This Sunday marks the second annual “Freedom Four” race, which will result in some road closures in the Rosslyn and Courthouse areas.
To accommodate the four-mile course, the Arlington County Police Department will be closing roads sections of Wilson Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard and Route 110 on June 28 (below). All roads are expected to be open to traffic after 10:30 a.m.
Between 6:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Wilson Boulevard will be closed from N. Courthouse Road to N. Rhodes Street.
Between 7:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Wilson Boulevard will be closed from from Route 110 to N. Courthouse Road. Courthouse road will remain open. Again from 7:45 to 10:30 a.m., Route 110 Northbound will be closed from I-395 to I-66.
Parking in the area will be also be restricted during the race, and drivers should be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs. According to the ACPD, illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed.
The U.S. Track & Field-certified course will start and finish on Wilson Boulevard, near the restaurant Ireland’s Four Courts. The race begins promptly at 8 a.m., and participants are advised to arrive early.
Photo via Pacers Running.
Last week, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, announced a $5 million donation to a non-profit right here in Arlington.
The announcement came via a Facebook post to Zuckerberg’s 32.7 million followers which has reached 153,072 likes and counting.
The organization in question, TheDream.US, is a scholarship fund designed to help undocumented immigrants realize their dreams of going to college in the United States. The brainchild of Don Graham, CEO of Graham Holdings Company and former publisher of the Washington Post, the non-profit has made its home in Graham’s Rosslyn offices for the past two years.
Through his work with other education-based charities in the area, Graham says he learned that there were many such undocumented students in the D.C. metro area, particularly in Northern Virginia.
These students are commonly called DREAMers after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act that has been proposed several times since 2001 but has yet to pass in Congress. DREAMers are unable to receive federal aid to continue their education. In most states they are also not eligible for in-state tuition, which can make going to college prohibitively expensive.
“Certainly in Arlington County, almost every high school student has classmates who are DREAMers, and they quickly come to understand the unique cruelty of the situation of these students,” Graham told ARLnow.com. “They can be the valedictorian, they can be the president of the class. All the other low-income students in the class get U.S. government assistance in going on to higher education, and these students cannot.”
Graham says his organization was empowered to tackle this issue head-on after President Barack Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012. DACA allowed undocumented immigrants who had come to the United States when they were children to obtain a Social Security number, a driver’s license and temporary legal status, renewable after two years.
In the summer of 2013, Graham, program director Gaby Pacheco and Henry Muñoz III gathered people together and proposed the idea of a scholarship program to enable those who had obtained DACA status to go to college. Amanda Bennett and Carlos Gutierrez joined Graham and Muñoz in founding TheDream.US, which officially launched on Feb. 4, 2014.
TheDream.US currently partners with about 60 colleges across the U.S. Pacheco says they look for schools located in areas with high concentrations of undocumented students, where you can get a good education for around $25,000 (the scholarship amount offered by the non-profit). In Virginia, TheDream.US partners with Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.
The fund currently has $81 million, including donations in the millions from Graham, Zuckerberg, Bill Ackman and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. TheDream.US also allows donors to specify where they want their money to go: for example, Zuckerberg’s $5 million donation was earmarked for students in the San Francisco Bay Area. Pacheco believes this ability to ask that their money be set aside for their own region attracts donors to the organization.
“People love to be able to help out in their own community,” she said. “Many affluent people have foundations in their names or their family names, so we target them and say, ‘look, we can bring a scholarship program to your area.'”
Graham says that as of now, the organization expects to see at least 3,000 students graduate college, but that he “would like to raise more money and make it at least 5,000, and possibly go from there.”
Another part of the organization’s mission is to tell these students’ stories. TheDream.US is doing this through their stories project, which spotlights the lives of notable DREAM scholars. Interns Julia Leibowitz and Sadhana Singh (a current DREAMer) are working on the project this summer in the Rosslyn office.
“For us, it’s really about leveling the field for these young people to go to college,” said Pacheco. “We’re going to allow our numbers to speak for themselves, and show that we are helping meet the gap for people needed in various fields.”
“Rock at the Row” is in its 13th year, with concerts starting next month. The performances will take place Thursday evenings from July 16 to August 20 in Pentagon Row’s plaza area. In addition to the music, there will be craft beers and food samples in a VIP section.
The schedule, below, includes several locally-known cover and tribute bands, as well as a special Saturday evening concert by the 257th Army Band:
- July 16: Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi tribute)
- July 23: Kristen and the Noise (cover band)
- July 30: White Ford Bronco (90s cover)
- August 1: 257th Army Band (special Saturday night concert)
- August 6: The Reagan Years (80s tribute)
- August 13: The Rockets (cover band)
- August 20: Gonzo’s Nose (cover band)
All performances start at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
If “Rock at the Row” isn’t enough of a music fix, residents can head to Freedom Park (1101 Wilson Blvd.) and check out Rosslyn’s “Throwback Thursdays”.
The series features cover bands “embracing the best of the 80s and 90s,” according to the event page.
Performances were scheduled to start the first Thursday of this month (June 4), but that evening’s concert by The Reflex was rained out and has not yet been rescheduled.
The five remaining performances, below, are scheduled to take place this tomorrow evening (June 25) and every Thursday evening in September:
- June 25: Lloyd Dobbler Effect (cover band)
- Sept 3: White Ford Bronco (90s cover)
- Sept 10: Back To Zero (cover band)
- Sept 17: Herr Metal (80s cover)
- Sept 24: Hand Painted Swinger (cover band)
Concerts start at 6 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Washington Wine Academy plans to offer $5 beer and wine to those of age at all remaining performances.
Photo via thereaganyears.com
Labor Protests in Rosslyn — Two labor unions, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Union Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, held separate protests near the Central Place development in Rosslyn yesterday. The unions were protesting the use of non-union labor, and used an inflatable rat and an inflatable “fat cat” to underscore their complaints. [Twitter, Twitter]
Boundary Channel Bike Path Plans — Conceptual plans for a new bike trail from Long Bridge Drive to the Mount Vernon Trail have been revealed. The trail is set to be built as part of the reconfiguration of the I-395 and Boundary Channel Drive interchange. [The Wash Cycle]
The Life and Times of Preston Caruthers — A brief biography of Preston Caruthers, the Arlington developer who built Dominion Towers, among others, and who at 88 still shows up daily at his Ballston office of his firm, Caruthers Properties LLC. [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Airamangel
Firefighters battled flames near the roofline of the building, on the 1600 block of 21st Road N., starting around 9:00 p.m.
Smoke from the fire could be seen from several miles away.
As of 10:00 p.m. the fire had been mostly extinguished and firefighters were checking for hotspots. The residents from at least one apartment in the building are expected to be displaced by the blaze.
#Breaking: House struck by lightning on the 1600 block of 21st Rd. First arriving unit has reported smoke from the roof.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) June 24, 2015
Update- Units have encountered fire due to the lightning strike and are working to locate and extinguish it now.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) June 24, 2015
Update- Fire is in the roofline of the building. Units are working to open up the roof to get to the fire.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) June 24, 2015
— BADGE-258 (@CAPT258) June 24, 2015
Photo courtesy @ACFDPIO
The 23-year-old man, an employee of escalator contractor KONE, got his leg trapped between the framework of the escalator and a steel plate just before 2:00 a.m., according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.
She was unable to say whether the escalator was moving at the time of the incident.
Firefighters freed the man and rushed him to George Washington University Hospital with a “serious right leg injury,” Marchegiani said. The injury was not considered to be life threatening.
No additional details were immediately available.
A minor parking mishap attracted a crowd of restaurant owners in Courthouse yesterday.
Just before lunchtime, the “KBBQ Taco Box 2″ food truck accidentally struck the front bumper of a parked car on the 2000 block of Wilson Blvd, as the truck was trying to squeeze into a tight parallel parking space. There was no damage evident — but police were called and a citation issued, as a small crowd of restaurant owners and mangers gathered.
As it turns out, the car belonged to a delivery driver for the Afghan Kabob House across the street, and this was the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle between brick-and-mortar restaurants and food trucks in Courthouse.
The war started last month with the emergence of an unlikely leader on the restaurant side. Bar Concepts, a restaurant consulting company, had been brought in to operate the back bar area of the recently reopened Summers Restaurant. Though Summers is not exactly known as a haven for Courthouse office dwellers seeking a quick grab-and-go bite to eat, Alan Beal, COO of Bar Concepts, zeroed in on food trucks — at least those that parked along Wilson and Clarendon Blvds — as the enemy of local restaurants.
Beal swiftly organized a coalition of about a dozen Courthouse area restaurants who say that the trucks “are running amok” and having “a serious impact on these brick and mortar restaurants” by parking directly in front of their establishments. The collective effort was on display Thursday as owners took turns complaining about parking enforcement to police.
Food trucks, they said, were reserving precious street parking spots in front of restaurants by having workers park cars on the street as early as 6:00 a.m. Some weren’t even feeding the meter, they said.
There’s nothing illegal about reserving street parking spaces in such a manner, the cops said, though they did encourage the owners to call when they did spot a violation like an expired meter. There is also a two hour limit on parking, which is enforced, but there’s a loophole: trucks can simply pull into into another open space after two hours, provided it’s at least 25 feet away from their existing parking space.
With little recourse other than calling in the meter maids, the owners seemed to agree to double down on an unofficial group tactic: encouraging employees to park on the street, thus taking away available parking spaces from the trucks. One owner could be heard telling several employees to be sure to park on the street during their shifts. Another ran across the busy four-lane road when a spot opened up, driving his Mercedes from a small private lot behind his restaurant, making a U-turn and pulling into the open spot, thus boxing out the food truck hoard.
Beal — who was in D.C. during the fender bender fracas — insists that he doesn’t oppose food trucks, only their parking choices. He said trucks park directly in front of businesses, billowing smoke, creating crowds that block the sidewalk and taking away customers. He has been documenting the woes on a YouTube channel.
“No one opposes food trucks, they’re good for consumers and good for the economy,” he said via phone. “The problem is where they’re parked.”
Purposely blocking parking spots, for hours on end, only hurts restaurants by keeping the spots from potential customers, according to Beal. “It is kind of unethical,” he said of food trucks, or anyone else for that matter, reserving street parking spots for commercial gain.
Beal said he has been having constructive conversations with the county about solutions that could work for both restaurants and food trucks. That potential solution — which had until then not been revealed to the media — is creating and enforcing specific areas for food trucks to park in a given area.
Cara O’Donnell, spokeswoman for Arlington Economic Development, said the county is hoping to implement a “street vending zone” pilot program in Rosslyn within a few weeks.
Update at 5:00 p.m. — In addition to the Severe Thunderstorm Warning, Arlington is also now under a Flash Flood Warning.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A
* FLASH FLOOD WARNING FOR… THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA… ARLINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
* UNTIL 700 PM EDT
* AT 440 PM EDT… DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED THUNDERSTORMS IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY MD AND FAIRFAX COUNTY VA PRODUCING HEAVY RAIN. THESE STORMS ARE MOVING SOUTHEAST AND WILL MOVE THROUGH THE ARLINGTON… FALLS CHURCH… AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BETWEEN 445 PM AND 530 PM. RAINFALL TOTALS WILL BE FROM FROM 0.75 TO 1.25 INCHES… WHICH WILL PRODUCE FLASH FLOODING IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS.
THIS INCLUDES FLOOD PRONE ROADS LOCATIONS SUCH AS MILITARY ROAD AT 36TH ROAD… 18TH STREET AT UPTON STREET… 17TH STREET NORTH AT NORTH BUCHANAN ST… SOUTH TROY STREET NEAR LONG BRANCH.
MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND NOW. ACT QUICKLY TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE AND PROPERTY. CHILDREN SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM AND NOT PLAY NEAR FLOODED CULVERTS AND DITCHES.
Update at 4:55 p.m. — The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning through 5:30 p.m.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A
* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR… THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA… CENTRAL PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND… SOUTHEASTERN MONTGOMERY COUNTY IN CENTRAL MARYLAND… SOUTHEASTERN FAIRFAX COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… ARLINGTON COUNTY IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA… THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA…
* UNTIL 530 PM EDT
* AT 451 PM EDT… DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60 MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM MCLEAN TO HILLANDALE… AND MOVING SOUTHEAST AT 30 MPH.
* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… ARLINGTON… COLLEGE PARK… GREENBELT… FALLS CHURCH… BLADENSBURG… PIMMIT HILLS… GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY… NATIONALS PARK… CORAL HILLS… LARGO… FEDEX FIELD… LANGLEY PARK… FORESTVILLE… CRYSTAL CITY… RFK STADIUM… HOWARD UNIVERSITY… MCLEAN… GROVETON… FORT TOTTEN AND BYRD STADIUM.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE DAMAGING WINDS… LARGE HAIL… DEADLY LIGHTNING AND VERY HEAVY RAIN. FOR YOUR PROTECTION… MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS. HEAVY RAINS FLOOD ROADS QUICKLY SO DO NOT DRIVE INTO AREAS WHERE WATER COVERS THE ROAD.
THESE STORMS HAVE A HISTORY OF PRODUCING WIND DAMAGE. THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION. SEEK SHELTER NOW INSIDE A STURDY STRUCTURE AND STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.
Strong thunderstorms are approaching Arlington from the west.
As of 4:30 p.m. the storms were over Fairfax County, bringing with them strong winds, heavy rain and the possibility of hail. They’re expected to rumble through Arlington shortly.
From the National Weather Service:
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-PRINCE GEORGES-PRINCE GEORGES-CENTRAL AND
417 PM EDT THU JUN 18 2015
…STRONG THUNDERSTORM WILL AFFECT FAIRFAX AND ARLINGTON COUNTIES…THE CITIES OF FAIRFAX…FALLS CHURCH…ALEXANDRIA…AND WASHINGTON DC…
AT 415 PM EDT…A STRONG THUNDERSTORM WAS OVER VIENNA…MOVING EAST AT 30 MPH.
WINDS IN EXCESS OF 40 MPH ARE POSSIBLE WITH THIS STORM.
LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE… ARLINGTON…FAIRFAX…VIENNA…FALLS CHURCH…SPRINGFIELD…RESTON… PIMMIT HILLS…FORESTVILLE…MANTUA…GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY… ANNANDALE…NATIONALS PARK…CRYSTAL CITY…AMERICAN LEGION BRIDGE… CLINTON…CORAL HILLS…RFK STADIUM…FORT WASHINGTON…HOWARD UNIVERSITY AND MCLEAN.
TORRENTIAL RAINFALL IS ALSO OCCURRING WITH THIS STORM…AND MAY CAUSE LOCALIZED FLOODING. DO NOT DRIVE YOUR VEHICLE THROUGH FLOODED ROADWAYS.
As a result of the storm, Rosslyn has canceled its “Throwback Thursday” outdoor concert today.
Tonight's #TBT Throwback Thursday concert is canceled due to forecasted thunderstorms. Hope to see you next week for Lloyd Dobler Effect!
— Rosslyn, Virginia (@RosslynVA) June 18, 2015
At least one planned outdoor concert tonight didn’t seem concerned with the weather, however.
— Pentagon Row (@PentagonRow) June 18, 2015
Flights out of Reagan National Airport, meanwhile, are delayed because of the storms.
— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) June 18, 2015
— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) June 18, 2015
Memorial Service for Library Employee — A memorial service will be held next week for Lynn Kristianson, an Arlington Public Library employee who died of advanced stage four rectal cancer on June 4, less than a year after her leg was amputated following a bike crash. Kristianson’s was seriously injured in 2014 by a hit-and-run SUV driver who struck her as she was riding her bike in Anne Arundel County, Md. [WJLA]
Famous Dog Moving to S. Arlington — Romo, a 150-pound bull mastiff/pit bull mix who’s known as the “unofficial mascot of Adams Morgan,” will be moving to Arlington with his owners on Friday. Romo will trade his first floor window on Calvert Street NW for the view from a home near Army Navy Country Club. [NBC Washington]
GW Parkway Blocked — The northbound lanes of the GW Parkway were closed and diverted onto Spout Run Parkway during this morning’s rush hour due to the continued cleanup from a bus engine explosion that caused an oil spill and some crashes last night. [WUSA 9]
GOP Endorses McMenamin — The Arlington County Republican Committee has voted to endorse independent County Board candidate Mike McMenamin. A telecom consultant and president of the Arlington County Civic Federation, McMenamin previously ran for County Board as a Republican in 2006. [Twitter]
Metrobus Changes in Arlington — Starting Sunday, changes are coming to a number of Metrobus routes in Arlington, including the 25B, 22A, 22B, 22C, 22F, 15K, 15L, 7A, 7F and 7Y. [Washington Post]
Tour of Politico’s New Rosslyn Newsroom — Politico has posted a video tour of its brand new newsroom in Rosslyn, which includes a fancy hardwood floor cafe area. [Politico]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
The county is considering trading part of the tiny park to a developer in exchange for a new fire station as part of its Western Rosslyn Area Plan Study (WRAPS). Board members unanimously approved the advertisement of public hearings on the plan during the meeting.
“Once this land is gone, it’s gone. The land will always be worth more than the fire station. So let’s hold onto the land and do what is right for the community,” said Michael McMenamin, an independent candidate for County Board. Independent candidate Audrey Clement also spoke out against the plan.
McMenamin was joined by more than a half dozen people who live near the park, including Washington Lee High School junior Johanna Klein and 12-year-old Jim Sharkey. Even more people signed up to speak during the public comment on the plan but left as the clock ticked close to 10:00 p.m. before the item was heard.
Sharkey, who was inspired to research park space in Arlington after learning of the park’s possible sale, said Arlington fares poorly in terms of park land when compared to neighboring Fairfax County.
The park holds many memories for Sharkey and Klein, who both say they grew using it. Sharkey’s family is considering moving and he said he believes that the end of the park will only encourage his family to move.
“Rosslyn Highlands Park is not just a part of a number on a graph,” he said. “I believe that parks are important because they’re a good place for people to have fun and bond together.”
In addition to the fire station, the WRAPS plan deals with the replacement of the Wilson School, which will house the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program starting in 2019, the replacement of an aging office building with a new mixed-use development, and a new affordable housing development.
Most of the discussion, however, revolved around the park and what many said was an opaque process of deciding to trade part of it to a developer. Caroline Haynes, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, called the process frustrating.
“I guess from our perspective, given that residents do feel like they sacrificed something in this and the density is going to be greatly increased in this area, we believe that is going to be absolutely critical to make sure this park is outstanding,” she said. “That what we have there is going to be an oasis in the midst of very high density. And that we really need to dedicate the resources to make this an incredible destination park both for residents and for our community.”
Members of the working group also voiced similar concerns saying that the group and community did not have enough say in the drafted plan.
“From the beginning, the working group expressed a clear goal that open space be a prime directive of the process and not simply residual of what’s left over,” Erik Gutshall, an at-large member of the working group said.
Members of the public will have another chance to weigh in on the Western Rosslyn Area Plan in July. A public hearing will be held before the Planning Commission on July 6 and before the County Board meeting later in July.
“The proposed plan seeks to balance the need for open space in Western Rosslyn with the need for a new school with associated gym and playing field accessible to residents, a new fire station and more affordable housing in collaboration with commercial redevelopment,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement.
The County Board is considering adopting the Rosslyn Sector Plan, but first it is seeking out residents’ opinions.
The Rosslyn Sector Plan is the county’s long-term goal for the neighborhood, including a new Metro entrance, updated parks and a new pedestrian bridge. The County Board authorized two public hearings — one before the Planning Commission on July 6 and the other before the County Board meeting on July 18 — for residents to speak and ask about the new plan.
The county’s vision focuses on four key topics: parks and open space, transportation, building height and urban design.
“The vision that residents, developers, business leaders, property owners and County staff have worked together on for more than two years is truly transformational,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said. “Once adopted, we believe it will lead to realizing Rosslyn’s full potential. It will ensure that, as Rosslyn continues to grow and develop, it takes it rightful place as another great Arlington urban village – one where people work, live, learn and play.”
The plan comes out of efforts to move Rosslyn from a car-heavy, office-centric area to a walkable, mixed-use urban center, according to a county press release.
To do this, the planning staff have proposed a new 18th Street corridor, extending from N. Oak Street to Arlington Ridge Road. The plan follows the current recommendation to get rid of the skywalk system in Rosslyn, instead focusing pedestrian activity at ground level.
The new 18th Street corridor would be “a new central spine for Rosslyn that will improve linkages to Metro, the future Central Place plaza, and other public spaces and development,” according to the sector plan.
The plan calls for other significant traffic changes. N. Fort Myer Drive, N. Lynn Street and N. Kent Street, currently one-way roads, will be converted to two-way if the sector plan is approved. Also, the Fort Myer tunnel under Wilson Boulevard — which was intended to help the flow of traffic coming over the Key Bridge from D.C. — is to be removed, according to the plan.
“The tunnel’s promotion of high vehicle speeds, highway-oriented character, and incompatibility with a desirable crosswalk of 18th Street across Fort Myer Drive at the Metro station all lead to the recommendation to remove the tunnel and replace it with an at-grade signalized intersection,” according to the plan.
Rosslyn also is looking at a new Metro entrance. The current enclosed space could be transformed into an open air entrance, similar to the entrance at the Foggy Bottom or Van Ness Metro stations. The plaza outside the entrance would extend to Fort Myer Drive and N. Moore Street.
“The Rosslyn Metro Station is centrally positioned within this public space corridor and will serve as an important center of activity and retail concentration,” according to the plan.
While the plan focuses on making Rosslyn more walkable, it also looks to redesign Gateway and Freedom Parks to fit in with the more urban city plan.
Under the plan, the county would remove the current ramp structure at Gateway Park and turn it into a more typical green park setting, with multi-use courts, more lawn space and a playground. Freedom Park will be made more accessible with small-scale recreation areas and outdoor seating for restaurants.
In addition, the plan calls for the future creation of an esplanade that would run along Rosslyn’s eastern edge, extending from Gateway Park to the River Place residential complex along I-66 and then to the Marine Corps Memorial. The esplanade would also overlook the Potomac River. From the esplanade, there would be a pedestrian/cycling bridge that would link it to the riverfront near Roosevelt Island.
While the main construction of the plan is focused on the ground level, the county is also looking to improve the overall look of Rosslyn by adjusting the current height limit to allow for variation in the skyline.
“In addition, the Rosslyn Sector Plan sets forth a new building heights policy for the RCRD that can more effectively achieve a place with great public spaces, views and view corridors, light and air between buildings, sensitive transitions, and a distinctive and dynamic skyline,” according to the plan.
Artisphere hosted its final performances this past weekend, as it prepares to close for good at the end of the month. Supporters decry the closure as the county government prioritizing penny pinching over the arts. But Artisphere’s financial losses may have been secondary to another problem: lack of community engagement.
The cultural center in Rosslyn spent more than $1 million on marketing over four and a half years, largely targeting D.C. area arts aficionados with newspaper ads. The strategy paid off with sold-out niche concerts and events, but failed to attract the loyalty of many Arlington residents who have a more casual appreciation for the arts.
Instead of the original vision of a hub for local arts groups and a community hangout, complete with a WiFi cafe, Artisphere became more of a regional draw for one-off performances. Some 75 percent of its audience came from outside Arlington and 83 percent of its artists from outside Virginia, according to a 2014 report.
After hastily opening on the novelty date of 10/10/10, before an executive director or a marketing director could even be hired, Artisphere’s finances proved to be a fiasco. Wildly over-optimistic expectations gave way to the realization that the center would only make a quarter of its projected visitor revenue in the first year. That, in turn, sparked community criticism, set off backtracking by policymakers and led to a series of changes that watered down community participation.
It didn’t help that Artisphere’s multitude of performance venues were small and, as officials figured out after opening, couldn’t host simultaneous events due to noise bleed.
The relative lack of participation from taxpaying Arlington residents and artists, in the end, may have been Artisphere’s biggest downfall. When Artisphere hit the chopping block, few residents showed up at County Board meetings to speak in its defense.
“That’s exactly part of the issue,” said retiring Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan, in a May interview. “At some levels, it wasn’t reaching our community in such a way that won their support.”
Donnellan and the County Board faced criticism in the local arts world for the decision, with letters to the editor, the chair of the Arlington Commission for the Arts and even a Washington City Paper cover story implying that the Board was naive in closing Artisphere just because it was losing money.
“Artisphere’s closure is symptomatic of a much larger political view of culture in which the arts are important to community building, but funding them is not,” the City Paper wrote. It along with the Washington Post were the beneficiaries of 55 percent of Artisphere’s marketing budget.
But there was more that went into the decision to close than just dollars and cents. Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said Artisphere was “able to create some wonderful shows” after “‘we got some of the right programming people in place,” but “there was a struggle in terms of what type of place [Artisphere] was going to be.”
“Within our Cultural Affairs department there was a real desire to be cutting edge and to fill a niche they perceived in the D.C. arts scene,” Hynes said. “So people on the way up” were booked, but “those are people who who are developing an audience, not those who have an audience.”
There was discussion of hosting “community Saturdays” — with performances from school groups and other community-driven activities — “where we get people familiar with coming here because their kid is performing here.”
“But that didn’t fit with the image of what people thought of as [Artisphere],” Hynes said. “So I do think that audience was pretty constrained in terms of all of Arlington.”
“In the end we collectively didn’t see as much of an opportunity for full community participation here than we see in some other things we do,” Hynes said of the decision to close Artisphere and send about half of its budget back into other arts programming around Arlington. “When a locality is putting its tax money into helping the production of art, we have some obligation to consider how we give as many people in our community as possible the opportunity to consume good art.”
A woman told police that a man had walked by her on the sidewalk while masturbating, on the 1800 block of Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
The alleged indecent exposure happened just before noon, in broad daylight.
The man continued walking and police were not able to locate him after the crime was reported.
“The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his twenties, approximately 5’2″ tall and 160 lbs,” according to the daily Arlington County Police crime report. “He was wearing a orange and black baseball hat, black t-shirt and shorts, with neon green ear phones.”
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Tupelo Honey Cafe will bring southern food and craft cocktails to Arlington with its planned opening on Monday.
The restaurant plans to open June 1 in its new Rosslyn location at 1616 N. Troy Street. It will be the 10th Tupelo Honey Cafe and first in Virginia.
“Joining the Arlington community is a very proud moment for us,” said Tupelo Honey Cafe Founder and CEO Steve Frabitore in a press release. “Our new location continues the legacy of the original restaurant with its scratch-made southern fare, yet embraces the area’s hometown flavor through local art, food and brews.”
The menu includes southern food such as roasted duck breast with a cherry port wine sauce, pan-seared sea scallops and grilled French lamb chops. The restaurant series also recently introduced small plates to its menu, said Kevin Summers, a regional director for Tupelo, which is based in Asheville, N.C.
Summers recommends that customers order the country ham wontons and the lamb meatballs, two small plates he often eats.
At nearly 6,600 square feet, the restaurant has 202 seats, a full bar and an “inviting outdoor patio.” The bar features a “custom metal honeycomb backsplash and reclaimed wood bar front.”
The restaurant aims to be targeted toward the area’s population. There’s a “pretty young, vibrant demographic in the area,” Summers said.
With that in mind, Tupelo Honey Cafe will offer a “Moonrise brunch” on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to midnight. The menu offers breakfast small plates and cocktails, including the opportunity for guests to create their own, according to the press release.
The restaurant will also have 24 taps at the bar, many of which are locally-based, Summers said. Tupelo Honey Cafe also created a special drink for the Arlington location — a drink dedicated to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
The “Ode to Eleanor Roosevelt” has white brandy, sparkling wine, Jack Ruby Elderflower tonic syrup, citrus sour, bitters and fresh thyme. It has a herbal flavor and the components play very well together, said Tyler Alford, the beverage specialist for Tupelo Honey Cafe.
“Every cocktail should have a beginning, middle and end,” he said.
Alford recommends pairing the drink with the roasted beet small plate.
The name comes as a nod to Arlington’s proximity to Washington, D.C. The restaurant company wanted a drink that included D.C. but didn’t delve too deep into politics, Alford said. The company also agreed with many of Roosevelt’s fundamentals.
“And Eleanor Roosevelt deserves a good drink in her honor,” he said.
Arlington Considering Gondola Study — Arlington officials are trying to find $35,000 in funding to contribute to a feasibility study for a gondola system between Rosslyn and Georgetown. The gondola is being championed by the Georgetown Business Improvement District and just received a $35,000 funding allocation from the D.C. government. [Washington Post]
Vihstadt: Community Involvement Key for GOP — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt, who was elected as an independent, has some electoral advice for Arlington Republicans. Vihstadt said Republicans hoping to get elected in Arlington should have a robust record of participation in Arlington civic life. So far, no Republican candidates have stepped forward to run for County Board, although former Republican candidate Michael McMenamin, like John Vihstadt before him, is running for Board as an independent. [InsideNova]
Arlington Firm Has Golf Ringer — Deloitte in Arlington has a ringer for its next golf tournament. Danny Hathway, a former Georgetown University men’s golfer who works in the consulting firm’s Rosslyn office, scored not one but two holes in one while playing a friendly round at Bethesda Country Club last weekend. [Georgetown University]