next year. [Washington Post, Arlington Public Schools]
Opera Singer Wins Talent Competition — Opera singer Garrick Jordan won first place in the second annual “Arlington’s Got Talent” competition. Jordan beat out six other competitors on Sunday (November 18) at Clarendon Ballroom. [Sun Gazette]
Bracket Room (1210 N. Garfield Street) in Clarendon had wanted to offer its patrons live music, but an outcry from neighbors prompted a change of plans.
Bracket Room’s owners had applied for a live entertainment permit, but decided within the past couple of weeks to withdraw the application. They made the decision based on noise complaints from neighbors living in Lyon Place apartments — located directly above the sports bar — who say the existing music is too loud.
“We’ve had a lot of issues with the tenants in the building from the beginning,” said Co-owner Jeff Greenberg. “The residents were calling the police when we first opened, which I hear really happens to everybody. But we don’t want to upset the people in the building or the landlord.”
One month after the sports bar’s early September opening, police said they had received around three dozen complaints related to Bracket Room. County Zoning and Code Enforcement staff had also received more than 15 complaints. Last month, County Planner Sophia Fisher said county employees were looking into the issues. Staff members familiar with each permit request typically make a recommendation to the County Board about whether to grant or deny the permit.
“Zoning and Code Enforcement staff are both currently monitoring the use due to concerns raised by citizens related to noise,” Fisher said in October. “Because live entertainment has the potential to increase the impacts of a venue on the surrounding community, citizen concerns related to noise are taken very seriously by staff.”
Today, Fisher confirmed that the Bracket Room owners have withdrawn their application for the live entertainment permit.
Bracket Room customers might notice some changes implemented during the past two weeks to appease neighbors. First, owners decided to lower the music level to 85 decibels.
“They’re trying to keep [the music] as low as they can so people inside are having fun but other people aren’t disturbed by the noise,” said Greenberg. “When the people in the building are mad at you, what are you going to do?”
The owners also examined the sports bar’s closing time and decided to shut the doors earlier.
“The 1:00-2:00 a.m. crowd is usually smaller than at other hours of the day, but it’s rowdier,” Greenberg said. “We’re cutting our hours back and we’re not staying open until 2:00 a.m.”
Since implementing the changes about two weeks ago, the owners have not been notified of as many noise complaints.
Other ideas the owners continue to throw around include adding additional security, working with an architect to find some other form of noise insulation, and possibly turning down the music’s bass if necessary.
“We’re going to contain the noise, but we’re going to try to keep our restaurant full every night,” said Greenberg. “We’re going to try the best we can. We want to get along, we want to be loved.”
Down Dog Power Yoga offers several levels of classes and workshops, all of which are are held in studios heated to 90-95 degrees. The website says “heat is primarily used to help the body get healthy by expelling toxins. The heat also makes muscles more pliable in order to prevent injury.”
Employees at Down Dog Power Yoga told ARLnow.com that the Clarendon studio should open early in 2014. No firm date has been set, however, because the lease was just signed this week. One of the employees noted that work is already in progress for the new studio and workers are excited for it to open.
Photo via Facebook
A new restaurant serving Asian cuisine will be opening in the former Fatshorty’s space in Clarendon.
‘Thaiger Asian Bistro’ applied for a permit at 3035 Clarendon Blvd this week. Fatshorty’s closed at that location a week and a half ago, citing disappointing sales.
So far, there’s no word on when the new restaurant will open. A woman answering a phone number associated with the restaurant told ARLnow.com that she was unwilling to divulge any details about the restaurant at this time.
Another Thai-centric but ostensibly pan-Asian restaurant, Burapa Thai and Sushi Bar, closed its doors last year. It was located a block away from the future Thaiger Asian Bistro. Bracket Room, a sports bar, has since opened in the former Burapa Thai space.
Three houses are being torn down to make way for a new apartment building in the Lyon Park neighborhood.
Developer Clark Realty expects to begin demolition on the vacant houses, on 9th Road N. behind Jay’s Saloon, within the next week. Construction on the new building, which will feature 18 one-to-three bedroom apartments and 33 parking spaces, is expected to take about a year.
The building, dubbed 9th Road Residences, is being built “by right,” meaning County Board approval is not needed. The new structure will be adjacent to another Clark-built apartment building on 9th Road. Both are about the same in scale: 3 stories high with a half-sunken ground floor.
Clark is planning to rent the apartments, but they’re being built with “condo-level finishes” so that the building can be converted to condominiums if market conditions dictate.
The project is adjacent to but separate from Clark’s “10th Street Flats” development, which will eventually result in the closure and demolition of Jay’s Saloon (3114 10th Street N.) and several other small businesses. That development must first go through Arlington’s site plan process.
At an informal neighborhood meeting with the developer last night, Lyon Park residents expressed little objection to the 9th Road project, but raised some concern about traffic that might eventually come from 10th Street Flats.
Less than 7 months after opening, Fatshorty’s in Clarendon is set to close.
The restaurant, which specializes in sausages, mussels, beer and cupcakes, will close on Sunday, Oct. 27, according to an email sent to Groupon customers who previously purchased a coupon for Fatshorty’s.
The restaurant was a collaboration between local restaurateur Aaron Gordon (of Red Velvet Cupcakery and other restaurant concepts) and Hell’s Kitchen winner Rahman “Rock” Harper. It opened in April.
“Yes, we are closing,” Gordon confirmed to ARLnow.com this morning. “Our reasoning is that we were not making enough revenue and are being bought by another restaurant group.”
Additional details were not immediately available.
Fatshorty’s offered a “sausage blow out” this past weekend, offering half-off all sausage sandwiches, according to a Facebook post.
Hat tip to Benjamin M. and Richard H.
A middle-aged man was seen masturbating outside a salon in Clarendon this past Thursday evening.
The incident took place just after 7:00 p.m. on the 2700 block of Clarendon Blvd, near the Market Common Clarendon shopping center. Police were not able to locate the man after the incident was reported.
From the crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 10/10/13, 2700 block of N. Clarendon Boulevard. On October 10 at 7:07pm, a victim reported a suspect masturbating outside of a hair salon. The suspect is described as a white male, between 45 and 55 years of age, approximately 5’7” and about 150 pounds. The suspect had shoulder length brown hair, but was bald on the top of his head. At the time of the incident, he was wearing blue jeans, brown boots, a black belt, and a green jacket.
A number of roads around the Virginia Square area will be closed Sunday morning for the annual Race for a Cause 8K.
The race will shut down N. Quincy Street between N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. From 7:45 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., the following roads will be closed for the race, according to Arlington County:
- Eastbound Wilson Boulevard from Quincy Street to 10th Street N.
- Eastbound 10th Street N. to Washington Boulevard
- Southbound Washington Boulevard from 10th Street N. to Columbia Pike
Parking along these streets may be restricted, so those leaving their cars in and around the area Saturday night should be on the lookout for “No Parking” signs along the race route. The race will begin at 8:00 a.m.
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) James Hunter Park, the long-delayed multipurpose park in Clarendon, held its grand opening Monday night.
The park has an area for dogs and amenities like a picnic area and demonstration garden for people. Arlington County Board Chairman Walter Tejada helped cut the ribbon on the $1.6 million park, located at the corner of N. Herndon and 13th Streets.
But there have been some grumbles about the new park. The “crushed stone” surface, one of three installed at the dog park, has particular raised concern among residents.
“The gravel surface designed for the dogs to pee and poop on raises a lot of dust for the dogs and people to breathe,” wrote one park visitor. “One friend complained the stuff gets on the dogs and they are carrying it into the house. The same friend report the gravel got stuck in the paws of his dog.”
County Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said the crushed stone “is common in urban dog parks,” and an underground irrigation system is in place to prevent dust. Kalish said the “pros and cons” of each surface — there is also synthetic turf and a rubberized surface — is why park planners decided to install all three.
Another complaint was that water in the fountain was chlorinated and murky with gravel. A sign warns against dogs drinking out of the fountain, yet some four-legged visitors have been spotted drinking out it anyway.
“Apparently the dog[s] can’t read the sign that says not to,” one resident said.
“Because we recycle the water in the fountain, we treat it with pool chemicals,” Kalish said. “Unless treated, water in fountains will promote the growth of algae and bacteria. While we know that dogs have been swimming in pools all over the nation for decades and therefore believe that the chlorine content in the water feature is low enough that most dogs won’t have issues, we wanted to warn people as every pet is different. If a dog is well-hydrated prior to playing in the fountain he or she will be less likely to drink much pool water. We’ve got a freeze-proof water fountain in the dog park area for them to use.”
Residents have also complained of a lack of shade in the evenings, heating up the metal benches to an uncomfortably high temperatures. Kalish said park planners expected problems along those lines.
“Shade was quite a challenge for our design team,” Kalish wrote in an email. “The park has plenty of shade in the morning, but it does lack shade in the afternoon — a problem during summer months. We planted trees around the park so that in time they will grow to dramatically increase shade.”
Photo (above) courtesy of Guus Bosman
The 16th annual Clarendon Day and the official D.C. Chili Cookoff are back for another year this Saturday.
From 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., visitors can partake in the street festival with food, beer and wine, local vendors and businesses.
The highlight of the festival figures to be the D.C. Chili Cookoff. Hard Times co-founder Jim Parker brought the cookoff to Clarendon after 33 years in D.C., most recently as the DC101 Chili Cookoff at RFK Stadium.
Judges will begin tasting the chili at 1:00 p.m., and those in attendance — once the judges have their fill — will be able to sample the chili for 25 cents apiece, with proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project. The winners of the cookoff, in the red chili, chili verde, salsa and homestyle categories, will go on to participate in the World’s Championship Chili Cookoff in October.
The event is free and open to the public, and will be put on rain or shine. From 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd will be closed from Washington Blvd to N. Garfield Street and N. Highland Street will be closed from N. Hartford Street to 11th Street. Parking will be restricted, so those planning to drive should be aware of the “No Parking” signs posted in the area.
Disclosure: Clarendon Alliance is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Knightsbridge Trading Company, a gift and home decor store, has opened in Clarendon.
The store, at 2871 Clarendon Blvd in the former Papery space, opened its doors over the weekend. It offers customers “an engaging shopping experience characterized by a diverse, ever-changing merchandise selection at surprisingly attractive prices,” according to its website.
“Our store present[s] a broad selection of distinctive merchandise, including paintings, body-care products, mirrors, candles, lamps, picture frames, stationery, greeting cards, home accessories and floral products,” the website says. “Knightbridge [sic] Trading Co. also offers an extensive assortment of holiday merchandise from all over the world, as well as many unique items carried throughout the year suitable for giving as gifts.”
Originally named The English Trading Company, the store has an existing location in Rockville that opened in 2010.
Dozens of taxi drivers converged on Clarendon this afternoon, deliberately disrupting traffic to protest what they claim are poor working conditions in Arlington.
The cab drivers drove slowly around the Clarendon Metro station in protest of their employers and Arlington County. Organized by the cab drivers union Arlington United Taxi Operators, they’re lobbying for a public hearing before the County Board.
The drivers and the union want to change the ordinance that regulates taxi operating permits, which the protesting drivers feel is written in the interest of the taxi companies’ owners, not the drivers.
“The companies basically treat us like slaves,” said Abdellah Ouazzani, a cab driver who declined to state which company he drives for out of fear of losing his job. “They abuse us and they can fire us any time they want.”
In recent years, Red Top Cab and Yellow Cab Company, owned by the same parent company, have raised the dues drivers pay from $145 to $175 to $205 a week, Red Top Cab Vice President Charlie King confirmed. The most recent increase, King said, was coupled with a reduction in credit card fees drivers pay when customers charge their rides, estimated at $30 a week.
Drivers say the steeper fees cut into the pay they end up taking home at the end of the week, leaving “poverty-level earnings,” but companies argue that it’s fair given that the fees often cover the cost of the cabs themselves and the dispatch services that connects drivers with customers.
“Yellow Cab was operating at a loss at $145 a week,” King said. As for the perceived unfair treatment of its drivers, King said, “that’s clearly not the case. We don’t have a record of needlessly terminating cab drivers. We have a great deal of respect for our drivers.”
The Arlington County Board reviews the taxicab ordinance every two years, and when the board took up the issue last year, the taxi union demonstrated many of the same concerns and accused the County Board of racism.
The union wants the county to distribute permits to individual drivers, while the code states the nearly 800 permits in circulation are to be allocated to companies. Red Top Cab and Yellow Cab Co. combine to hold 455 operating permits, King said. Blue Top Cab holds about 170.
The union, along with Tenants and Workers United and Virginia New Majority, a progressive advocacy group, are planning future “disruptions” in other parts of Arlington, including in Courthouse, Pentagon City and Shirlington.
“We want to disrupt other areas so they can be made aware,” said Deshundra Jefferson, spokeswoman for Virginia New Majority, said. “Taxicabs are like sweatshops on wheels, and people don’t even know that the drivers are relying on Medicaid and food stamps.”
Video courtesy Virginia New Majority
The Hoya student newspaper reports that the school is looking at Clarendon, Capitol Hill and a location north of the Georgetown’s main campus as possible areas to house 385 students starting in the fall of 2015.
The off-site housing is necessary in order for the university to comply with an agreement with Georgetown residents and the D.C. government to house 90 percent of students on campus by 2025. Construction of a planned on-campus dormitory has been delayed, The Hoya reports, making a satellite campus — likely apartments rented by the university — a last-resort option for compliance.
The school may have a hard time convincing students to live far outside campus, however.
“University officials have discussed making satellite housing higher quality than current campus housing by including a swimming pool for student use or situating the campus near a Metro stop,” The Hoya wrote. Georgetown would also run a shuttle from the satellite campus to the main campus across the Key Bridge.
Stacy Kerr, Assistant Vice President of Communication for Georgetown, disputed The Hoya article and said it overstates the number of students who would be potentially be housed in Clarendon. She said the university is actually looking to house some 160 students.
Georgetown has a history with Clarendon, operating its Center for Continuing and Professional Education on Wilson Blvd across from the Clarendon Metro station. The program, however, has moved to a new office in D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. The school’s lease on the building runs until 2014.
Updated Sept. 5 at 9:00 a.m.
Drivers of electric cars will soon be able to charge up in Clarendon.
The parking lot of the Walgreens Pharmacy at 2825 Wilson Blvd is the site of Arlington’s newest electric car charging station, and it will be operational in about a month.
The station has multiple charging ports for all types of electric cars, including one that charges some cars in 20 minutes. Those interested in using the chargers can buy a monthly subscription from eVgo, the company that owns the ports and is installing about 50 of them around the Washington area in the next several years.
A two-hour charger can be used for a $5-per-month subscription, while the 20-minute charger subscription starts at $20 per month.
There are already electric car charging stations at the Hilton Crystal City and Rosslyn Gateway buildings (part of a competing charger network), stations in Shirlington and at Pentagon Row, and stations in Vornado properties in Crystal City. The Clarendon station is eVgo’s first in the county.