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]
Streets Market and Café, a new grocery store in Lyon Park, is now open.
The boutique grocery opened Friday at 2201 N. Pershing Dr. Though the store is small, “this is not a bodega,” said company vice president Campbell Burns.
The store carries beer, wine, toiletries, produce, sandwiches and sushi, which is made fresh every morning at the company’s D.C. outpost on 14th Street NW. (The Pershing Drive location is Streets Market’s second.)
“It’s a full-on Whole Foods in 3,000 square feet, minus the kitchen,” Burns said. “It’s all geared toward the surrounding community. We’re flexible. If consumers prefer a different brand or more variety of a product, we can adjust as needed.”
Burns said the company was thrilled to be in Arlington is already thinking about expanding.
“We’re excited about the market and the neighborhood,” he said. “We think our concept is going to be well-received.”
The development, proposed by Safeway and local developer Mark Silverwood, would replace the current, aging Safeway and its large surface parking lot with a new store, and would build a 4-story, 160-unit apartment complex directly above that store.
Between the store and the apartments, plans call for about 400 parking spaces in an underground garage. From the Bluemont Civic Association newsletter:
The Safeway–Silverwood proposal calls for a building 65’ in height with a footprint that encompasses the entire site. This new “Lifestyle” Safeway, with a height of 20’, would occupy virtually the entire ground floor; four residential stories above the store would contain approximately 160 1-bedroom plus den and 2-bedroom apartments.
Below the store would be two levels of underground parking: the upper level with 190 parking spaces serving Safeway, the lower level with 212 spaces dedicated to apartment residents. Silverwood explained that approximately 10 of the apartments would qualify as affordable housing, and the building itself would qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold level certification.
The new store would contain an upscale deli, service meat counter, and a bakery. Extra space would be dedicated to fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other perishable items. A Starbucks would be co-located in the store — with indoor and possible outdoor seating — along with a drycleaners.
Silverwood and Safeway told residents that the apartment development is necessary in order to pay for the new store. In order to build the project, however, the County Board must first approve a rezoning of the Safeway site from “C-1,” or low intensity retail, to “C-O-1.0,” or moderate intensity mixed use.
In a three-way vote, 56.6 percent of the 173 residents at Wednesday night’s standing-room-only meeting voted to oppose any rezoning of the site. Only 18.5 percent of residents voted in favor of the development, while 24.9 percent voted for a compromise resolution that would oppose rezoning “unless we have strong assurances that negative impacts to the neighborhood will not occur or will be mitigated.”
Most residents who spoke at the meeting spoke out against the development. Many expressed concern that allowing Safeway to develop the site would lead to more development.
“I worry that development will continue and destroy the residential character of our neighborhood,” said one resident. “This has consequences for the entire area. I don’t have any problem with the developer wanting to make money, but you really shouldn’t do that at the expense of our neighborhood.”
“This is not just NIMBY [Not In My Backyard],” said another resident. “This is the first step in our neighborhood, and it’s not going to be the last if we let it go. You say NIMBY, but nobody is going to look out for our backyards if we don’t do so ourselves.”
Others worried about traffic, noise, building heights, and parking issues.
Va. Sq. Giant Celebrates Changes – The Virginia Square Giant grocery store (3450 Washington Blvd) is celebrating its “grand reopening” following recent renovations. A representative for Giant says new features include a redesigned produce department with a better fruit and vegetable assortment, a new gourmet cheese case, a new bakery and an expanded natural foods section. Customers at that location will have the opportunity to take part in tastings, raffles and prize giveaways over the next four weekends.
Event Examines Seniors’ Transportation Needs — A Mobility Lab regional symposium held at George Mason University yesterday focused on the transportation needs of residents aged 65 and older. Speakers voiced the need for better coordination of senior transportation programs that would keep seniors mobile in their communities. Suggestions for improvement included better marketing and promotion, using volunteers and issuing performance surveys. [Mobility Lab]
Streetcar Debate Focuses on Types of Riders — At the Arlington Committee of 100 streetcar forum on Wednesday, speakers addressed which riders prefer different modes of transit. Speakers debated whether the Columbia Pike streetcar or a bus rapid transit system would better draw in “choice riders” — those who have access to a car but could be persuaded to take transit under the right circumstances. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
The store has been closed since last May, when it was flooded with raw sewage due to a clog at the nearby Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plan.
Over the weekend, residents of the Eclipse condominium building above the store delivered some 400 signed letters from residents to the Arlington County Board, calling for the county to help facilitate the store’s reopening.
Construction will begin “within the next few weeks,” according to a press release from Comstock, owner of the 465-unit Eclipse building.
In a press release, Harris Teeter says the renovated S. Glebe Road store will reopen in “late fall 2013″ — in time for this year’s holiday season. The press release made no reference to the sewage incident.
Harris Teeter is pleased to announce it will open its Potomac Yard location located at 3600 South Glebe Road in Arlington, Va. in fall 2013. The 44,000 square foot store, part of the Comstock Partners residential building, closed in May 2012 and is undergoing complete renovation. The renovation will include all new flooring; new drywall and paint; updated equipment; wooden display cases; new fixtures; an expanded seating area; an expanded floral department; new prepared food stations including pizza, an Asian hot bar, and a made-to-order sandwich bar; and sustainable décor elements. The Company also re-designed its pharmacy to feature an open floor plan that will allow our pharmacists to better serve their customers.
Harris Teeter considered sustainable building design throughout its re-design process. The refrigerated cases will feature motion detection lighting; the company will also install doors with LED lights on the refrigerated cases as well as LED spotlighting throughout the store to reduce energy consumption. Harris Teeter originally installed both an energy management lighting system and a heat reclamation system in this store and will continue to utilize these technologies to reduce energy waste.
Harris Teeter looks forward to opening its Potomac Yard store and being a part of the community once again. We appreciate our customers’ patience while the store has been closed as well as their loyalty. We will continue to post updates on harristeeter.com when new information is available.
Photo courtesy Douglas Wendt
BMW in Fatal Crash Was Symbol of Father’s Success — The 2008 BMW M5 that 22-year-old Sami Ullah was driving the night of the crash in Rosslyn that killed him was a gift from his father, who had emigrated from Pakistan and worked as a dishwasher before eventually amassing a fortune from real estate investment. Police said Ullah was driving 90 miles per hour over the Key Bridge before the crash, something his family can’t quite comprehend. “He’d only drive fast on straightaways,” Ullah’s 27-year-old brother said. [Washington Post]
Board Reaffirms Plan for Long Bridge Park — The Arlington County Board reaffirmed its plan for Long Bridge Park, near Crystal City, at its meeting on Saturday. The plan includes the new Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health & Fitness Facility, the construction of which is expected to begin late this year. “Our actions today move us closer to realizing the dream of transforming a former brown field into one of the region’s most dynamic parks, recreation and athletic facilities in one of its most beautiful natural settings,” said County Board Chairman Walter Tejada. [Arlington County]
Win for Wakefield ‘It’s Academic’ Team – Wakefield High School’s “It’s Academic” team picked up and will advance to a playoff match. The televised academic competition aired this past Saturday, March 16. [Sun Gazette]
Front Page Under New Management – The Front Page restaurant in Ballston is under new management. “We have been working hard to get the FPA back to the glory it’s longstanding tradition deserves,” the restaurant said on Facebook. “Please don’t judge us on past performance. Except for the loyal and exceptional bar and service staff all management is new.” [Facebook]
County: We’re Not Stopping Harris Teeter — Arlington County officials acknowledged on Saturday that they’ve been in private settlement talks with Harris Teeter over the incident that resulted in raw sewage flooding the S. Glebe Road store last year, forcing it to close indefinitely. Responding to a letters from residents, the county says they’re not preventing the still-closed store from reopening and are willing to help expedite the regulatory process, if Harris Teeter decides to reopen. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore
Sarah Maiellano says she is going to deliver the letters to the Arlington County Board at their Saturday meeting. The letters urge the Board to “take any and all actions necessary to hasten the reopening of the Harris Teeter grocery store located in the Eclipse building.”
(The text of the letter can be found below, after the jump.)
The Harris Teeter in question, at 3600 S. Glebe Road near Potomac Yard, remains closed with no reopening date in sight. The grocery store was flooded with raw sewage on May 11, 2012, due to a clog at the nearby Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plan.
It has since been thoroughly cleaned, but the company says it’s “actively working with both the county and our landlord to discuss solutions to make sure that which happened does not happen again.”
“Once those solutions are implemented, we are ready to start work on the interior of the store, and at that point, Harris Teeter will make various public announcements to share the good news with everyone,” company spokeswoman Danna Jones told ARLnow.com earlier this year.
At its January meeting the County Board adjourned to closed session to discuss, as County Board Chair Walter Tejada put it, “two matters requiring consultation with the County Attorney and staff concerning pending claims made by Harris Teeter and others, arising from an incident on May 11, 2012.” A county spokeswoman declined to say what claims were being made.
Photo courtesy Douglas Wendt
A Harris Teeter spokeswoman said the store will not reopen until the company can be assured that measures are in place to prevent another catastrophic sewage incident.
“We are actively working with both the county and our landlord to discuss solutions to make sure that which happened does not happen again,” said company spokeswoman Danna Jones. “Once those solutions are implemented, we are ready to start work on the interior of the store, and at that point, Harris Teeter will make various public announcements to share the good news with everyone.”
An Arlington County spokeswoman would not comment on whether the county was working with Harris Teeter to reduce the risk of another sewage backup or mitigate the effects of the May incident. The county did say that, so far, no lawsuits have been filed against the county in response to last year’s sewage backup.
“I can confirm that no civil lawsuits have been filed,” said Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius.
Photo courtesy Douglas Wendt
Pentagon Shooter Sentenced — Yonathan Melaku, the ex-Marine who pleaded guilty last year to firing bullets at the Pentagon, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. Melaku had planned a terror campaign that included spray painting Arabic statements on gravestones and leaving explosives in Arlington National Cemetery, according to prosecutors. [Washington Post]
Bad Reviews for Rosslyn Safeway — While getting high marks for friendly cashiers, the Safeway supermarket in Rosslyn has earned a dismal 1.5 out of 5 stars in 53 reviews on Yelp. Customers have called the store “disgusting,” “gross,” “cavernous” and the “worst grocery store ever.” [Ode Street Tribune]
Gala Celebration for Wakefield High — The Wakefield Alumni Foundation will be hosting a celebration in May to celebrate the high school’s 60th anniversary. A new Wakefield High School building is expected to open this summer, and the present 1950s-era building will eventually be torn down. [Sun Gazette]
Wakefield Routs Yorktown — The Wakefield Warriors boys basketball team defeated the Yorktown Patriots by the lopsided score of 74-41 on Jan. 11. Wakefield improved to a record of 10-4 overall, while Yorktown fell to 5-8. [Sun Gazette]
Photo by Katie Pyzyk
The Ballston location of the Marvelous Market, a small regional chain of gourmet food stores/cafes, has closed permanently.
Located at 888 N. Quincy Street, the store closed its doors for good on Monday, a tipster said. The contents of the store — including tables, signs, sinks, appliances and electronics — were promptly put up for auction.
The store was owned by a independent franchisee, not the chain’s parent company, according to Ryland Johnson, the director of operations for the Marvelous Market. There are currently 5 company-owned stores and 2 franchise stores open in the D.C. area, he said.
Johnson declined further comment.
The Ballston store is not the only Marvelous Market location to close recently. A McLean location closed in March, a Reston location and a Tenlytown (D.C.) location closed last year, and today it was revealed that the chain’s Capitol Hill franchise has severed ties with the company and reopened as “The Silver Spork.”
According to the company’s web site, the Ballston location was the last remaining Marvelous Market in Virginia.
Hat tip to @zippychance
Pentagon City Elevator Contract Approved — The Arlington County Board has approved a contract to design a second elevator for the busy Pentagon City Metro station. The estimated $5.1 million elevator construction project has already received $4.5 million in federal funding. [Arlington County]
Arlington’s Roads Rate ‘Poor’ — More than one third of Arlington County’s 974 mile street network is in “poor” condition, based on the county’s own assessment. The reason for the poor road conditions may lie with spending. The county has been spending significantly less on paving than the amount recommended by its top streets official. [Patch]
Board Considers Solar at Supermarkets — County Board members say they’ll consider a Green Party proposal to either force or encourage supermarkets to install solar power arrays on their roof. The solar power could help refrigerate food during power outages. [Sun Gazette]
Maywood Neighborhood Profiled — The historic Maywood neighborhood of Arlington is “endearing and peaceful” and “extremely friendly,” according to a radio profile. [WAMU]
Renovations Revealed at Crystal City Hotel — Last week the 343-room Crystal City Marriott officially unveiled its $7 million redesign, which included new common areas like a new bar/restaurant and a new fitness center. [Marriott]
Flickr pool photo by Lifeinthedistrict
In response to a controversial mixed use development proposed for Wilson Boulevard, a number of Bluemont residents have banded together to form the “Safeway Task Force,” and will be holding a public meeting tomorrow.
The group is made up of members of the Bluemont Civic Association and aims to educate community members about the proposed development. Members say they want to ensure that the Bluemont community is able to help shape future changes at the Safeway site at 5101 Wilson Blvd.
Earlier this year, Safeway began soliciting bids from developers who may be interested in building a new grocery store, with residential property above it. The building would take up the entire block of Wilson Blvd from N. Frederick Street to N. Edison Street.
Last year, attendees at a Bluemont Civic Association meeting confronted County Board Chair Mary Hynes about the development. A number of residents voiced concerns about increased density along the stretch of Wilson Blvd in question, and also worried about how small businesses would fare.
The task force will be hosting a town hall meeting on Tuesday, July 10 (tomorrow), which is open to the public. It will be held at St. Ann’s Church (5300 N. 10th Street), starting at 7:00 p.m. Members of the county Planning Commission will be on hand to speak about issues related to the proposed development, such as zoning and by-right policies, and will answer residents’ questions.
In the coming months, the task force hopes to meet with Safeway representatives to discuss plans for the future. The task force’s charter states it plans to wrap up work by November 1, at which time it will be decided if it is needed any longer.
Photo (bottom) via Google Maps
According to a document sent to ARLnow.com and first reported on by the Arlington Mercury, Safeway is seeking bids from developers interested in building a new 58,000 to 65,000 square foot Safeway store on the ground floor, with a residential development on top of it. The project would take up the entire block between N. Frederick and Edison Streets, replacing the current, aging Bluemont Safeway and its surface parking lot. Parking — including at least 170 spaces reserved for the Safeway store, would be provided by an underground lot. Safeway is seeking a development that meets a minimum LEED Silver certification.
Last year representatives of the Bluemont Civic Association released sketches of an envisioned “Bluemont Village Center” that included two to three stories of residential development on top of a new Safeway store. Created only as a theoretical planning exercise, it’s unclear whether the civic association’s vision would be adopted by the winning developer.
Real estate firm KLNB is marketing the air rights at 5101 Wilson Boulevard on behalf of Safeway. Bids are due on June 15.
Officials say a clog at the Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plant is what caused raw sewage to flow into the Harris Teeter supermarket on S. Glebe Road, near Potomac Yard.
The incident started on the morning of Friday, May 11. An excess buildup of rags and debris got into a pump station and clogged the station’s suction lines, according to Water Pollution Control Bureau Chief Larry Slattery. A sewage line then started to back up, ultimately leading to an overflow of raw sewage into Harris Teeter and the parking garage adjacent to the store.
Harris Teeter is closed indefinitely while crews work to sanitize the store.
Slattery said the sewage wound up in the store because it’s located “near the lower end of the collection system” — only a short distance across Jefferson Davis Highway from the Water Pollution Control Plant. He was unable to confirm how much sewage flowed into the store and the parking garage.
Temporary pumps were put in place by early Friday afternoon to help clear out the sewage backup. The debris was cleared out of the pump station and the sewage system was back to normal early Saturday morning, Slattery said.
“As soon as we figured out what [the problem] was we took steps as fast as possible to correct the issue,” he said.
As a result of the incident, Arlington County will now be increasing the frequency of sewage pumping system cleanings from once every year to once every three months. The pump that became clogged had last been cleaned out in January, according to Slattery.
“We’re taking steps to check out the sanitary sewer lines,” Slattery said. “That’s not the kind of customer service we want to provide. We don’t want this to ever happen.”
Photo courtesy Douglas Wendt
Update on 5/14/12 — This article has been updated here.
The Harris Teeter supermarket at 3600 S. Glebe Road near Potomac Yard has been flooded, possibly by sewage.
Authorities responded to the store for a report of flooding earlier today. A tipster described the incident as “a catastrophic sewage line failure that reportedly destroyed major sections of the store.”
“Ten trucks from Purofirst restoration are joined on scene by three tractor-trailer sized trucks presently pumping,” the tipster said. “One person on [scene] said the store could be closed for months for repairs and restoration.”
The store is on the bottom floor of the Eclipse condominium building, in the far southeastern corner of Arlington.
Photos courtesy Douglas Wendt