Three Vying for County Board Nod — Three candidates for the upcoming Arlington County Board special election kicked off their campaigns at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. Among them are Alan Howze, president of the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association; Peter Fallon, former Planning Commission member; and Cord Thomas, who helped found Envirocab and Elevation Burger. All three will compete in a two-day Democratic caucus, to be held Jan. 30 and Feb. 1. [Sun Gazette, Washington Post]
Remembering the Ballston Skulls — Up until the 1940s, the Ballston Skulls, a semi-pro football team, played at Ballston Stadium, on the site of what’s now Ballston Common Mall. The Washington Redskins also conducted work outs from the facility. [Ghosts of DC]
Attorney General Recount to Start Dec. 16 — The recount process in the election of the Virginia Attorney General will take place from Dec. 16-19. Currently, Democrat Mark Herring has a 165 vote lead over Republican Mark Obenshain. [WJLA]
Flickr pool photo by @ddimick
Projected Subsidy Soars for Aquatics Center — The planned Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center could require more than $4 million per year in subsidies from the county government, according to new projections. That’s up from projections as low at $1 million per year. “Certainly there are other priorities that arguably should come before building a luxury pools facility,” said local fiscal watchdog Wayne Kubicki. Construction contracts for the aquatics center are expected to be awarded early next year. [Sun Gazette]
County May Allow Less Office Parking, For a Fee — Arlington County is considering a system that would allow office developers to build less than the currently-required amount of parking, in exchange for a per-parking-space fee. The fee would then be used for public improvements in the area around the building, or for Transportation Demand Management Services for the building’s tenants. [Greater Greater Washington]
Memorial Bridge Could Have Looked Like Tower Bridge — The Arlington Memorial Bridge was originally proposed as a memorial to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, complete with a series of “medieval”-looking towers and turrets. [Ghosts of DC]
Arlington Carpenter’s Intricately-Carved Birds — Arlington carpenter Jeff Jacobs, 59, carves intricate wooden hummingbirds out of a single block of wood. He sells the birds at Eastern Market and the Clarendon farmers market. [Washington Post]
Flickr photo by Eschweik
Board to Consider Mall Expansion Plan — The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City’s expansion plans at its Saturday meeting. County staff is recommending approval of the plan, which would about 50,000 square feet of space for 5-7 new retail tenants to the front of the mall.
Shopping Center Cost $250k in 1940 — The strip mall at the northeast corner of Columbia Pike and Glebe Road represented an investment of $250,000 in 1940. At the time, traffic volume on Columbia Pike was about 12,000 cars per day and traffic volume on Glebe Road was about 600 cars per day. [Ghosts of DC]
Reminder: Yellow Line Closed This Weekend — The Yellow Line will be shut down this weekend for the annual safety inspection of the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River. The closure will begin at about 10:00 tonight (Friday).
Optimist Club Christmas Tree Sale Two Weeks Away — The Optimist Club of Arlington will kick off its annual Christmas tree sale on Saturday, Nov. 30. The sale will be held in the Wells Fargo parking lot at the corner of Lee Highway and Glebe Road. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The railroad line, which ran through Arlington, was later renamed the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad and is now the popular W&OD trail. The western portion of the line was attacked by Confederate forces during the war but the eastern portion, through Arlington and Alexandria, fared better and helped to provide logistical support to the Union war effort.
The talk will be held tonight (Thursday) from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Arlington Central Library auditorium (1015 N. Quincy Street). From the library website:
Historian Ron Beavers will discuss the little used Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad, which once ran through Arlington County but is today one of the Washington area’s most popular bike trails. Learn what caused this transformation – from an underachieving rail line to a major contributor to the Union war effort – and what became of this railroad after the Civil War.
Though now a beloved path for both commuters and recreationalists from Arlington to Loudoun County, the original plan for the AL&H was impressive. Entrepreneurial Virginians hopes to compete with the B&O Railroad for the rich coal fields of what is now West Virginia. But engineering difficulties and financial struggles impeded these plans, reducing the rail line to a local carrier for freight, mail and people just before the Civil War. When the war came, the western portion of this railroad suffered complete destruction. The eastern facilities (Alexandria and Arlington) fared much better. Their contribution to the Union war effort was crucial to success in the Eastern Theater of Military operations. Ownership returned to AL&H directors after the war, but their original plan to reach West Virginia never came to fruition. The rail line went through many reorganizations and mergers, yet continued to serve Arlington and Northern Virginia until the 1960s. Last known as the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, it ultimately became a 44 mile-long park that we now call the W&OD hiker/biker trail.
Beavers last spoke before the Arlington Historical Society in March about Arlington County’s retrocession to Virginia in 1847. He is a seventh generation Virginian and retired federal employee with a life-long interest in history and railroads.
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Wakefield Students Attend Candidate Forum — Wakefield High School juniors and seniors attended a forum for first-time voters on Wednesday. The students had a chance to ask questions of some candidates for elected office and their representatives. One big topic of conversation was immigration reform, with students expressing support for the DREAM Act, which would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Virginia’s public colleges and universities. [Sun Gazette]
Long-Time Arlingtonian Celebrates 100th Birthday — Maywood resident Bob McAtee, who has lived in Arlington since 1915, celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday. McAtee has lived here long enough to remember when Maywood was a “trolley suburb,” when the local youth used to swim in the Potomac at “Arlington Beach,” and when moving companies used a horse and a cart. [Falls Church News-Press]
Treasurer Makes Deal for iPark Refills — Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary has struck deals to allow the county to refill iPark devices, while adding more devices to the cache that can be used to replace non-functioning units. The county paid $10,000 to the bankrupt manufacturer of the devices for the codes necessary to add value without additional authorization or payment to the company. The move comes about a month and a half after the company’s bankruptcy suddenly prevented the county from refilling the devices. [Sun Gazette]
Man Gets 10 Year Sentence for Custis Trail Robbery — A 23-year-old D.C. resident has received a 10 year sentence for a robbery on the Custis Trail that left a jogger with a head injury and lingering cognitive effects. The attacker and his 17-year-old brother, who’s expected to receive a 1.5 to 3 year sentence, were both arrested as they fled toward the Ballston Metro Station. The victim, a 55-year-old personal trainer, says he still suffers from headaches, nightmares and memory loss. [Washington Post]
Remembering Allison’s Tea House — From the 1920s to the 1950s, Allison’s Tea House, at 1301 S. Arlington Ridge Road, was “a coveted neighborhood restaurant… that had been visited by dignitaries including Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt.” The restaurant’s iconic stone well house was preserved after the restaurant and its grounds were redeveloped into an apartment building in the 1960s. It still stands, and is used as storage for the apartment’s swimming pool. [Preservation Arlington]
ACPD Participating in Drug Take-Back Day — The Arlington County Police Department is participating in National Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday. From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at fire stations No. 1, 8 and 9, officers will collect expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. “The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked,” police say in a press release. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
Tighter Security at Marathon — This Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon will include tighter security than years past. Camelback-style hydration backpacks have been banned, as have Halloween masks. Runners will only be able to check items in clear plastic bags. [WJLA]
Google Maps Arlington National Cemetery — Google has used its Street View technology to map Arlington National Cemetery from the ground. Using a backpack-mounted array of 15 cameras and a hired walker, the company has gathered 360 degree images from around the hallowed grounds. [Washington Post]
Virginia ABC Wine Tasting Crackdown — Virginia ABC is cracking down on wine tasting events organized by wine distributors. Virginia law only allows winemakers or winery representatives to hold tasting events in restaurants. Among the retailers impacted by the recent enforcement effort is Cheesetique, which has locations in Shirlington and the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
Lawsuit Filed Over NSF Lease — The broker that helped arrange the National Science Foundation’s pending move from Arlington to Alexandria is suing Hoffman Family LLC, the owner of the land where the new NSF headquarters will be built. Hoffman is only offering to pay $1 million of the $6.7 million that Jones Lang LaSalle says it’s owed. The deal is also being criticized for incentives that exempted payments to Alexandria’s affordable housing fund. [Washington Post]
Plantations in Arlington — Writer Alison Rice takes a look back at some of Arlington’s former plantations. Among them are Abingdon Plantation, located on what’s now Reagan National Airport; Analostan Island, on what’s now Theodore Roosevelt Island; and Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee. [Arlington Magazine]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
Arlington’s Feuding Bike Donation Charities – “Arlington, surprisingly, is home to not one but two nonprofits that donate bicycles to the underprivileged in Africa and elsewhere,” writes Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark. “Our 26-square-mile county, however, may not be big enough for both – the two groups do not ride alongside each other smoothly.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Pike Apartment Ad from the ’60s – The Columbia Pike apartment complex now known as the Wellington is seen in a 1960s-era advertisement uncovered by Ghosts of DC. The then-new “Executive Apartments” were “designed to meet the requirements of successful executives who can command the finest in luxury air-conditioned apartment living,” the ad says. Rent for a one bedroom was $135 per month. [Ghosts of DC]
Library Reminds Feds to Return Books — Furloughed federal employees might not have access to their government email accounts, and thus might miss reminder emails from the library about overdue items. Arlington Public Library is reminding feds that they can keep track of their account through the library website. [Arlington Public Library]
New Nauck Civic Association Website — The Nauck Civic Association recently unveiled a new website, which includes a history of the neighborhood. Also known as Green Valley, the neighborhood was settled by a freed slave in 1844. [Nauck Civic Association]
Free Burgers for Feds — Because the federal government shut down early this morning, Z-Burger is following through on its offer to serve free burgers for all federal and D.C. workers who have been furloughed. The local burger chain, which has a location at 3325 Wilson Blvd, near Clarendon, says customers must present a government ID to get the free burger.
Task Force Recommends More School Buses — An Arlington Public Schools task force has recommended that the school system’s bus service be expanded, at least for elementary school students. Elementary students should be supervised on their way to school, said the task force, which also said that buses are safer and produce less traffic than cars. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Startup Raises $100 Million — Arlington-based Evolent Health has raised a whopping $100 million in its latest funding round. The health management company expects to rapidly hire and develop technology in order to meet heavy demand from the hospital industry, spurred on by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. [Washington Business Journal]
Crystal City Showing Resilience — Despite heavy military job losses caused by the Base Closure and Realignment Act, Crystal City is starting to bounce back and find new tenants to fill vacant office space. Property owners are also using the tough times to upgrade or redevelop older buildings. The office vacancy rate in Crystal City stands at 24.2 percent, up from 9.8 percent in 2011. [Washington Post]
Vintage Plane Flies Over Arlington – The photo above was taken from a Ford Tri-Motor, the first mass-produced airliner in the world. Built in the 1920s, the plane has been carefully maintained and, on Saturday, flew over Arlington in a flight organized by the Experimental Aircraft Association. [EAA]
Photo courtesy Mary Dominiak/Experimental Aircraft Association
B.M. Smith and Associates submitted plans to Arlington’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board earlier this month for a six-story apartment building with ground floor retail, tentatively dubbed 2400 Columbia Pike.
Located across from Penrose Square, the building would replace Rappahannock Coffee, L.A. Nails, the former Saah Furniture and other businesses in three low-rise retail buildings on the block. At minimum, the facades from two of the buildings (2338-2344 Columbia Pike and 2406-2408 Columbia Pike) will be preserved and incorporated into the new building.
Columbia Pike’s Form Based Code allows for apartment buildings up to 6 stories, so County Board approval may not be needed in order for the project to proceed, but the relatively historic nature of the buildings on the block will likely require additional community review, public hearings and a Form Based Code amendment.
So far, the developer has not submitted a formal Form Based Code application to the county, so a county spokeswoman was not able to speculate on a timeframe for the development.
Hat tip to G. Clifford Prout
Fisette Weds Long-Time Partner — Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette married long-time partner Bob Rosen last week. After 30 years together, the couple tied the knot in a low-key ceremony at All Souls Unitarian Church in the District. Fisette and Rosen’s union will not be recognized in Virginia, but Fisette said he thinks that same-sex marriage will be legalized in the Commonwealth within five years. [Sun Gazette]
Smash-and-Grab Lookout Sentenced — The man who served as a lookout in a series of smash-and-grab robberies in the D.C. area, including this robbery at the Tourneau store in Pentagon City, has been sentenced. Floyd Davis, 43, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for his role in the crimes. [Washington Post]
Reevesland Group Refines Proposal — A group that wants to convert the historic Reeves farmhouse into an agricultural learning center for school children has submitted a proposal to Arlington County. The group says its volunteers will lower the cost of necessary renovations to the building by 30 percent. It has offered to operate the center and make it available to Arlington Public Schools. In exchange, the group wants the county to pay for renovations (about $700,000), ongoing maintenance costs and utilities. [Sun Gazette]
Library Seeks Info on Mystery Football Photo — Arlington Public Library’s Center for Local History is seeking more information about a photograph found at a local home. The photo shows a group of men wearing early 20th century football equipment, posing in front of a school. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
They lie in backyards, parking lots, even in the median of a street in South Arlington. Thousands of people walk or drive by them every day, most of whom are likely not aware of their significance or place in local and national history.
They are the Nation’s Capital Boundary Stones, placed as a result of the Residence Act of 1790. There are 40 stones, one each mile of the original square boundary of Washington, D.C., then called Federal City.
Some of the stones are all but gone, some have been moved to accommodate road and building construction and others have been stolen or lost, according to the Nation’s Capital Boundary Stones Committee’s Boundarystones.org site. All 10 stones within Arlington’s limits are authentic originals. They are at the following locations:
- 4013 N. Tazewell Street (private residence)
- 5000 block, Old Dominion Drive (private residence)
- 3000 block, N. Powhatan Street (private residence)
- Andrew Ellicott Park, 2824 N. Arizona Street
- Benjamin Banneker Park, 1701 N. Van Buren Street
- In the parking lot of Patrick Henry Apartments Complex, the 6000 block of Wilson Blvd
- Carlin Springs Elementary School parking lot
- The median on the 1000 block of S. Jefferson Street
- The north side of the 2700 block of S. Walter Reed Drive
- Fairlington Village, King Street, between S. Wakefield Street and I-395
Ramon Perez has been the property manager of Patrick Henry Apartments for four months, but just learned his office is steps from a boundary stone a few weeks ago when a preservation group repainted the fence protecting the stone.
“I wasn’t informed of the stone when I transferred here,” he said. There are 110 apartments — mostly two- and three-bedrooms — in the complex, and Perez estimated about 400 residents live there. “I’d say maybe about 10 people know what it is.” (more…)
The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Yesterday, our nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The March, of course, was 100 years after President Lincoln freed the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, I wanted to call attention to an important part of our history here in Arlington that took place in 1863.
On May 5, 1863, Lieutenant Colonel Elias M. Greene, chief quartermaster of the Department of Washington, and Danforth B. Nichols of the American Missionary Association officially selected the Arlington Estate, or Custis-Lee plantation, as the site for Freedmen’s Village. The site would later become a part of Arlington National Cemetery.
The Village was formally dedicated on December 4, 1863, and the site was intended to be a model community for freed persons. Originally, 100 former slaves settled on the site – eventually growing to over 1,000 residents. There were over 10 frame houses, 50 two-story duplex houses, two chapels, a school with five teachers, a meeting hall, a hospital, and a home for the elderly and infirm.
While the Freedmen’s Village was eventually closed around the turn of the 20th century, many Arlingtonians still trace ancestors back to it. Residents from the Village helped found the communities of Penrose, Hall’s Hill and Nauck.
Penrose, for example, was originally known as the Butler-Holmes subdivision. It was named after William Butler and Henry Holmes – two leaders in the Freedmen’s Village who held public office before developing land for housing. The Butler-Holmes subdivision was turned from a few parcels of farmland into multiple free standing dwellings.
The Penrose neighborhood was home to Dr. Charles Drew. He was the first African American to receive a Doctor of Science in Medicine, and he became Head of the Surgery Department at Howard University. He gained international acclaim for his scientific advances in the field of blood plasma transfusion research. The Drew Model Elementary School and Community Center in Arlington bears his name as a tribute to him – as do several other institutions of learning across the country.
Of course, the stories could go on and on, and I am only able to barely scratch the surface in this column. If you have a few minutes today, I encourage you to read through this “walking tour” brochure from the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington to learn a little bit more.
We truly have a rich history here in Arlington. I hope from time to time we all take a moment to understand, appreciate and learn from it.
Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.
Man Launches Write-In Campaign for County Board — Stephen Holbrook, a retired FBI agent, is launching a write-in campaign for Arlington County Board. Holbrook, who lives in the condominium adjacent to the planned homeless shelter in Courthouse, says he’s launching the campaign because he’s fed up with the current County Board. [Sun Gazette]
‘Gourd Palace’ in Virginia Square — Just in time for the upcoming start of fall, a “Gourd Palace Spirit House” has been built on the grounds of the Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd). The “living structure” was designed by Chloe Fugle, a 7th grader at the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program. [Washington Post]
Remembering the Wilson Theater — There’s a reason the condominium building at 1800 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn has a blade sign and an art deco sign above the entry way. The signs are meant to recall the previous building to stand at that location, the former Wilson Theater, which first opened in 1936. [Preservation Arlington]
Photo courtesy Pete Roof/Alt Gobo MediaWorks LLC
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) The Arlington, Va. parking garage that played a pivotal role in the Watergate scandal is set to be demolished as part of a redevelopment.
Monday Properties plans to tear down two aging office buildings, at 1401 Wilson Blvd and 1400 Key Blvd in the Rosslyn neighborhood, to make way for a new mixed use development. Before any construction can take place, however, the proposed redevelopment will go through Arlington’s site plan process, which usually takes 1-4 years.
The parking garage below the buildings will be a casualty of the eventual redevelopment. Forty years ago, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward met a source dubbed “Deep Throat” — later revealed to be FBI official Mark Felt — in the garage, which was chosen because it was considered an “anonymous secure location.” The information Felt passed on to Woodward helped expose the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
A permanent historical marker outside the garage, erected by Arlington County, marks the location. Monday Properties says it expects the marker to stay even after the garage is removed.
“We obviously view the whole Watergate situation as a significant event in the history of our country,” said Monday Properties Chief Development Officer Tim Helmig. “It would be our hope that we preserve that plaque and incorporate it in our redevelopment.”
The marker will likely be removed and stored during the redevelopment, said Cynthia Liccese-Torres, Acting Historic Preservation Program Coordinator for Arlington County.
“Ideally we would want to put the marker back up again when the development is all finished,” she said.
The garage, built in the early 1960s, is nearing the end of its useful life, Helmig noted. Nonetheless, he said the company is receptive to ideas for preserving some part of the garage’s history.
“That will likely come into the discussion as part of the [site plan] process,” he said. “That’s exactly what the process is designed for.”
Monday plans to replace the older buildings with a 32-story apartment or condo building and a 29-story office building. In total, the buildings will have 500,000 square feet of office space, 385,000 square feet of residential space, and 60,000 square feet of retail space, including a planned full-service grocery store, according to Helmig. About half of the land will be used as a public open space. (See photos, above.)
So far, there’s no word on when Monday, which is still actively trying to find tenants for its massive 1812 N. Moore Street skyscraper in Rosslyn, would actually move forward with the demolition and subsequent construction, if and when it receives county approval.
“There’s not really a set timeframe,” Helmig said. “We are really in the early stages. We have a lot of process and community input to go before our project comes to fruition.”
“We’re excited about our application,” he added. “It certainly meets the goals and objectives of the Rosslyn Sector Plan.”
Arlington County’s Site Plan Review Committee is scheduled to hold a meeting about the development proposal on Monday, Oct. 21.