Rush Plus Starts Today — This morning marks the start of Metro’s “Rush Plus” modified rush hour rail service. So far, via Twitter, numerous problems and crowded trains have been reported on the Blue Line. Initial reviews have been mixed on the Orange and Yellow lines.
Hearing Set for Pike Neighborhoods Plan — A public hearing about the new Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Plan will be held on Saturday, July 21. The plan envisions the addition of 6,000 new rental apartments (to the existing stock of 9,000 apartments) along the Columbia Pike corridor over the next 30 years. Arlington County says the goal of the plan is to “Preserve affordable housing… encourage private investment… create a more pedestrian-friendly community… [and] strengthen the Pike corridor’s transit network.” [Washington Post, Arlington County]
Streetcar Agreement Approved — The Arlington County Board and the Alexandria City Council have approved an agreement to move forward on a plan to build a streetcar along the Route 1 corridor. The streetcar line could open in Crystal City as soon as 2019. [NBC Washington]
Second Phase of Crystal City Road Project Approved — The second phase of a major road project in Crystal City has been approved by the Arlington County Board. The project will convert Crystal Drive to a two-way road between 23rd Street and 26th Street. The project includes bicycle lanes, new traffic signals and street lighting, intersection improvements and ADA-compliant curb ramps and sidewalks. [Arlington County]
Fourth Name on 8th District Ballot — Independent Jason Howell has qualified for the 8th District congressional race. Howell joins incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, Republican Patrick Murray (R) and Independent Green candidate Janet Murphy on the Nov. 6 ballot. [Sun Gazette]
The annual Arlington Home Show and Expo will return to the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 S. 16th Street) next Saturday.
As it has in the past, the show will feature dozens of home builders, contractors, vendors, architects, inspectors, real estate agents, gardeners, lenders and nonprofits, as well as housing, zoning and inspection representatives from Arlington County.
“Whether you are a resident looking to improve your home, an experienced contractor or a landlord managing rentals, the 2012 Arlington Home Show & Expo offers a convenient one-stop shop to ‘Ask an Expert’ and learn of new ways to update your home,” said an Arlington County press release. Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development is jointly sponsoring the event with the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO).
“Learn about remodeling kitchens and baths, finishing or waterproofing basements, replacing windows, doors, flooring, roofing and siding, security systems and more from a wide variety of top-rated companies,” touted the press release. “The expo will offer the latest information on green products and technologies, with an emphasis on smart and universal design that produces beautiful, desirable homes compliant with Arlington County zoning and permit rules.”
According to organizers, classes at the home show will include:
- How to choose and work with contractors
- How to finance your remodeling project
- Building codes for remodeling
- Green remodeling and renewable energy
- Universal design, visit-ability and aging in place
- “Landlord Seminar” for owners of fewer than five residential units
There also be door prizes (provided by private sponsors) and a drawing for a new iPad. The home show is free and will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.
Disclosure: CPRO is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
Civic Federation Budget Proposal — The Arlington County Civic Federation has unanimously approved its own vision for the county’s budget. The Civic Federation’s budget proposal would hold the current real estate tax rate steady, while providing more money for schools and public safety, funding an inspector general position and eliminating 16 long-vacant county government positions. The Civic Federation also voted 30-12 for a motion calling on the county to close Rosslyn’s Artisphere by the end of the year unless significant progress is made in turning around the struggling cultural center’s finances. [Sun Gazette]
Streetcar Stalemate with Alexandria — Arlington County’s plan to build a streetcar line from Crystal City to Potomac Yard is facing resistance from Alexandria. While Arlington has financing for the streetcar lined up, Alexandria says they don’t have the money for a streetcar line — and would like the planned Crystal City/Potomac Yard transit corridor to remain a bus rapid transit system for the foreseeable future. [WAMU]
Thousands Sign Up for Housing Aid — Arlington County opened up its waiting list for federal Section 8 housing assistance for one day, after keeping the list closed for the past seven years. In that one day the county received 5,300 pre-applications from those seeking rent assistance. [Patch]
Fund Set Up to House the Homeless — The Arlington Community Foundation has announced a $500,000 private gift that will allow it to create a new fund for the 100 Homes campaign against homelessness. With a $500,000 match from Arlington County, the $1 million public/private partnership will be “dedicated to housing Arlington’s most vulnerable citizens.” [Arlington Community Foundation]
Could Arlington’s insistence on preserving the single-family home communities along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor be the reason why it seems every new apartment building in the corridor is a “luxury” apartment building?
Last week Slate columnist Matthew Yglesais, author of The Rent Is Too Damn High, wrote about Arlington and suggested that the prevalence of expensive high-end rentals and condos stems from two factors: restrictions on building height and the width of the corridor itself, which is sometimes just 2-3 blocks wide, thanks to zoning restrictions intended to preserve the single family homes on either side of the corridor.
“What you see is a narrow thread of urbanism between Wilson Boulevard and Clarendon Boulevard, with a bit of a thicker blob of urbanism around the Metro station itself,” Yglesais writes. “I don’t really want to condemn this development paradigm because if you compare it to other suburban jurisdictions around the United States, what Arlington has done really stands out as practically best in class. But still the fact of the matter is that these single-family homes adjacent to the corridor of urbanism are sitting on some extremely expensive land.”
Yglesais suggests that opening up additional redevelopment along the R-B corridor would help bring cheaper market-rate housing options. Following up on our inconclusive poll from December — “Should Arlington Increase Density to Keep Housing Prices Down?” — should Arlington consider expanding the width of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor?
County Expects Fewer Housing Dollars from Feds — Federal spending cuts and a reduction in poverty in Arlington have combined to result in a relatively steep drop in federal housing dollars for Arlington County. The county expects to receive $1.16 million in federal housing dollars in fiscal year 2013 — a nearly $400,000 drop compared to the prior year. [Sun Gazette]
‘Tebow Bill’ Advances in General Assembly — A bill that would allow home-schooled students in Virginia to play for public school sports teams has cleared a key legislative hurdle, reports the Associated Press. The bill’s nickname — the Tebow Bill — references NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was home schooled but permitted to play on a public high school football team. [My Fox DC]
Fitch Affirms Arlington’s ‘AAA’ Rating — Bond rating agency Fitch has affirmed Arlington’s AAA debt rating in advance of an upcoming bond offering. Fitch praised Arlington’s “outstanding fiscal performance” and “exceptionally vibrant employment base” in a press release. ”Conservative budgeting, timely tax and fee increases, and closely monitored expenditure controls consistently produce surplus operating results leading to solid reserve levels and liquidity,” the firm wrote. [Business Wire]
Prostitute Sexually Assaulted in Ballston — A prostitute was sexually assaulted at the Comfort Inn hotel on N. Glebe Road in Ballston on Wednesday, according to the Arlington County Police Department’s daily crime report. The woman did, however, manage to call her “bodyguard” during the attack. The bodyguard reportedly got in a scuffle with the woman’s attacker before the attacker fled the scene. [Patch]
Arlington will host the second annual Northern Virginia Housing Expo this year.
The event features dozens of exhibits “showcasing both homeownership and rental opportunities and resources throughout Northern Virginia.” There are also free workshops that will help prepare attendees for renting or buying a home.
The housing expo is produced by the Fairfax-based nonprofit AHOME, in cooperation with the Virginia Housing Development Authority and numerous Northern Virginia localities, including Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun and Falls Church.
The expo is being held at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford Street) between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. The inaugural expo was held at Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School last June.
(Updated at 9:35 a.m.) During a panel discussion on Wednesday, some local employers expressed concern that Arlington County’s economy might be negatively impacted by the continued rise in rents and housing prices.
“Panelists described a scenario that could leave Arlington with housing options only for those at the top end of the economic spectrum, and those lucky enough to win access to subsidized rental units,” the Sun Gazette reported. That scenario, some say, could make it harder for Arlington employers to fill working class jobs.
One potential solution to spiking housing prices, as proposed by a George Mason University study and reported by the Sun Gazette, is to add “between 9,000 and 34,000 new residential units in coming years.”
Do you support adding housing density in order to improve housing affordability?
Hard Times Cafe Opens in Verizon Center — Local staple Hard Times Cafe has opened a new concession stand in the Verizon Center. Located on the main concourse near section 119, the stand opened in time for the first Capitals preseason game on Monday. In addition to brick-and-mortar locations in Clarendon and around the D.C. suburbs, Hard Times also operates a stand in Nationals Park.
Arlington Sheriff Elected to Association — Arlington Sheriff Beth Arthur has been elected vice president of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association. [Sun Gazette]
Housing Fair This Weekend — The Arlington County Housing Fair will be held on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event features “practical advice for managing money, improving credit and avoiding eviction or foreclosure;” home buyer workshops; meetings with county staff, housing specialists, landlords, real estate agents and finance professionals; and “access federal, state and local housing programs and resources.” The fair is being held at the NRECA Conference Center in Ballston (4301 Wilson Blvd). [Arlington County Housing Fair]
The Arlington County Housing Fair is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The effort is part of the county’s 100 Homes Campaign, which will try to cut “chronic homelessness” in Arlington in half by July 2013. The campaign will place some of Arlington’s most medically-vulnerable homeless individuals — described as “those most likely to die if not housed quickly” — in permanent supportive housing.
The county is looking for volunteer surveyors, data entry personnel and headquarters staff to work from Oct. 17-19. Surveyors will be asked to go out in teams and interview homeless individuals from 3:30 to 7:30 a.m., while data entry will be done between 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. More information on volunteering can be found on the 100 Homes Arlington web site.
“We have made great strides in addressing homelessness in Arlington, but our work is far from complete,” County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said in a statement. “The 100 Homes Campaign brings important focus to helping some of the most vulnerable members of our community – those living on the streets.”
Arlington’s campaign, co-chaired by County Board member and state Senate candidate Barbara Favola and Shooshan Company president John Shooshan, is based on the national 100,000 Homes campaign.
Public libraries, the Lubber Run Amphitheater and ‘safety net’ programs are a few of the budget priorities that will receive funding above and beyond the amount proposed in the county manager’s budget.
The County Board has allocated $258,000 to allow each branch library to stay open for an additional three hours per week. The funds will also support longer Sunday hours at the Shirlington and Columbia Pike libraries and allow the purchase of additional books and e-books.
The board is providing an additional $370,000 for park maintenance, Friday hours at the Lubber Run Community Center and for the restoration of seasonal programming at the shuttered Lubber Run Amphitheater. An additional allocation of $100,000 will fund early stages of restoring the amphitheater.
Safety net programs like housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment and community medical care will also benefit from the board’s budget adjustment.
An additional $1.5 million will be added to the Affordable Housing Investment Fund, for a total FY 2012 contribution of $5.5 million. An additional $250,000 will be added for housing grants, the subject of a recent ARLnow.com poll. Service for those with serious emotional, mental and substance abuse problems will receive just over $500,000. Safety net non-profits like the Arlington Food Assistance Center, the Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, Doorways and the Arlington Free Clinic will split an additional $420,000.
Public safety agencies will receive an extra $1 million under the new budget. The money will allow the police department to add several officers and to fund domestic violence support and the Gang Task Force. It will also fund a fire department battalion chief position and two sheriff’s office positions.
Other changes include additional ART bus service to the DHS building from western Columbia Heights, the planting of 300-400 trees around the county, and additional money to fund implementation of the Community Energy Plan and the Natural Resource Management plan.
The additional funding is possible despite the board’s commitment to hold the real estate tax rate steady. See more information about the County Board’s final budget, which is set for approval on Saturday.
Under County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed FY 2012 budget, funding for ‘Safety Net’ rental assistance programs will increase by $1.2 million, or 17 percent, from $7.3 million to about $8.6 million.
That increase includes an extra $630,000 for the county’s housing grant program, which serves just over 1,000 households per year; an extra $467,000 for permanent supportive housing programs, which will serve just over 100 households per year; and an extra $162,000 for ‘general relief’ emergency housing assistance, which will serve 250 households per month.
Arlington County officials place great emphasis on safety net programs, which are serving those in need during tough economic times. But some are questioning whether the increases are sustainable or even appropriate given the county’s tight finances.
“Our libraries aren’t fully funded, and our roads are in terrible condition. But the cost of this program seems to keep rising,” a member of the county’s own Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission told the Arlington Connection. The Connection’s Michael Lee Pope notes that funding for housing grants has increased from $3.6 million in 2007 to $6.6 million in the current proposed budget.
What do you think?
The energy company announced $2 million in donations yesterday to help the homeless and aid families in need.
Arlington affordable housing outfit AHC, Inc. and at-risk women’s shelter Doorways for Women and Families both accepted the donations at a press conference in Reston.
“Dominion wants to help our friends and neighbors who are encountering hardships during the current recession,” CEO Thomas F. Farrell II said in a statement. “Housing-related organizations and programs are facing increased demand for their services, while their own budgets are stretched thin… We are working to help ensure that safe, warm shelter is available to those in need.”
Photo courtesy Jeremy Rusnock Photography
The Barcroft neighborhood is going to be the home of the Washington area’s second passive house.
Passive house is an ultra energy efficient building style that’s becoming increasingly popular in Europe. There are only about 20 passive houses in the United States.
The eco-friendly house will be built on the site of yesterday’s spectacular made-for-TV controlled burn exercise. The small, condemned and now-charred home currently on the site will be torn down. Construction is expected to begin around December 1 and wrap up in the spring.
The project is being done on spec by the Burke-based developer Kinsey Properties.
Roger Lin, a managing partner at the firm, says the house will raise the bar for efficiency in environmentally-conscious Arlington.
“It’s highest standard in terms of performance-based green buildings,” he said. “They’re popping up all over the country now.”
Lin said the only other passive house in the DC area is in Bethesda.
County Launches Housing Blog — Under One Roof aims to be “a broad and accessible news portal on housing and more in Arlington County. It will feature “blog posts on a broad range of topics including affordable housing, green building, construction, neighborhoods, homeless and housing assistance.”
Fire Houses Open to Public This Weekend — To mark Fire Prevention Week, Arlington’s 10 fire stations will hold a countywide open house from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. There will be fun for the whole family, including fire stations tours and activities for kids.
Two Urgent Care Facilities Planned for South Arlington – Urgrent care facilities are coming to the Westmont Shopping Center (Columbia Pike and Glebe Road) and the Camden at Potomac Yard (Glebe Road and South Ball Street). However, there’s still no hospital or emergency room in South Arlington. More from TBD.
Ridge to Campaign with Murray — Former Homeland Security secretary and Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge is slated to attend a fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Patrick Murray next week. Tickets for the fundraiser, which is being held at the University Club in the District, range from $150 to $500. Murray has attracted the support of a number of high-profile Republicans recently. In September he held fundraisers with Gov. Bob McDonnell and Sen. John McCain. Ridge, who is pro-choice, was briefly considered as a possible running mate for McCain in 2008.
“Rosslyn has seen a surge in residential and retail development,” the Washington Examiner opined over the weekend. “Nearly 600 new housing units have opened in the past year and more than 500 are under construction.”
According to the Examiner, Rosslyn has experienced a “transformation” over the past decade that has made it “cleaner and greener” and a more attractive place to live.
“Rosslyn is becoming much more mixed use,” Rosslyn BID finance director John Seal told the paper. “There are so many things to do here that people tend to overlook.”
Between the DC skyline views and the proximity to downtown, Rosslyn is the “the high-end living destination in Arlington,” one local real estate broker said.
Another selling point: Artisphere, the shiny new cultural center set to open in October in the old Newseum space. (The article incorrectly lists Busboys and Poets as a tenant — in fact, Busboys dropped out and the county is trying to find another restaurant to take over.)
Yes, there’s more housing in Rosslyn as of late, and yes, Artisphere will bring more culture to the area, but retail? The article’s case for a retail resurgence seems much more thin.
Rosslyn-ites, what do you think of your neighborhood’s development?