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by Ethan Rothstein — July 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm 1,145 0

Arlington Mill Community Center pre-opening Flickr photo(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The western portion of Columbia Pike in Arlington is likely going to be home to the county’s newest farmers market.

The Arlington County Board is expected to approve a proposal to create an open air market in the plaza of the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street) at its meeting this Saturday.

The market, if approved, would take place from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and be run by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. The Arlington Mill plaza, in the middle of its first summer since the community center opened last fall, is already hosting half of CPRO’s outdoor summer movies, including showing several Spanish-language films.

CPRO already operates one farmers market on the east end of the Pike, next to the Rite Aid parking lot (2820 Columbia Pike), but CPRO Executive Director Takis Karantonis has spoken about expanding the use of public spaces all along the Pike to engage the community.

“We try to think of how to activate as much public space as possible,” Karantonis told ARLnow.com last month. “We want to do many small events that strengthen the idea of Columbia Pike as one corridor.”

Karantonis said the market will focus on “fresh vegetables and produce” and will start small. If approved as expected, Karantonis expects the first market to be held on July 30.

“The western end of the Pike has had less than favored access to fresh food and choices in general,” he said. “We want to remediate that. We want to have a farmer’s market that caters to a large population that needs more affordable choices, so we will try our best to make it as affordable as possible.”

The proposal is on the County Board’s consent agenda, meaning it will be approved without discussion unless a Board member has an issue. CPRO anticipates seven or eight vendors per week this summer, but applied for permission for up to 10 vendor tents. The land is owned by Arlington County, so the Board must also approving licensing it to CPRO for use during the market.

The market is proposed to operate until the end of November during its first year, and to operate year-round after that. The Board is voting on a one-year open-air permit, with the option to review and renew after the year is over.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — April 14, 2014 at 10:15 am 1,763 0

Serrano apartments on Columbia PikeThe Arlington County Board approved a $16.5 million loan to affordable housing developer AHC on Saturday to purchase a Columbia Pike apartment building.

The loan, which comes from the county’s dedicated Affordable Housing Investment Fund, will allow AHC to purchase the Serrano Apartments at 5535 Columbia Pike, which are currently owned by Carmel Partners.

The apartment building, in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood, has 280 units, 239 of which are currently considered affordable. The loan allows AHC to purchase the building and keep 196 units in the building as dedicated affordable housing for the next 60 years. The remainder will be offered at a market rate.

AHC will also purchase the 39,500 square feet of vacant land fronting the Pike, which Carmel has an application to subdivide, according to the county’s press release. That land could be developed into a complex with about 80 apartment units, according to the Columbia Pike Form Based Code.

“The County Board has committed to preserving affordable housing along Columbia Pike,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in the press release. “This loan to AHC is in keeping with our commitment. These units now will remain affordable for generations of Arlingtonians — and help preserve the Pike’s rich diversity as it is redeveloped into a more transit-oriented, walkable ‘Main Street.’”

Current tenants will not be displaced with the ownership change, the county said. The purchase follows through on the Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan, which calls for keeping 6,200 of the current affordable market-rate apartments affordable as the Pike develops and creating 400 new units affordable to families at 80 percent of the area median income on the western portion of the Pike.

Photo via Bozzuto

by Ethan Rothstein — March 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm 2,547 0

Cars parked along 7th Street S. in Forest GlenForest Glen, an 84-home civic association between Glencarlyn and Columbia Heights West, is preparing to submit a request to the county to establish a permit parking zone in their neighborhood.

The neighborhood, one of the smallest in the county, spans from Glencarlyn Park to 7th Road S. and Tyriol Hill Park. The Forest Glen Civic Association has grown increasingly concerned over non-residents — specifically, residents of apartment buildings in neighboring communities — taking up available street parking they feel should be reserved for only neighborhood residents.

“Residents even drive a car from the apartment complex, park it on our street, and get into a different car already parked on our street,” Shawn Brown, a Forest Glen resident, wrote in an email to ARLnow.com. “That’s pretty crazy and really unacceptable.”

Forest Glen residents say street parking is nearly impossible to find late at night, with the streets filled not only with cars, but commercial vans and trucks. The civic association has prepared a draft appeal for the county to institute permit parking, citing the source of the problem as “the overcrowded apartments, condominiums, and duplexes that are located to the south of our neighborhood (between 7th Road S. and Columbia Pike and between Carlin Springs Road and Dinwiddie Street).”

However, any parking zone created by the civic association’s request under the current parking ordinance would also include residents of neighboring Columbia Heights West, which includes those apartment buildings. That’s something the civic association wants to avoid.

County Parking Manager Sarah Stott says she considers Forest Glen and Columbia Heights West “basically one community.” The county is currently conducting a study to determine whether, instead of restricting parking, more street parking can be created along the streets.

“Maybe there’s one space here, one space there [to add],” Stott said, adding that the “signs team” is studying if signs can be moved to create spaces. “We’ve got some wide streets there, we could put in angled parking and see if that could work. That could gain you a lot more spaces than parallel parking. We’re having engineers see if there’s a way to do that.”

Cars parked along S. Greenbrier Street in Forest GlenStott expects the study to be complete by the end of the month or in early April; she’s retiring March 21 and her replacement, Mike Connor, has also been following the issue closely.

If the study yields results the civic association finds unsatisfactory, it may submit its draft appeal, which suggests creating its own special parking ordinance for Forest Glen. If it does, Stott says she’s not exactly sure what would come next.

“I don’t know what that process would be,” she told ARLnow.com. “We haven’t had that before where a civic association, or anybody has appealed to the county to write its own ordinance.”

The appeal also references the special parking zones that have been established in the much-larger neighborhoods of Douglas Park and Columbia Forest, which restrict nighttime street parking. Even if the draft were to become an official ordinance, Forest Glen residents may not be too pleased with the results. Connor said he doesn’t see a need to increase parking for Forest Glen homeowners.

“The design folks are going to look at that entire community, but the intent isn’t to create the capacity in Forest Glen, which is a single-family neighborhood” he said. “Ideally the county is going to be able to create capacity in the higher-density neighborhoods.”

The full text of the civic association’s appeal is after the jump.

Update at 9:20 a.m. – Forest Glen Civic Association President Ron Ross said the neighborhood’s “ideas for a possible appeal have not been finalized” and said the appeal sent to ARLnow.com does not reflect the civic association’s official stance. He added, “There is a considerable amount of parking in Forest Glen by non-residents, decreasing the parking space for Forest Glen homeowners. The additional vehicles have also brought peripheral problems, such as trash left on the neighborhood streets and lawns, noise during nighttime hours, as well as blocking driveways of homeowners.”

(more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — February 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm 2,234 0

Little Caesars pizza sign on Columbia Pike Little Caesars pizza sign on Columbia Pike

A new location of the Little Caesars pizza chain is expected to open in the Columbia Pike Plaza shopping center at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street.

The location is in the former AT&T Wireless store at 5025 Columbia Pike, in the shopping center across S. Dinwiddie Street from the Arlington Mill Community Center. There’s no hint of an expected opening date.

The location, when it opens, will be Little Caesars’ second current location in Arlington; its other store is at 5175 Lee Highway and opened late last year.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 17, 2013 at 11:00 am 2,396 0

Police car lightsPolice are looking for a suspect who robbed a teenager of his shoes on Friday (December 13) in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood.

According to police, the suspect approached the 15-year-old victim around 8:25 p.m. in the 5100 block of 8th Road S. and put him in a choke hold. The suspect demanded the victim’s Nike Foamposite shoes, shoved the victim and then fled.

The victim was not seriously injured and was not transported to the hospital.

Police describe the suspect as a dark skinned Hispanic male with a light beard, approximately 5’10”, 160 pounds and around 20 years old. At the time of the incident he was wearing a black jacket and dark pants. Another person was with the suspect at the time of the robbery, but was not directly involved in the incident. The second person is described as a light skinned male, approximately 6’2” with a heavy build. At the time of the incident he was wearing a black jacket and dark jeans and had a black backpack with him.

Anyone who may have information regarding the robbery is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 703-558-2222.

by ARLnow.com — October 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm 515 0

Arlington County fire truck(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Arlington firefighters are on the scene of a reported kitchen fire in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood.

The fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. in an apartment on the 700 block of S. Florida Street. According to initial reports, the fire started on the stove of one of the apartments and spread to the cabinets.

Firefighters have managed to extinguish the flames. No injuries have been reported.

by ARLnow.com — September 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm 2,023 0

Police car lightsA man broke into an apartment in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood this morning and attempted to sexually assault a girl.

Police have released only a few details about the alleged crime, but are seeking the public’s help in identifying the suspect.

The incident happened around 6:00 a.m. at an apartment somewhere in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood, off of Columbia Pike. The man broke into the apartment and attempted to sexually assault a juvenile female, according to Arlington County Police. The victim did not know her attacker, police said.

“Despite recent efforts to locate the suspect, he continues to remain at-large,” police said in a press release. “The subject is described as a 20-25 year old white male, approximately 5’7” with freckles and a short brown mohawk. At the time of the incident, the suspect was wearing a white shirt with a gray design, blue jeans, and black shoes.”

“If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective Joe McGrath of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit at 703.228.4244 or at jmcgrath@arlingtonva.us,” the press release said. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477). ”

Details like the apartment address, how the suspect got inside the apartment and the exact nature of the assault have not been released.

“We don’t want to go into specifics at this time,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 27, 2013 at 10:00 am 1,589 0

The $36 million Arlington Mill Community Center is only weeks away from opening.

County Board Chairman Walter Tejada and county staff members gave members of the media a preview tour Monday afternoon, showcasing the county’s newest community investment.

Arlington Mill’s construction “will definitely be under budget,” according to George May, Department of Environmental Services bureau chief for facilities design and construction, and the five-story, 67,000-square-foot building will start hosting programs Sept. 3, and hold a grand opening Sept. 21. The project’s expenditures are at about $35 million, May said.

Located at 909 S. Dinwiddie Street, the community center sits at a corner of Columbia Pike where there once stood a Safeway. Purchased by the county in 1996, the land remain unused for years while the economy crashed and the county had to reconfigure its plans for a community center in the area.

“It took a huge effort,” Tejada said. “When the economy tanked, it looked like it might not move forward and the community was very disappointed.”

Tejada had on a perpetual smile during the tour,  seeing years of negotiations and false starts come to fruition. He was especially excited at the foosball table, which was covered by a piece of cardboard and he gleefully removed to spin the handles.

The facility will be free and open to the public from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saturdays and 1:00 to 9:00 p.m. Sundays.

The only uses that will require fees are the fitness center and the parking garage after four hours. It was Tejada’s hope that the garage be completely free, but, in a controversial decision, he and county staff compromised on four hours of free parking, to prevent the garage from becoming a “haven for commuters,” according to the Sun Gazette.

The gymnasium has two full basketball courts and lines painted for volleyball and pickleball, which Facility Manager Rob Carter said was the most-requested activity in community meetings.

Arlington Mill also has a satellite office of the Arlington County Employment Center, classrooms, multipurpose rooms available to reserve, a room for the Project Family service and a rooftop garden. The center will have WiFi and, on the first floor, Pan American Bakery and Café. However, the bakery won’t be open for a few months after the center itself opens.

Next door, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing is still in construction on its apartment building, on land leased from the county. The window to apply for the waiting list for the building opens today and closes Saturday, Aug. 31. The fourth floor of the center is currently unoccupied, and is part of 9,900 square feet of the facility that is designated for future use.

When asked what he would tell critics who say Arlington Mill has been a vanity project, Tejada responded, “I would invite them to come here and meet the diverse people who will use this center, and then we can chat them up.”

by ARLnow.com — February 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm 2,676 36 Comments

Suspects arrested for alleged apartment garage burglaryFour people were arrested last night after they allegedly tried to steal items from cars in an apartment parking garage.

Three males, including a 17-year-old juvenile, entered an apartment building in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood by following a resident through the front door, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. As they entered they put on masks and gloves and went down to the garage, Sternbeck said.

A resident called police around 11:25 p.m. after observing suspicious individuals looking into cars. Police arrived at the building, on the 800 block of S. Greenbrier Street, and arrested the three suspects inside the garage, Sternbeck said.

A woman, who police say was the getaway driver, was later arrested in a van outside the apartment. She apparently didn’t notice the commotion inside the garage because she was talking on her cell phone when the arrests were made, Sternbeck said.

The two adult men — Charles Messiah of Annandale and Kareem Taylor, both 19 — were charged burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. One was also charged with resisting arrest.

The female suspect, 19-year-old Ciarra Rice of Lorton, was charged conspiracy to commit burglary.

Sternbeck recommended that residents be mindful of individuals trying to gain access to apartment buildings and secured parking garages. He also commended the resident who alerted police to this incident.

Photos courtesy ACPD

by ARLnow.com — March 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm 4,696 48 Comments

(Update at 7:10 p.m.) A woman somehow drove her car onto the front porch of an apartment building in the Columbia Heights West neighborhood this afternoon.

The accident happened at the corner of 8th Road S. and S. Emerson Street. A witness tells ARLnow.com that the driver was trying to back into a street parking spot when she lost control, hit the front of a Honda, drove in a U-turn in the front yard of the building and came to rest on the front porch. In the process, the woman’s car took out one of the porch’s columns.

We’re told the small, three-story apartment building is currently vacant.

The woman did not appear injured, though her car suffered significant damage to the drivers side. Firefighters from Fairfax County managed to drive the car off the front porch and into a nearby parking lot.

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