The Washington Post editorial board has given Republican-backed Independent John Vihstadt its endorsement for Tuesday’s Arlington County Board election.
The Post said Vihstadt would be a “badly needed independent voice” on the otherwise all-Democratic, five-member County Board. Vihstadt was elected to the Board in April in a special election, when he defeated Democrat Alan Howze by a 57-to-41 percent margin.
Howze is again running against Vihstadt, and local prognosticators are predicting this race will be closer; former Arlington treasurer Francis O’Leary thinks Howze will win because of a greater turnout of Democratic “party line” voters. However, the Post writes, the issues that led voters to choose Vihstadt in April haven’t changed.
The editorial board writes:
… Many Democrats have accorded Mr. Vihstadt grudging respect as someone who formulates and presents his views intelligently; he is no tea party bomb thrower. Equally important, in our view, is his insistence that the county reevaluate other expensive projects, such as a proposal for a state-of-the-art aquatic center, which he regards as unaffordable.
Whether Mr. Vihstadt prevails or not, it’s important for Arlington to have the debate; without him, the board runs the risk of groupthink.
The Post writes that it supports the Columbia Pike streetcar, and praised Howze as “a very capable candidate,” but said Vihstadt’s “civil and cogent” arguments against the streetcar have earned him the chance to serve a four-year term. Vihstadt has also been endorsed by Arlington County firefighters for his commitment to public safety
In its editorial, the Post also endorses Barbara Kanninen over Audrey Clement for School Board, citing Kanninen’s experience working with children’s issues.
Lingering Campaign Signs Annoy Arlington Dems — Uncollected campaign signs from the June 10 Democratic congressional primary are irking local Democratic leadership. Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Kip Malinosky says the party has contacted certain candidates multiple times to let them know their signs were still cluttering up local medians. By Arlington ordinance, signs can only be removed by those who put them up. [InsideNova]
Blue Line Crunch Coming — When the Silver Line opens next month, the average headway for rush hour Blue Line trains will increase from 8.5 minutes to 12 minutes. Metro says Blue Line riders can consider taking buses instead of trains to, in some cases, speed up their trip. [PlanItMetro]
Sietsema Reviews Mazagan — Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema has reviewed Mazagan, the new Moroccan eatery and hookah bar on Columbia Pike, next to the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Sietsema gave the restaurant 1.5 stars, saying the music was too loud and the dishes hit-or-miss. [Washington Post]
New Iwo Jima Bikeshare Station — A new Capital Bikeshare station near the Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima memorial, has been enjoying heavy use. The station can hold nineteen bikes but only three were parked there Wednesday morning. [Ode Street Tribune]
Gun Fact Check — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took aim at Virginia for being one of the top suppliers of guns used to commit crimes in his city. He called out the state for having weak gun laws. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s office fought back, releasing a statement saying the state has some of the toughest gun laws in the country and its rates of crimes such as homicide and robbery are lower than in New York City. The New York Daily News checked out the claim, however, and found that Virginia has 3.9 killings for every 100,000 people. That’s compared to the state of New York — not just New York City — with 3.5 murders per 100,000 people. [New York Daily News]
Rabbits at Library — The library’s regular Paws to Read program is on hiatus in August. Instead of using dogs this month, one of the librarians suggested bringing in rabbits to join kids while they read. The librarian noted that the Muslim families she knows aren’t able to participate in the Paws to Read program because Islam discourages touching dogs. Three rabbits — Mocha, Copper and Apache — already took turns cuddling up with visitors at the Columbia Pike Branch Library. [Arlington Public Library]
Rabbit Population on the Rise — Arlington is one of the D.C. metro areas experiencing a rabbit boom. The county’s chief naturalist confirmed that there’s been a spike in most of Arlington’s neighborhoods. Because they typically don’t carry diseases or bother humans, the rabbit boom isn’t causing alarm. In fact, because the animals are prey for a number of other creatures, it’s believed their numbers will naturally come under control. [Washington Post]
Bezos to Buy Washington Post — Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon.com, has agreed to buy the Washington Post for $250 million in cash. The sale is expected to be completed within 60 days. Employees at the Post were reportedly shocked by the deal. [Poynter Institute]
Sietsema Skewers La Tagliatella — Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema has delivered a devastating half-star review of La Tagliatella, the European-based Italian restaurant chain that recently opened in Clarendon and is planning to open in Shirlington. The restaurant “makes a strong case for hazard pay for restaurant critics,” Sietsema wrote, and future locations (like Shirlington) “have my condolences.” In a subsequent online chat, Sietsema said that La Tagliatella was several notches below the Falls Church Olive Garden in terms of the overall dining experience. [Washington Post]
AAA Predicts Lower Gas Prices — Gas prices in Virginia will fall 6 cents after July 1 thanks to the bipartisan transportation package that passed the state legislature this year, AAA predicts. Another byproduct of the legislation: the state sales tax in Northern Virginia will rise from 5 to 6 percent. [Sun Gazette]
Forum on Transportation Projects — Arlington’s Transportation Commission will hold a public forum next week to review projects under consideration for funding by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. Projects proposed by Arlington County include the Columbia Pike Multimodal Improvement Project, the Crystal City Multimodal Center, ART fleet expansion (Silver/Blue Line mitigation), and a new Boundary Channel Drive interchange. [Arlington County]
The Washington City Paper reports that Post publisher Katharine Weymouth told a real estate conference this morning that the struggling company would like the new office to be “cheap, and near the Capitol, near the courthouses,” in a building “that’s a little bit lighter, a little more air.”
The ideal option for the paper might be right here in Arlington. Thanks to easy access to I-395, Crystal City and Rosslyn are about 10 minutes from the Capitol via cab or personal vehicle, except during rush hour.
Both locations are also Metro accessible. Crystal City is 5 Metro stops away from Capitol South station via the Yellow and Orange/Blue lines, and Rosslyn is 9 stops away, without a transfer, via the Orange/Blue lines. Both are 6 stops away from Judiciary Square, with a transfer to the Red Line.
Office rent in Crystal City and Rosslyn is inexpensive compared to D.C.’s Central Business District (CBD), where the Post is currently located (in an aging, monolithic building at 1150 15th Street NW). The average asking rate for office space in Crystal City is $39.43 per square foot, compared to $50.97 in the Washington CBD. The average asking rate in Rosslyn, which hasn’t been hit as hard by BRAC closures as Crystal City, is $42.32.
Outside of D.C.’s CBD, the NoMa and Capitol Riverfront submarkets might be desirable for the Post, but both are more expensive than Arlington, with average asking rates of $45.27 and $43.15 respectively.
Thanks to a vacancy rate of 21.8 percent in Crystal City and 16.4 percent in Rosslyn, the Post should have plenty of light and airy offices to choose from. Plus, offices that are currently under construction could be customized to the paper’s needs. Such buildings include 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn, soon to be the tallest building in the D.C. area, or the renovated 1400 Crystal Drive in Crystal City.
Construction could begin on Arlington’s largest office building by floor space, 1900 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, should it secure an anchor tenant like the Post.
A spokeswoman for the Rossyln Business Improvement District says the organization does not know if the Post is looking at potential offices in Rosslyn, but says the neighborhood would be a good fit for the 135-year-old institution.
“Rosslyn would a perfect location for The Washington Post, given its close location to Washington, D.C,” said Lisa Rabasca, the BID’s Director of Communications and herself a former newspaper reporter. “It is a quick cab or metro ride to Capitol Hill, the White House, and other major D.C. locations.”
“Rosslyn is already a media hub with three other large media companies — POLITICO, Washington Business Journal, and WJLA/ABC 7 and NewsChannel 8,” Rabasca continued. “We would welcome the addition of The Washington Post.”
“They’re obviously an institution that’s finding ways to reinvent themselves and look at their business… we would love to be a strategic element in such a reinvention,” she said. “They’re really thoughtful about their costs and the environment their employees work in, and Crystal City would have a lot to offer in that regard.”
Fox said she also has not heard anything about the Post looking at Crystal City. A Washington Post spokeswoman declined to comment on the company’s headquarters search.
If the Post were to move to Arlington, it wouldn’t be the paper’s first office here. For about a decade starting in 2000, the company’s internet staff — responsible for washingtonpost.com and other websites — was based in a 80,000 square foot office at 1515 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse. The staff was later merged into the Post‘s D.C. office.
Disclosure: The Crystal City and Rosslyn BIDs are ARLnow.com advertisers.
The Washington Post is out with a list of the “40 dishes Washingtonians shouldn’t live without in 2013,” and apparently the region can live without most food in Arlington.
Of the 40 restaurants and dishes, the Margherita DOC pizza at Pupatella (5104 Wilson Blvd) was the only Arlington original to make the list.
Also on the list was the Kufta sandwich at Astor Mediterranean, a D.C. restaurant that has a satellite location in Arlington at 2300 N. Pershing Drive.
Alexandria and Falls Church each tallied two restaurants on the list, which was compiled partially via suggestions from Twitter using the “#40Eats” hashtag. The vast majority of the list featured restaurants in the District.
Home Sales Up, Prices Down — October home sales in Arlington were up 45 percent by volume, year over year, but prices were down. The average home price decreased to $542,941 from $562,217 in October 2011, which was partially attributed to a larger proportion of rowhouse and townhouse sales in relation to detached single-family homes. [Sun Gazette]
‘Incredible Edible Book Contest’ — On Dec. 1, the Cherrydale Branch Library will hold an “Incredible Edible Book Contest.” Contestants will create something edible to represent a book title, scoring points for cleverness and originality. The entries will be judged by a panel that will include Justin Stegall of Bakeshop and David Guas of Bayou Bakery. [Arlington Public Library]
Arlington Teacher on Date Lab — Jose Fuentes — a teacher at Key Elementary School, we’re told — was set up on a date as part of the Washington Post’s weekly Date Lab feature. Unfortunately, his date was “not really a Clarendon person” and the dinner at Eventide did not lead to a second date. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Maryva2
Career Fair Coming Next Week — Registration is now open for the second annual Arlington Employment Center Fall Career Fair. The career fair will allow job hunters to “meet with over 50 area top employers with jobs in IT, administration, education, construction, banking, retail, healthcare, transportation and more.” It will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at George Mason University’s Founders Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive). Registration is free. [Arlington County]
Liberty Tavern Makes Fall Dining Guide — Clarendon’s Liberty Tavern is the sole Arlington entrant on food critic Tom Sietsema’s 2012 Fall Dining Guide. The guide lists 40 of Sietsema’s favorite restaurants around the region. [Washington Post]
Elevation Burger Still Expanding — Arlington-based Elevation Burger is celebrating the opening of its 30th store. The burger chain’s main corporate office is located in Ballston and an Elevation Burger restaurant is located at 2447 N. Harrison Street, in the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. [Restaurant News]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
The Washington Post reports that Reagan National Airport, which has recently been adding new flights, is becoming more crowded and less convenient.
In July, there were 75,465 more passengers passing through the airport than the same month one year prior — an increase that has led to longer security lines, according to the Post.
But from a passenger perspective, is the airport really “strained” by the increase, as the article suggests?
Major Redevelopment Proposed for Rosslyn — A developer has proposed tearing down four office buildings and two residential towers between N. Kent Street and Arlington Ridge Road in Rosslyn, and replacing them with four new buildings, including 2.5 million square feet of offices, residences, hotel rooms and retail space. If all goes well, the project might even attract a Ritz Carlton hotel and a Harris Teeter grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]
Nuclear Attack Would Be Survivable for Arlington — Most of Arlington would survive a terrorist nuclear bomb attack on downtown D.C., according to a federal report released earlier this month. The biggest danger to Arlington wouldn’t be the initial blast, but would be the nuclear fallout afterward. One scenario suggests the Columbia Pike corridor would be vulnerable to fallout given a specific set of wind conditions. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington ‘Peeps Show’ Contestants — Arlingtonians are a crafty bunch. A number of semifinalists of the annual Washington Post “Peeps Show” diorama contest are listed as Arlington residents. Among them are the creators of “Faster Than the Peep of Light?,” “GOPeep Primary Debate,” “A Peeps Eye View into an Apeepment on M St.,” and “Marine Corps Marathon: The Peep-les Marathon.”
Mailer Blasts GOP State Senate Candidate — A mysterious last-minute political mailer has been sent to voters in the 32nd state Senate District. The mailer attacks GOP state Senate candidate Patrick Forrest for being “openly homosexual,” supporting “illegal immigration reform” and for supposedly working for President Obama’s transition team. Forrest’s opponent, incumbent state Sen. Janet Howell, spoke out against the mailers, calling them “disgusting and despicable.” The mailing’s return address comes back to a parking lot, and the organization it purports to come from does not exist. [Blue Virginia]
Arlington Man Charged With Murder — A 27-year-old Arlington man has been charged with second degree murder in Hawaii. Christopher Deedy, a special agent with the State Department, allegedly shot a man during a late-night argument at a McDonald’s in Waikiki. [KHON 2]
Post Endorses Tejada, Hynes — The Washington Post has endorsed incumbent Democrats Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes for reelection to the Arlington County Board. The paper’s editorial board called their opponent, Green Party candidate Audrey Clement, “well informed” but “anti-growth.” Clement, meanwhile, is accusing Tejada and Hynes of being “in bed with developers.” [Washington Post]
D.C. Cop Seeks Legal Fees from Arlington Lawyer — A D.C. police officer is asking her ex-boyfriend, an Arlington lawyer, to pay her legal fees (more than $70,000) in a case that included accusations of “attempted stalking,” defamation and civil rights violations. [Legal Times]
Marines Want More Access to APS Students — The U.S. Marine Corps is asking Arlington Public Schools to relax its restrictions on military recruiting at school facilities. While more restrictive than Fairfax County or other local jurisdictions, the school system argues that its rules are consistent with federal law. The Marine Corps says its rate of enlisting Arlington students is far below expectations. [Sun Gazette]
The Washington Post and the Arlington Sun Gazette both endorsed Favola yesterday, passing over her opponent, Republican Caren Merrick.
“Our inclination at the beginning of the race was to favor Merrick,” wrote the Sun Gazette. “But as the campaign progressed, we’ve been left wondering exactly what her core political philosophy is, and how she will put it into action, if elected, in Richmond.”
“Democrat Barbara Favola, a knowledgeable veteran of the Arlington County Board, would be effective in the Senate from Day 1 representing this district,” wrote the Washington Post. “Ms. Merrick, despite her valuable business experience, has offered no plausible alternative for tackling [traffic] gridlock.”
Merrick holds a substantial cash advantage over Favola, however. As of Sept. 30, Merrick had $140,076 in the bank, compared to Favola’s $62,612.
Favola and Merrick are scheduled to debate tonight at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department (3900 Lee Highway). The debate is expected to begin around 7:30 p.m.
For the second year in a row, Arlington is conspicuously missing from Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema’s fall dining guide.
The only Arlington connections on the annual list of 40 restaurants are mini-chains Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza and Jaleo, which have Clarendon and Crystal City locations respectively — though one wouldn’t know it since the dining guide lists the location of each as “Washington, DC.”
In contrast to Arlington’s goose egg, neighboring jurisdictions Alexandria and Fall Church have three restaurants apiece in this year’s dining guide.
Arlington County, which has seen a boom of new restaurants in the past couple of years, was similarly snubbed in Sietsema’s 2010 Fall Dining Guide. Eventide (Clarendon) and Ray’s the Steaks (Courthouse) both made it on the 2009 Fall Dining Guide.
Depends who you ask.
Artisphere turned one year old yesterday, but the young venue has yet to become a consistent draw or even a household name. Instead, scenes of young people having fun at an Artisphere birthday bash over the weekend contrast with the cold, hard numbers from a recent Washington Post article: attendance 70 percent below expectations, operating expenses more than 25 percent over budget. Although Arlington County taxpayers helped front Artisphere’s $6.7 million build-out cost, only 28 percent of visitors are actually from Arlington.
The libertarian Cato Institute, which has been critical of government subsidies for entertainment venues like sports stadiums, took aim at Artisphere in a recent blog post.
“Surprise! Arts Center Predictions Flawed,” Cato’s headline blared. The article blasted the projections made in Artisphere’s original business plan, including the assumption that every single performance at Artisphere would be sold out and at capacity.
Cato also criticized the fact that Artisphere was built while other county budgets were being cut.
“Maybe the next time Arlington County — or any other state or municipality — needs to cut its budget, it might think about cutting subsidies for money-losing venues before going after police officers, firefighters, and math teachers,” Cato’s David Boaz wrote.
The Washington City Paper, however, is taking a more optimistic view. The weekly agrees with Artisphere managers, county leaders and Rosslyn business boosters who say that Artisphere is an important step toward a revitalized Rosslyn — a Rosslyn that stays active even after 5:00.
“Artisphere, I think, deserves to succeed,” wrote Alex Baca for the paper’s Arts Desk blog. “Its programming nicely walks the line between avant-garde and accessible, and varies from film to installation art to performances. It’s a punch in the gut to Wilson Boulevard’s otherwise un-fun corporate landscape.”
“Two or three years from now… it’s very likely that someone will be able to credit Artisphere for the third-place-ification of Wilson Boulevard,” Baca concluded. “Artisphere might not be Rosslyn’s panacea, but it very well might be its catalyst.”
That news comes as Washington Post employees reported on Twitter that the Post is shuttering all of its Virginia and Maryland local bureaus, with the exception of Richmond and Annapolis. The Post currently has local bureaus in Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Prince William County and elsewhere.
The Poynter Institute’s Jim Romenesko has a memo from the Washington Post Guild’s Facebook page confirming the closures. “The closure of the physical buildings does not mean that the Post will reduce its local coverage,” according to the memo.
No word yet on the Post’s plans for coverage in Arlington.