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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 27, 2014 at 9:15 am | 1,086 views | No Comments

View of an office building in Virginia Square (Photo courtesy by Liza Hodskins)

Skybridge Demolition Extended — The demolition of the skybridges on N. Lynn and N. Moore Streets in Rosslyn has been extended to another weekend. Drivers should expect N. Lynn Street to be closed from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. March 28-30. N. Moore Street will be closed during the same times April 4-6. The middle lane closures on N. Lynn Street, meanwhile, are expected to last until April 4. [Arlington County]

Yorktown Soccer Team Ranked — Updated at 10:00 a.m. — The Yorktown High School boys soccer team, despite finishing 4-11-3 last year, rank #9 on the Washington Post power rankings. The girls soccer team, meanwhile, is ranked #7.

Civ Fed Wants to Restrict Videotaping — In response to campaign officials videotaping the County Board debate it hosted earlier this month, the Arlington County Civic Federation says it will start to enforce rules against video and audio recording at its meetings. Anyone caught video or audio taping a meeting without prior approval will be kicked out, the Civic Federation said in its April newsletter. [InsideNoVa]

Photo courtesy by Liza Hodskins

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 24, 2014 at 9:00 am | 3,241 views | No Comments

Pedestrian walking up Key Blvd in Rosslyn at sunset

Restaurateurs Eye Rosslyn — Rosslyn has been long neglected in the restaurant and bar department, primarily because it has been viewed as a place where only fast casual lunch places can be successful. That may be changing thanks to Heavy Seas Alehouse, which has been doing boffo beer and dinner business since it opened last month. [Washington City Paper]

Streetcar Battles Continue — Arlington County Board member Libby Garvey continued her one-woman campaign against the Columbia Pike streetcar from the County Board dais last week. Garvey used her time in the County Board meeting to do a slideshow of streetcar systems that have well-exceeded their budget or which have performed poorly in wintery weather. Meanwhile, the streetcar remains the central issue in April’s County Board special election. [InsideNoVa, Greater Greater Washington]

Tribute to Terry Holzheimer — Acting Director of Arlington Economic Development Cindy Richmond has penned a tribute to her former boss, Terry Holzheimer, who died of a sudden heart attack on March 1. [Arlington Economic Development]

Grand Opening for Arlington Mill Residences — A grand opening ceremony will be held tonight from 4:00-6:00 p.m. for the Arlington Mill Residences, at 901 S. Dinwiddie Street. The four story, 122-unit apartment complex, located next to the new Arlington Mill Community Center, is 100 percent committed affordable. There was a long waiting list for those hoping to live in one of the units.

Arlington Woman on Jeopardy Tonight – Arlington resident Nancy Akerman, who works as a science policy fellow, will compete on Jeopardy tonight. The game show airs at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).

County Planning Major Changes for Rosslyn Infrastructure

by Ethan Rothstein | March 20, 2014 at 11:45 am | 2,160 views | No Comments

Aerial view of Rosslyn (Flickr pool photo by @ddimick)The County Board will hold public hearings next month on a framework for the future of Rosslyn.

The Rosslyn Sector Plan update — the product of the Realize Rosslyn community planning efforts over the past 15 months – is expected to be adopted by the end of this year, but before that the County Board must hold hearings and approve a framework for the plan. That’s expected to happen next month, after the Board voted to advertise the hearings at its meeting on Tuesday.

Among the biggest changes that could be coming in Rosslyn if the plan is approved is extending 18th Street N. as a pedestrian and bike corridor through Rosslyn’s main stretches — with intersections at Nash Street, Fort Myer Drive, Moore Street and Lynn Street before connecting with N. Arlington Ridge Road — making Fort Myer Drive and Lynn Street two-way roads and removing the tunnels underneath Wilson Blvd.

In addition, the plan will call for utilizing ground floor space for uses other than retail in areas where it would be difficult for stores or restaurants to survive; revitalizing Freedom Park and implementing “active recreational opportunities” in Gateway Park; and increasing housing density in central Rosslyn.

The Realize Rosslyn panel, made up of residents, property owners and government officials, has a stated goal giving Rosslyn a “vibrant 18/7 street life.”

Rosslyn Sector Plan framework mapThe proposed 18th Street N. corridor was one of the issues that generated a rift between property owners, specifically the owners of the Ames Center (1820 N. Fort Myer Drive) and Monday Properties, which owns several buildings in Rosslyn including the new, vacant 1812 N. Moore Street skyscraper.

The owners of the Ames Center, in a letter from land use attorney Tad Lunger, said Monday Properties is trying to unduly influence certain aspects of Realize Rosslyn. Lunger said the Ames Center, which houses the Art Institute, is planning on redeveloping into two buildings on either side of the planned 18th Street extension in a straight line from the current 18th Street. Monday Properties’ site plan for the redevelopment of 1401 Wilson Blvd and 1400 Key Blvd moves that alignment to the north, Lunger said.

“We are concerned that Monday Properties’ site plan application will preempt the planned alignment of 18th Street before the Rosslyn sector plan update is ever adopted,” Lunger wrote. “The Realize Rosslyn process should guide the Monday Properties site plan, not the other way around.”

Monday Properties President and COO Tim Helmig fired back at Lunger, calling the claims “accusations,” but saying “I will not comment at this time on the specific suggestions and objections in the Lunger Letter.”

“I believe it is without basis to insinuate that Monday Properties role [sic] on the Process Panel has perpetuated a conflicting proposal,” Helmig wrote in a letter to the County Board. “The efforts of Monday Properties as an applicant are in stark contrast to the unfair characterizations within the Lunger Letter.”

Flickr pool photo (top) by ddimick

Rosslyn Skybridges Closed, To Be Demolished

by Ethan Rothstein | March 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 4,900 views | No Comments

The skybridge over N. Lynn and N. Moore Streets in Rosslyn closed to pedestrians today and, starting this weekend, will be taken down permanently.

The demolition is part of the construction of the Central Place project – the same construction that has closed lanes on N. Lynn Street and snarled rush hour traffic in the area.

Starting this Friday at 8:00 p.m. until Monday at 6:00 a.m., N. Lynn Street will be closed to drivers and pedestrians as the skybridge is taken down. The following weekend, from March 28-31, N. Moore Street will be closed for the same duration.

The skybridges over N. Nash Street and Fort Myer Drives will remain open, but those hoping to use the skybridges to access the Rosslyn Metro Station will need to enter the Rosslyn Metro Mall and go down the escalators to do so.

According to Arlington County, the skybridges will be taken down in sections and either hauled away or staged on site and “cut to manageable lengths” before being taken away.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 17, 2014 at 10:45 am | 1,039 views | No Comments

Courthouse snow (Photo courtesy @mindpivot)

Irish PM Visits Shirlington — Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny visited Samuel Beckett’s Irish Pub (2800 S. Randolph Street) in Shirlington over the weekend to watch an Irish rugby game. The Taoiseach, as the position of Irish prime minister is also called, is in the U.S. celebrating the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. [Facebook, The Independent]

County Board Approves Ashlawn Addition Revision — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a revised plan for an addition to Ashlawn Elementary School but not before making Arlington Public Schools officials explain how the project went wrong. Local residents have complained about several aspects of the plan, including tree removal the building of a parking lot. [InsideNoVa]

‘Intersection of Doom’ Left Out of Rosslyn Planning — A draft Rosslyn sector plan framework doesn’t include any solutions for the so-called “intersection of doom” — the intersection of N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway that has been the site of numerous pedestrian and bicyclist vs. vehicle accidents. Some believe a pedestrian tunnel or bridge may be the best solution for the busy intersection. [Greater Greater Washington]

County Board Approves New Synthetic Field Surface — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved up to $701,000 to replace a 10-year-old synthetic turf field at Wakefield High School. [Sun Gazette]

Photo courtesy @mindpivot

Rosslyn Unveils Building-Sized Photo Installation

by ARLnow.com | March 13, 2014 at 3:40 pm | 2,219 views | No Comments

Giant photo mural in Rosslyn

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District today officially unveiled a gigantic photographic mural that has been temporarily installed on the side of a building near the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Lynn Street.

The 6,000 square foot photo is “the largest photographic print on the East Coast and bigger than the scoreboard at Nationals Park,” according to the BID. It is a “tranquil depiction of crape myrtle trees that [photographer Frank Hallam] Day snapped during a month-long photographic study of Rosslyn.”

The BID would not reveal where the photo was taken — it will instead be running a social media contest for people to guess where it was taken.

The photo is expected to remain on the side of the office building at 1730 N. Lynn Street for at least a year, until the building is demolished for the planned Central Place office skyscraper.

“[This] is the third project installed by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District as part of its award-winning temporary public art program launched last spring,” the BID said in a press release. “The program aims to help resolve urban design issues and soften Rosslyn’s hard edges as many parts of the district undergo redevelopment.”

Hallam Day told ARLnow.com that in order to achieve the resolution needed for the massive photo print, the image is actually composed of several dozen individual photos stitched together. The final ultra-high-resolution image took up about 45 gigabytes of space on his hard drive, the BID said.

Rosslyn Road Shut Down Due to Gas Leak

by ARLnow.com | March 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm | 1,222 views | No Comments

(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) A road in Rosslyn has been shut down due to a gas leak.

Currently, 19th Street N. is closed between Lynn Street and N. Kent Street. We’re told a 2-inch high pressure gas line was ruptured. Police and firefighters are on the scene, waiting for Washington Gas to make repairs.

As of 2:20 p.m. the gas had been shut off and the road was being reopened to pedestrians. However, traffic restrictions are expected to remain in place.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | March 11, 2014 at 8:35 am | 1,269 views | No Comments

"Sunday Soccer" (Flickr pool photo by Ddimick)

Power Issues at Rosslyn Metro — All elevators and escalators were out of service at the Rosslyn Metro station from around 5:30 to 7:00 this morning. The outage was due to a “power problem.” Metro temporarily provided bus service from the station for those who needed it. [Twitter]

County Board to Buy Douglas Park House — The Arlington County Board on Saturday is expected to approve the purchase of a house on S. Quincy Street. The house abuts Douglas Park and would be torn down to expand the park. The expansion plan is predicated on the Board also purchasing neighboring houses when they come on the market. [Sun Gazette]

Crowded Congressional Primary – Election officials are expecting a turnout of about 64,000 votes for the upcoming Virginia Eighth District congressional primary. With 11 candidates in the race, it could take as few as 12,000 votes to win. ”What we are talking about here is a Democratic nominee, who is almost certainly assured of election given this district, could be elected with about the size of a decent size high-school basketball game fan base,” a political science professor told reporter Michael Lee Pope. [Connection Newspapers]

Arlington Couple’s Wedding Profiled — Washingtonian profiles the wedding of Arlington residents Lynn Chheang and Ryan Hill, whose first date took place in the former Ray’s Hell-Burger. [Washingtonian]

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

District Taco’s Cart Closes Today

by Ethan Rothstein | March 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 2,911 views | No Comments

The District Taco cart, which was launched four years ago and has now spawned four brick-and-mortar restaurants, is retiring today in Rosslyn.

District Taco owner Osiris Hoil said the team that runs the cart is needed to support the restaurants, with locations at 5723 Lee Highway and at Metro Center, Eastern Market and soon-to-be-open Dupont Circle in the District. The decision was purely a business one, but that didn’t make it any easier for Hoil, who opened the cart using family recipes after being laid off from a construction job.

“It’s very emotional for me, because when we started four years ago it was just me and my taco stand,” Hoil told ARLnow.com today. “It’s part of my heart, but as a business decision, we had to let it go.”

Hoil said that, in addition to the Dupont Circle location opening next month, he plans to open in Crystal City, Rosslyn, Alexandria and Vienna, and is looking at space in Rockville and Reston Town Center. No new location is firmed up yet, he said, but he hopes to open another store by the end of the year and three or four next year. The taco stand is just too unpredictable to continue to operate while District Taco grows, said Hoil.

“One of the challenges we’re having is the weather,” he said. “This wintertime has been really cold, but also it’s just one of the reasons. We’re growing pretty aggressively this year and next year and we need our team to focus on our restaurants. It’s a little bit harder to manage the stand than a restaurant just because it’s a mobile unit and anything can happen while traveling.”

It might not happen right away, but Hoil is determined to open up spaces in Rosslyn and Crystal City close to where his taco stand set up shop most days. He said he’ll likely try to move into Rosslyn once the Central Place construction is complete.

Today in Rosslyn, in honor of the stand’s last day, District Taco is offering two free tacos to every customer that stops by, while supplies last.

Photos: Bill Cosby Helps to Open Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn

by ARLnow.com | March 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 7,896 views | No Comments

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) Comedian Bill Cosby joined Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette and other local notables in helping to open the new Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn this morning.

Cosby’s jokes and antics drew laughs from the large crowd of media and spectators that gathered to see the ribbon cutting for the iconic U Street eatery’s first stand-alone, brick-and-mortar expansion. Other attendees and speakers included the Ali family, which owns the restaurant; the ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago, late founder Ben Ali’s home country; WPGC DJ Shack Nd Pack; and Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick.

Cosby joked that as an aging Navy veteran, he was glad to have a Ben’s Chili Bowl near Arlington National Cemetery.

“The reason why this establishment has decided to open here is for me,” he said. “I’m 76-and-a-half years old. I’m going to have my 77th birthday in July… I spent four years in the Navy, which means I am eligible for a military funeral. Now, my can ghost make the trip here instead of flying over to U Street.”

“Over in that cemetery there is no cholesterol,” he continued. “There are no triglycerides. Eat as many as you like. Double down on the cheese and fries. A lot of people may not go to heaven, because this is heaven.”

Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette presented Cosby and Virginia Ali, Ben’s widow, with keys to Arlington. Cosby quipped that he would use it to get out of parking tickets.

“Whoa, who put me on stage after Bill Cosby?” Fisette said, to which Cosby shot back: “your mother did.”

“Thanks for choosing Arlington… for your second spot,” Fisette said. “As I’ve always said, chili for breakfast, chili for lunch, chili for dinner and a half smoke for dessert.”

Customers flooded into the the restaurant following the ribbon cutting, leaving a large crowd outside the doors, waiting to get in. Hundreds showed up to the Colonial Village Shopping Center parking lot to see Cosby speak and get some of the first tastes of chili, half smokes, hamburgers and milkshakes after standing outside in near-freezing temperatures.

The restaurant is located at 1725 Wilson Blvd, in the former Ray’s Hell Burger space. It’s owned and operated by three sons, Nizam, Kamal and Sage, and one daughter, Vida. The family said during the ribbon cutting that the restaurant plans to stay open until 4:30 a.m.

“The chili will sober you up,” Cosby said of Ben’s likely late night customers.

Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn Now Open

by Ethan Rothstein | March 4, 2014 at 11:45 am | 3,847 views | No Comments

Heavy Seas Alehouse in Rosslyn (1501 Wilson Blvd) opened last week and welcomed big crowds immediately.

General Manager Keith Kirkland said the restaurant has done more than $70,000 in business in just five days, including its soft opening last Wednesday. They’ve also gone through more than 50 kegs of Heavy Seas beer, he said.

“That’s much more than we expected,” he told ARLnow.com today. “Those number are even bigger considering we were shut down yesterday [during the snowstorm].”

The restaurant is open every day at 11:00 a.m. (10:00 a.m. on Sundays) and is open until 2:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. In addition to the seven Heavy Seas beer offered on draft, the alehouse offers six other Virginia beers, eight beer cocktails and lunch and dinner menus.

Rosslyn Coffee Shop Garnering Rave Reviews

by Ethan Rothstein | February 27, 2014 at 9:55 am | 4,941 views | No Comments

(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Adiam Berhane can be seen almost every day at her independent coffee shop at 1919 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn buzzing about, bussing tables, serving drinks and carrying on conversations with customers like she’s hosting a large Sunday dinner.

Berhane opened Caffe Aficionado with her partner, Clark Donat, in October, and ever since it has been drawing something rare in this age of online criticism — almost universally positive reviews. It has a full five-star rating on Yelp after 26 reviews, rare for even the most well-regarded restaurants. Local food critic Don Rockwell was glowing in his review as well.

“Well, I may change my mind after thinking about this some more… but for now, Caffe Aficionado sits all alone, atop Rosslyn,” Rockwell wrote in December. “Even if this ranking is temporary, hopefully it will draw attention to what is one of the finest coffee shops in the area. I love this place, and you will, too.”

When Berhane was asked about the positive reviews, she mentioned the one negative review she received on Yelp (there are 24 five-star reviews and one four-star, which she also mentioned), frustrated because she feels the customer was mistaken in her criticism. The chief complaint: a supposed lack of skim, soy or almond milk lattes — which the cafe does now serve.

“Those hurt the most, the bad reviews,” she said. After being pressed to acknowledge the positive reactions, she said, “We’re really happy with it. I think it’s all about service. Follow the Golden Rule, it’s not that hard.”

Berhane and Donat rarely go a moment in the shop without talking to someone in their New York accents, and Berhane is most excited about the neighborhood’s reaction. She added a lunch menu with just four sandwiches — with options like a tuna sandwich with olive tapenade and no mayonnaise — and started opening on Saturdays.

The pair refuses to use any artificial flavoring in their coffee and espresso, which they buy from Handsome Coffee in California. They just recently started offering honey cinnamon and vanilla lattes, recipes Donat took weeks to perfect.

“We wanted to preserve the integrity of the coffee,” he said. “People are in search of something a little special, so people come in and they’re happy to get special attention and a quality product.”

Caffe Aficionado is open weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Bill Cosby to Attend Ben’s Grand Opening in Rosslyn

by ARLnow.com | February 26, 2014 at 12:05 pm | 8,682 views | No Comments

Bill Cosby (photo via Facebook)Bill Cosby, the only person allowed to eat for free at Ben’s Chili Bowl (other than the Obama family), will be attending the grand opening for the restaurant’s new Rosslyn location next week.

A grand opening celebration is scheduled for the new location, at 1725 Wilson Blvd, at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 6. Cosby is “100 percent confirmed” for the event, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District was told today by the restaurant’s owners.

Cosby is arguably the biggest celebrity fan of the landmark U Street eatery, and counts the owners, the Ali family, as friends. The comedian is expected to give a few remarks with the family before the store’s opening.

Arlington County Board members are also expected to be in attendance.

Photo via Facebook

Sign Up at New Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn

by ARLnow.com | February 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm | 3,639 views | No Comments

Ben's Chili Bowl sign (photo courtesy @hilary1121)

Workers erected a sign at the new Ben’s Chili Bowl in Rosslyn this morning.

The sign, advertising the landmark D.C. eatery’s half-smokes, burgers, hot dogs and milkshakes, is now up at 1725 Wilson Blvd, which was formerly the home of Ray’s Hell Burger. (Ray’s moved to a new location across the street.)

Ben’s owner Nizam Ali was originally hoping to open the location — the first in Virginia — as early as New Year’s Day. Due to construction delays the opening is now expected to take place in about two weeks.

We’re told a grand opening celebration is planned for 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 6.

Photo courtesy @hilary1121

County to Study Sale of Air Rights Over I-66

by Ethan Rothstein | February 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm | 3,188 views | No Comments

Air Rights mockupThe Arlington County Board could approve a study into the sale of air rights over I-66 to private developers this weekend.

The state Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships (OTP3) announced in July that it was reaching out to developers to gauge interest in leasing VDOT’s air space over I-66, east of N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn, and over the East Falls Church Metro station.

According to county staff, private developers have expressed enough interest that the county wants to further study the plan. An initial study will be rolled into an amended contract with a planning and preservation firm that is already working on the Realize Rosslyn sector plan update. Depending on the outcome of the initial study, the county could fund more study in the future before a decision is reached to lease the air rights.

The previous contract with the firm had been for $493,544, and the County Board is likely to approve an additional $290,706 for not only assisting county staff with the air rights study, but also for an increased role in Realize Rosslyn.

Realize Rosslyn, a planned update to the Rosslyn Sector Plan, has been in the planning stages since 2011. A Board-appointed panel has been charged with sorting through the community concerns and developing the framework for the future direction of Rosslyn development. The panel was initially supposed to meet six times annually, but it has increased its scope of work and has met closer to 22 times annually.

A framework of the sector plan is expected to go before the Board this April, and county staff hope a full new Rosslyn Sector Plan will be complete by November.

Image via OTP3

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