Arlington County appears ready to move forward with selling Rosslyn Highlands Park to a developer in exchange for a new fire station, and some residents are protesting the deal.
This Saturday, a new group called Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park will host a rally at the park (1555 Wilson Blvd) to try to garner support and more signatures for its petition to the Arlington County Board. The rally will run from 10:00 a.m-noon and the group says it has invited all members of the County Board and the six announced candidates to attend and listen to park advocates’ concern.
Of particular concern to the group: the revelation that Arlington signed a letter of intent with developer Penzance to trade the piece of land for a new fire station in January 2013, six months before the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) was launched.
“Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park, along with neighboring civic associations and countless citizens, are dismayed that a negotiation behind closed doors would threaten, and in effect predetermine the fate of, one of Arlington’s cherished neighborhood parks,” Katie Elmore, spokeswoman for Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park, said in a press release. “Such action by the County Board corrodes public belief in the ‘Arlington Way’ and the viability of future public processes.”
The WRAPS Working Group was formed by the County Board to determine the best mix of uses for the area between 18th Street N., Wilson Blvd, N. Quinn Street and the edge of the 1555 Wilson Blvd office building. The WRAPS group has met regularly since the summer of 2013 and the County Board will vote on the area’s future next month.
The park currently includes a small playground, basketball court, parking lot and some open green space; a total of 30,182 square feet. It’s adjacent to a 45,000 square foot playing field behind the Wilson School that will stay in place when the site becomes the future home of H-B Woodlawn.
The proposal that county staff recommended to the Board earlier this month would reduce county park space to 11,500 square feet, but add a publicly-accessible plaza in between new high-rise, mixed-use office and residential buildings.
The proposal also calls for Penzance to construct a N. Pierce Street extension between Wilson and 18th, even though some residents said they preferred an extended N. Ode Street, slightly farther east. County staff say Ode Street would interfere with traffic from the new fire station and the new school.
While preserving open space and parkland has been a stated County Board priority, the panel has made it clear that it would be willing to sell the land in exchange for fulfilling other priorities. Residents say not only is the county selling one of the last remaining green spaces in Rosslyn, but it’s not even getting a good deal.
“This is trading a public good for private gain, the sale price of the land is significantly undervalued, the financial trade off is short-sighted and not ‘fiscally responsible,’ and the board has been deaf to the input of residents on this issue,” Elizabeth Schill, who lives nearby, told ARLnow.com in an email. “This is not a NIMBY issue, but rather one in which we are opposed to the sale of rare and irreplaceable parkland to a private, commercial developer at below-market rates for purely private gain.”
Some of county staff’s proposals for Rosslyn Highlands Park’s replacements include more urbanized versions of playgrounds, or basketball courts integrated with plaza seating like the new plaza on 19th Street N. But the Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park say it just won’t be the same as the park they’ve been bringing their children to for years.
“The park is a second backyard, a friendly place,” Friends of Rosslyn Highlands Park leader Anna Duran said in an email. “The park for us is a place to relax, a place to nod in humanity at other humans, perhaps unknown at the time, but just a moment away from friendliness. There, we’ve gotten much further with making friends than in passing each other on the street — and much further than in passing through a jungle of tall business buildings.”
Photo, bottom, courtesy of Anna Duran
A cyclist was hurt this morning in Rosslyn when the backseat passenger of an Uber car opened a door in his path.
The incident happened around 8:30 a.m. on N. Lynn Street, just south of Wilson Blvd. Initial reports indicate that the white BMW was stopped next to the bike lane when the Uber rider opened the rear passenger-side door just as the cyclist was about to roll by on a Capital Bikeshare bike. The cyclist slammed into the door.
Police and paramedics were called and the cyclist was treated on scene. He refused treatment to a local hospital.
The BMW’s door was damaged and would not fully close. No damage was visible to the Bikeshare bike. The cyclist was visibly shaken but did not have any outward sign of injury. No other injuries were reported.
The cyclist declined to comment to ARLnow.com, except to confirm that the car was moved closer to the curb after the accident.
Police took statements from the driver, the passenger and the cyclist. No word yet on whether any charges will be filed.
The incident happened as Arlington County Police officers were conducting a pedestrian safety detail just a couple of blocks down Lynn Street.
Rosslyn Skyscraper Still Empty — The D.C. area’s tallest building, 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, is still empty a year and a half after its completion. Owner Monday Properties, however, is feeling good about the regional economy and about Rosslyn specifically. The company is reportedly not planning to lower its asking rent for the building. [Washington Post]
Deaf Man Suing Arlington County — Updated at 9:20 a.m. — A homeless deaf immigrant who was wrongly jailed for six weeks, allegedly without access to an interpreter, is suing Arlington County in federal court for failing to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The man, Abreham Zemedagegehu, is originally from Ethiopia and was unable to communicate with his jailers via written English. [Associated Press]
Advertising on ART? — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday briefly discussed the possibility of adding advertisements to the side of ART buses — but no action was taken. It was also revealed that the cost of a Metrobus route is about 2.5 times more expensive than the equivalent ART bus route. [InsideNova]
Local Business 40th Anniversaries — Two local businesses are celebrating a 40th anniversary this month. Heidelberg Pastry Shop (2150 N. Culpeper Street) celebrated its 40th year in business this past Saturday, while the Crystal City branch of Navy Federal Credit Union (2450 Crystal Drive) is celebrating its 40th with cake, refreshment and giveaways to those who stop by the branch.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Sephora Coming to Clarendon — Skincare and cosmetics retailer Sephora has signed a lease at Market Common Clarendon. The company plans to open a store at the shopping center later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Contractor Causes Flood in Rosslyn — A contractor on a backhoe caused a mini flood on Wilson Blvd yesterday afternoon, after striking a fire hydrant line. The incident also caused several hours of water service disruptions in the area. It’s at least the second time in the past few months that someone at the construction site hit a water line and caused flooding. [WJLA]
New Website for Rep. Beyer — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) launched a newly redesigned website this week. The site features a background image of Rosslyn and the Potomac River. [U.S. House of Representatives]
Village Sweet Bakery Opens — Village Sweet, a new bakery in Westover, opened for business on Tuesday. Owner Dawn Hart decided to open the brick-and-mortar store as an expansion of Monster Cookie Co., her online, customized sugar cookie business. The bakery is located at 5872 Washington Blvd, next to Lost Dog Cafe. [Facebook, Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Auditor Bill — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Del. Patrick Hope’s bill that will allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor. The bill will become law in July. Board members Jay Fisette, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt say they support the hiring of an independent auditor. Board member Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of the year, has expressed reservations about the position. [InsideNova]
Signature Casts Wesley Taylor — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has cast Wesley Taylor — who has held prominent roles on NBC’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” — in its upcoming production of “Cabaret.” The show will run from May 12 to June 28. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Arlington County Police Department has installed one of its movable-type signs — notably used to tell drivers “Don’t hit the car in front of you” in 2013 — at the intersection of N. Lynn Street, Lee Highway and the I-66 westbound off-ramp. The sign tells drivers to “Yield to Pedestrian,” a persistent problem as those coming off I-66 try to turn right on a green light toward the Key Bridge.
The sign is the latest in a multi-departmental effort to reduce accidents at the intersection. Last month, a temporary, no-turn-on-red signal was installed. The timing of the lights has been altered to give pedestrians and cyclists — coming from the Custis Trail to the west and the Mt. Vernon Trail to the east — a head start before cars begin turning.
In the future, more permanent measures like taking away a travel lane on Lee Highway and extending the curbs have already been approved and are in design phases.
When the sign was initially installed, it was blocking the pedestrian walk signal, but it has since been moved, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
“The sign has been moved and strategically placed next to the signal,” he said. “A pedestrian brought [its placement] to our attention. It’s a good thing that citizens are paying attention to that sign and taking some safety precautions because that’s intersection is known to have quite a bit of interest.”
Photo courtesy @DanaCJensen
Today from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Rosslyn Business Improvement District is hosting its second ever pop-up beer garden, in the plaza at the corner of 19th Street and N. Moore Streets.
“In a busy urban area like Rosslyn with a large amount of pedestrians walking around, pop-up events like this do well since they maximize open space, grab attention and present something new and exciting,” Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick told ARLnow.com in an email. “With Plaza on 19th, an area that was previously just sidewalk, we now have a great space to regularly hold events like these.”
The food will be served by the Urban Bumpkin BBQ truck, an Asian and barbecue fusion staple of the Rosslyn food truck lineup. Playing music during the whole event will be Rew Smith, a “pop/rock singer-songwriter” from Maryland.
Last year’s Oktoberfest beer garden – the first at the new plaza — drew more than 600 people, and event organizers are hoping the holiday and the warm weather will draw an even bigger crowd today. The BID will be passing out green koozies as a bonus for beer drinkers.
Police say they caught a man they suspect of breaking into dozens of cars in Rosslyn “red-handed” over the weekend.
The arrest happened around 1:40 a.m. Saturday, on the 1100 block of Wilson Blvd.
Arlington County police officers were conducting a plainclothes detail in Rosslyn, in response to the break-ins, when they spotted a man who looked like a “person of interest” seen in earlier security camera images.
The man, 54-year-old Antoine Kennedy, was “caught red-handed attempting to break into a vehicle with a screwdriver,” according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Kennedy, who is homeless and was known to stay in the Rosslyn area, is suspected of “at least 50 vehicle break-ins in the month of February,” Sternbeck said. Police are continuing to investigate whether Kennedy might have been responsible for even more break-ins.
Kennedy has been charged with habitual petit larceny, possession of burglarious tools and felony destruction of property. He was held without bond.
For the third time in a week, Arlington County firefighters are responding to the Rosslyn Metro station for a report of smoke in the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
D.C. firefighters are also responding to the Foggy Bottom station.
Rosslyn Highlands Park – a narrow parcel of open space, a basketball court and a playground on Key Blvd — could be sold to a developer in exchange for a new fire station.
In a Nov. 8 presentation to the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study (WRAPS) working group, Penzance, which owns the office building at 1555 Wilson Blvd, outlined a proposal that would redevelop the county-owned site — which includes Arlington Fire Station 10 — with three buildings and open space in the middle.
Last week, county staff released a draft plan to sell the site to Penzance, with the developer building a new fire station on the site, a landscaped public plaza and an extension of N. Pierce Street to 18th Street. On the property, Penzance proposes a 17-story office building fronting Wilson Blvd, a 24-story residential building along 18th Street N. and a 27-story residential building along the eastern edge of parcel.
The park is part of the area covered by the WRAPS group, a county-led commission discussing the future of the area in between 18th Street N., N. Quinn Street, Wilson Blvd and the 1555 Wilson Blvd property line. The development would replace Fire Station 10 and sit adjacent to the new H-B Woodlawn building at the Wilson School site, expected to be complete in September 2019.
The proposal is already drawing concern from some interested parties, including the county’s Parks and Recreation Commission and some members of the WRAPS working group. Paul Holland serves on both groups and spoke about his concern before the Arlington County Board Saturday morning, with several supporters dressed in green shirts — many recycled from the “Friends of TJ Park” group’s efforts — standing behind him.
Holland said that county staff’s presentation to the WRAPS group last week proposed selling the county’s land to Penzance to develop the plot.
“The only stakeholder getting what they want out of this process is the private developer, and this equates to public land for private good,” Holland said. “Selling parkland is a dangerous precedent that threatens publicly owned parks and open space throughout the county.”
Earlier this month, county staff released a resident feedback study about how best to use this parcel of land. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed preferred an option that keeps the Rosslyn Highlands Park footprint and shrinks Penzance’s proposal to the confines of its current plot of land.
“I attended our meeting [last] Thursday, hoping to see a proposal that captured the feedback of our community members: the desire for large, consolidated open space and ample park and recreation space that can serve this underserved community,” Holland said. “Unfortunately, this was not the case.”
“Instead, staff presented the working group with a plan that reduces the size of Rosslyn Highlands Park by more than two thirds,” he continued, “replaces cherishes green space with yet another paved plaza that supports a developer, and ignores the neighborhood’s significant open space needs.”
County staff said Fire Station 10 can’t be placed where the residents want it — on the property owned by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, across 18th Street — because of conflicts with school traffic. Staff also said N. Pierce Street needs to be extended, not the resident-preferred plan of extending N. Ode Street to the east. Those factors prompted staff to recommend selling the land to Penzance.
The dispute appears similar — right down to the T-shirts — over the battle for open space next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School that left the School Board scrambling for alternatives. County Board members told Holland and his supporters on Saturday that they might have to sacrifice some open space for other county needs.
“We can do anything we want, but we can’t do everything,” Board member Libby Garvey said, according to InsideNova. “We all want different things — they’re all good things — but how is it going to balance? … We’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got to start setting priorities. It’s not going to be an easy conversation.”
For the second day in a row, Arlington County firefighters are investigating a report of smoke in the Metrorail tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom.
No smoke was found in the Rosslyn station upon firefighters’ arrival.
ACFD responded to the Rosslyn Metro station last night (Saturday) for a similar report of fire and smoke, in the same part of the tunnel as tonight’s incident. It was later determined that the fire was extinguished after power was cut to the third rail.
The Blue, Orange and Silver lines are single-tracking between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom as a result of the incident. No injuries have been reported.
The smoke was originally said to be on the Foggy Bottom side, about 800 yards from that station. D.C. firefighters also responded to the Foggy Bottom station.
As of 9:00 p.m., Arlington firefighters were being told that the fire was closer to the Rosslyn station and firefighters prepared to enter the tunnel with Metro maintenance personnel.
Firefighters have not seen any sign of smoke, and as 9:20 p.m. it was determined that the fire was extinguished after power was cut to the third rail. Arlington fire units are now being put back into service.
*UPDATE* Rosslyn Metro. Fire is out. Releasing all units.
— ARL Firefighters (@IAFF2800) February 22, 2015
According to earlier scanner traffic, trains were single tracking outbound to Virginia through the tunnel, but are not currently running inbound. With Metrorail service suspended over the Yellow Line bridge due to snow and ice accumulation, that meant that no Metro trains were running from Virginia to the District.
— Shoshana Weissmann (@senatorshoshana) February 22, 2015
As of 9:15 p.m., Metro said service over the bridge had been restored and Yellow Line trains were running again. Metro also said trains were single tracking in each direction between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom. Metro is advising Blue, Orange and Silver Line riders to expect delays.
SERVICE UPDATE: Due to ice/snow buildup on Yellow Line bridge, all Yellow trains will run btwn Huntington & Foggy Btm, via Rosslyn. #wmata
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) February 22, 2015
Blue Line: Trains are single tracking btwn Pentagon City & Foggy Bottom due to track problem outside Foggy Bottom. Expect delays in both dir
— Metrorail Info (@Metrorailinfo) February 22, 2015
During the incident, Arlington firefighters said they were having trouble communicating with their D.C. counterparts, possibly due to D.C.’s use of encrypted public safety radios.
— ARL Firefighters (@IAFF2800) February 22, 2015
Police Investigating Apartment Break-In, Fire — A man has been arrested and accused of breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and starting a small fire. The incident happened on the 1200 block of S. Scott Street, just off of Columbia Pike, Monday morning. [Washington Post]
Arlington Trying to Keep TSA – After losing the National Science Foundation and the Fish and Wildlife Service to Alexandria, Arlington County officials are stepping up their efforts to keep the Transportation Service Administration. The TSA currently has offices in Pentagon City, but at least one office owner is trying to lure the agency to Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
Name Chosen for New Park – The future, 8,000 square foot park next to the new Gables North Rolfe apartment complex, which is expected to be approved by the County Board this weekend, now has a name. Various community groups and county commissions have approved “Three Oaks Park” as the park’s name, in honor of the three large trees on the site. [InsideNova]
Building Over I-66 Would be Pricey – A new report has found that building office and apartment buildings over I-66 in Rosslyn would be expensive, but might eventually be worth considering. As much as 2.5 million square feet of new development could be possible by decking over open-air portions of the highway around Rosslyn. [Washington Business Journal]
‘How Arlington Are You?’ Quiz – A questionable, 10-question web quiz on the website of a Crystal City apartment building attempts to answer the question, “how Arlington are you?” Questions include “how many people do you know who work in the defense industry?” and “how often do you go to Starbucks?” [Crystal Square]
Photo courtesy @TheBeltWalk
“We call ourselves a network of neighborhood productive spaces,” cove Brand Director Erin Gifford told ARLnow.com today. “It’s an alternative to working at home, a coffee shop or even your office.”
Cove already has six spaces in D.C. and one in Old Town Alexandria, and its eighth location will be on the first floor of 1735 Clarendon Blvd. Gifford said the space “fell into our lap,” and it should be open for users by the end of the month.
“We’ve been getting so many requests to come to Arlington. We wanted to get something as quickly as possible,” Gifford said. Cove is planning on opening more spaces in Arlington in the not-too-distant future, although she couldn’t say where or when. “We’re continuing our search.”
Cove charges for its space not by leasing it out on a monthly or longer basis, but by charging by the hour. Each user is given a personalized QR code and checks in when they enter, and out when they leave. Users pre-pay for the time they’ll spend in the space by the month.
Cove offers memberships starting at $32 for eight hours, and users can pay less by the hour the more time they plan to spend in the space. Additional time is billed at an hourly rate.
When Cove opens, it will have nine desks, a Keurig coffee maker with about six different types of coffee, soda and sparkling water. Gifford said Cove also has a partnership with nearby BeanGood Coffee Pub, allowing users to take refillable Cove coffee mugs and get 10 percent off their orders.
Cove also offers its users free WiFi, printing and scanning. Anyone who pays for a membership can spend time at any Cove location; there are two outposts in Dupont Circle and one in Georgetown, Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill, on 14th Street NW and an under-construction location on K Street NW.
(Updated at 3:25 p.m.) Would you pay $25-30 for a day of unlimited coffee and snacks in a place that offers video games, board games, poker, foosball and the occasional standup comic or musician?
A husband and wife team are banking that the answer is “yes.” Vitaliy Hayda and Kseniia Shnyreva, immigrants from Ukraine and Russia, respectively, are planning on starting a new type of coffee shop, called The Third Place, in Arlington.
The pair has been blogging the travails of opening up a business, from the registering as an LLC to advertising to showing the initial renderings of the interior. They say they plan to open the business this summer in Arlington, but they do not plan to look for a location until April or May, the owners told ARLnow.com via email. They list “Rosslyn, Virginia” as the location on their Facebook page.
The name of the establishment refers to the concept of a “third place” where people can hang out and socialize.
“According to urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, the first place is your home, the second place is your work and the third place is your ‘great good place,’” The Third Place’s website says. “It’s where you go to relax, have a good time, and surround yourself with friends both new and old.”
Traditional coffee shops, where people work on laptops, meet friends and hold informal business meetings, are viewed as a type of third place. However, sometimes “third place” business can be challenging for coffee shops, where customers can buy a $4 coffee and occupy a table for hours while tapping away at a laptop and using the free Wifi.
It appears that The Third Place seeks to remedy that by encouraging people to spend the entire day for a flat fee. It could almost be compared to an airport lounge, minus the airport but plus occasional entertainment.
The website says The Third Place will have bottomless coffee, tea, milk, juice and snacks for a $25 a day fee online, and $30 at the door. It will also sell coffee and tea to go. Hayda and Shnyreva also plan to offer memberships, including a $300 a month option that allows for unlimited entrance, eight guest passes, 50 percent off coffee to go and a 50 percent alcohol discount.
The Third Place plans to have a bar, allow for food delivery and let customers to bring their own food and alcohol in. In one of their blog posts, Hayda writes that they will have edible coffee cups, milk shots, a circular wood-burning fireplace and outlets with USB chargers.
Nearly 20 cars were broken into in the Rosslyn area over the weekend.
According to police, the front passenger side window was smashed and items were stolen from at least 14 cars in a parking garage on the 1600 block of Clarendon Blvd. The break-ins happened early Saturday morning.
These break-ins followed a series of 17 car break-ins in Rosslyn during the prior weekend, in which passenger side windows were also smashed.
Police told NBC 4 (above) that the break-ins may be related but so far they haven’t been able to catch the suspect or suspects on surveillance camera. The thieves are looking for small items of value that can be easily concealed, so one way to protect yourself is to remove any such items from your car when leaving it parked overnight.