Join Club

Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar.

🕗 News recap

The following articles were published earlier today — Apr 16, 2024.

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on Wednesday in Arlington, from our event calendar.

🌧️ Wednesday’s forecast

Expect showers mainly between 9am and 3pm, with cloudy skies and a high near 70. Southeast winds will be 5 to 7 mph and a 70% chance of precipitation, amounting to less than a tenth of an inch. Wednesday night, anticipate a chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9pm, turning into likely showers and potential thunderstorms between 9pm and 3am, followed by a chance of additional showers and thunderstorms. The night will be mostly cloudy with a low around 59, and southeast winds of 6 to 8 mph. The chance of precipitation is 60%, with new rainfall amounts less than a tenth of an inch, though thunderstorms may yield higher amounts. See more from Weather.gov.

💡 Quote of the Day

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
– Mother Teresa

🌅 Tonight’s sunset

The MonumentCam screenshot above is used with permission of the Trust for the National Mall and courtesy of EarthCam.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to discuss the day’s happenings in the comments.

0 Comments
Pedestrian bridge washed away along Lubber Run in 2019 (photo by Ashley Hopko)

Arlington is facing a flood of questions about stormwater management around Lubber Run.

The county postponed a public meeting about potential flood mitigation measures in the watershed, originally scheduled for last Wednesday, “due to staff needing more time to respond to last minute community requests,” Stormwater Outreach Manager Aileen Winquist told ARLnow.

In place of the meeting, the Arlington County Civic Federation hosted its own gathering at which about 50 residents gave voice to problems with flooding and erosion. Concerns included costs associated with flood risks and damage to trees and wildlife.

“There appeared to be consensus among the residents and advocates of the need to work together constructively on cost/benefits and mutual pain/gain,” the federation told ARLnow.

The meeting was not recorded, but Civic Federation Secretary David Smith, who owns a home in the Lubber Run watershed, argued that development in Arlington has caused flood zones to expand. Smith said he and other homeowners now face higher flood insurance premiums and worry about finding future homebuyers.

“We’re all worried that our property value is about to just tank,” he said.

A map of Arlington watersheds and flood calls (via Arlington County)

Since the last Lubber Run flood resilience meeting in September, the county has continued to study adding more storm drains near Woodlawn Park to mitigate flooding, according to Winquist. Smith said many residents are wary of what this will mean for the recreation area.

“We don’t want anybody tearing up this beautiful park of ours, you know?” Smith said. “And then we’re going to have to deal with construction, and [some residents] just don’t want any part of that.”

Though any solution will likely have some drawbacks, he insisted that the county must do something. The meeting summary notes that erosion now exposes many mature trees’ roots and has even toppled trees in Lubber Run Park.

Torrential flooding in 2019 caused severe damage to the park, destroying two pedestrian bridges for which the county only recently started to build a replacement.

Arlington last month received nearly $300,000 in federal funds to build rain gardens to filter and absorb stormwater runoff in Barcroft. Although USA Today recently named Arlington the second most climate-resilient place in the country, experts still predict more intense flooding in coming decades due to climate change.

The county has not yet released a new date for its meeting on stormwater management in the Lubber Run watershed.

0 Comments

It is the decision of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) to implement the Proposed Action: the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update (Pentagon Master Plan) as the framework to guide future decisions regarding land use and infrastructure at the Pentagon site and Mark Center. The Pentagon Master Plan aims to provide an update to the existing conditions at the Pentagon and Mark Center and presents projects and revisions to land use categorizations that will address the specific needs to reduce the Pentagon’s environmental impacts and advance sustainability, security, and resilience. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review has been completed through preparation of a Final Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate environmental impacts arising from implementation of the projects. WHS has concluded that no significant impacts to the human or natural environment will result from implementation of any projects, and recognized negative effects will be reduced by adherence to standard best management practices, applicable permit and consultation conditions, and standard operating procedures. This decision is further documented in the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed on March 20, 2024.

This notice announces the availability of the FONSI to implement the 2024 Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

The new eight-story, 144-unit affordable housing complex constructed atop the former Central United Methodist Church building in Ballston is now officially open to tenants.

The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) and the Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) marked the unveiling of the long-awaited low-income housing development, now dubbed Unity Homes but formerly known as Ballston Station, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.

“We are proud that Unity Homes at Ballston is finally here — this project encountered multiple obstacles on the path to redevelopment, but together with our partners at CUMC, Arlington County, and so many others, we pressed forward,” APAH President and CEO Carmen Romero said in a press release.

The complex, located at 4201 Fairfax Drive across from the Ballston Metro station, includes 108 one-bedroom apartments, 24 two-bedroom apartments, and 12 three-bedroom apartments, with rent set at levels affordable to those making between 30-60% of the area median income (AMI). Fifteen units are reserved for residents earning 30% or less of the AMI.

Additionally, the building has 5,000 square feet of amenity space, including an outdoor courtyard, flex space for recreational activities, multiple community rooms, and a daycare center capable of accommodating up to 90 children.

APAH is employing a full-time coordinator to “connect residents with local resources, provide individualized support and organize resident-centered programming onsite,” per the release.

Originally proposed as a mixed-income apartment building by local developer Bozzuto, the Arlington County Board approved the project in 2017. APAH took over the project in 2019, increasing the number of units and setting them all aside for affordable housing. In 2021, the County Board granted APAH a three-year extension for construction.

A groundbreaking for the $84 million project was held in December 2021. Among other financing sources, Arlington County allocated over $19 million in Affordable Housing Investment Funds.

During yesterday’s ceremony, Romero recalled a pivotal moment in 2019 when APAH issued a termination letter shortly after receiving approval from the County Board. However, after some reflection, the nonprofit rescinded the letter, acknowledging that discontinuing the project would have been a “big mistake.”

“When we started construction, I feared for the worst after everything we’d been through,” Romero said.

The obstacles and the prolonged process caused a few of the other partners to be concerned as well.

“There were moments when my building committee and I were worried that this project would literally take 40 years to get done,” Central United Methodist Church Pastor Rev. Sarah Harrison-McQueen said during the ceremony.

Despite the struggle, various partners said they were glad the project is complete and believe it will make a difference in many people’s lives.

“It really is about the people living here and the people that are in service to the community,” CEO of Virginia Housing Tammy Neale said. “We believe that these almost 150 residents will enjoy calling this place home.”

Unity Homes resident Janine Butler also took the stage to express excitement for her new home.

“I look forward to being a new resident and to explore my new neighborhood and neighbors and to visit the church,” she said.

The full press release about the grand opening is below.

Read More

0 Comments

Two years after launching in Arlington, MOLTN Cookies founder Neal Miglani tells ARLnow his business is not only thriving, but expanding.

The reason, Miglani says, is due to the company’s unique business model.

“Our excitement stems from more than just new flavors or tech,” he said. “It’s about our strong belief in our licensing model. This approach lets us quickly adapt and expand, making MOLTN Cookies accessible to cookie fans everywhere.”

Upon arriving at the Arlington location at 6017 Wilson Blvd, customers will not find the typical bakery setup. Instead, they are greeted by a kiosk and a spacious kitchen located further inside. The local cookie business started out by offering its products exclusively through delivery or takeout, a model often referred to as a “ghost kitchen.”

For Miglani, opening a ghost kitchen — one of many that have popped up around Arlington since the start of the pandemic — was the ideal response to the “huge financial investment” associated with operating a traditional restaurant space.

“We didn’t want to do a traditional buildout like you see so many other places spending an absurd amount of money on,” Miglani told ARLnow.

To cut costs, MOLTN approached Allspice Catering in 2022 about co-renting their space at the Dominion Hills shopping center. Soon after, MOLTN moved into the shared space, which was already outfitted with a complete kitchen and the necessary equipment for baking.

“We just had to bring in a freezer and our mixers and we were good to go,” Miglani said.

MOLTN has similar partnerships with several other small businesses across four of the company’s existing locations, including Chantilly, Ashburn and D.C.

Miglani says he is now planning on partnering with ice cream businesses because they bring in a profit in warmer months, when there is lower demand for warm, gooey cookies.

“We’re really busy in the winter time and ice cream is busy in the summertime,” Miglani said. “So it kind of creates the perfect balance and opportunity to fill in that slow season.”

Each partnership MOLTN pursues is intended to complement the sale of pastry goods, says Miglani. For example, if customers were to stop by MOLTN’s Ashburn location, which has partnered with the pizzeria Eataliano, they could order an Italian deep dish pizza and a “bake-to-order” cookie.

“It’s a win-win for everybody because they are selling our products and they are creating more channels for them to be able to sell stuff,” Miglani said.

MOLTN has also partnered with with the Indian-American breakfast eatery Eggholic in Chantilly, and Teddy & The Bully Bar in D.C.

Believing there’s no other cookie business like his, Miglani says he’s confident MOLTN will be the one left standing if and when others begin to crumble.

“I think we’ll see a lot of closures in the business but we’re not too worried about that because we’ll still be here,” he said.

0 Comments

This regularly scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channelEnjoy!

Question: After last year’s supply crunch, are we seeing a return to a more normal volume of inventory coming to market?

Answer: A severe lack of supply has been a well-documented problem in the housing market since 2022 with buyers suffering through a historically under-supplied market in 2023. Eyes have been focused on new listing inventory in 2024, looking for a trend reversal that brings some balance to the market and provides buyers with some relief.

False Hope in February, Back to Reality in March

January was the first sign of trouble with another month of year-over-year declines in new listing volume – a 31st straight month of negative year-over-year volume for Northern VA and 32nd straight month of declines for Arlington. February finally ended the streak and gave us (and most of the region) the first month-over-month INCREASE in new listing volume in years…finally!

But the optimism for a full reversal of supply trends came crashing down in March with another significant double digit decrease in new listing inventory locally and regionally, undoing (plus some) the modest year-over-year increase in February.

The charts below show data for Arlington and Northern VA. Similar patterns can be found in the DC Metro, Mid-Atlantic, and other local markets.

Arlington New Listing Volume Year-over-Year Change, Monthly/Quarterly

Northern VA New Listing Volume Year-over-Year Change, Monthly/Quarterly

Lower Active Listings = Strong Price Growth

The result of continued year-over-year declines in new listing volume has unsurprisingly led to a drop in total active listings because demand has remained strong. Supply levels are roughly where they were in early 2022, which marked the peak of the COVID-related housing frenzy before rates jumped. The abnormally low supply levels and strong demand have led to significant increases in home values so far this year, including in the usually-stable condo market.

Most data (and my experience in the market this year) suggests that homes values are 8-10%+ higher in 2024 than they were in 2023. Condo growth does not seem that high, maybe 4-6%, but that is significant for the condo market which is generally pretty flat.

Arlington and Northern VA Active Listing Supply Year-over-Year Change, Monthly

Arlington and Northern VA Average and Median Price Year-over-Year Change, Quarterly

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10CA

2 Comment
Attendees at the Arlington County Board meeting Wednesday, March 22 on Missing Middle Housing (staff photo)

Arlington spent $74,000 in two months combating a lawsuit over Missing Middle housing, public records show, drawing the ire of a County Board candidate.

The county, which hired law firm Gentry Locke at the start of this year, paid $49,251 for services in January and $24,536 in February, according to invoices. Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign for the lawsuit — which alleges that Arlington failed to adequately study the impacts of Missing Middle before approving the zoning change — has raised about $69,000 since last June.

The change allowing for the development of smaller multi-family homes in previously single-family-only neighborhoods is one of the defining issues of this year’s Arlington County Board race.

One contender for the Democratic nomination, Natalie Roy, asked residents to “please consider contributing to the lawsuit” in a newsletter last week.

“We are in the homestretch, and the lawsuit needs your support,” wrote the real estate agent and outspoken critic of Missing Middle. She told ARLnow that she agrees with the plaintiffs’ assertion that the county should have conducted more impact studies.

“That is what the core of this lawsuit is about, and because I wholeheartedly agree that those studies should have been done, I support the lawsuit,” Roy said.

In the newsletter, she suggests that the county should acquiesce to the plaintiffs and spend the money going to legal costs elsewhere.

“During these tight budget times, when the County Board is about to approve a steep tax rate increase, these monies could be better spent on keeping a nature center or community library staffed full-time or expanding after-school programs,” Roy wrote.

Fellow Democratic primary candidate Julie Farnam says she is also supporting the suit against the county. Farnam said she attended and contributed to a March 24 fundraising event for the lawsuit and plans to attend the next one later this month.

And James DeVita called opposition to Missing Middle, also known as Expanded Housing Option (EHO), “the central issue for my campaign.”

County Board candidate Tenley Peterson, meanwhile, declined to comment on this story because, as Vice-Chair of the Planning Commission, she is a defendant in the lawsuit. The Commission unanimously supported Missing Middle last year.

JD Spain did not respond to a request for comment, but his website says he “successfully pushed the county… to end exclusionary zoning” in his role as president of the NAACP Arlington Branch.

The candidates are all competing in the June 18 Democratic primary. A single County Board seat, that of outgoing Chair Libby Garvey, will be up for grabs in November.

As for the lawsuit, Arlington Neighbors for Neighborhoods — the group responsible for the fundraising campaign — said the county’s attorneys have been filing numerous discovery requests in recent months, adding to their costs.

The county has asked for extensive records about the plaintiffs’ communications regarding Missing Middle as well as “all documents they created or reviewed in the process of purchasing their Arlington homes,” the group said.

“Responding to these requests is very expensive,” Neighbors for Neighborhoods said. “NfN has been raising money through GoFundMe with more than 400 donations made.”

The lawsuit is on track to go to trial in July despite the county’s multiple motions to have it dismissed. Some housing experts believe the litigation may be deterring local developers from filing EHO applications, since a loss on the county’s part could jeopardize previously approved projects.

Even if the county loses the suit, the ultimate impact is unclear. The Virginia Supreme Court struck down a similar zoning ordinance in Fairfax County early last year — but within a couple months the county’s Board of Supervisors re-adopted the same change after fixing procedural issues.

2 Comment
An actual human photographed their phone for this bit of AI-related stock photography (Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash)

Given the recent kerfuffle on Instagram over ARLnow’s use of an AI-generated image to illustrate a story, we wanted to update readers on our use of artificial intelligence.

AI technology is rapidly developing and the extent to which it will ultimately reshape the media industry is unclear. The CEO of a news organization down the street from us, in Clarendon, believes AI will “eviscerate the weak, the ordinary, the unprepared in media” and is part of “a very fundamental shift in how people relate to news and information… as profound, if not more profound, than moving from print to digital.”

That may be, but for the time being our use of AI is much more practical in nature.

As an organization, we believe that AI as it currently exists is a tool that allows us to improve efficiency in secondary tasks so that we can focus human effort on the two things that matter most to our readers and our business: news reporting and client service.

What does that mean, in practice? It means that AI is used in some of the dozens of back-end automations we have deployed over the past few years, taking things like posting on social media, reviewing event submissions, and writing article summaries off the plates of our editors and reporters.

The following are ten ways we are using AI at present.

  1. Transcribe interviews
  2. Re-check articles for typos and grammar issues upon publication
  3. Evaluate submissions to our event calendar and automatically approve those that meet certain criteria
  4. Write summaries of published articles for use in our ARLnow Press Club morning newsletter and elsewhere
  5. Generate suggested social posts for sponsored content and analyze links for use in readership and engagement stats
  6. Write the weather forecast in Morning Notes (based on National Weather Service data)
  7. Select emojis for Morning Notes social posts
  8. Select the Thought of the Day and an appropriate weather emoji in the Daily Debrief post
  9. Select emojis for announcements and events section of email newsletter
  10. Automatically reformat articles to be printed and framed

Additional planned uses of AI include automated creation of a weekly “things to do” post based on event calendar data, plus optimizing and monitoring the performance of sponsored content and display advertising on behalf of our local advertisers.

There are also several ways we are explicitly not using or no longer using AI.

ARLnow has tested several potential tools for writing news articles based on source material such as press releases. None produced work that was deemed to be publication quality. Humans, frankly, are better and more interesting writers, who can add local context to stories in a way that AI struggles with.

Our teams likewise avoid using AI to write emails, preferring a more personal touch.

Finally, we have suspended our use of AI-generated images. Previously, such illustrations were used in certain situations where a more generic image was preferable to a specific, real-life local photo.

Though a slight majority of respondents to a morning poll were okay with AI images in certain situations, the poll found that 48% of readers did not want us to use such images under any circumstances.

So, we have commissioned human-created illustrations for the real estate and local business stories for which AI images were previously used. And the following rendering of a sad robot artist will be the last custom AI image we use for awhile. Farewell, robot!

A confused robot artist faces an angry crowd (generated via DALL-E)

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

2 Comment
2832 Wilson Blvd (photo via Google Maps)

After a year of delays, plans to open a well-regarded Mediterranean restaurant in a former Clarendon music venue appear to have fizzled.

The space that the Fairfax-based Kirby Club identified for a second location back in 2022 is now listed as “available” on The Crossing Clarendon’s retail leasing page.

The shopping center’s general manager, EJ Enciso, declined to comment on the restaurant’s status but said “maybe we’ll have an update within the next few weeks.”

The Eastern Mediterranean-inspired eatery planned to occupy the spot previously filled by the IOTA Club, a popular attraction that closed in 2017 after more than 23 years in business. Kirby Club, founded by award-winning restaurateur Rose Previte, had pushed back its opening date at 2832 Wilson Blvd from spring 2023 to fall of that year.

The restaurant’s Mosaic District location opened in late 2022 to plenty of fanfare and has received a number of accolades since.

While Kirby Club’s future is in doubt, a new barbershop is opening next door. Signage for Bold Blade Barbershop, which promises “masterpiece” haircuts that heighten individual senses of style, has appeared at 2836 Wilson Blvd.

3 Comments

Still planning for summer camps? Check out the great variety of art projects and fun teachers at Art House 7 in Arlington. We have morning, midday, and afternoon weekly camps for ages 5-13. Among our themes: Clay Creations; Animals Around the World; Arts & Crafts; Draw, Paint & Sculpt Faces & Animals; Drawing & Printmaking. We’ve recently added PaperPalooza (paper making and bookmaking) and Jewelry camps. You can see all our listings on our website.

Art House 7 has been a haven for artists of all ages since 2015, offering classes, camps, and workshops. We’re located on Langston Blvd. near the Lee Harrison Shopping Center. We have an ample 2-story studio, and plenty of free parking.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list