Arlington, VA

ARLnow Weekend Discussion

We are now officially in the back half of August and the final innings of summer.

That is especially true if you define summer as the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which pools are open and shandies are still stocked on supermarket beer shelves.

For those staying here or heading out of town, we hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend. Here, for your weekend (beach) reading list, are the most-read stories on ARLnow this past week.

  1. Netflix Documentary Shines Spotlight on Shadowy, Arlington-Based Christian Organization
  2. Group of Black Parents Say Racial Disparities in Arlington Schools Need to End
  3. Pete’s New Haven Apizza in Clarendon Has Closed
  4. The Legend of Marceytown and Arlington’s Buried Treasure
  5. Subway in Ballston Closing Within the Month
  6. Whitlow’s Seeking to Renew Lease
  7. Shelter to Host Kitten Yoga Event with Adoptable Felines
  8. JUST IN: Serious Pedestrian Crash on Columbia Pike
  9. Cheesetique to Open New Location in Shirlington
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Officials and activists are asking the county courts to make a newly-proposed mental health jail diversion program more inclusive.

Arlington and Fairfax public defenders joined several advocates during a Thursday evening meeting about the proposal, and urged county officials to broaden the mental illnesses diagnoses accepted in the program and not require plea bargains as a participation requirement.

Brad Haywood, who leads the Office of the Public Defender for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church, shared a list of changes his office wants the county to make to the proposal before the county submits the application to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Juliet Hiznay, a special education attorney by training, joined him on Thursday to express concern that only some “serious mental illnesses” were considered shoe-ins for the program, which is called the Behavioral Health Docket.

Hiznay said she was worried that people with developmental disabilities (like ADD or autism) could also benefit from the court-supervised treatment plan, but would be considered “exceptions” under the current eligibility criteria.

Much of the evening focused on discussing whether the county should require participants to plead guilty to their charges before participating in the program (as is currently proposed) or allow them to follow the docket program and then have a trail (as Fairfax County does.)

“Because it requires a guilty plea it literally can’t decriminalize mental illness,” said panelist Lisa Dailey, who analyzes and advises mental illness decriminalization policies at the Treatment Advocacy Center. “So if that’s your goal you’re failing right out of the gate.”

When Arlington Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Lisa Tingle asked Fairfax Public Defender Dawn Butorac asks whether the Fairfax docket convicts participants of their charges if they fail out of the program, Butorac said Fairfax prosecutors set no such deals.

“Telling your client ‘if you fail this is what we’re going to do’ is sending the wrong message,” Butorac said.

Haywood pointed out that another benefit of nixing the pre-plea requirement was getting people into treatment fast — something not possible if the county’s tedious discovery process slows down the process.

Haywood also noted that requiring pleas to participate in the mental health service could lead innocent people to say they were guilty in order to access services. He acknowledged that was an “extreme” hypothetical but could be avoided if the county followed Fairfax County’s example of only contending with pleas after a participant finishes their docket treatment plan.

“We are much more inclusive than Arlington,” Butorac said of Fairfax’s docket, which was created after a mentally ill woman was tasered.  “When we drafted it, we wanted it to be as inclusive as possible.”

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A new trendy clothing and accessories store is now joining the ranks of businesses opening up in the Ballston Quarter mall.

Called Francesca’s, the new store opened today (Friday) and sells women’s apparel as well as shoes, hats, jewelry, and hair accessories.

Ballston is one of several D.C. area locations for the chain, which also has opened up shop in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, as well as in D.C, Tysons, Springfield, and Alexandria. Despite the local expansion, the company has also faced some recent struggles.

The new store occupies a 1,600 square foot space on the second story of the mall, across from another women’s clothing store, Gossip Boutique, and watch retailer Bering.

A PR rep told ARLnow that the store is offering a buy one, get one 60% off deal through Wednesday, August 21.

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Photo via Cindy Kane

This Community Post was written by Encore Stage & Studio and underwritten by Washington Workplace.

With the sharpening of pencils and cooling temperatures, fall brings with it a special sense of refreshment, clean slates and beginnings. Encore is thrilled to present several new Education offerings for the start of the 2019/2020 season.

Just arrived to the theatre scene? Join Encore for an Open House to experience a sample class. Get familiar with the class and meet teaching artists, making the first day of class as easy as a fall breeze!

Ready to step up your training? Encore is proud to launch a series of Monday evening programming especially geared toward more experienced theatre lovers. Covering topics such as stage combat, Shakespearean spirits, Broadway choreography and more, these classes will engage students and give their audition room experience a boost.

Submit your own community post here.

Arlington will host an all-things-bat event later this month for families looking to learn more about the nocturnal mammals.

Next Saturday, August 24, people can check out the festival at the Gulf Branch Nature Center (3608 Military Road) from 6:30-9 p.m. The event will include a live bat show as well as games, crafts, and a walk to teach participants more about bat habitats.

The bat shows are led by Leslie Sturges, who runs the Save Lucy Campaign conservation program. Sturges is a former Smithsonian zookeeper who founded a Virginia bat rescue center called Bat World NOVA.

Sturges also wrote a book called “Lucy’s Story,” which follows the life of an imaginary little brown bat named Lucy as bats nationwide struggle with a deadly fungus that’s decimating many bat populations.

Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint previously told ARLnow that the epidemic has hit the county hard, and asked residents’ help in saving any of the remaining ones.

“Eight years ago as an officer I would periodically bring in little brown bats,” she said. “I haven’t seen one in about two years.”

Organizers for the Arlington festival wrote in the Facebook event description that the event is a chance, “enjoy a thoroughly batty evening and add to your knowledge of local night life.”

Registration is required for the festival, and costs $5. Anyone interested in attending can sign up on the county’s website, or by calling the Nature Center at 703-228-3403.

Image via Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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1st Time Home Buyer Seminar

Learn how to buy your first home and save money while doing it Monday, September 9.

Mistakes made while purchasing a home could cost you thousands of dollars! They are avoidable, you just need to learn how.

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This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for Nick’s email newsletter and also receive exclusive discounts and offers.

Just before the closing of Falls Church’s Mad Fox brewpub last month, founder/brewer Bill Madden was kind enough to agree, after wrapping up the closing and taking some time to collect his thoughts, to answering some questions I’d sent him.

Early this week, Madden responded and we’ve had a back-and-forth covering a range of topics, focusing on the challenges facing not only brewpubs like Mad Fox, but for restaurant/retail in our area in general.

In his statement announcing Mad Fox’s closing, Madden cited competition becoming “fierce since our opening in 2010 with… an overwhelming number of choices for the local population,” such that staying open was “no longer sustainable.”

Digging into that a bit more, Madden emphasized the intensity of that competition as we see an increase in “restaurant options that are hot for a few years and then fizzle out,” “(w)ine and beer shops opening restaurants,” and supermarkets “with buffets and bars and more prepared foods to take home or just eat there like a restaurant.”

Factor in meal-prep services like Blue Apron, and you have a lot of businesses trying to cover higher rents on smaller pieces of the pie.

Mad Fox faced unique challenges nearly from the start. “When we opened the only way to sell a pint of beer to a consumer on site was to have a food component in Virginia,” Madden said. “That changed in 2012 with SB 604,” the law allowing brewery taprooms to serve full pours on-site.

604 was instrumental in the proliferation of new breweries in Virginia, but for a large brewpub in a high-rent district like Mad Fox, it made things just that much more difficult. “If we opened with a smaller footprint in a lower rent location and had gone into canning our product we would be in a much different position,” Madden told me.

I brought up my hunch that most taprooms will become brewpubs of sorts over the next few years; Madden responded that “the food component needs to be addressed, consumers need food with their beer, period,” and that he could see brewpubs in “high rent, suburban, urban locations,” albeit “in a much smaller space.”

Even those smaller spaces might be hard to find, however. Madden sounds downright prophetic.

“Rents either need to go down or there will be blight… I see plenty of shuttered spaces and I would ask anyone in Real Estate the question ‘where is the hot area to be in like a Reston Town Center or Arlington used to be?’ They all say they have not a clue.”

Reflecting on the legacy of Mad Fox, Madden says he’s most proud of how they supported the area’s beer scene, “promoting what were then new breweries with our festivals and events when many were just starting out.”

He recently attended the opening of Old Ox’s new Middleburg location and visited Quattro Goombas Brewery in Aldie, and while his future plans aren’t yet known, he says he plans to stay in the beer business in some capacity. Hopefully he’s not out of it for long; we’re missing something without him.

Upcoming Tasting Events at Arrowine: 

Friday, August 16 (hey, that’s today!), 5-7 p.m.: Rafael Mendoza of Hardywood Brewing Company
Friday, August 23, 5-7 p.m.: David Hartogs of Rocket Frog Brewing Company
Saturday, August 24, 3-6 p.m.: Frankie Quinton of Atlas Brewing Company
Friday, August 30, 5-7 p.m.: Stephanie Boles from Old Ox Brewing
Friday, September 13, 5-7 p.m.: Tom Blanch of Sierra Nevada
Saturday, September 14, 1-4 p.m.: Joe Kasper of 3 Stars
Saturday, September 21, 1-4 p.m.: Devon Callan of Reason Beer Company
Friday, Novermber 8, 5-7 p.m.: Jesse Ploeg of Potter’s Craft Cider

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Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend.

Check out the Arlington Realty website for a full list of homes for sale and open houses in Arlington. Here are a few highlights:

2408 16th Street N.
5 BD/5 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Ttr Sotheby’s International Realty
Listed: $2,135,000
Open: Saturday 2-4 p.m.

 

2011 N. Pollard Street
4 BD/3 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Re/Max Allegiance
Listed: $1,100,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

 

749 S. Granada Street
4 BD/3 BA, 1 half bath villa/townhouse
Agent: Fairfax Realty Select
Listed: $850,000
Open: Sunday 12-6 p.m.

 

510 S. Kensington Street
3 BD/2 BA single-family home
Agent: Re/Max Allegiance
Listed: $699,000
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

 

4823 29th Street S.
2 BD/2 BA condo
Agent: Kw Metro Center
Listed: $515,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

 

4500 S. Four Mile Run Drive #1115
2 BD/2 BA condo
Agent: Fairfax Realty of Tysons
Listed: $369,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

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If you cruise Rosslyn streets late at night, you might want to avoid Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn over the next month.

From Sundays through Thursdays between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., Wilson Blvd is scheduled to be closed between N. Oak and N. Quinn streets.

The closures are expected to start Sunday, Aug. 18, and continue through the end of September.

The street will be closed to allow Dominion workers to upgrade power service to handle Arlington Public Schools’ new Heights Building and the redevelopment of 1555 Wilson Blvd as luxury condos and retail, according to a press release.

Cars and buses are expected to be detoured north to Key Blvd during the closures, though the sidewalk on the south side of the street will remain open for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

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For some diners, Ballston ends at Glebe Road, and a handful of restaurant owners at the western end of the neighborhood are feeling left out.

As numerous businesses have sprung up in the central part of Ballston, the western edge has suffered a series of high-profile closures.

The epicenter of the new restaurant openings is the newly-redeveloped Ballston Quarter mall and the ground floor of Ballston Exchange, just across Wilson Blvd from the mall — both in the central portion of the neighborhood, where several new residential and office buildings are also under construction.

“The gathering place is on the other side of Glebe Road,” said Brian McBride, one of the owners of Mussel Bar and Grille (800 N. Glebe Road). He listed off a number of places near his restaurant that have closed.

Cheesetique, which closed in June, is the most recent example. The storefront is still vacant, with lingering signs advertising long-gone desserts. Applebee’s and Il Forno along the same stretch of Glebe Road have both also closed over the last few years.

Manny Tangle, owner of Filipino restaurant Bistro 1521 (900 N. Glebe Road), said the improvements and changes taking place across Glebe Road have had no discernible effect on his businesses — for better or worse.

Restaurateurs along the west side of Glebe Road almost unanimously agreed that the biggest challenges for local businesses all stem from traffic issues. McBride and Tangle both agreed it can be difficult for visitors to find the right places to park. The parking for Mussel Bar and Grille, for instance, is only available by making a somewhat complex set of turns behind the building.

For Bistro 1521, the big frustration is being stuck between the “No U-Turn” signs at Fairfax Drive and Wilson Blvd, so if someone misses their turn to get to the restaurant, it’s several more blocks before they can turn around and make another pass.

Even at Good Company Doughnuts and Cafe (672 N. Glebe Road), which had a stronger than expected first few months, co-owner Kate Murphy said most of their customers came from the residential areas west of Glebe Road. The sparse number of crosswalks and perpetual construction meant the eatery didn’t see as much foot traffic from people visiting the Ballston Quarter area across the street, according to Murphy.

But it’s not all gloom and doom for these restaurants. Mary Marchetti, owner of Stageplate Bistro (900 N. Glebe Road), said the challenges of the west side of Glebe Road also come with some unique opportunities.

“Our side of Glebe Road tends to be more affordable to the independent restaurateur,” Marchetti said. “SER, us, Mussel, Bistro… would any of us have been able to afford Ballston Quarter? No, the rents are too high and we don’t have that kind of clout. So here we are, on our little independent strip of restaurants.”

If anything, Marchetti said the biggest challenge for the archipelago of independent restaurants is overcoming the reputation that west-of-Glebe is where eateries go to die.

“Ending that stigma will help drive businesses here,” Marchetti said. “The dining scene in Ballston has so much to offer. Ballston should be a dining mecca.”

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