Within eight hours of our article’s first publication, Gillibrand apologized for the remark (which was buried in the pages of her new book, “Off The Sidelines.”) But that didn’t stop the debate over whether Gillibrand was off-base or on-target in her assessment of Arlington.
Among those weighing in: Ben Adler, a former New Yorker and a writer at the environmental news website Grist.org. Penning a piece for the Washington Post’s online PostEverything op-ed section, Adler said Gillibrand shouldn’t apologize.
Some excerpts from that article:
For one year I worked at an office in Arlington, Virginia. There were virtually no restaurants that were not chains. Everything was crowded at peak lunch hour but completely empty by 3 p.m. and closed by the time I left work.
Kirsten Gillibrand… correctly identified Arlington in her new memoir as a “soulless suburb.” That’s exactly what most of my friends who have lived in D.C. would call it. In fact, when I was recently trying to describe the cultural vacuity of the “Williamsburg Edge,” a new apartment tower in Brooklyn, I called it, “Arlington on the East River.” My friend who lived in Washington laughed knowingly. He required no further explanation.
Arlington… lacks a physical center, a public space like Dupont Circle, where buskers can play music and activists can make speeches. A centrally located, and well-designed park — with facilities for both active and passive recreation such as basketball courts, chess tables, and benches — would go a long way towards giving Arlington a soul. Most important, unlike all of Arlington’s misbegotten little plazas, it has to be designed to draw passersby in and to engage with the streets around it.
That prompted at least one notable D.C. resident to call foul.
Perhaps the best judges of whether Arlington County does or does not lack a soul are those who actually live here. So what do you think?
Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian
It should be a comfortable weather week, with high temperatures in the mid-to-lower 80s through Friday.
With July, usually the hottest month of the year, coming to close this week, it appears that the D.C. region has dodged the usual 100+ degree heat waves of summers past.
In fact, the area seems to have had an inordinate number of relatively mild days this summer.
Metro’s Silver Line is set to officially open on Saturday, with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and other notable officials on hand to watch the first train depart the Wiehle-Reston East station.
The launch of the Silver Line has economic ramifications for Arlington, though there’s some debate over whether those ramifications will be mostly good or mostly bad.
On the pessimistic side, rail transit in Reston and Tysons could enhance the desirability of those areas and present Arlington with stiff competition, especially in the commercial office market.
On the optimistic side, the fact that the Silver Line will run through Arlington on the way to D.C. could actually make the county’s Orange/Silver corridor even more desirable as an economic hub. The video above makes the case that Ballston in particular is well-positioned to benefit from the Silver Line.
Publicly and privately, officials with Arlington Economic Development say they expect Tysons to take many years to develop as a truly desirable urban area, with walkable and active streets and ample housing. Even then, they believe Arlington’s multi-decade head start on transit-oriented development, and its proximity to D.C., will give the county the competitive edge over Tysons.
Arlington County’s PR campaign to inform residents of the benefit of the streetcar continues.
This week we reported — followed by other local TV, print and online outlets — that the county had produced more television spots that try to explain “why streetcar.”
Among the expected benefits along Columbia Pike are more development, increased county tax revenue, increased transit ridership, and the preservation of affordable housing.
Earlier this week, Democratic blogger and former Arlington resident Ben Tribbett made national news when he resigned from the Redskins. The team hired him two weeks prior to support the public relations battle against sentiment that “Redskins” as a racial slur against Native Americans.
Tribbett, a supporter of the name, said he resigned because the debate got too personal — “things got too hot to handle” and became a distraction to the team.
Tribbett’s hiring came as pressure mounts on the Redskins and owner Dan Snyder to change the name. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last month revoked the trademark on “Redskins,” saying it is “disparaging of Native Americans.” For that same reason, media organizations from the Washington City Paper to the Seattle Times to a student newspaper in Pennsylvania have been banning the use of the team’s name in news coverage.
Tribbett, who now lives in Lorton, says he continues to support the Redskins and thinks news outlets should report, not moralize when it comes to the name.
“The reason I support the Redskins name is, I don’t think it’s a slur first of all,” Tribbett told ARLnow.com this morning. “Having grown up in this area, nothing brought the entire D.C. area together more than the Redskins, and the idea that it’s now a divisive issue really bothers me.”
“I don’t see why anyone would not publish the name, the name of the football team is the Washington Redskins,” Tribbett continued. “Until Dan Snyder or someone else says otherwise, i think journalists should report the news and not make it.”
Currently, our site is not optimized for smartphone readers. Instead, those who visit us on iPhones, Droids and other mobile phones simply see our desktop website rendered by their smartphone’s browser.
Many news websites, however, are designed to display in a more “native” fashion on smartphone screens — in a way that doesn’t require the user to zoom in to read text. One criticism of such mobile-optimized sites is that they can sometimes hide certain features and make navigation more difficult.
ARLnow.com is considering three approaches to our redesign:
- Develop a mobile-optimized site, from scratch, for smartphone users
- Optimize the existing site to simply display with larger text for smartphone users, to make articles more readable
- Don’t make any changes for smartphone users
Which would you prefer?
Tomorrow is Friday, June 13 — the only Friday the 13th in 2014.
Fueling the fears of the superstitious, there will be a full moon tomorrow night. Such an event — a full moon on Friday the 13th — won’t happen again util 2049.
Arlington is a famously civically-active community. It’s the “Arlington Way.” But do residents sometimes take their expectations for responsive governance and residential serenity too far?
Arlington residents — many of whom are government workers and, perhaps as a result, have high expectations for the way things ought to be here – are not shy about letting their opinions known. In the past week, we’ve seen complaints about a proposed fire station, local restaurants, and an article about a basketball player serving ice cream.
In the past, varying degrees of neighborhood controversy have erupted over new streetlights, a house with a “cornhole-friendly yard,” a small fence, a proposed bocce court, a proposed five-story apartment building and grocery store, an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, outdoor restaurant seating, rooftop signs, boisterous bar-goers, and kids dancing in the street.
Booze Delivery Service Coming to N. Va. — Ultra, a web-based service that facilitates the delivery of beer, wine and liquor, is launching this week in D.C. and is planning on launching in Northern Virginia “within a couple of weeks.” Ultra promises that most orders will be delivered in 30-60 minutes. The deliveries are made by licensed stores that partner with the company. [Washington Business Journal]
Shuttleworth Releases Poll Results — Former Democratic congressional candidate Bruce Shuttleworth has shared the results of a district-wide poll his campaign conducted earlier this month. The poll shows Don Beyer well in the lead among likely voters, but it also shows a sizable group of undecided voters. Shuttleworth dropped out of the race after the poll results came in, concluding that even if he “went negative” against Beyer he could not overcome the former Va. lieutenant governor’s lead. [Blue Virginia]
Congressional Candidates to Debate — The seven remaining Democrats in the congressional race will face off tomorrow (Friday) in a debate at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. at the NRECA building (4301 Wilson Blvd) and is open to the public. [InsideNova]
Arlington Issues $105 Million in Bonds – Arlington County yesterday issued $105 million in bonds at an average interest rate of 2.8 percent. The bonds will be used to fund capital contributions for Metro, Neighborhood Conservation projects, WalkArlington, BikeArlington, ConnectArlington; street paving, utility projects and Arlington Public Schools projects. The county will also save nearly $2 million thanks to refunding prior debt at a lower interest rate. [Arlington County]
In an op-ed in the Washington Post this weekend, Greater Greater Washington editor David Alpert argues that Arlington residents should look at the county’s history with Metro when forming an opinion on the Columbia Pike streetcar line.
Residents should take a long-term view of the benefits of the Pike streetcar, instead of just looking at the price tag, Alpert says. Such long-term thinking helped Arlington come up with the plan for Metro that ultimately led to much of the county’s prosperity.
Alpert adds the streetcar line is relatively inexpensive when comparing projected ridership with that of the Silver Line.
“In comparison with other projects, a streetcar on Columbia Pike is a thrifty proposition,” Alpert writes. “But that hadn’t stopped it from being a political punching bag for some who simply attack the price tag without context. News coverage that reports only the cost without discussing benefits does not help, either.”
CEB May Anchor New Rosslyn Skyscraper — The Corporate Executive Board is considering jumping ship from its current Rosslyn office to anchor the planned office skyscraper in JBG’s Central Place development in Rosslyn. Should a deal with JBG go through, construction would start on the office skyscraper, which is currently on hold even though its companion residential skyscraper is being built. [Washington Business Journal]
WaPo Takes on Clarendon — “In the past decade and a half, Clarendon has seen a steady influx of hip eateries, high-rise condo buildings and happy 20-somethings in search of organic quinoa,” writes the Washington Post, in an article about “what to do in Clarendon.” [Washington Post]
Polls Suggest Beyer is Frontrunner in Congressional Race — Former Virginia lieutenant governor Don Beyer is leading in polls taken in the figurative backyards of his opponents. Beyer is leading in Charniele Herring’s House of Delegates district, Adam Ebbin’s state Senate district and in the city of Alexandria, where Bill Euille is mayor. Of the areas polled, only Patrick Hope in his House of Delegates district is beating Beyer. The polls were sponsored by the Democratic website Blue Virginia. The Democratic candidates vying to replace Rep. Jim Moran in Congress will debate tonight at George Mason University’s Arlington campus.
‘Outstanding Volunteers’ Named — The Arlington County Board on May 13 will honor 7 individuals and two teams for outstanding volunteer service to the county. [Arlington County]
New Development Coming to Falls Church — A new seven-story mixed-use building is coming to the City of Falls Church. The development, at 301 West Broad Street, will feature 282 apartments, a Harris Teeter store and another retail space. [Greater Greater Washington]
Photo courtesy @jdsonder
The hearing will start at 7:00 p.m. at the Arlington County Board offices at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. Residents can sign up to be one of the speakers commenting on the tax rate at the hearing.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan has proposed holding the property tax rate steady at $1.006 for every $100 in assessed value. Because the County Board advertised no change to the tax rate, it can now only set a tax rate at or below the current rate.
Nonetheless, numerous groups and individuals believe that the county should spend more on affordable housing, the social safety net and other priorities — spending that would require either cuts elsewhere or higher taxes. At the same time, some say the tax rate should be lowered.
Hundreds of Arlington business leaders, politicians, media members and residents attended the first ARLive community networking event last night (Tuesday) in Crystal City.
Attendees included Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey, County Board candidates Alan Howze and John Vihstadt, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, Crystal City Business Improvement District President and CEO Angie Fox, Vornado SVP of Development Mitch Bonanno, ARLnow.com founder and publisher Scott Brodbeck, Grade A Marketing founder Amanda Fischer, Falcon Lab Managing Partner Borzou Azabdaftari, Penzance Senior Advisor Peter Greenwald, Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Kip Malinosky, Rep. Jim Moran spokesman Tommy Scanlon, former County Board candidate Peter Fallon, Spider Kelly’s owner and ARLnow.com contributor Nick Freshman, A-SPAN Director of Development and Communications Jan-Michael Sacharko, BbG Fitness owner and ARLnow.com columnist Ginny Wright, singer/songwriter Justin Trawick, ARLnow.com reporter Ethan Rothstein, and ARLnow.com Director of Sales and Business Development Meghan McMahon.
ARLnow.com asked each guest to participate in an unscientific community poll while attending. They were asked to answer any or all of 20 questions, by placing a sticker next to the answer of their choice.
On the hot-button topic of the Columbia Pike street the results were surprising lopsided. Of those who weighed in, 85 percent said the streetcar should be built, while only 15 percent said the project should be scrapped.
For the similarly controversial Long Bridge Park aquatics center, 49 percent said it should be built, 15 percent said it shouldn’t be built, and 36 percent said it should be built only if costs can be brought down.
Here are the responses for some of the poll questions:
- Are you… Single: 23%, In a relationship: 32%, Married: 40%, It’s complicated: 5%
- Do you… Live in Arlington: 25%, Work in Arlington: 19%, Both: 41%, None of the above: 15%
- How long have you lived in Arlington? 0-1 years: 10%, 1-4 years: 22%, 5-10 years: 22%, 11-20 years: 9%, 21+ years: 13%, I don’t live here: 22%
- Restaurant options in Arlington… Are great: 85%, Are good, but they’re too busy: 7.5%, Are okay, but not enough variety: 7.5%, Need a lot of improvement: 0%
- In 2014, I expect my business will… Grow: 65%, Contract: 2%, Remain about the same: 3%, I work for The Man: 30%
- How do you feel about the comments on ARLnow.com? I read them and love them: 32%, I read them and hate them: 21%, I don’t read them anymore: 13%, I’ve never read them: 34%
- Arlington’s investment in affordable housing should… Increase: 67%, Be reduced: 8%, Remain about the same: 25%
- Arlington’s attitude toward business is… Too pro-business: 5%, Not pro-business enough: 67%, Just about right: 28%
- Should Arlington spend more proportionally on schools? Yes: 67%, No: 33%
- Metro’s plan to build a new Potomac River tunnel from Rosslyn is… A great idea: 58%, Too expensive or impractical: 29%, I didn’t know about it: 13%
- Roads in Arlington… Are adequately maintained: 25%, Need more maintenance: 75%
- Will you vote in the County Board special election? Yes: 50%, No: 50%
- How often do you visit Arlington Public Libraries? Daily: 1%, Weekly: 6%, Monthly: 22%, Rarely: 43%, Never: 28%
- Arlington’s taxes are… Too high: 56%, Too low: 9%, Just about right: 35%
- The Silver Line will be… Good for Arlington: 75%, Bad for Arlington: 6%, A wash for Arlington: 19%
- Should the Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center be built? Yes: 49%, No: 15%, Only if costs can be brought down: 36%
- Should the Columbia Pike Streetcar be built? Yes: 85%, No: 15%
We’re about half-way through the winter edition of Washington Restaurant Week but some diners are asking themselves: is this really a good deal?
In theory, Restaurant Week, which features about a dozen Arlington restaurants this year, allows patrons to try out nice restaurants around the area at lower, fixed prices. In practice?
“A look at nearly two dozen restaurants participating in Restaurant Week shows not only that many of these dinners aren’t not much of a deal, but that you may actually be paying much more than what they’re worth,” reports the Washington City Paper.
Restaurant Week menus abound with the cheaper items from restaurants’ normal menus alongside items that aren’t even on the normal menu. Restaurant Week dinners are priced at $35.14, and the City Paper reports that items from the fixed price menus are often times cheaper if purchased individually.
The analysis did not consider the Restaurant Week lunches, which are priced at $20.14.
One of the county’s best-known Christmas tree sellers, the Optimist Club of Arlington, is expecting a record number of sales this year, according to the Sun Gazette. The club has ordered 1,200 trees from forests in North Carolina — 100 more than last year, when all trees were gone by Dec. 18.
The Optimist Club sells its trees from the parking lot of the Wells Fargo bank at Glebe Road and Lee Highway. Other Christmas tree sellers around town include the Boy Scouts (6000 Wilson Blvd), the Lions Club (Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive), and the Knights of Columbus (830 23rd Street S.), according to a recent forum thread.
Of course, not everybody opts for the real deal. Freshly-cut trees require water, care and some sort of vehicular transportation, in addition to an annual investment. Artificial trees, on the other hand, can be purchased once, stashed in a closet and set up year after year with nary the risk of getting tree sap all over one’s hands.