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by Ethan Rothstein — September 17, 2014 at 9:20 am 1,728 0

World Gym logoWorld Gym at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive told its members yesterday that it plans to close at the end of the month

Located on the ground floor of the Halstead apartment building, on Columbia Pike, the location is World Gym’s only in Arlington.

An employee there told ARLnow.com that the business is closing because of a dispute between the franchise owner and the building manager, but couldn’t provide any details.

World Gym opened in January 2011 and was the first gym of its kind on Columbia Pike, though it soon started competing with XSport Fitness, further up the Pike.

The fitness center changed ownership in 2013 and became Exercise Nation, before it took back the World Gym name this year. The company sent its members a brief message saying it would close Sept. 30 due to “circumstances beyond our control.”

Several readers sent ARLnow.com the email, which is copied below in its entirety:

To Our Valued Members:

We are sorry to inform you that due to circumstances beyond our control, World Gym will be closing this location effective September 30, 2014. We appreciate all the support and business you have given us and apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the gym at 703-892-1861 or through email at wgarlington@worldgym.com.

Sincerely,
World Gym

by ARLnow.com — September 13, 2014 at 10:15 am 1,870 0

Firefighters are on the scene of an electrical fire at an apartment building on Columbia Pike.

The fire was reported around 9:45 a.m., at the Dorchester Apartments on the 1900 block of Columbia Pike. The fire is said to be under control.

Dominion crews and a building inspector are en route to the scene.

Update on 9/15/14 — Part of the apartment complex was deemed an “unsafe structure” after the fire, displacing 109 residents, according to an Arlington County news release:

This morning, Arlington County firefighters and building inspectors responded to a minor electrical fire that started in one of the four apartment buildings located at 1930 Columbia Pike. There were no injuries.

An “unsafe structure” order will be in effect as of 7:00 p.m. tonight until further notice. County emergency personnel will be escorting residents into the building to gather their personal belongings. Approximately 109 people are affected. The property management company for the apartment is placing affected residents in nearby hotels.

“Keeping our residents safe is always our number one priority,” said Shahriar Amiri, Arlington County’s Chief Building Official. “Currently, all four buildings are without power, and with these conditions, we’ve determined these buildings to be ‘unsafe’ for residents.”

by ARLnow.com — September 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm 4,039 0

Police car lightsA woman was attacked by two men near Columbia Pike Monday night.

The incident, described by police as an “attempted abduction,” took place at 10:35 p.m. on the 3800 block of 12th Street S. Two men allegedly ran up to and grabbed an 18-year-old woman as she was getting into her car.

The woman fought off the attackers, who took off on foot when they spotted a police car nearby, according to the Arlington County Police Department.

From the police report:

ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION, 140908058, 3800 block of S. 12th Street. At 10:35 pm on September 8, two subjects allegedly grabbed an 18 year-old female victim from behind as she was attempting to enter her vehicle. The victim tried to fight off her attackers and sustained minor injuries. The suspects fled the scene when they observed a police vehicle in the area that was responding to a separate incident. The victim flagged police down and a K9 search was unsuccessful. Suspect one is described as a Hispanic male, between 5’5″ and 6’0″ tall and had two stripes shaved into his hair near his temple. Suspect two is described as a Hispanic male, between 5’5″ and 6’0″ tall. He was wearing dark clothing at the time of the incident.

by ARLnow.com — September 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm 2,336 0

(Updated on 9/12/14) A man suspected of a knifepoint robbery on Columbia Pike was taken into custody early this morning (Wednesday) after police say he evaded arrest and barricaded himself in his girlfriend’s apartment.

Rattana Mora Long, a 29-year-old Ashburn 26-year-old Sterling resident, was captured by SWAT team members and charged with assault on a police officer. Robbery charges are pending.

Arlington County Police say a man fitting Long’s description robbed a store on the 5000 block of Columbia Pike around 2:00 p.m. on Friday. Despite a search, police were not able to locate him after he fled.

“A subject brandished a knife and stole cash from a register in a store in Columbia Pike Plaza,” according to the police report. “The subject fled through a rear door.”

Last night, a plainclothes ACPD officer spotted Long near the original robbery scene. The officer called for backup, but Long resisted arrest, assaulted a police officer and fled the area, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

Long was tracked to the 4500 block of Four Mile Run Drive, where he allegedly barricaded himself and hid in his girlfriend’s apartment. Police negotiators and the county’s SWAT team responded, closing part of Four Mile Run Drive in the process.

Witnesses tell ARLnow.com that police used a loudspeaker in an effort to get Long to answer the phone and lure him out of the apartment. When that didn’t work, shortly after 2:00 a.m., SWAT team members entered the apartment and were able to take him  into custody without further incident, Sternbeck said.

Photos courtesy @annddayy and ACPD

by Ethan Rothstein — September 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,414 0

Beach on the Pike logoEven though school is open and traffic is back up to nightmarish levels, summer isn’t officially over until the autumnal equinox on Sept. 23.

To celebrate the dwindling days of the season, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and Trinity Episcopal Church are hosting “Beach on the Pike” on Saturday (Sept. 13), a day-and-night-long, beach-themed event around Penrose Square, at the intersection of S. Barton Street and the Pike.

The festivities kick off at 8:30 a.m., with registration for Bike to the Beach, which starts at 9:30 and takes cyclists throughout the Penrose and Arlington Heights neighborhoods. Events then continue on until well after midnight.

From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., four Pike restaurants — RedRocks, Taqueria Poblano, P. Brennan’s and Twisted Vines – will be hosting “Brunch on the Beach.” The restaurants will be offering their normal brunch menus, but 10 percent of the proceeds will go to benefit the Arlington Free Clinic and the Northern Virginia branch of the Samaritan Ministry. Parties with six or more at the restaurants will get free leis.

Starting at 4:30 p.m., the real beach-themed events get started on the square. Live music from local band Nick, Ian and the Machine, demonstrations for children, games, and beach balls will accompany a beer and wine garden in front of RedRocks, with 9th Road S. closed for the day to give the feel of a block party, according to event organizer Denese Canedo.

During the festivities, Taqueria Poblano and L.A. Bar and Grill will be selling boxes of food for $8 a piece, and a dollar from each box will also be going to the two charities.

“There are a lot of free activities and things to enjoy,” Canedo, a member of Trinity, said. “We wanted opportunities for people to not just spend and help us raise funds, but just to come out and enjoy.”

At 7:30 p.m. CPRO will show the movie “A Shark Tale” outdoors at Penrose Square. After the movie, at 9:30 p.m., RedRocks takes over with Beach On the Rocks, a continuation of the block party, with more live music, drinks and dancing. That event is scheduled to go until 2:00 a.m., according to the Facebook page.

CPRO won’t be trucking in sand to create a faux beach at Penrose Square, but attendees are encouraged to wear Hawaiian shirts and other beach-y attire to set the mood.

by ARLnow.com — August 27, 2014 at 11:10 am 1,625 0

Tide LRT system (photo by Xshadow via Wikipedia)To try to reverse falling ridership, some are suggesting that the three-year-old Tide light rail line in Norfolk eliminate its $1.50 one-way fare.

Making the seven-mile Tide line free, say advocates, would help boost ridership and achieve the system’s true goal: encouraging more transit-oriented development around its 11 stops. The line simply isn’t long enough to attract ridership sufficient to offset its $8 million in annual operating costs, they say.

(As pointed out by the Sun Gazette, Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey has held up the Tide as an example of why the county shouldn’t build the Columbia Pike streetcar system.)

Economic models presented by Arlington County suggest that the Columbia Pike streetcar’s estimated $287 million cost will be offset in the long run by new development and increased real estate values. Given that development is such an important component of the Pike streetcar’s return on investment, should rides on it be free?
 

Photo by Xshadow via Wikipedia

by ARLnow.com — August 21, 2014 at 11:15 am 1,361 0

Terry McAuliffe campaigns at Washington-Lee High SchoolVirginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will sign a bill into law in Arlington next Wednesday.

The bill addresses “the growing problem of notaries who practice law without a license” in immigrant communities. It does so by prohibiting notaries who are not attorneys or otherwise accredited from offering legal and immigration advice.

“In many Latin American countries ‘notario publicos’ (notary publics) provide legal advice, but U.S. notaries who are not also attorneys are not authorized to share this role,” explains a media advisory about the bill signing. “In Virginia, there have been cases of notaries fraudulently charging thousands of dollars for misleading advice.”

Two of the chief sponsors of the legislation, State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) and Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) are expected to join McAuliffe at the bill signing ceremony, to be held Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 2:00 p.m. at the new Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street).

by ARLnow.com — August 15, 2014 at 9:40 am 2,755 0

(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department responded to an apartment fire on Columbia Pike this morning.

The fire was reported around 9:30 a.m. in the rear mechanical room of an apartment building at 2008 Columbia Pike. Firefighters were able to quickly bring the fire under control and douse the flames.

No injuries were reported. It’s unclear if any residents will be displaced as a result of the fire.

by ARLnow.com — August 5, 2014 at 9:00 am 1,848 0

The Netherlands Carillon at dusk (Flickr pool photo by thekidfromcrumlin)

County Quietly Chooses Auditor — The Arlington County government hired an internal auditor to improve transparency in finances and operations. County officials say specifics about the hire will be released in September. [InsideNova]

CEB Deal Questioned – Last month, the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) announced it would anchor The JBG Cos.’ planned Central Place office tower in Rosslyn. But the head of Boston Properties believes that’s not a win. He says Rosslyn’s vacancy rate will grow because of the huge space CEB will leave behind at 1919 N. Lynn Street. [Washington Business Journal]

Pike Lane Closures — VDOT will keep the right lane of eastbound Columbia Pike near S. Quinn Street closed, except from 6:00-9:00 a.m., through this Friday for construction. Additionally, VDOT is closing the entrance to S. Quinn Street from Columbia Pike for two days for the installation of a new Arlington County sanitary sewer manhole and pipe. Wednesday, August 6, and Thursday, August 7, no traffic can enter or exit S. Quinn Street from the Pike.

Second Copperwood Tavern to Open — Copperwood Tavern in Shirlington hasn’t even been open a year, but already its owner is looking to expand into Loudoun County. Reese Gardner has signed a lease for a 6,500 square foot space in Ashburn, which he says is closer to some of the farmers contributing to the restaurant’s farm-to-table menu. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by thekidfromcrumlin

by ARLnow.com — July 25, 2014 at 5:05 pm 3,185 0

Illustration of future land exchange between Arlington County and the U.S. Army

Arlington County has hired a lobbying firm to help facilitate a planned land swap between the county, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Department of Defense.

As outlined in a memorandum of understanding last year, the county is planning to hand over the right-of-way for Southgate Road, near the Air Force Memorial, to the DoD, which plans to use the land — along with the former Navy Annex grounds and part of the state’s current Columbia Pike right-of-way — for an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery’s burial grounds.

As revealed in a recent public disclosure, the county has hired Alexandria-based lobbying firm Congressional Strategies LLC to help move the transaction along. The land swap has already passed the House of Representatives and is now included in the under-consideration U.S. Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, according to Brian Stout, the county’s federal liaison.

The county’s contract with Congressional Strategies calls for a $5,000 monthly retainer for all services and runs through October, with an option to be extended through June 2015, according to county spokeswoman Mary Curtius.

“The purpose of the lobbying contract is to facilitate and bring to closure the Navy Annex Land Exchange project,” Curtius said. “This involves advocacy in both the legislative and executive branches to supplement the efforts of County staff.”

The land swap will benefit the county in several ways.

Google Map shows the former Navy Annex and the current alignment of Columbia PikeArlington will receive a sizable parcel of land south of Columbia Pike, on which the county hopes to build an Arlington County and Freedman’s Village history museum, additional parking and facilities for the Air Force Memorial, and other amenities that do not detract from “the dignity, honor, and solemnity of Arlington National Cemetery.”

Also, the exchange will facilitate a realignment of Columbia Pike and its intersection with S. Joyce Street. The realigned Pike will take a more direct path to S. Joyce Street, through the former Navy Annex parking lot, and will provide a better alignment for the future Columbia Pike streetcar.

In addition to an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, the DoD plans to use some of the land in the swap, near the Pike/Joyce intersection for a future visitor center for the Pentagon Memorial. The Senate is expected to vote on the NDAA later this year.

by Ethan Rothstein — July 14, 2014 at 4:45 pm 2,228 0

Site of the proposed bike park on the W&OD Trail (Photo via Google Maps)A new “bike park” with a “learner’s loop” is likely headed for the intersection of Columbia Pike and the W&OD Trail.

On Saturday, the Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on an agreement with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority to construct a bike park on the northern side of Columbia Pike near Arlington Mill Community Center. Dominion Power, which has an easement for its power lines, is also party to the agreement.

“The focus of the project is to install a bike park with a learning loop for beginning riders,” the county’s staff report states. “The park improvements will include site furnishings, sand play area, water bottle filler, bike repair station, plaza space and a paved bicycle path.”

The park was approved back in 2009 as part of the Neighborhood Conservation program. The project has “been on hold” as the county’s Department of Environmental Services realigned the trail to improve pedestrian safety and to accommodate streetscape improvements.

Staff has already solicited bids for the project. Once the County Board approves the licensing agreement, a separate proposal with the chosen bid is expected to go before the Board in the fall.

Photo via Google Maps

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 ARLnow.com — July 11, 2014 at 11:45 am 3,508 0

Columbia Pike streetcar rendering(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) The Commonwealth of Virginia is increasing its funding of the Columbia Pike streetcar system by up to $65 million, Arlington County announced today.

The county says the new funding will enable to Arlington and Fairfax to proceed with the streetcar project more rapidly — accelerating the construction timetable by at least a year — partially thanks to eliminating the need to obtain federal funding.

“The Commonwealth is committed to supporting the Columbia Pike project as a funding partner,” Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said, in a letter to Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova.

The new funding will also help save $25 million in project costs, according to an Arlington County press release. The Columbia Pike streetcar is now estimated to cost $333 million, about half of which will be funded by the state. The other half of the cost will come from regional transportation funds and local commercial property taxes dedicated to transportation projects.

“No Arlington County homeowner-funded General Obligation bonds will be used to finance design and construction of the streetcar,” the county said.

County Board member Libby Garvey, who along with recently-elected Board member John Vihstadt oppose the streetcar, slammed the state’s decision. Garvey issued the following statement, in which she expresses hope that “the wise voters of Arlington” will vote out Board members who support the streetcar.

I could not be more disappointed in the quick decision by Secretary Layne to devote much needed and scarce transportation dollars to a project as foolish and wasteful as the Columbia Pike streetcar. This project will not improve transit on the Pike. In fact, it will make traffic worse as slow streetcars clog up an already congested thoroughfare. Fortunately, I am pretty sure that within 2 years the wise voters of Arlington will have voted out board members who support the streetcar. That will end the project and allow the Commonwealth, despite this ill advised decision by the Secretary, to spend its money on much more worthwhile and needed projects. I hope that will include a modern and cost effective bus rapid transit system on the Pike in Arlington. That’s what both Arlington and the region need.

Vihstadt also issued a statement, in which has charged that the Commonwealth “rushed to judgment and failed to perform the independent due diligence expected of a state agency to fully analyze this ill-advised local government request.”

“Many valuable transportation projects for which there is a broad public consensus, ranging from improved Metro and bus service to road and pedestrian safety enhancements, will be sacrificed for this controversial project that has deeply divided Arlington County and contributed heavily to my election on April 8 as the first non-Democrat to the County Board since 1999,” Vihstadt said.

The county’s press release, after the jump.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — July 11, 2014 at 10:55 am 1,241 0

Rendering of a streetcar along Columbia PikeArlington County’s PR campaign to inform residents of the benefit of the streetcar continues.

This week we reported — followed by other local TV, print and online outlets — that the county had produced more television spots that try to explain “why streetcar.”

Among the expected benefits along Columbia Pike are more development, increased county tax revenue, increased transit ridership, and the preservation of affordable housing.

If you could look into a crystal ball to 2030, and see a revitalized Columbia Pike where all of those things came true thanks to streetcar, would you support the project now?
 

by ARLnow.com — June 26, 2014 at 10:45 am 7,736 0

Pedro and Vinny's closed on Columbia Pike Pedro and Vinny's closed on Columbia Pike

Pedro and Vinny’s, the popular burrito stand in the CVS parking lot at 2599 Columbia Pike, is closed indefinitely after having its health license revoked.

The restaurant opened in 2011 in what was once an Ollie’s Trolley. It has since served hungry Pike residents, Pentagon employees, and even members of Congress. Earlier this month it was included in the prestigious Five Thirty Eight Burrito Bracket.

Arlington County Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick says the health department placed Pedro and Vinny’s on a one-year probation in February due to repeated food safety violations that “significantly increased the risk of foodborne illness.”

The violations were mostly centered around improper food holding temperatures: the cheese and sour cream were too warm in the refrigerator and the chicken and beef were not hot enough in the countertop well, according to health inspection records. As part of the probation, the restaurant was informed that its food service license would be revoked if they were found not in compliance again, according to Larrick.

Yesterday (Wednesday), an inspector again found “improper hot and cold holding temperatures,” Larrick said. The license was immediately revoked and Pedro and Vinny’s was closed.

Last night, handwritten signs posted on the restaurant’s doors stated that it was “closed for a few days due [to] a kitchen problem.” Larrick said that Pedro and Vinny’s may submit an application for a new license, but will “need to meet all applicable requirements of… Arlington County Code” in order to receive it.

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