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County Staff Recommends Approval for Latitude Apartments

by Katie Pyzyk | November 13, 2013 at 11:00 am | 1,123 views | No Comments

Rendering of proposed Latitude Apartments building in Virginia SquareThe Latitude Apartments project has received a thumbs up from county staff members, fresh off of last week’s Arlington Planning Commission recommendation to defer consideration of the proposal. County staff recommends the County Board approves the plan during its meeting on Saturday, November 16.

Both the Planning Commission and the County Board deferred the issue during their July meetings in order to examine more information regarding complaints about the plan. The largest concern has been about changing the site’s status from commercial, as designated in the Virginia Square Sector Plan, to mixed-use residential.

In addition to rezoning the site, the proposal includes demolishing the existing one- and two-story buildings on the property to construct a 12-story, 265 unit residential building, with 14 affordable units. The building would have more than 3,100 square feet of ground floor retail space and around 2,800 square feet of ground floor space dedicated to cultural and educational uses. The plan includes a 12,000 square foot public plaza at the corner of Fairfax Drive and N. Monroe Street, which would have a pedestrian connection to Quincy Park.

County staff members note that the immediate area has changed since the sector plan was created, and recent expansion there makes it unnecessary to preserve additional commercial space at this time. The staff report reads, in part:

“Office uses, which were encouraged to increase the daytime population, maintain the existing medical office presence, and facilitate shared parking, have increased by over 700,000 square feet since the plan was adopted, albeit not at the same pace as residential development. However, institutional growth has significantly increased in Virginia Square, including George Mason University, which also contributes to the desired daytime activity in this area. Further, GLUP-based estimates of additional development capacity within Virginia Square indicate there is remaining development potential on blocks slated for either office or mixed land uses, which would help further sector plan goals for additional office growth… Staff finds that the proposed site plan, while not meeting all of the indicated uses of the sector plan, is generally consistent with Virginia Square Sector Plan guidance for the site and the GLUP… Therefore, staff recommends that the County Board adopt the attached resolution to rezone the subject property from ‘C-2′ to ‘C-O’. Staff further recommends that the County Board adopt the attached ordinance to approve the subject site plan, subject to the conditions of the ordinance.”

Two other issues that arose regarding the project are that the building height would exceed the sector plan’s recommendation by three feet and that the parking ratio would be 0.9 spaces per residential unit instead of the standard 1.0 space per unit. County staff did not consider either of these substantial enough to recommend against approving the proposal.

Crime Report: ‘Bulging Eyes’ Flasher Returns

by ARLnow.com | November 8, 2013 at 10:30 am | 1,910 views | No Comments

For the second time in a week, a suspect with “bulging eyes” exposed himself in front of a Virginia Square apartment building.

From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 11/07/13, 900 block of N. Pollard Street. Between 1:35 am and 1:38 am on November 7, a female victim reported a male subject exposing himself for the second time in a week. The suspect is described as a light skin black male with “bulging” eyes, and in his late 20s to early 30s. He was wearing a black winter coat at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.

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Planning Commission Recommends Deferral of Latitude Again

by Ethan Rothstein | November 7, 2013 at 11:30 am | 803 views | No Comments

Rendering of proposed Latitude Apartments building in Virginia Square(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) The Arlington Planning Commission voted 8-2 on Wednesday night to again defer a decision on the Latitude Apartments project in Virginia Square.

Every member of the planning commission praised The Penrose Group for its proposal, lauding the architecture and community benefits. The group is hoping to build a 265-unit apartment building with 3,000 square feet of ground floor retail and 2,800 square feet of cultural and educational use.

However, a majority of commissioners said that because the Virginia Square Sector Plan calls for a commercial building, they couldn’t support the application.

“Our core issue is do we respect the sector plan that our friends and neighbors worked on and the county board approved, or do we ignore it,” said Planning Commission Vice Chair Steve Cole. “I can’t imagine believing that site plans ought to be the vehicles for changing sector plans and county policy. I’m not saying no to the proposal, I’m saying no to the extraordinary request to change the sector plan.”

Planning Commission Chairman Brian Harner and member Rosemary Ciotti were the only two commissioners to vote against deferral. Ciotti made a motion to recommend the County Board approve the plan, which failed, 6-4.

“We’re not living in a perfect world where we were able to predict 10-15 years ago what this sector plan would bring about and what market conditions would offer,” Harner said. “I wouldn’t trivialize this project as saying we’re just responding to current market conditions, because we really have to think about what it offers the county and the community.”

The County Board could review this proposal at its November 16 meeting. It’s unclear if the Board will go along with the Planning Commission recommendation, or if it will rebuff the recommendation as it did when the commission voted against the redevelopment of the Bergmann’s Cleaning site last year.

Members of the community came out en force to speak about the Latitude project — 25 signed up to speak. Many residents of the nearby Monroe and Virginia Square Condominiums spoke against the project, while all others spoke in favor.

“We understand the county may benefit in the near term from the tax revenue,” said Ellen Dayton, a condo resident, “but staying true to the land use goals our excellent county planners have set forth is best for the long term development.”

Cliff Chieffo was one of the authors of the Virginia Square Sector Plan and lives in the Virginia Square Condominiums. He supported the project and said the sector plan was designed to have flexibility.

“The proposal meets and exceeds the Virginia Square Sector Plan,” Chieffo said. “The applicant will produce a signature building that will be unique to Virginia Square.”

Chieffo said after the public hearing portion of the meeting that a majority of his condo neighbors supported the plan, but the condo board didn’t allow Penrose to make a presentation.

Many of those who spoke in support of the presentation were involved in real estate in one form or another, and they spoke about the architecture and public art space the proposal included.

“Virginia Square cannot handle any more office space, and won’t be able to for years,” said David Alperstein, the principal at real estate brokerage FD Stonewater. “The [Rosslyn-Ballston] corridor is experiencing a historic level of vacancy.”

Crime Report: Police Cruiser Vandalized

by ARLnow.com | October 31, 2013 at 3:30 pm | 1,724 views | No Comments

Someone smashed a police cruiser’s windshield in the Columbia Heights neighborhood last Thursday.

The incident happened around lunchtime. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

VANDALISM, 10/24/13, 1000 block of S. Cleveland Street. Between 12:40 pm on October 24 to 1:00 pm October 24, a police cruiser’s windshield was shattered with a piece of concrete while parked on S. Cleveland Street. The investigation is ongoing.

Early this morning, a man with “bulging eyes” was seen masturbating in front of a Virginia Square apartment building.

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 10/31/13, 900 block of N. Pollard Street. On October 31 at 3:03am, a man was seen masturbating in front of an apartment building by the concierge. When police arrived, the man was gone.  Officers searched the area, but were unable to locate the suspect. The suspect is described as a black or possibly Middle Eastern male in his 20’s – 30’s, “bulging eyes”, who was bald and possibly had facial hair. At the time of the incident the suspect was wearing a black coat.

The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.

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Two Arrested for Bicycle Theft at Va. Square Metro

by ARLnow.com | October 29, 2013 at 4:30 pm | 1,592 views | No Comments

Arlington County police carA young man and a boy were arrested for allegedly stealing a bicycle from the Virginia Square Metro station last night.

Police say 20-year-old D.C. resident John Wiley and an unnamed juvenile male were arrested around 9:40 p.m. after they stole a bike from the station. One of the suspects had a set of wire cutters in a backpack, police said. Together, the suspects were charged with Grand Larceny and Possession of Burglarious Tools.

Arlington County Police have been cracking down on bike thefts recently, after declaring over the summer that such thefts were at an all-time high. Last week, the police department announced that a 42-year-old repeat offender named Michael Cullen had received a whopping 12-year jail sentence for a series of bike thefts.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | October 29, 2013 at 8:50 am | 1,028 views | No Comments

Aerial photo of Arlington, seen on approach to DCA (Flickr photo by Ddimick)

Free Clinic Still Needed Post-Obamacare — The Affordable Care Act may help reduce the number of people without health insurance, but it won’t alter the core mission of the Arlington Free Clinic. The clinic will continue to serve the thousands who are expected to remain without health insurance in Arlington even after the health care law is implemented. [Sun Gazette]

Water & Wall to Open SaturdayWater & Wall, a new restaurant in Virginia Square, is set to open on Saturday. The restaurant, from Tim Ma of Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna, will serve “eclectic American” cuisine. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Lava Barre Moving to Rosslyn — Fitness studio Lava Barre is moving from Clarendon to Rosslyn starting early next year. [Facebook]

Flickr photo by Ddimick

BREAKING: Man Falls at Va. Square Construction Site

by Ethan Rothstein | October 25, 2013 at 2:45 pm | 2,465 views | No Comments

Virginia Square construction fall(Updated at 3:00 p.m.) Fire and rescue personnel responded this afternoon to a report of a man who fell about 30 feet from a construction site in Virginia Square.

The fall happened just after 2:20 p.m. at 3446 Fairfax Drive, near the intersection with N. Lincoln Street. According to scanner traffic, the victim was conscious, but not moving.

Firefighters and medics had unimpeded access to the victim, so a technical rescue was not necessary, according to ACFD spokesman Capt. Bill Shelton. The victim was transported via ambulance to the trauma at George Washington University Hospital. So far, there’s no word on his condition.

Arlington County police and Virginia occupational safety officials are investigating the incident.

Crime Report: Assault By Mob

by ARLnow.com | October 18, 2013 at 10:10 am | 5,500 views | No Comments

A street fight in the Virginia Square area led to three arrests Monday night.

Police say three men in their 20s attacked another group of three men after they left a bar. From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

ASSAULT BY MOB, 10/14/13, 800 block of N. Pollard Street. On October 14 at 11:52pm, three male victims were assaulted in the street after they left a bar. Theodrose Encubahre, 22, of Arlington, VA; Adnan Naseer, 23, of Arlington, VA; and Amin Reza, 23, of Arlington, VA were all arrested for assault by mob and held without bail.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspected are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Road Closures for 8K Race on Sunday

by Ethan Rothstein | October 11, 2013 at 10:00 am | 467 views | No Comments

A number of roads around the Virginia Square area will be closed Sunday morning for the annual Race for a Cause 8K.

The race will shut down N. Quincy Street between N. Glebe Road and Wilson Blvd from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. From 7:45 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., the following roads will be closed for the race, according to Arlington County:

  • Eastbound Wilson Boulevard from Quincy Street to 10th Street N.
  • Eastbound 10th Street N. to Washington Boulevard
  • Southbound Washington Boulevard from 10th Street N. to Columbia Pike

Parking along these streets may be restricted, so those leaving their cars in and around the area Saturday night should be on the lookout for “No Parking” signs along the race route. The race will begin at 8:00 a.m.

Larceny Leads to Hit and Run in Va. Square

by Ethan Rothstein | September 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm | 3,231 views | No Comments

A pedestrian was sent to the hospital after an alleged larceny turned into a hit-and-run this afternoon (Friday) in Virginia Square.

The suspect stole one or more items from Casual Adventure (3451 Washington Blvd) before fleeing the store and getting into a silver Mercedes, according to witnesses on the scene. Once in the Mercedes, the suspect peeled out of an adjacent parking lot, striking a pedestrian before driving away.

The suspect was described as a well-dressed man in his 50s.

Free Cheeseburgers Wednesday at Z-Burger

by Katie Pyzyk | September 18, 2013 at 9:50 am | 6,361 views | No Comments

Z-Burger in Virginia Square(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) If you’re craving a cheeseburger, today (Wednesday) is your lucky day. Z-Burger is giving away free cheeseburgers during lunch and dinner.

The restaurant will give away the food in celebration of National Cheeseburger Day. The location in Virginia Square (3325 Wilson Blvd) is one of the three Z-Burger restaurants chosen to give away the cheeseburgers from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and 5:00-7:00 p.m.

“The employees are excited,” said Z-Burger spokesman Kenny Fried. “Hopefully we’ll have new customers coming in that never experienced Z-Burger before and this is the chance to show what great food and what a great place we have.”

Each customer may have one free cheeseburger, and Fried promises the restaurant we won’t run out of supplies. Owner Peter Tabibian said the restaurant will serve all customers who are in line by 1:00 p.m. for the early giveaway, and by 7:00 p.m. for the late giveaway.

The chain plans to do a similar giveaway during National Hamburger Day in about six months.

“Z-Burger just loves doing things to engage the community and have fun with its customers. We like to surprise and delight them,” Fried said. “It’s another opportunity to thank them for having us in the community.”

The free cheeseburger deal is also good at the chain’s Tenleytown and White Marsh locations.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | September 18, 2013 at 8:45 am | 753 views | No Comments

Sunset over Rosslyn and the Potomac River, as seen from a Yellow Line Metro train

Prayer Vigil for Navy Yard Victims — St. George’s Episcopal Church in Virginia Square will be holding a 40 minute prayer vigil and candle lighting for victims of the Navy Yard mass shooting tonight. [ARLnow Events]

Va. Is Test State for Gun Data Sharing — Virginia is a test state for a nationally-linked system that will share information on guns used in crimes across law enforcement agencies. The system is intended to skirt federal law that prevents the sharing of federal gun trace information. As of Monday, twenty-five Virginia law enforcement agencies had signed on to the program. The Arlington County Police Department was not on that list. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Dedication for New Wakefield HS — A dedication ceremony will be held for the new Wakefield High School on Sunday. Students, staff and community members are invited to the ceremony, which starts at 1:30 p.m. It will be followed by tours of the school, an opening ceremony for Wakefield’s new aquatics center, and an aquatics center open house. [Arlington Public Schools]

Police: Man Broke Into House, Caressed Woman’s Face

by Ethan Rothstein | September 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm | 4,503 views | No Comments

Fermin Quintanilla (courtesy of ACPD)An Arlington man woke up in his Virginia Square bedroom early Thursday morning to find a stranger caressing his girlfriend’s face while she slept.

According to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, 25-year-old Fermin Quintanilla, of Arlington, broke into the house just after 3:00 a.m., went downstairs and caressed the female victim’s face when the male victim woke up and yelled at him.

“[The male victim] recognized the suspect from a cast on his arm that he was the same man who assaulted him a few days earlier,” Sternbeck said. “During that incident, the suspect approached the victim outside the victim’s house and started punching him.”

Sternbeck said the victims hadn’t had any previous interaction with Quintanilla, calling the alleged assault and burglary “random” acts. Quintanilla was arrested and charged with burglary and assault and battery. He is being held at the Arlington County Detention Center without bond.

Photo courtesy of ACPD

Board Likely to Defer Latitude Apartments Consideration

by Katie Pyzyk | July 10, 2013 at 9:50 am | 1,313 views | No Comments

Rendering of proposed Latitude Apartments building in Virginia SquareThe County Board is scheduled to examine a proposed development that has angered some residents in Virginia Square. The Board, however, will likely defer the issue at its meeting this Saturday in accordance with a county staff recommendation.

The matter before the Board is a request to consider the proposal for the Latitude Apartments at 3601 N. Fairfax Drive. It involves rezoning the property from commercial to residential and approving a site plan for 265 apartment units, more than 3,000 square feet of retail and more than 2,800 square feet of cultural/educational use. There is also a request to allow an encroachment into a public street and utilities easement in order to add balconies along the N. Monroe Street side of the building.

Residents at the nearby Monroe Condominium (3625 10th Street N.) and others in the neighborhood have voiced opposition to the proposal, claiming the plan has progressed without adequate community input. The largest concern appears to be with rezoning the space to residential, which the residents note violates the Virginia Square Sector Plan. Opponents have also raised concerns about the influx of new residents from the apartment complex causing congestion at the Virginia Square Metro station.

Earlier this month, the Planning Commission held a meeting and residents explained their issues with the project. Members of the Planning Commission voted unanimously to support the county staff recommendation of deferring the issue for further study of the concerns raised.

With a deferral, the Planning Commission would take up the matter again at its November 4 meeting and the County Board could then address the proposal at its November 16 meeting.

Pines of Florence Closes, Water and Wall Preps Begin

by Katie Pyzyk | July 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm | 3,236 views | No Comments

Water and Wall moving into former Pines of Florence space ABC permit notice for Water and Wall in Virginia Square

As anticipated, Pines of Florence has closed in Virginia Square. The owners of a new restaurant going in at 3811 N. Fairfax Drive have wasted no time in preparing to transform the space.

Tim Ma and Joey Hernandez, known for Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna, are bringing Water and Wall to Arlington. Ma said Pines of Florence moved out the last couple days of June and the Water and Wall folks brought in designers and engineers right away on July 1.

The concept will be similar to that of Maple Ave, which the chef alternately calls “eclectic American” or “creative American.” Ma said he’s classically French trained and another chef at Maple Ave is Burmese trained. Their different cooking strengths will allow for simple fare such as a chicken sandwich, and more inventive dishes featuring rabbit or sweetbreads.

“The food encompasses a large amount of cuisines. We’re able to put things like a soft shell crab with a Burmese curry, alongside something like a rabbit roulade — which is something you’d associate as very French,” said Ma. “Essentially that’s what American food is now, just a mish mash of all types of cuisines.”

No menu has been devised yet for Water and Wall, but the chefs are testing ideas at Maple Ave Restaurant.

“Maple Ave evolved as the kitchen evolved, and I expect kind of the same thing to happen here,” Ma said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to do items that we’re not able to do at Maple Ave given the limited space. That will take shape as we figure out the kitchen here.”

Ma and Hernandez had originally wanted Maple Ave to be in Arlington but it wasn’t a good fit when they were looking to launch four years ago. Now they feel ready to make the leap from a restaurant of about 10 tables to one of about 25 to 30.

“The economics and scale of that [Vienna] restaurant made more sense for a true mom and pop, which is what me and Joey are,” said Ma. “As we grew at Maple Ave it made sense that we wanted to return to where we were originally looking.”

Ma said he and Hernandez like mix of business and residential spaces in Virginia Square, as well as the overall vibe.

“We kind of like how Virginia Square is a little more quiet. It’s not the hustle of Clarendon or Ballston, it’s a little more relaxed. Yes, we’ve become more destination dining, but we’re already destination dining in Vienna,” Ma said. “We’re happy with that. We’re not in the crowd and the competition of Clarendon. There’s really, really good restaurants there, there’s so many choices now. Hopefully we provide another option here and perhaps fill a niche that doesn’t exist yet in Virginia Square.”

The crew behind Water and Wall hopes to open the restaurant by November 1. Ma acknowledged that such a goal may or may not be met, but he’s patient. He noted that it took four years to get to the point where a second restaurant became a reality, and said extra time just allows for a better opportunity to get things right.

“If the permitting process takes longer, it takes longer. That’s just the way it’s going to have to go down,” Ma said. “The magnitude, the scale of things is different from what we’re used to so we want to make sure we get things done right. Arlington is a different city than Vienna and we want to make sure we cross all the ‘t’s’ and dot all the ‘i’s’.”

Despite striving for perfection, Ma admits that mistakes are also a part of the process.

“We’ve taught ourselves so many things. There were so many mistakes we made, and I’m sure we’ll make here. We’ll make all new mistakes, the same quantity of mistakes, but they’ll just be completely different,” he said. “Hopefully we’re here for a while and learn from those mistakes.”

Although the interior has been cleared of the furniture from Pines of Florence, major renovations have not begun on the restaurant space. Ma said he has a mix of excitement and nervousness about launch the project he and Hernandez have been working on for more than a year.

“I’m just really excited to see how Arlington receives us,” he said. “We’re really stoked about this.”

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