The family that owns Mario’s Pizza House is selling the 16,000 square foot parcel of land on which Mario’s and the Carvel Ice Cream shop sits. Mario’s has been in business at that location, 3322 Wilson Boulevard, between Clarendon and Virginia Square, since 1958.
The land — much of which sits fallow as a surface parking lot — was originally listed for sale for $3 million. After apparently not finding a buyer at that price, the land is now going up for auction.
“This property is located in one of the only prime development areas remaining in Arlington, VA,” according to the auction website. “It… consists of 3 parcels totaling 16,073 square feet. The 2,400 sf retail building is currently home to Mario’s Pizza and Carvel Ice Cream and produces $12,500 per month in rental income.”
The auction is set to take place on Thursday, Dec. 20, but the winning bidder will not necessarily be allowed to purchase the property.
“This sale is subject to our motivated Seller’s approval,” the auction listing notes.
We’re told that there are still 12-15 years left on the leases for Mario’s and Carvel. (Though owned by the same family, the land owner and the restaurant are separate business entities.) The stores are likely to remain open until the land buyer, if there is one, manages to get a redevelopment plan approved by the county.
One possibility is that a developer might buy this property, then attempt to buy the adjacent Pio-Pio restaurant and Highlander motel properties. That could allow a large high-rise development, given the proximity to the Orange Line. Either way, both Mario’s and Carvel are here to stay, says Mario’s owner Alan Levine.
“Both leases are long term and convey,” Levine told ARLnow.com. “There will be no interruption of operations for either business. It is just time to allow others to put this block together properly for the future and Mario’s and Carvel have first rights to go into any new development.”
Photo courtesy (top) Timothy D. Image (bottom) via Google Maps. Hat tip to various tipsters.
Both the Ballston and Virginia Square Metro stations will be closed and the Orange Line split into two sections from about 10:00 p.m. Friday to system closing on Monday, Nov. 12, a federal holiday. The closures will allow the replacement of track switches outside Ballston station.
Free shuttle bus service will be provided between the Clarendon and East Falls Church Metro stations.
Orange Line trains between East Falls Church and Vienna, meanwhile, will be single tracking this weekend for testing on the Silver Line. As a result of the work, trains will operate between Clarendon and New Carrollton at regular weekend service intervals, and between East Falls Church and Vienna every 24 minutes.
“Customers traveling through the work zone via shuttle bus service should allow about 30 minutes of additional travel time,” Metro said. “Customers traveling to/from stations west of East Falls Church should allow up to 45 minutes of additional travel time (30 minutes for shuttle bus service plus up to 15 minutes due to single tracking).”
Life will be a bit easier for south Arlington residents. There will be no work this weekend on the Blue and Yellow Lines.
Flickr photo by Mattron
A failed restaurant. An impressive drain pipe. A popular home renovation.
These are some of the humorous and true observations of extremely local history that artist Timothy Thompson has turned in to a series of historical markers in and around the Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd) in Virginia Square.
Thompson’s historical markers are part of the Arlington Arts Center’s 2012 Fall Solos exhibition, which opened on Oct. 3 and features works by seven regional artists. The exhibit is set to hold its opening reception on Saturday (Oct. 20) from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Four of Thompson’s markers are located inside the gallery. Two are within two blocks of the center on N. Lincoln Street. Another is adjacent to the center along Wilson Boulevard.
Thompson will be leading a walking tour of his historical markers from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. The Fall Solos exhibit will be in place through Dec. 23.
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) Halloween is just over two weeks away. If you have kids, that means it’s probably time to start picking out their costume for the big day. If you have a dog (or dogs) — well, you should probably start picking out their costume, too.
At least three events are planned in Arlington for those who want to celebrate Halloween with their favorite four-legged friend.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, from 10:00 a.m. to noon, Arlington-based Doorways for Women and Families will hold its 2nd annual Howl-O-Ween Dog Walk for the Homeless. The event is being held at Big Walnut Park (1915 N. Harrison Street).
“Bring your dogs dressed in their ‘Howl-O-Ween’ finest for a mini-walk to support Doorways for Women and Families,” the organization said of the event. “All human participants will help Doorways to reach our walker goal for the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon, while our animal participants will get the chance to compete for prizes from local pet store merchants, including Unleashed by Petco, Weber’s Pet Supermarket, Kissable Canine and Dogma Bakery! Treats (both canine and human) will be provided for all attendees!”
On Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., PetMAC in Virginia Square (822 N. Kenmore Street) will be holding a “Doggy Halloween Party.” The event will feature “treats (for our 2 and 4 legged friends) and other refreshments, games, photos, costume contests and special store discounts,” according to the pet store.
Also on Oct. 30, Dogma Bakery and Boutique (2772 S. Arlington Mill Drive) will be hosting its annual Dog Trick or Treat through Shirlington Village. The trick or treating will take place from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Photo via Doorways for Women and Families
The race, organized by Potomac River Running, raises money for a number of good causes. Last year, sponsors say the race raised $125,000 for ten non-profits.
The starting gun is scheduled to sound at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. Arlington County Police will be closing the following streets during the race:
- North Quincy Street from Glebe Road to Wilson Boulevard will be closed from 5:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
- Wilson Boulevard Eastbound from Quincy Street to North 10th Street will be closed from 7:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
- North 10th Street Eastbound to Washington Boulevard will be closed from 7:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
- Washington Boulevard Southbound from North 10th Street to Rt. 244 will be closed from 7:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Street parking restrictions will also be in place. Vehicles parked in temporary no parking zones will be ticketed and towed.’
Photo via Facebook
Man Busted for Meth Lab Worked for USA Today — One of the men arrested in connection with a suspected meth lab in a Virginia Square apartment building used to be a journalist who was regularly published in USA Today. Leonard Fischer, 44, was formerly a technology reporter for Gannett News Service. [Jim Romenesko, Kenneth in the 212]
Arlington Unemployment Rate Declines — Arlington still has the lowest unemployment rate in Virginia. Arlington’s jobless rate dipped from 3.7 percent in June to 3.5 percent in July, according to newly-released data. The average in Virginia is 6 percent, and the national unemployment rate is 8.6 percent. [Sun Gazette]
Outdoor Movie Lineup Announced — Crystal City’s lineup of outdoor movies for 2013 has been announced. The series — with the theme of “Blockbusters” – will kick of with E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial on June 3, 2013 and will wrap up with Jurassic Park on Aug. 26, 2013. The lineup was chosen via online vote by members of the public. [Crystal City]
Two men have been arrested in connection with last night’s bust of a suspected meth lab in Virginia Square.
Arlington resident William Hudgens, 31, and Leonard Fischer, 44, have been arrested and charged with Attempted Manufacturing of Methamphetamine.
Police were called to an apartment building at 801 N. Monroe Street around 9:30 p.m. on Monday for a dispute. When they got inside, officers noticed items consistent with the manufacturing of meth.
Due to the volatile nature of methamphetamine production, residents on three floors of the 225-unit building were evacuated as a safety precaution. Hazmat and bomb squad teams assisted police in their investigation of the suspicious materials.
Once the scene was deemed safe, members of the ACPD Vice Narcotics Unit executed a search warrant, and arrested Hudgens and Fischer.
The police investigation is ongoing.
There was no fanfare for the opening of Tropical Smoothie Cafe (3811 Fairfax Drive) in Virginia Square on Monday because it was a surprise for everyone — including the owner.
Owner Marcus Barnett said after the typical county permitting delays, he finally received word yesterday that the restaurant could open. He hurried to the bank, and had the doors open for customers by 4:00 yesterday afternoon. Today is the first full day of operation.
Barnett noted two things that set Tropical Smoothie Cafe apart from its smoothie competitors: the restaurants serves food and uses natural ingredients.
“I know everyone says that,” Barnett said. “But even in our smoothies, we don’t use concentrates. It’s all real fruit that you can see and we blend it up.”
The menu includes salads, sandwiches, wraps and flatbreads. In keeping with the healthy theme, there’s also a focus on portion control.
“It’s just enough, not to overdo it,” Barnett said. “That’s the reason I got into this, to do something healthy. I wanted to find a place that had good food and good quality as well.”
Barnett is a Virginia native who attended The College of William and Mary, where he met his friend and current business partner, Manish Singh. The two frequented a Tropical Smoothie Cafe there and became friends with the owner. For years, the goal has been to eventually open a location of their own in the D.C. metro area.
The two were particularly drawn to Arlington because they notice residents making efforts to lead healthy lifestyles.
“We love how Arlington is very active. We see people run in front of our store all day long, Gold’s Gym is there, Sport and Health and all these bikers,” Barnett said. “I think that goes hand in hand with what we’re doing.”
The restaurant will have its grand opening from Thursday, September 20 through Saturday, September 22. All customers who purchase a smoothie those three days will receive a free food item. Barnett hopes that helps people realize the restaurant serves more than just smoothies.
Although there are no immediate plans for area locations other than Virginia Square, Barnett is leaving it open as a possibility.
“If we can win over Arlington we can do anything,” he said.
Update on 8/28/12 at 1:00 p.m. — Police confirm they have arrested two men in connection with the suspected meth lab.
Update at 1:05 a.m. — Residents of the second and fourth floors are being allowed back in the building. The bomb squad is packing up its gear, but police and the hazmat teams are remaining on the scene, according to Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
An apartment building just a block away from the Virginia Square Metro station has been partially evacuated as police and firefighters investigate a possible meth lab discovered in an apartment.
The area around the Virginia Square Apartments, a 225-unit high rise at 801 N. Monroe Street, has been cordoned off by authorities. Police, firefighters, the bomb squad and a hazmat team are all on the scene, and a decontamination area has been set up. Numerous evacuated residents have gathered outside the Metro station.
So far police are not officially confirming that they’re investigating a meth lab, only officially confirming that they found a “hazmat situation” while responding to a domestic incident on the third floor of the building. Police and the fire department chose to evacuate the second, third and fourth floors of the building, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Lt. Michael Watson.
The homemade production of methamphetamine is dangerous and meth lab explosions happen on a regular basis across the country.
In March 2011, Z-Burger co-owner Mohammad Esfahani told ARLnow.com that he hoped to have the location open last summer. But co-owner Peter Tabibian said today the company is now focused on opening its new Columbia Heights location first, in the next few weeks.
Esfahani said construction is ongoing for the 4,000-square-foot space at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and N. Kenmore Street. This will be Z-Burger’s sixth location and first in Virginia.
The two-story red brick building that used to house a video conversion business and a realty company has made way for a new structure. A crew was working on the new building’s interior today (Wednesday). The before and after comparison is below.
Arlington Funeral Home Demolition — Arlington Funeral Home in Virginia Square has been torn down to make way for a new office building. Arlington funeral home first opened in April 1956. [Arlington Public Library]
Election Day Today — Arlington voters are going to the polls today to cast their ballots in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate and the Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives (see candidate essays for Rep. Jim Moran and Bruce Shuttleworth). Arlington has a complete list of polling places here.
Trader Joe’s Asks for Display Cases — Trader Joe’s in Clarendon is asking the Arlington County Board for permission to put display cases in the store’s windows along N. Garfield Street. Currently, the windows — which are legally required to remain transparent, per a site plan — look in on the store’s storage area. [Arlington County]
APS Accepting Applications for Committee — Arlington Public Schools is inviting applications from parents and community members for its Pupil Services Committee. The committee meets once a month during the school year and “reviews the services offered by psychologists, social workers, substance abuse counselors, school counselors, and attendance specialists.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Photo courtesy Bill Colton
The Montana State Society’s Testicle Festival in Virginia Square was a rousing success this year.
Festival-goers consumed 110 pounds of bull and bison testicles, 84 liters of Crown Royal and 1,500 cans of beer this year, according to event organizer and Society president Jed Link. All three were records for the event, now in its eighth year.
Organizers estimate that nearly 600 people attended the Testicle Festival, which was held at the American Legion post at 3445 Washington Boulevard. Even though the event didn’t start until 6:00 on Saturday evening, Link said a line started to form at 4:30 p.m.
(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Exotic food lovers should enjoy an event taking place at the Arlington American Legion (3445 N. Washington Blvd) in Virginia Square on Saturday, May 19. The Montana State Society’s Eighth Annual Testicle Festival, dubbed “Legends of the Ball,” will be testing visitors’ gag reflexes.
The event lets attendees sample unlimited amounts of bull testicles, also called Rocky Mountain oysters. Like last year, there will be all-you-can-drink beer and Crown Royal to wash it down.
In a press release, organizers touted the event as a “unique western tradition.”
“While in D.C. people celebrate spring by posting pictures of cherry blossoms on Facebook, Montanans have a pretty unique tradition of our own,” said Montana State Society President Jed Link. ”Spring is calving season out West, and that means something special in the pot come chow time.”
There will be live country music at the festival, which runs from 6:00-10:00 p.m. The first 200 people to arrive will also get a commemorative t-shirt.
Tickets can be purchased online for $25, or at the door for $30. Attendees must be at least 21.
Virginia State Police were pursuing a vehicle on eastbound I-66 around 1:15 a.m. when it exited onto Glebe Road in Arlington. The fleeing driver was then involved in a collision with another vehicle near the intersection of Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive, according to scanner traffic.
The chase ended when the driver apparently tried to bail out near the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Monroe Street, in front of the Virginia Square Metro station. Police apprehended the man in front of the station’s elevator entrance, according to a witness. Arlington County police were not involved in the chase, ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said, but did arrive on the scene after the driver bailed out.
No injuries were reported as a result of the crash at Glebe and Fairfax. So far there’s no word on charges against the driver, nor what prompted him to flee.
Photo courtesy Drew Murray
The latest work involved removing a small island on N. Quincy Street and building a curb extension. Wider sidewalks and ADA compliant ramps have also been installed. Tom Hutchings, Project Manager for the Wilson Boulevard Improvement Project, explained that it’s an effort to improve pedestrian safety along a stretch of road typically considered tough to cross.
“That’s what this whole Wilson Boulevard project is about,” Hutchings said. “We’re tightening the street up and making the crossing distance shorter.”
One more curb extension needs to be installed on the opposite side of N. Quincy Street, but the existing improvements to Wilson Boulevard are already being considered successful in making the area safer.
“It has changed pedestrian behavior and we see a higher level of pedestrian activity,” Hutchings said.
The current phase is nearly complete, but there are a few things that need to still go in. The highest priority was finishing essentials like the new curbs, gutters and traffic lights. Things that don’t directly affect safety, such as Quincy Street bus shelters, street lights and trees, were viewed as a lower priority. Those have all been ordered and need to be installed.
“For the public, it’s perfectly functional, but there are elements that need to be finalized,” said Hutchings. “They should all be complete within three months, unless we have to wait until fall with the tree planting.”
This is part of the same project that brought the much awaited traffic lights to the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Pollard Street near Gold’s Gym. The work from N. Quincy Street to the area around the Arlington Arts Center builds off of the design of the Virginia Square Sector Plan. Work has been done in phases to coordinate with new development and engineering demands.
The final phase of the project moves down Wilson to N. 10th Street near Mario’s Pizza. Construction on that section will be extensive, so the county is working on setting up a website to give updates on the progress. The website, which is expected to be up and running in the next few weeks, also will list any upcoming traffic disruptions. However, that phase is still in the planning stages, and construction is not slated to begin for about two years.