From 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., Menchie’s at Penrose Square (2405 Columbia Pike) will be offering one free 6 oz. cup of frozen yogurt to each “fan” who walks through the door, according to a press release.
Froyo freeloaders will also be given a 20 percent off coupon for their next visit.
Menchie’s has 475 locations, including the one in Arlington.
(Update at 6:25 p.m.) A new, mixed-use development is in the works for the western end of Columbia Pike.
Pillars Development Group, which built The Berkeley condominium in Ballston, is planning on constructing 78 condominiums and 8,000-square feet of ground floor retail at 4707 Columbia Pike, next to S. Buchanan Street, in the location of the now-closed El Tutumaso Bolivian restaurant.
That restaurant — previously home to a second location of Bob and Edith’s Diner and Sauca, which closed within a year of opening in 2012 — will be bulldozed for the incoming development. Pillars has applied for its first building permit on the site, and Operations Director Marwan Shahin told ARLnow.com today that the company hopes to start digging in May or June.
“We’re hoping we can start having people living in the building 18 to 24 months after that,” Shahin said.
The retail space does not have a prospective occupant yet, but Shahin said the company is looking to sell, not lease, that space to whoever wants to open a business in the first floor. The retail would front onto Columbia Pike and the residential entrance would be off of S. Buchanan Street.
Shahin said there will be a combination of underground and surface parking. The building will be developed (and has been approved) under the Columbia Pike Form-Based Code for commercial districts, which allows some projects to be approved without a hearing before the Arlington County Board.
The church’s congregation voted in November 2013 to approve the church’s redevelopment into an affordable housing building with a 7,500-square-foot worship space for the church in future years. Last week, the National Capital Presbytery — the region’s governing body for presbyterian churches — approved the sale of the church building at 3507 Columbia Pike.
APAH must now gather financing and go through site plan approval from the county before the sale can close. According to church project manager Jill Norcross, the sale is expected to close in July 2016, which is also when the church’s congregation is expecting to need to find a new home.
“The congregation is thrilled,” Norcross said. “For them, it’s been quite a process, a multi-year visioning process where they’ve had to walk every step of the way. They’ve remained committed, so having the Presbytery approve it is a huge step for them, and they’re really excited about it. The next step is figuring out where they will worship when they leave the site.”
When the plans were approved more than a year ago, it was with the understanding that the new building would be the church’s future home when it opened. Now, Norcross said, APAH will own the land and the building outright, and the church and developer would have to agree on a new lease when the building is built, no sure thing.
“The church has given up any ownership stake in the building,” she said. “That’s what the Presbytery wanted. The church might come back as a tenant, but that’s still to be negotiated between now and 2016.”
APAH hopes to gain approval for a five-story, 142-unit apartment building with ground floor retail space originally intended for a coffee shop.
Preservationists have called for the building, which was built in 1931, to be preserved instead of torn down. The church decided the need for more affordable housing on Columbia Pike, and the opportunity to sell to APAH for millions of dollars, outweighed the idea of preserving the church and its rising maintenance costs.
“The affordable housing is desperately needed on the Pike,” Norcross said. The surprise cancellation of the streetcar did not have an impact on the congregation or the Presbytery’s decision, she said.
Preservation Arlington’s Eric Dobson said he hopes something can be done to preserve the church, because once Arlington’s older buildings are gone, “they’re gone for good.”
“That building was so important to the development of the Pike,” Dobson said. “The materials of the stone and its design… other communities would consider those assets, but in Arlington we seem to ignore that.”
Photo via Preservation Arlington
Noormustafa “Noor” Shaikh, a 40 year old Stafford, Va. resident, was still in critical condition as of Friday afternoon, we’re told. He suffered numerous injuries last Tuesday when a Fairfax woman allegedly ran him over with her SUV, as he tried to prevent her from leaving the parking lot of his automotive business on the 3600 block of Columbia Pike.
Alexandra Mendez, 39, was arrested the next morning and charged with aggravated malicious wounding. She was also charged with hit and run for allegedly striking two cars in the parking lot, which prompted Shaikh — a co-owner of MK Auto Sales and Service — to try to stop her from leaving.
Shaikh was run over by the SUV’s tires and suffered at least eight significant injuries — including multiple rib fractures, liver laceration, bruised lungs, a leg fracture, spine fractures and facial fractures — according to a family friend who contacted ARLnow.com but did not wish to be identified by name.
“He’s awake and aware but can’t talk because he’s on a respirator full time,” the friend said of Shaikh’s condition. “He still has to undergo more surgeries.”
A group of friends and coworkers have set up an online fundraising campaign for Shaikh, who is better known by his nickname, Noor. So far the “For Noor” GoFundMe campaign has raised $895, but it is seeking more money to help provide for Noor’s wife and three sons.
Said the friend: “His wife, Durdana, is trying to keep his spirits up. She tough and hanging in there. She [is] with him all day… always keeping a watchful eye on him. As for the kids they are aware he was hurt, but they do not the extent for his injuries. Makes it easier for them. They all keep asking when their dad is coming home.”
The Arlington County Police Department has arrested a 39-year-old Fairfax woman for allegedly running over a man in a Columbia Pike parking lot yesterday evening.
Alexandra Mendez was arrested at her home at 6:00 this morning, police have announced. She is charged with aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding, two counts of hit-and-run and driving on a suspended license. The 40-year-old victim, a Stafford resident, remains at George Washington University Hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.
The man was lying on the ground when police and witnesses say Mendez drove her SUV over him, dragging him several feet before speeding off westbound on Columbia Pike. Mendez also allegedly rolled over another man’s foot in her Toyota Highlander, in the parking lot behind a car dealership and beauty salon on the 3600 block of Columbia Pike.
Mendez is being held at the Arlington County jail without bond. Police also recovered the SUV when making the arrest this morning.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department has taken into custody and charged Alexandra Mendez, 39, of Fairfax, VA, following yesterday evening’s accident in the 3600 block of Columbia Pike. Mendez was denied bond and is currently being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility. She has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding, malicious wounding, two counts of hit & run and driving on a suspended license.
On January 27, 2015, at approximately 4:44 p.m., the suspect struck a male victim with her vehicle in a parking lot, knocking him to the ground. Numerous witnesses attempted to prevent her from driving away from the scene as the victim lay on the ground in front of her Toyota Highlander. After ignoring their requests to stop, Mendez proceeded forward over top of the victim and fled the scene. She remained at large until officers took her into custody at her residence at 6:00 a.m. this morning.
Emergency personnel transported the victim, a 40 year-old Stafford, VA man, to GW Hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he remains in critical condition.
The United States Marshal Service, Fairfax City Police Department and Fairfax County Police Department assisted Arlington County officers in taking the female suspect into custody this morning. The vehicle was recovered outside of the suspect’s residence.
Update at 10:45 a.m. — An arrest has been made in the case.
A man is in critical condition after being run over by an SUV in a parking lot on Columbia Pike Tuesday evening.
The incident happened at approximately 4:45 p.m., in the parking lot behind a barber shop and a car dealership on the 3600 block of Columbia Pike.
Witnesses say a woman driving a white or silver Toyota Highlander was trying to exit the parking lot after a fender bender when two men tried to stop her by closing the parking lot gate. One man had his foot ran over, according to news reports.
The other man was knocked to the ground, ran over and dragged several feet under the car, we’re told. The driver then sped off westbound on Columbia Pike.
The man was transported to George Washington Hospital’s trauma center with life-threatening injuries, according to police. Witnesses on scene took video of the incident and police are reviewing the footage.
A group of witnesses said they were in Burger King next door and saw the incident unfold.
“While the guy was lying down, everyone was around screaming at her to stop,” one witness, who declined to be identified, told ARLnow.com at the scene. “She kept on moving and ran over the guy.”
Witnesses say the man’s face suffered severe-looking injuries, “his legs were twisted” and his hands were bleeding. Paramedics arrived to the scene and quickly transported him. There’s no word on the suspect or if she knew the victim.
(Updated at 12:50 p.m. Tuesday) Seven vehicles — five cars, an ART bus and a mixing truck — were involved in a collision at about 5:45 p.m. at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street.
According to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm, the ART bus was in the parking lot of Columbia Pike Plaza when a car turned in front of it. The ART bus, driven by 26-year-old Agere Sileshi, struck the car, at which point Sileshi lost control of the bus, Malcolm said.
The bus pushed the car into a parked vehicle, Sileshi accelerated and pushed all three vehicles over the brick retaining wall and onto S. Dinwiddie Street, Malcolm said. There, the bus hit three cars stopped at a red light, creating another chain reaction in which the seventh vehicle, a parked car, was pushed into benches and a tree on the sidewalk in front of Arlington Mill Community Center.
Sileshi was charged with reckless driving for failure to control her vehicle, Malcolm said. Three motorists were transported from the scene with non-life-threatening injuries, as was one pedestrian “struck by flying debris.”
Westbound Columbia Pike was closed for more than an hour around the scene as emergency crews from Arlington and Fairfax sort out the aftermath, which included cars strewn all over the intersection and a substantial part of the brick wall along Dinwiddie Street destroyed.
In addition to the cars and walls damaged, several bicycles parked in front of Arlington Mill Community Center were damaged in the accident, and at least two benches affixed to the ground were either destroyed or displaced.
The Columbia Forest Civic Association, Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (V.O.I.C.E.) and residents of the Carlyle House and Columbia Grove apartments have joined together to support the petition. They plan to be in attendance on Saturday morning to present the petition to the Arlington County Board.
A V.O.I.C.E. press release cites police data saying there have been 33 collisions at the intersection over the past five years, including four involving pedestrians and one involving a cyclist.
“A pedestrian-activated flashing yellow light was installed here several years ago but has proven inadequate as many drivers simply ignore it,” the press release states. “Many schoolchildren, seniors, and commuters need to cross here on foot every morning and afternoon. Cars pass through the intersection from 9 lanes and abutting driveways, and drivers attempting left turns are forced to protrude into the lanes. Even for careful drivers it is impossible to navigate safely.”
The petition has 219 signatures from residents of the neighborhood, and the petition says the traffic light now has the support of the county’s transportation staff and the intersection meets state traffic standards for a signal.
“All that remains is for the County Board to agree to expedite the release of the funding necessary — estimated at roughly $400,000 — to have the light installed,” according to the release.
Photo via Google Maps
Some stakeholders along Columbia Pike are asking the Arlington County Board to name the area a “revitalization district” — a designation normally reserved for blighted and impoverished communities — in order to spur affordable housing development.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan has yet to issue a recommendation on the item, which the Board is set to discuss at its meeting this Saturday.
According to Virginia Code, an area can be deemed a revitalization district if:
- “the area is blighted, deteriorated, deteriorating…”
- “the industrial, commercial or other economic development of such area will benefit the city or county but such area lacks the housing needed to induce manufacturing, industrial, commercial, governmental … enterprises or undertakings to locate or remain in such area,” or
- “private enterprise and investment are not reasonably expected, without assistance, to produce the construction or rehabilitation of decent, safe and sanitary housing and supporting facilities that will meet the needs of low and moderate income persons and families.”
Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization Executive Director Takis Karantonis said the Pike isn’t blighted, but he believes it may qualify for revitalization district standards because “when a community lacks the diversity of housing that would support certain types of economic development, then it still can qualify for Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) points.”
Those points are crucial for affordable housing on the Pike, as LIHTC money funds “9 out of every 10 of America’s apartments for low-income families,” according to the Housing Advisory Group. In Virginia, those funds are distributed by the Virginia Housing Development Authority, which gives projects 30 points toward its total qualification score simply for being located in a revitalization district.
“In the past, these points weren’t really critical to obtain tax credits,” Karantonis told ARLnow.com. “Now they are critical. If you don’t have a project in a revitalization district, you can really forget about LIHTC support.”
Karantonis said the decision to apply for the district had “nothing to do with” the recent cancellation of the streetcar project.
It’s unclear if the County Board will have the same interpretation of Virginia Code as CPRO and the Pike’s affordable housing developers, but at least one project in the pipeline is relying on the designation.
The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing has submitted initial plans to build two eight-story residential buildings, containing a total of 229 apartments on S. Frederick Street, a block from Columbia Pike in the Columbia Forest neighborhood. The building, whose rendering is pictured above, would be built on what is currently the parking lot of the Columbia Grove apartments.
That application is in the early stages — it’s scheduled to be discussed by the Form-Based Code Advisory Working Group today — but Karantonis said it an projects like it on Columbia Pike need the revitalization district designation to continue receiving federal support for affordable housing.
“This is exactly the kind of density related to the future transportation system’s capacity,” Karantonis said. “In order to get this kind of density, you need the financial support to do that, and you have to weave it together. One of the important parts in the LIHTC subsidy, and for this we want to qualify.”
Rendering via APAH
New Tot Playground Opens — An upgraded tot playground with “education-themed amenities” has opened at Chestnut Hills Park, at 2807 N. Harrison Street. [InsideNova]
H-B Woodlawn Student Scores School Musical — Calista Garcia, an 8th grade student at H-B Woodlawn, produced the score for the school’s fall musical, “Lizzy Strata.” Garcia is also the lead singer and guitarist for an all-girl rock band, the Diamond Dolls. [Washington Post]
ART Gets Bigger Buses — Arlington Transit has started using its first full-length, 40-foot buses. The service started in 1999 with vehicles similar to airport rental car shuttles. [Greater Greater Washington]
Double Decker Buses on the Pike? — A “taxpayer activist in Arlington” wants the county to consider using double decker buses — like the kind you would see in London — on Columbia Pike, in lieu of the streetcar. [Watchdog.org]
AAA Thanksgiving Travel Forecast — About 1.1 million Washington area residents will travel 50 more more miles this Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That’s up 3.1 percent over 2013. About 90 percent of those travelers will journey to grandma’s house via automobile, AAA says. The lowest gas prices since Dec. 2010 are helping to drive some additional travel this year. [Reston Now]
What’s Next for the Pike? — Now that the streetcar is dead, articulated buses may be next for Columbia Pike. But that would require reinforcing the roadway and building a new bus depot. [Greater Greater Washington]
Beyer Joins ‘New Democrat Coalition’ — Arlington’s newly-elected representative in Congress, Don Beyer, has joined the House New Democrat Coalition, a group of pro-growth Democrats. [Blue Virginia]
Moran Laments Loss of Earmarks — Outgoing Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) says earmarks, while demonized by the media and some politicians, actually helped the legislative process. The loss of earmarks has slowed Congress to a crawl, Moran said. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
LWV to Address Pike Changes — Scheduled well before yesterday’s news that the county’s streetcar project is being canceled, the League of Women Voters tonight will hold a forum entitled “Columbia Pike in Transition.” The forum will explore the future of the Columbia Pike corridor. [InsideNova]
Board Approves Affordable Housing Loan — The Arlington County Board has approved a $8.5 million loan for developer AHC Inc. to purchase the Spectrum Apartments at 5055 S. Chesterfield Road and convert 80 market-rate apartments to committed affordable units. [Arlington County]
Va. Liquor Price Hike — The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has approved a price hike for liquor that’s expected to raise an extra $5.4 million for the state coffers. [Washington Business Journal]
McLean Stabbing Victims Recovering — Arlington law firm Bean, Kinney & Korman says its managing shareholder, Leo Fisher, and his wife are recovering from a brutal stabbing in their McLean home. “There has been universal concern for the welfare of Leo and Sue, and we are thankful to be able to assure everyone that they are recovering steadily,” the firm said in a statement yesterday. Meanwhile, new details have been revealed about the hours-long “torture session” former Bean Kinney attorney Alecia Schmuhl and her husband Andrew allegedly put Fischer and his wife through on Nov. 9. [Washington Post]
Rip Sullivan Joins Bean Kinney — Recently-elected House of Delegates member Rip Sullivan has joined the Courthouse-based law firm of Bean, Kinney & Korman, the firm announced yesterday. [Bean, Kinney & Korman]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
Update at 3:55 p.m. — The County Board voted 4-1 in favor of Fisette’s motion to stop the streetcar project. The dissenting vote was Walter Tejada, who said the streetcar would have reduced congestion and helped the Columbia Pike’s revitalization. “Turning away from a modern streetcar system is a dramatic step backwards,” Tejada said. “Arlington’s credibility in the region will now be adversely affected.”
“I have come to the conclusion that the only way to move forward together … is to discontinue the streetcar project,” Fisette said solemnly, before a large crowd of reporters. “After close consultation with [County Board members Mary] Hynes and [Walter] Tejada, with our partners in Fairfax and Richmond and with members of the community, Ms. Hynes and I have agreed that all spending on streetcar must end.”
Fisette will make it official with a motion at this afternoon’s County Board meeting. Tejada is said to oppose canceling the project and may vote against Fisette’s motion.
The streetcar project was to be funded by commercial transportation revenue, along with funding from the state and Fairfax County, which was to benefit from the Pike streetcar running to the Skyline area.
Fisette said the county will instead explore options for improving bus service on Columbia Pike. The transitway between Crystal City and Alexandria will continue to operate and be developed, but will be served only by buses. Existing streetcar contracts — like the $26 million engineering contract awarded in September — will be “wound down” as quickly as possible.
Fisette acknowledged that many business owners and residents along Columbia Pike will be disappointed by the streetcar project’s cancellation.
“There are those who moved there or developed in anticipation of the streetcar,” Fisette said. “I will say that we are committed and remain committed to the Columbia Pike corridor. We will continue to work towards the realization of that vision [of high quality, mixed use development] in a modified form, and that is the commitment of this Board. We will enhance the bus system to the extent possible.”
Fisette said that he believes a streetcar still makes sense on Columbia Pike, as it would increase transit capacity and spur economic development, adding that he’s “proud” of his vote for it. The decision to kill the project was made after the election of streetcar opponent John Vihstadt on Nov. 4, which “sent a powerful message to the Board.”
“We cannot ignore the political realities… this was not a formal referendum, but I believe it serves as a proxy,” Fisette said. “Right now the level of discord is such that I haven’t seen for awhile. It keeps us from addressing other pressing needs in the community.”
Fisette said county staff and the county manager were “caught flat-footed” by organized opposition to the streetcar, which materialized in “the past year or so.” Efforts to communicate the streetcar’s benefits were ineffective, he said.
The cancellation is an improbable victory for Vihstadt and his anti-streetcar ally on the Board, Libby Garvey. Together, they have been pushing the county to cancel the streetcar project and instead work to implement enhanced bus service on Columbia Pike.
Garvey was in attendance at Fisette’s press conference (which can be viewed online) and said afterwards that Fisette’s announcement “was a complete surprise.” Hynes was at an event this morning and “gave a ringing endorsement” of the streetcar, Garvey said.
“I’m delighted,” Garvey said. When asked about the impact the decision will have on businesses and residents who moved to the area in anticipation of the streetcar, she said “people need to understand that we will get a bus rapid transit system going. It will do everything the streetcar could and more. They’re going to be just fine.”
The streetcar plan for Columbia Pike was developed over nearly a decade of community meetings and deliberations and approved in 2006. Its backers have consistently said that consensus was behind the streetcar and it’s what the community wanted, but Fisette conceded that the feeling around the county has changed.
“The D.C. streetcar was a gift for those of us who oppose the streetcar,” Garvey said.
APS Ranked in Top 100 — Arlington Public Schools has ranked No. 38 on a list of the top 100 school districts in America, published by the education website Niche. [WJLA]
Howze Won Pike Precincts — There was a bright spot for Democrat Alan Howze, who lost to incumbent John Vihstadt in a historic County Board election on Tuesday. Howze narrowly beat Vihstadt in the voting precincts along Columbia Pike. Howze supported the building of the Columbia Pike streetcar while Vihstadt vehemently opposes it. [InsideNova]
Preservation Arlington Opposes School Plans — The group Preservation Arlington wants its supporters to speak out against plans to build a new school on the Wilson School site in Rosslyn and to make changes to the Stratford School that would compromise its “historic integrity.”
No Tysons Wegman’s — A deal to bring a Wegman’s grocery store to Tysons Corner has fallen through. That will likely be disappointing to the many Arlingtonians who have been longing for a Wegman’s location closer than Fairfax or Woodbridge. Arlington isn’t the only D.C. suburb hoping for a Wegman’s, however. Reston residents have been calling for one, though the chain’s general requirement of a 80,000-150,000 square foot store with plenty of surface parking reportedly makes a Reston location unlikely. [Washington Post]
Election Day in Arlington – Voting started at 6:00 a.m. this morning and will continue through 7:00 p.m. There are 52 voting precincts in Arlington. Virginia voters must provide a photo ID when they go to the polls. [Arlington County]
State Honors for Pike Affordable Housing — Arlington County has won two state awards for its plan to preserve affordable housing along Columbia Pike. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe lauded the county’s affordable housing and transit plan for the Pike. “Arlington’s Columbia Pike Planning Initiative provides a vision for transforming the Pike by improving transit, preserving affordable housing and creating great public spaces,” McAuliffe said in a press release. “At the heart of this plan is a modern streetcar that will spur high-quality development along this vital corridor and generate new tax revenues for Arlington, Fairfax and the Commonwealth.” [Arlington County]
Local Singer Wins ‘Arlington’s Got Talent’ — Teague del la Plaine, a local singer, won the annual Arlington’s Got Talent competition last week. Travis Tucker, a pop-funk and R&B singer, placed second and Euphonism, an a cappella group, placed third. [Leadership Arlington, InsideNova]
Growing Season Is Over — There will be no more frost advisories and freeze warnings this year. The National Weather Service has officially declared the growing season over for the D.C. area. [National Weather Service]
Photo courtesy @dcaman