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New Bikeshare Stations Open, Bike Path On Its Way

by Ethan Rothstein | July 24, 2014 at 10:15 am | 1,701 views | No Comments

The new Capital Bikeshare station at Arlington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive (photo via Twitter) The new Capital Bikeshare stations at N. Cleveland Street and Lee Highway (photo via Twitter)

Two new Capital Bikeshare stations became available for public use yesterday in Arlington, and a new bicycle path shouldn’t be too far behind.

Capital Bikeshare announced on Twitter yesterday that it had installed a 15-dock station at Lee Highway and N. Cleveland Street in Lyon Village and an 11-dock station at the intersection of Arlington Blvd and N. George Mason Drive at the edge of the Buckingham neighborhood. The two stations are the fourth and the fifth to have opened in Arlington this year, according to Paul DeMaio, Arlington’s program manager for Capital Bikeshare.

“This makes 72 stations in Arlington and 323 in the region,” DeMaio told ARLnow.com in an email. “Thirteen stations are in planning with another 17 stations recently funded with the start of fiscal year 2015 this past July.”

DeMaio said Capital Bikeshare is on track to have 133 stations around Arlington by 2020.

Rendering of westbound Rt 50 shared use pathIn other bicycle-related news, the shared-use path being constructed by the Virginia Department of Transportation as part of the Route 50/N. Courthouse Road/10th Street interchange project is projected to open next month, according to David Goodman, the county’s bicycle and pedestrian programs manager.

The trail will run along the highway’s eastbound side from the intersection with N. Pershing Drive, at the Fort Myer gate, to the N. Rolfe Street offramp.

On the other side of Route 50, the shared use path has been realigned and extended under the 10th Street bridge. These paths are expected to open when the construction on the project is complete, projected to be the end of August.

Photos via @bikeshare

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 24, 2014 at 9:35 am | 2,426 views | No Comments

Power lines in Ballston

Man Pleads to Arlington Hospital Rape — A former Virginia Hospital Center employee has pleaded guilty to the rape of a 37-year-old woman at the hospital. The victim was at the hospital to receive a CT scan after falling and hitting her head while drunk. The rapist, 30-year-old Roy Anthony Jones, will be sentenced in October and could spend up to 18 years in prison. [Washington Post]

Construction Permits Filed for Office Tower — JBG Cos. has already filed for construction permits for the new CEB Tower office building in Rosslyn. The 31-story tower is part of JBG’s Central Place project, which also includes a residential tower which is currently under construction. [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Powerball Winner Claims Prize — Arlington resident Tim Dudgeon has come forward as the winner of a $1 million Powerball prize. Dudgeon bought the ticket at Mia’s Market and Deli at 1607 S. Glebe Road. The store received a $10,000 bonus from the lottery for selling the ticket. [WJLA]

Vihstadt Pushes for Greater Contract Oversight — After a $7 million streetcar contract was able to bypass a County Board approval process on a technicality, Board member John Vihstadt wants to require all capital improvement contracts valued at $1 million or above to receive Board approval. County Manager Barbara Donnellan is evaluating the proposal. [InsideNova]

Arlington Celebrates Public Art Milestone — Arlington County is celebrating “30 years of Public Art placemaking in our community.” The multi-month celebration will kick off Aug. 1 on Dark Star Park Day, held at 1655 Fort Myer Drive in Rosslyn. [Arlington County]

New Clarendon Apartment Building Eyes August Opening

by Jason Hargraves | July 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 2,377 views | No Comments

The Beacon at Clarendon West, the new apartment building at the intersection of Washington, Wilson Boulevard and N. Irving Street, is set to open Aug. 15.

The two-tower Arlington apartment complex is already 23 percent leased, a leasing agent told ARLnow.com, adding that she expects a sharp rise in interest once the building is open and agents are working on site. Pre-leasing is happening down the street in the Courthouse neighborhood, at 1920 Clarendon Blvd.

The Beacon’s 187 apartments include 1-bedroom, 1-bedroom-with-den and 2-bedroom units ranging in price from $2,100-$3,000 per month. The Beacon touts itself as a “boutique” alternative to the larger apartment buildings in the area.

As for the retail frontage on Washington Blvd, a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop is expected to open later this year. No other tenants have been confirmed yet, but leasing agents say there’s been interest from several retailers.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 10, 2014 at 11:00 am | 2,186 views | No Comments

Storm clouds over Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

Construction to Begin on Ballston Garage – Local developer The Shooshan Company says it is beginning construction on a 550-space parking garage at 4040 Wilson Blvd, site of a planned 20-story office building in Ballston. The building is the final component of Shooshan’s Liberty Center development. [Washington Business Journal]

Clarendon Day Date Set — The annual Clarendon Day street fair will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27, the Clarendon Alliance has announced. This year the event will add a bluegrass music stage next to the Clarendon Chili Cookoff. The layout is also being changed “to make it easier for people to find the cold beverages of their choice.” [Clarendon Alliance]

VDOT Warns of E-Z Pass Scam — VDOT says some Virginia E-Z Pass users have reported receiving emails demanding payment for a past due debt. The emails are a scam, the department says. It’s unclear how the scammer obtained the email addresses of E-Z Pass holders. [Reston Now]

New Arlington Book Released — “We Are Arlington,” a book featuring 180 pages of photos and history about Arlington and Arlington residents, is now on sale. The author is Bill Hamrock, co-owner of Pasha Cafe and Billy’s Cheesesteaks in Cherrydale. [Preservation Arlington]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

Food Trucks Hampered by Rosslyn Construction

by Morgan Fecto | June 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm | 1,214 views | No Comments

Skyscraper construction near the Rosslyn Metro stop may force some food trucks to relocate or scale back their visits to the lunch hot spot.

“It sucks,” Louie Hankins, the co-founder of the Rito Loco truck, told ARLnow.com. “We can only park two or three trucks here where we used to park seven to eight.”

Construction began this winter on the Central Place apartment building, a 31-story skyscraper that’s projected to be completed in 2017, and has resulted in lane closures and parking restrictions on the stretch of N. Lynn Street between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N.

Hankins said the construction hasn’t drastically decreased his business. Still, he is considering coming to Rosslyn once every two weeks instead of his usual weekly stop.

“It’s taking most of our parking spots,” said Cindy Hernandez, assistant manager of the Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling truck. With the limited space, other food trucks often beat them to a parking place. In that case, the Rocklands truck relocates to Courthouse.

“There’s more parking but fewer customers there,” Hernandez said. Rocklands used to park in Rosslyn five times a week, but they now only come twice.

Some trucks experienced push-back from authorities, like the Korean BBQ Taco Box truck, which received two tickets after parking on N. Lynn Street, according to Yog Noh, who works on the truck. Noh said that they now park on Wilson Blvd outside of Chipotle, where they see less foot traffic. “A lot of the people who buy our food can’t really see where we are.”

The KBBQ truck had at least 80 customers a day on Lynn Street before construction. Now they get 40 daily customers on Wilson. “I think it’s going to affect us because Rosslyn is one of the best spots we come to,” Noh said.

The KBBQ truck is not the only truck officials have asked to move from Lynn Street. According to Urban Bumpkin truck owner John Nguyen, security guards near the Cosi, at the corner of Lynn and 19th Street, started calling the police on his truck this morning. Nguyen claimed he had started parking at a one-hour metered spot, but was forced to move to Ballston for lunch.

“I said, ‘how are you going to write me a ticket if I just got here?’” Nguyen said. “We were parking in a legal spot with no sign. One of the parking enforcers said they were cracking down on food trucks.”

As a result, Urban Bumpkin served 75 customers in Ballston instead of the usual 100 or more they get in Rosslyn, Nguyen said.

Doug Maheu, the Arlington County Director for the DMV Food Truck Association, and owner of Doug the Food Dude food truck, said that parking is always scarce on Lynn Street because “it’s a gateway into D.C.”

“Lynn Street is probably the premiere spot in Arlington right now,”  Maheu said. “Hopefully we can find some other places that are close.”

Maheu is speaking with the county about alternative parking and plans to contact the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. Mary-Claire Burick, executive director of the Rosslyn BID, said the organization is working to find a solution.

(more…)

Part of W&OD Railroad Torn Down for Storage Facility

by Ethan Rothstein | June 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 2,998 views | No Comments

One of the last remaining vestiges of the Washington & Old Dominion railroad that once ran where the W&OD Trail now sits was partially torn down yesterday to make room for a self-storage facility.

The piece, a concrete trestle with rail running on top of it, is along the W&OD Trail in East Falls Church just north of Lee Highway. According to Executive Director of NOVA Parks (formerly the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) Paul Gilbert, 75 percent of the trestle sits on park-owned land and will remain standing, but the 25 percent that sits on the property of 6873 Lee Highway, owned by the Robert Shreve Fuel Company, has been demolished.

Shreve Fuel had tried to develop its property into a grocery store, according to Preservation Arlington’s Eric Dobson, which led the historic preservation group to place the trestle on its 2013 list of “Endangered Historic Places.” The plans for the store fell through, so Shreve Fuel is planning on building a by-right, five-story storage facility, according to Arlington County building records.

“We had been talking to the developer, sending letters, working as hard as we could to persuade the preservation of this area,” Gilbert told ARLnow.com today. “Just yesterday, about the time the trestle was coming down, I was talking with the developer, trying to see if there was any solution that could be found. We offered to buy that portion from them, we were looking for every solution we could to see if we could save it.”

The developer turned down NOVA Parks’ request, Gilbert said, because the plot of land “isn’t enormous” and every foot was needed for parking and other aspects of the storage facility.

The trestle was constructed in the 1920s to store coal and  railroad tracks were laid on top of it, Gilbert said; Shreve Fuel Company has owned the plot of land for “a very long time.” The railroad went out of business in 1968 and was converted into a trail, making the trestle and tracks one of the last pieces of rail anywhere along the 45-mile trail that runs from Shirlington to western Loudoun County. Dobson said it’s “allegedly” the only piece of rail left in Arlington County.

“The rail was an incredibly important part of the development of Arlington,” Dobson said. “It would be good to have more informational signs along the trail, and certainly there’s a lot of history with the rail.”

According to Arlington Historic Preservation Coordinator Cynthia Liccese-Torres, Shreve Fuel does not need a demolition permit to tear down the rail, and surveyors were dispatched to the site to paint lines along the trestle illustrating where the property line was (the spray-painted pink in the above photos, and the horizontal line in the diagram).

“Despite the demolition of Shreve’s section, the Park Authority remains very supportive of continuing to pursue the local historic designation of their portion of the siding, and so we will continue to work with them through the remainder of that process,” Liccese-Torres said in an email. “We are planning to bring a request to advertise forward to the County Board on June 17, with the Board’s review and action on the designation request expected in July.”

Gilbert said that Shreve Fuel has agreed to give NOVA parks the tracks itself, which will be moved to the park’s land and, eventually, turned into some sort of interpretive site.

“My guess is that it’s really only in the last 20 or 30 years that it’s been viewed as historic,” Gilbert said. “Before that it was just some concrete bins and leftover rails from the railroad. Today, it’s more meaningful because it tells a story about the history of the rail.

“We have a number of the train stations preserved along the trail, which tells the story about how it was a transportation route for people, but we don’t have very much that speaks to the industrial side of the train and what role it played,” he continued. “We will work on interpreting the site.”

County Board Approves New Restrooms for Rocky Run Park

by ARLnow.com | May 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm | 1,249 views | No Comments

Rocky Run Park in Clarendon-Courthouse gets revnoationsNew restrooms will be built at the newly-renovated Rocky Run Park (1109 N. Barton Street) near Courthouse.

The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a contract for construction of a new restroom facility with two unisex bathrooms, along with pavement around the building and a new stairway to N. Barton Street. The contract for the project is in the amount of $373,200 ($410,520 with the built-in contingency.)

The restroom project is part of the second phase of improvements to the park, approved as part of the Neighborhood Conservation process in the fall of 2012. Phase 2 of the project will also include the construction of a small storage facility to be used for Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation camps, plus new benches and trashcans.

File photo

Bocce Coming to Courthouse With New Temporary Park

by ARLnow.com | April 29, 2014 at 11:10 am | 1,681 views | No Comments

A new, temporary park at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Barton Street in Courthouse is about a month away from opening.

The park, built on land leased gratis to Arlington County by the Korean embassy, is expected to open — weather-permitting — by the end of May, according to Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish.

The tiny park will include accessible paths, landscaping, and a rectangular multi-use area that can be used for bocce, cornhole and other activities.

The park was designed after the county sought input from community members. Other ideas floated for the park that didn’t make the cut included miniature golf, game tables and demonstration gardens.

“The community wanted us to create something that’s flexible so they could enjoy the area in the manner that suits them,” Kalish said.

Developer Breaks Ground on Rosslyn Skyscraper

by Ethan Rothstein | April 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 1,652 views | No Comments

Arlington officials and real estate developer JBG Companies broke ground this morning on the 31-story residential skyscraper at 1823 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn called Central Place.

The development, which is expected to be complete in 2017, will have two floors of retail, a 17,00-square-foot public plaza and six levels of parking — three below ground and three above. Once the residential tower, which will be one of, if not the tallest, residential building the D.C. area, is complete, JBG will begin construction on an accompanying office space next door, between N. Lynn and Moore Streets.

“Rosslyn is going to continue to benefit from this type of development,” Rep. Jim Moran (D) said from the podium. “The first time I visited Rosslyn close to 50 years ago, it was a place for pawn shops and prostitutes. Today, it’s a dynamic community. It’s going to be the place where people are going to want to work, live and play.”

Although Wednesday morning marked the official groundbreaking ceremony, construction has been ongoing for months on the project. It’s closed several lanes of N. Lynn Street at different times, causing major backups, as well as the McDonald’s that stood in the spot the apartments will soon be. JBG also removed the skywalks over both streets as part of its agreement with the county to bring foot traffic back to street level.

“I think I was here when we knocked down the Orleans House,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said of the demolition of the restaurant at 1213 Wilson Blvd nearby. “I can’t say which I’m more excited about. It was a landmark and had its place in our history, and the McDonald’s does too, but it’s time to move on.”

The groundbreaking was another in a slew of recent landmarks for Rosslyn after the framework for the Rosslyn Sector Plan Update was approved by the County Board earlier this month. The plan would extend 18th Street through central Rosslyn — including between the two Central Place buildings — and connect Arlington’s core developments with the surrounding parks.

“A project like Central Place really changes the neighborhood,” Rosslyn Business Improvement District President Mary-Claire Burick said. “I can tell you, this is what our community wants. We really want a place to hang out and congregate.”

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am | 985 views | No Comments

Dogwood flowers in Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Obama Visit Boosted Business at Bookstore — The November 2012 visit to One More Page Books (2200 N. Westmoreland Street) by President Obama and his family boosted revenue at the East Falls Church store by 20 percent. The visit still continues to benefit the store, according to owner Eileen McGervey. [Washington Business Journal]

Miss Gay Arlington Crowned — The new 2014 Miss Gay Arlington is Coco B. Colby. Colby was crowned after besting three competitors during the April 18 event at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City. Previous Miss Gay Arlington winners include Shaunda Leer, Stardust and Diamond D. Bottoms. [InsideNoVa]

County Promotes Building Safety — After a series of high-profile construction accidents this past fall, Arlington County has officially proclaimed May to be Building Safety Month. “Building safety is our focus every day, although most of that work happens behind the scenes,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette, in a statement. [Arlington County]

Crystal City Power Purge Today — Crystal City is holding its annual Power Purge and Shred from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. today. The event, at 1900 Crystal Drive, allows residents to recycle electronics, paper and to get rid of household paints and supplies. There’s also a specialty hard drive crusher for data security. [Crystal City]

Yorktown, W-L Soccer Game Ends in Tie — A “hard-fought, exhausting” boys soccer match between Yorktown and Washington-Lee ended in a scoreless tie Tuesday night. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

Land Eyed for Shirlington Walmart Could Become Storage Facility

by Ethan Rothstein | April 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 3,007 views | No Comments

2631 Shirlington RoadThe site near Shirlington that was once eyed for an urban-style Walmart appears on its way to becoming a self-storage facility.

The site, at 2631 Shirlington Road, is currently occupied by Redman Fleet Services, a towing and truck service company that has a contract with the Arlington County Police Department. Big box retailer Walmart was thinking about building a store there in 2011, which prompted the County Board to change its zoning ordinance so it could regulate the design and plans for Walmart or other “big box” retailers.

The plans for the Walmart ultimately fell through, and the run-down two-story warehouse and large car storage lot on 2631 Shirlington Road remain. The building, however, has been approved for demolition and, in its place, a five-story facility referred to as “Shirlington Self Storage” has been proposed to take its place.

The self-storage facility’s building permit has been approved by county staff, but the zoning application was tentatively rejected in its last review by staff, which said an ongoing subdivision process needs to be completed before the zoning can be approved.

Hat tip to Preservation Arlington

Nowhere to Go: Construction Blocks Sidewalks to Rosslyn Metro Elevators

by ARLnow.com | March 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm | 2,247 views | No Comments

(Updated at 6:05 p.m.) Construction has created a glaring safety hazard in the middle of Rosslyn, and so far no one has done anything about it.

The new, $50 million high-speed elevator bank to the Rosslyn Metro station is now surrounded by construction fences — blocking the sidewalk in both directions — and leaving pedestrians only one way to go: across three lanes of N. Moore Street, a road heavily used by buses and taxis, in a mid-block stretch without so much as a marked crosswalk.

Making matters worse: pedestrians have limited visibility thanks to a large fenced-in equipment paddock in one of the lanes. Also, construction barriers across the street force pedestrians to cross diagonally, into traffic.

At one time, pedestrians could access the skybridge that runs across N. Moore Street. No longer: the skybridge is closed and awaiting demolition next weekend.

In the few minutes ARLnow.com was photographing the area this afternoon, a woman pushing a stroller could be seen craning her neck around the equipment paddock to try to spot oncoming traffic. Unable to see around a stopped bus further down the street, the woman and several people with rolling suitcases started crossing. As they crossed, an approaching taxi had to come to a quick stop to let them pass.

Some relief may be in sight next week.

Mike Reisinger, the project manager with Clark Construction, said on Monday and Tuesday next week, crews will be installing asphalt “within the depression in front of the WMATA elevators and opening the plastic barricades on the other side of Moore. This will allow foot traffic to cross in a perpendicular fashion rather than meander.”

Office Building Planned to Replace Courthouse Wendy’s

by Ethan Rothstein | March 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 5,305 views | No Comments

(Updated at 2:00 p.m) The Wendy’s fast food restaurant at the intersection of N. Courthouse Road, Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd appears likely to be replaced by a 12-story office building in the coming years.

Carr Properties submitted a preliminary site plan to the county’s zoning division yesterday outlining its plans for the 12-story building with about 6,800 square feet of ground story retail. The building — called 2025 Clarendon Blvd — will replace the Wendy’s at 2038 Wilson Blvd and the Wells Fargo bank at 2026 Wilson Blvd. The plan calls for the Wells Fargo to occupy some of the ground floor retail space in the new building.

The office building will have 233 underground parking spots with entrances to the lot built on a cut-through street. The parcel is on almost 25,000 square feet of land area, and the building will have about 181,275 square feet of floor space for office uses.

Carr Properties also designed a small plaza at the main intersection with benches and plantings for shade. As part of its community benefits package for additional density, it’s proposing either making a public art contribution or incorporating art into the plaza. Other parts of the community benefits package include: plans for the building is planned to be LEED Gold-certified; undergrounding the utility lines and improving the streetscape along Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards.

The Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum calls the site a “major gateway” and calls for a “focal feature” at the main intersection when the Wendy’s is ultimately redeveloped. The application says the building fulfills that goal with the building’s “unique glass column that will serve as an iconic architectural feature in Courthouse.”

The building’s north-facing side — which looks out over parts of the old brick Colonial Village complex — includes a set-back from the street and a “stucco-type” design to bring it more in line with the look of that block. To the east of the planned building, two new apartment buildings are also under construction, which are planned to also include ground floor retail.

Rosslyn Skybridges Closed, To Be Demolished

by Ethan Rothstein | March 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 4,900 views | No Comments

The skybridge over N. Lynn and N. Moore Streets in Rosslyn closed to pedestrians today and, starting this weekend, will be taken down permanently.

The demolition is part of the construction of the Central Place project – the same construction that has closed lanes on N. Lynn Street and snarled rush hour traffic in the area.

Starting this Friday at 8:00 p.m. until Monday at 6:00 a.m., N. Lynn Street will be closed to drivers and pedestrians as the skybridge is taken down. The following weekend, from March 28-31, N. Moore Street will be closed for the same duration.

The skybridges over N. Nash Street and Fort Myer Drives will remain open, but those hoping to use the skybridges to access the Rosslyn Metro Station will need to enter the Rosslyn Metro Mall and go down the escalators to do so.

According to Arlington County, the skybridges will be taken down in sections and either hauled away or staged on site and “cut to manageable lengths” before being taken away.

APS Wants Nearly 100 Trees Removed For Ashlawn Addition

by Ethan Rothstein | March 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 1,326 views | No Comments

Ashlawn Elementary School addition site planArlington Public Schools has almost doubled its estimate for how many trees need to be removed to make way for the 12-room addition at Ashlawn Elementary School.

The initial use permit for the addition called for 54 trees to be removed to make room the expansion. After consulting a certified arborist, Arlington Public Schools staff is asking the County Board to approve the removal of 40 additional trees.

Once construction is complete, APS is suggesting planting 224 new trees, up from the 127 that was approved by the County Board last May. The increase is to comply with county policy on replacing trees that are removed for construction, Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick told ARLnow.com.

“We’re adding more trees than required in order to be good neighbors and help to screen our property from our neighbors,” Chadwick said.

The revision is necessary because the original use permit was approved before the construction designs were finalized. APS and county staff agreed more trees needed to be removed to make room for stormwater construction, Chadwick said, and the arborist recommended dead and dying trees for removal.

The tree removal at Ashlawn generated some local outrage when the school system started removing trees not included in the use permit. That led to a verbal reprimand from the County Board in January.

“We cannot let this happen again — we cannot allow trees to be chopped down… this is a problem,” board member Walter Tejada said at the time, according to the Sun Gazette.

The use permit amendment that’s being considered on Saturday only addresses the trees, Chadwick said. The “loop road” dropoff from N. Manchester Street, which had been a source of controversy last spring, is not being recommended for change.

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