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Wilson Tavern to Throw Closing Party Tonight

by Ethan Rothstein | May 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 3,564 views | No Comments

Wilson Tavern closing party flyer (photo via Facebook)(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Wilson Tavern, a Courthouse bar that has developed a following for theme nights like “Condoms and Candy Necklaces,” is throwing one last party tonight before it closes its 2403 Wilson Blvd location.

The bar and its neighbor, Northern Virginia Mixed Martial Arts, are being displaced so the building can be torn down to make room for a new hotel, which was approved in March.

Tonight’s party will feature “bench dancing,” 16-ounce cocktails and Fireball shot skis.

The demolition of Wilson Tavern is expected to begin soon, and construction of the hotel, slated to be an eight-story Hyatt Place, is expected to start this summer. The hotel includes a ground floor retail space for a restaurant.

Wilson Tavern opened in December 2011, replacing the former Kitty O’Shea’s.

Photo via Facebook

Rosslyn Street Gets New Name for Marathon

by Katie Pyzyk | October 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm | 1,046 views | No Comments

Marine Corps Marathon street sign in Rosslyn (photo courtesy @StayArlington)A Rosslyn street is getting a new name, at least for a few days.

Signs reading “Marine Corps Marathon Drive” will adorn street poles on Wilson Blvd. from N. Lynn Street to N. Moore Street in honor of Sunday’s annual marathon.

The signs will remain through race day to signify how much the Marine Corps Marathon has become a part of the Arlington community.

“It is fitting that we rename part of Wilson Boulevard ‘Marine Corps Marathon Drive.’ The renaming anticipates a day that inspires and energizes us all, while also paying tribute to our heroic U.S. Marines,” said Mary-Claire Burick, the new president of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

“On MCM day, Rosslyn is eager to welcome runners and celebrate their accomplishments as the host of the Marine Corps Marathon Finish Festival,” Burick said.

The Marine Corps Marathon route starts near the Pentagon and runs through Rosslyn, up Lee Highway, down Spout Run and into the District, before crossing the 14th Street Bridge into Crystal City and ending near the Marine Corps War Memorial in Rosslyn. The race, which draws more than 30,000 runners, starts just before 8:00 a.m. on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of @StayArlington

Wilson Blvd Closure Catches Business By Surprise

by Ethan Rothstein | August 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm | 3,305 views | No Comments

Rhodeside Grill during Wilson Blvd closureWilson Blvd between N. Rhodes Street and Courthouse Road was closed this weekend to remove a crane from the “superblock” construction site, and at least one business owner says he’s out thousands of dollars as a result.

Wilson Whitney, co-owner of Rhodeside Grill at the corner of Wilson and Rhodes, estimates he lost as much as $3,000 during the closure, largely because he wasn’t given proper notification of the closure.

“I was given no notice or warning this was going to take place,” Whitney wrote in an email. “This has virtually closed down our restaurant… I could have at least staffed and stocked accordingly or maybe even closed for some of our own improvements.”

Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Laura G. Smith said the county granted a transportation right-of-way permit to Crane Rental Company to close that section of Wilson Blvd from 9:00 p.m. Friday to 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

“All permits are granted with the understanding that the company will notify all affected property owners in the adjacent work area,” Smith said. Crane Rental Company president Michael Scott told ARLnow.com that he was unfamiliar with the specific notification process undertaken.

Work on one of the under-construction apartment buildings on the “superblock” is expected to wrap up by year’s end. The other is expected to be complete by the spring of 2014.

Photo courtesy of Wilson Whitney

Armed Robbers Steal Bible, Cell Phone

by ARLnow.com | August 13, 2013 at 10:30 am | 1,788 views | No Comments

Police car lightsA pair of gun-toting men robbed someone of a cell phone and a bible along Wilson Blvd Sunday night.

The armed men approached the victim on the 6000 block of Wilson Blvd around 11:20 p.m. Sunday. Wearing ski masks, the men took the victim’s cell phone and a bible, then fled on foot into a wooded area, according to Arlington County police.

Police K-9 units, along with Fairfax County and U.S. Park Police helicopters, were brought in to try to find the suspects, who were described only as Hispanic males. The men were not located and remain at large.

Cement Spill Cleaned Up in Rosslyn

by Ethan Rothstein | August 12, 2013 at 11:30 am | 1,122 views | No Comments

A cement truck accidentally dumped a small load of cement in the left lane of westbound Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn this morning.

The cement lay on the street for about an hour and a half before crews came to clean it up at approximately 10:30 a.m., according to a police officer at the scene. The cement was still wet when it was removed, avoiding a much longer, more laborious cleanup process had it dried.

The lane of traffic — in front of Artisphere between N. Lynn and Kent Streets — was closed for about 100 feet as the crew worked to clean up the spill.

Morning Poll: Two Left Turn Lanes on Wilson in Rosslyn

by ARLnow.com | July 26, 2013 at 9:45 am | 1,133 views | No Comments

New traffic pattern on Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn New traffic pattern on Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn

Earlier this summer, county road crews reconfigured the eastbound (downhill) lanes on Wilson Blvd approaching N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn.

Instead of having one lefthand turn lane and two straight through lanes, the middle lane was converted to a second lefthand turn lane.

The impacts of the reconfiguration are most noticeable at rush hour. Whereas a big traffic impediment was once drivers trying to merge from the middle lane into the single turn lane, now the single through lane is backed up, at points causing jams at intersections.

Some drivers cheered the move.

“Finally… a solution to the rush hour commute,” said local resident Eric Hagerstrom, in an email to ARLnow.com. Other drivers, however, complained about the new backups.

If you’ve driven through it, what do you think of the lane change?

 

County Board Approves Lower Speed Limits

by Ethan Rothstein | July 17, 2013 at 10:30 am | 1,488 views | No Comments

New speed limits on Clarendon BlvdThe County Board unanimously approved lowering the speed limits on key stretches of Wilson Blvd, Clarendon Blvd, N. Sycamore Street and N. Meade Street Tuesday evening.

The Board acted in line with its Master Transportation Plan in lowering the speed limits on the key local arteries.

The speed limit on Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd was lowered from 30 to 25 mph between Rosslyn and Washington Blvd.

Meanwhile, the speed limit on N. Meade Street was lowered from 30 to 25 mph between Arlington Blvd and Marshall Drive., while N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd. to 17th Street N. will see its speed limit drop from 35 to 30 mph.

The change in speed limit is effective immediately, and county staff said they expect the signs reflecting the change to be installed Wednesday.

“The county’s actions to lower speed limits on segments of some key roads are in keeping with the Master Transportation plan, and are intended to make these roads safer for everyone — drivers, pedestrians and cyclists,” said Board Chair Walter Tejada.

The Board also put a public hearing on the agenda for its Sept. 21 meeting to hear public feedback for lowering the speed limits on N. Lynn and Fort Myer Drive between the Key Bridge and Arlington Blvd. from 30 to 25 mph.

As part of the same resolution, the Board changed the County Code to reflect Virginia Department of Transportation’s imposed speed limits on I-66 and I-395. The speed limits of the roads were not changed but, for instance, the code will now officially reflect that I-66 is a 45 mph road between the Virginia state line and N. Lynn Street and 55 mph between N. Lynn Street and Fairfax County.

Board to Consider Decreasing Speed Limits

by Katie Pyzyk | July 8, 2013 at 11:45 am | 1,989 views | No Comments

Stretch of Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse (photo via Google Maps)The County Board may decide to decrease speed limits on a number of roads throughout Arlington, including the main thoroughfares from Rosslyn to Clarendon. Board members are scheduled to take up the issue at their meeting on Saturday (July 13).

The Department of Environmental Services conducted studies to examine the viability of changing speed limits on several streets. Information was gathered regarding factors such as vehicle speeds, collisions, traffic volumes, pedestrian and bicyclist activity and development patterns. Studies were performed in the following areas: N. Meade Street from Arlington Blvd to Marshall Drive (formerly Jackson Avenue), Clarendon Blvd from Washington Blvd to N. Oak Street, Wilson Blvd from Route 110 to Washington Blvd, and N. Sycamore Street from Washington Blvd to 17th Street N. and N. Roosevelt Street from 17th Street N. to the county line.

The studies indicated that speed limits along N. Meade Street, Clarendon Blvd and Wilson Blvd could be decreased from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. The N. Sycamore Street/N. Roosevelt Street studies indicated the speed limit could be lowered from 35 miles per hour to 30 miles per hour.

Arlington’s Master Transportation Plan includes a policy to design streets with lower vehicle speeds without impeding or diverting traffic. Part of that involves adopting a 25 mile per hour speed limit in the county’s “downtown” areas where pedestrian traffic is high, such as along Wilson Blvd and Clarendon Blvd.

The Board also has been asked to authorize the correction of speed limit discrepancies along parts of I-395 and I-66. According to VDOT records, the speed in the regular lanes of I-395 from Alexandria to D.C. is 55 miles per hour. The county code, however, was recently discovered to list a portion of the segment as 35 miles per hour, and that the entire segment is 55 miles per hour. There is a similar discrepancy between county code and VDOT records regarding the HOV lanes. Additionally, the county code does not include speed limits for I-66, but VDOT lists the limits at 45 miles per hour and 55 miles per hour, depending on the section in question.

County staff members recommend Board approval for the speed limit discrepancy corrections and for decreasing the speeds along the four stretches of county roads.

The cost of installing new speed limit signs to reflect the changes is estimated to be $5,000. Funds are available in the Fiscal Year 2014 Department of Environmental Services Transportation Engineering and Operations operating budget.

County Mulling Wilson Blvd Lane Reduction Proposal

by ARLnow.com | June 25, 2013 at 3:40 pm | No Comments

Wilson Blvd lane reduction proposal in Bluemont (photo via BCA)

Arlington County is mulling a proposal to narrow Wilson Boulevard west of George Mason Drive from four lanes to two through lanes and a center turn lane.

The proposal was conceived and endorsed by the Bluemont Civic Association (BCA) last fall, as part a recommendation to widen the sidewalks along Wilson Boulevard in the neighborhood.

The association’s “Task Force on Arterial Road Sidewalks and Pedestrian Safety” came up with the plan after considering various ways to widen the narrow sidewalks to Americans With Disabilities Act standards.

Demonstration of narrow sidewalks along Wilson Blvd in Bluemont (photo via BCA)Two possible options — undergrounding utilities (thus removing utility poles that partially block the sidewalk) and acquiring additional right-of-way from private property owners along Wilson Boulevard — were rejected as too expensive and otherwise infeasible.

The solution endorsed by the task force and the BCA membership instead calls for a two-phase project that, in the first phase, would halve the number of through-lanes west of George Mason Drive while adding a center turn lane and two bike lanes.

The second phase of the proposed project would widen the sidewalks to ADA standards, while relocating the utility poles.

Wilson Boulevard in Bluemont, west of George Mason Drive (via Google Maps)In a PowerPoint presentation, the task force said such changes would not impede the flow of traffic but would improve safety.

“Two through lanes with a center turn lane typically provides a better line of sight and safer transitions for cars entering the traffic lanes,” the presentation said. “Speeding may be reduced while maintaining the same overall travel time. Reduced crash risks for all users are expected.”

The presentation compared the Bluemont stretch of Wilson Boulevard to nearby Washington Boulevard, which has only two lanes and higher peak traffic volumes.

(more…)

APS to Sell Wilson School to Developer

by ARLnow.com | June 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm | 4,376 views | No Comments

Wilson School (photo courtesy Preservation Arlington)

The Arlington School Board has announced its intention to sell the Wilson School property, at 1601 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, to a developer.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, the School Board instructed Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy to sign a non-binding letter of intent to sell the aging building to developer Penzance.

The School Board said the property could not sufficiently accommodate a new elementary school, and thus it would best serve the school system to sell the property and use the proceeds to fund its ongoing school building projects. Those projects are intended to help APS keep up with rising enrollment, expected to surge to nearly 30,000 students by 2021.

The potential sale price has not been disclosed, but Penzance bought a nearby office building, 1555 Wilson Blvd, for $67 million in 2011.

Penzance plans to use both properties for a large-scale mixed-use development. The development plan also calls for Penzance to acquire Arlington’s Fire Station #10 and the 39-unit Queens Court Apartments, owned by the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing.

Today (Wednesday), Arlington County announced that it is beginning a formal planning process for the redevelopment. Dubbed the Western Rosslyn Area Planning Study, the process will include the formation of a County Board-appointed working group, outreach to local community groups, a charrette, and numerous other public meetings.

As detailed in a press release, the county seeks to use the redevelopment as an opportunity to create 1.5 acres of new open park space, to build a new fire station that better meets the fire department’s needs, and to add more committed affordable housing units, among other objectives.

The goal of the study is to develop a Conceptual Plan and related policy recommendations that will guide future development and achieve the following County goals that have been identified for the study area:

  • County park, recreation and open space that is at least 60,000 square feet in size;
  • New fire station;
  • Affordable housing;
  • Energy efficiency / sustainability; and
  • Mix of uses and compatible heights and densities.

“This is a rare opportunity to meet community goals in a dense part of the County with little available land,” said Donnellan. “I am excited about the prospects of the possibilities of future public/private development and look forward to working with the community over the next year.”

The working group is expected to be appointed in July and to deliver a conceptual plan to the County Board in early 2014. The County Board is expected to vote on the plan in the second quarter of 2014, paving the way for any future development on the site.

(more…)

Morning Poll: Lower Speed Limits on Wilson, Clarendon Blvds?

by ARLnow.com | June 11, 2013 at 10:00 am | 715 views | No Comments

A rough stretch of Clarendon Blvd near N. Scott StreetNext month, the Arlington County Board is expected to consider a proposal to lower the speed limit on Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards between Rosslyn to Clarendon.

As reported by the Sun Gazette, the proposal would lower the speed limit on the key arteries, between Washington Blvd and Route 110, from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

The lower speed limit is in keeping with the county’s Master Transportation Plan, which calls for a 25 mile per hour speed limit on streets with lots of development and pedestrian activity.

What do you think of the proposal?
 

Korean Embassy Offers County Free Land Use

by Katie Pyzyk | May 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm | 3,202 views | No Comments

Embassy of the Republic of Korea propertyThe Embassy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) has offered Arlington County the use of prime land in the Courthouse area at no cost. The County Board is scheduled to vote on the lease agreement at its meeting this Saturday, May 18.

The two parcels of vacant land run along Clarendon Blvd, between N. Adams Street and N. Barton Street. The ROK Arlington Embassy Annex building lies adjacent to the land, but faces Wilson Blvd. The land parcels up for grabs currently house nothing but fenced asphalt and gravel lots.

The embassy reports that the space is only used a few times each year during large meetings. It decided to offer the land to the county as a goodwill gesture.

Terms of the lease would allow the county to use the land free of rent as long as it maintains the parcels. The county may use the property for any legal use, provided it notifies the embassy prior to changing the land use. Any permanent improvements on the land would first require consent from the embassy.

The lease agreement would be in effect for a minimum of two years and would continue until terminated by one of the parties. The county staff report indicates maintenance costs associated with the lease would be minimal and no significant fiscal impact is expected.

Although the county staff report recommends the Board approves the deal, so far no firm plan has been developed for the future of the land. The county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) performed a preliminary land analysis and came up with some potential uses and improvements to the property. CPHD is prepared to solicit public input on possible uses for the site.

Construction Begins on Glebe Road Pedestrian Improvements

by Katie Pyzyk | April 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm | 1,690 views | 45 Comments

Construction at Glebe Road and N. Fairfax DriveWork has begun in Ballston on one of the three Glebe Road intersections slated to receive safety upgrades this year.

Last week, workers began construction on the intersection of Glebe Road and N. Fairfax Drive. The improvements are part of a pedestrian safety improvement project along Glebe Road that will spread to the Wilson Blvd and Carlin Springs Road intersections later this year.

The upgrades include installing new traffic signals, pedestrian crossing signals, street lights and trees. The intersections will also be reconfigured to improve safety. For example, the pedestrian “pork chop island” will be removed in front of Marymount University’s “Blue Goose” building, according to Tom Hutchings, Capital Project Manager with Arlington’s Department of Enviromental Services Division of Transportation.

“It tightens up the crossing distances at each intersection,” he said.

The red light camera that monitors northbound Glebe Road traffic at Fairfax Drive will remain in use during construction. Although the timing of the traffic lights will not change immediately, it will be evaluated later and tweaked as necessary.

“The timing is continually analyzed with every project we do,” Hutchings said. “It will be studied upon completion of the new lane geometry to optimize the intersection.”

Construction at Glebe Road and N. Fairfax DriveThe new traffic lights that were strung over the intersection last week are temporary; the permanent lights will be mounted on upgraded poles with mast arms. The previous poles were based on standards from the 1970s and did not meet the electronic wiring and mast arm standards in the current codes.

The improvements at the three intersections are part of a $2.5 million VDOT project that is locally administered by Arlington County. About 80 percent of the funding comes from federal and state sources, and about 20 percent comes from the county.

Although a number of pedestrian-vehicle accidents have occurred along this stretch of Glebe Road in recent years, such as the deadly cab accident last July, the intersections have been the subject of extensive studies since 2000.

“It is precipitated from acknowledgement of the high level of pedestrian activity in the area,” Hutchings said. “It’s to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety along Glebe Road where a lot of development has occurred over the past 10 years, and pedestrian use of Glebe Road has increased.”

According to Hutchings, the addition of a bike lane for eastbound cyclists on Fairfax Drive occurred during an earlier phase of this project, as did the installation of traffic lights last year at N. 9th Street and N. Vermont Street.

Work on the Fairfax Drive intersection is expected to be finished by mid-June. The Wilson Blvd. intersection should be completed in August, and Carlin Springs in October.

Steel Plates on Wilson Blvd in Ballston To Be Removed

by ARLnow.com | March 4, 2013 at 10:55 am | 26 Comments

N. Randolph and Wilson Blvd steel plates (photo courtesy Frank Murphy)(Updated at 11:00 a.m.) A pair of steel plates that have been causing a bumpy ride for motorists heading westbound on Wilson Boulevard near the Ballston Common Mall may soon be removed.

The plates were installed near the intersection of Wilson Boulevard and N. Randolph Street early last year after residents of the nearby Archstone Ballston Square apartments complained about noise coming from a Dominion Virginia Power vault cover, underneath which sits electrical equipment for their building, according to the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services (DES). The vault cover (located in the left-hand westbound travel lane) was broken and causing loud noises when cars drove over it.

The plates were to be installed over the vault cover as a temporary measure until it could be fixed. However, as of last month, the cover still wasn’t fixed and the plates were causing problems for drivers. In addition to producing a bumpy ride, one driver says the plates damaged his car.

“Recently I hit the corner of the grate with my vehicle and it knocked the alignment off my car,” resident Frank Murphy claimed in a Feb. 27 email to county officials. “I am sure each person listed on this email has traveled west on Wilson Boulevard and noticed these dangerous grates. The corner of one grate sticks up 4 inches.”

Murphy said the county refused to reimburse him for the alleged damage, saying the plates actually belong to Archstone. Archstone and Dominion, meanwhile, are finally planning to repair the vault covers and remove the steel plates, as soon as this month, according to the county.

“Dominion Power has approved the new vault designs, a contractor has been paid to do the installations,” according to DES spokeswoman Laura Smith. “Vault work should hopefully be completed before the end of March 2013.”

That’s little consolation for Murphy and his repair bill.

“I have to pay the money out of my pocket,” he told ARLnow.com. “It’s bulls–t!”

Photo courtesy Frank Murphy

Mario’s Pizza House Property Up for Auction

by ARLnow.com | December 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm | 7,340 views | 99 Comments

(Updated at 3:00 p.m.) The land under a long-time Arlington institution is on the auction block.

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.

“The C-2 zoning lends for a unique opportunity in that the developer has the chance to change the landscape of the current parcels while simultaneously collecting rent,” the auction listing says.

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.

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