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Compass Agents Discuss the Impact of HQ2 in Northern Virginia

Now that Amazon has formalized their plans to launch a new headquarters at National Landing, the greater D.C. region is gearing up for expansive changes.

At Compass, our agents stand poised to put their local expertise to the ultimate test as they empower both new and current residents to navigate the complexities of the changing market in the wake of this historic announcement.

Are you looking to buy or sell, or simply seeking insight into what this news means for you? Now that Amazon has found their newest place in the world, let Compass guide you to yours.

Below, Compass agents weigh in on the impact that Amazon’s HQ2 will have on the real estate market in the Virginia area.

“Arlington is America’s only boutique county and Amazon picking Arlington was no accident. Arlington is the most educated community in the U.S. and coupled with quality housing, public transportation, the region’s best school district and exceptional lifestyle offerings in culture, fitness, shopping and restaurants, Arlington was the region’s best pick for the new headquarters.”– John Eric, Compass Agent

“Single family home stock in the Crystal City area has always been notoriously low. Families brought to the area by Amazon will likely be drawn to the established neighborhoods of North Arlington, while the adjacent neighborhoods such as Potomac Yards, Del Ray and the further south Old Town may see an increase in housing activity as well. Across the bridge in D.C., current Amazon employee clients are looking to remain on the blue and yellow line, focusing on the West End and Foggy Bottom area.”
— Marian Marsten Rosaaen, Compass Agent

“The news of Amazon coming to Crystal city should make home sellers in the entire D.C. metro area feel confident in making the decision to sell and achieve top dollar due to enhanced demand thanks to the thousands of Amazon employees flooding into our market.

Buyers who have been on the fence should also feel the same confidence knowing that they will be purchasing in a thriving area that is about to flourish and appreciate to new levels due to the same demand that will occur over the next few years.”
— Nick Dorcon, Compass Agent

“Once Amazon relocates their headquarters to Northern VA, all property values from Loudoun County to D.C. proper will be positively impacted. Period. No one city or town will be significantly better off.

Some people prefer to live close to the action and are okay with a smaller bungalow house or condo in Arlington while others want space, land and the sense of community Reston offers. Not everyone needs or wants to live right next to their place of employment, and HQ2 won’t change that. Don’t underestimate options to move people such as Metro, commuter share lines, telework, etc.”
Jonathan Fox, Compass Agent

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Crime Report: Police Searching for Man Who Allegedly Exposed Himself Along W&OD Trail

Arlington police are searching for a man who they believe exposed himself to people along the W&OD Trail near East Falls Church.

Police say the man was spotted with his pants down, masturbating near the N. Ohio Street bridge over I-66 around 2:40 p.m. last Saturday (Nov. 10).

However, by the time officers made to the area, they weren’t able to find him. They’re describing him as “a white male, 20-30 years old, wearing a red or orange hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.”

Full details from a county crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-11100143, 6200 block of 12th Road N. At approximately 2:40 p.m. on November 10, police were dispatched to the report of an exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims were walking on the W&OD trail when they observed an unknown male suspect near the Ohio Street Bridge with his pants down allegedly masturbating. Arriving officers canvased the area with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male, 20-30 years old, wearing a red or orange hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses.

And here are other notable incidents from the past week of crime reports:

ROBBERY, 2018-11120026, 1300 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 2:58 a.m. on November 12, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that earlier in the night, the victim was inside his residence when he heard a knock at the door. The victim went to investigate and, upon opening the door, was sprayed with an unknown substance and assaulted by an unknown suspect, causing him to lose consciousness. The suspect(s) stole cash and items of value and fled the scene prior to police arrival. The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY, 2018-11130247, 1200 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 9:15 p.m. on November 13, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that two male suspects entered a business and began selecting large quantities of merchandise. When confronted by an employee, one suspect took the employee’s cell phone and assaulted him. The suspects fled the scene with the cell phone and merchandise prior to police arrival. A canvas of the area yielded negative results. Suspect One is described as a black male, approximately 20-30 years old, 5’9″, average build, with medium length braided black hair with highlights at the eneds, wearing a gray or black jacket with the hood up and blue jeans. Suspect Two is described as a black male, approximately 5’9″, average build, bald, wearing glasses, a black jacket and black jeans. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2018-11120043, 3500 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 7:25 a.m. on November 12, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 4:30 p.m. on November 10 and 5:30 a.m. on November 12, an unknown suspect gained entry to a construction site and stole items of value. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

ATTEMPTED GRAND LARCENY, 2018-11110279, 3000 block of S. Randolph Street. At approximately 11:50 p.m. on November 11, police were dispatched to the report of an in-progress tampering with auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims heard noise and screams outside. When they looked outside, they allegedly observed an unknown male suspect inside their vehicle with the lights on. A passerby arriving home in the area made contact with the suspect and told the suspect to exit the vehicle, which he complied with. The suspect fled into a nearby building prior to police arrival. Arriving officers established a perimeter, located the suspect and took him into custody without incident. Jherson Cuadra, 21, of Alexandria, Va., was arrested and charged with Attempted Grand Larceny: Motor Vehicle Theft and Tampering with Vehicle.

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2018-11090099, 1700 block of N. Edgewood Street. At approximately 9:56 a.m. on November 9, police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 1:00 p.m. on November 8 and 8:45 p.m. on November 9, an unknown suspect(s) gained entry to a vacant residence. Nothing was reported missing. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2018-11090326, 1900 block of N. Van Buren Street. At approximately 10:37 p.m. on November 9, police were dispatched to the late report of a burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a residence and stole items of value. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION, 2018-11080251, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 7:07 p.m. on November 8, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted abduction. Upon arrival, it was determined that a verbal dispute between the victim and known suspect escalated and became physical. The victim attempted to use her phone to call for help, however, the suspect allegedly took it from her and began forcing her into his vehicle. Two witnesses came to the aid of the victim and challenged the suspect, who released the victim and left the scene in his vehicle. The suspect then returned and a verbal dispute took place over the victim’s cell phone as she retrieved it from the suspect. The suspect then fled in his vehicle prior to police arrival. Warrants for the suspect were obtained for Attempted Abduction, Assault & Battery, and Preventing and Emergency Call.

RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2018-11080180, I-66 WB at N. Sycamore Street. At approximately 2:42 p.m. on November 8, an officer on routine patrol was alerted to a License Plate Reader hit on a stolen vehicle. With the assistance of Virginia State Police, a traffic stop was conducted and the driver was taken into custody without incident. Demetrius Callaham, 29, of Washington, D.C. was arrested and charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle.

ROBBERY (late), 2018-11070119, 800 block of S. Dinwiddie Street. At approximately 11:43 a.m. on November 7, police responded to the late report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. on November 2, the victim was walking in the area when he was approached by an unknown suspect, who attempted to engage him in conversation. The victim was then grabbed by his hood by a second suspect and assaulted before the suspects stole his personal belongings and fled on foot. The victim suffered non life-threatening injuries that required medical treatment. Suspect One is described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 5’11”, with a skinny build and short, curly hair, wearing a black hoodie, a black or white shirt and black jeans. Suspect Two is described as a black male in his 20’s, approximately 5’8″-5’10”, heavy set, with short, curly hair, wearing a black hoodie, black or white shirt and black jeans. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-11070081, 200 block of N. Wayne Street. At approximately 10:00 a.m. on November 7, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 12:50 p.m. on November 5 and 8:00 p.m. on November 6, an unknown suspect gained entry to a residence and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

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Amazon’s Arrival Brings Plans for Transportation Transformation Around New Headquarters

For pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike, Crystal City has never been the easiest neighborhood to navigate — and Amazon’s looming arrival in the neighborhood has stoked fears that things could get worse in the area long before they get better.

But now that the tech giant has officially picked Arlington for its new headquarters, county officials are free to unveil their grand plans for allaying those concerns and fundamentally transforming transportation options along the Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yard corridor.

Virginia’s proposed deal with Amazon calls for the pairing of state dollars with money from both Arlington and Alexandria to make a variety of projects long envisioned for the area a reality — so long as the tech giant holds up its end of the bargain and creates targeted numbers of new jobs, of course.

It adds up to a complex mix of funding sources that defies easy explanation, but would be in service of a massive shift in the transportation network surrounding the newly christened “National Landing.” And, as last week’s nightmarish traffic conditions created by the shutdown of the Crystal City and National Airport Metro stations helped prove, the county is in desperate need of an upgrade in the area.

“All of these plans which been long gestating without a path to realization, they’re all going to come together,” County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey told ARLnow. “All the great things we’ve diagrammed on paper now have a path to reality.”

The main transportation projects included in the pitch to Amazon are:

  • A second, eastern entrance to the Crystal City Metro station
  • A second, southwestern entrance to the proposed Potomac Yard Metro station
  • A new pedestrian bridge connecting Crystal City to Reagan National Airport
  • An expansion of the Crystal City-Potomac Yard bus rapid transit system
  • Improvements to Route 1 through Crystal City and Pentagon City

“Many of these we’ve already included in our prior commitments, whether it was our [10-year Capital Improvement Plan] or other long-range planning documents,” said County Board Chair Katie Cristol. “But we pulled these together as a way of saying, ‘This is our overarching vision for the area.'”

Certainly, the aforementioned projects were all on various county wish lists over the years — the Crystal City Transitway expansion to Pentagon City is perhaps the most developed of any of the proposals, with the county convening a public meeting on the matter just last week.

The difference is that many of the projects have largely lacked the necessary funding to move forward. The county still needs another $15 million to fund the Transitway project, which is now set to come from the state, and the other efforts need substantially more money than that.

The second entrance at the Crystal City Metro station has been a particularly challenging project for the county.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a regional body doling out funding for transportation projects, recently awarded Arlington only a small shred of the funding it was looking for to move the station forward. The county’s gloomy revenue picture previously forced Arlington to push the project off into the long-term future, and it remained a very open question whether the second entrance would score highly enough on state metrics to win outside funding.

Those concerns vanish virtually all at once for the county, and that could be quite good news for both Crystal City residents and Amazon’s future workers. Though the exact details need to be worked out, the new entrance would be located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Crystal Drive and 18th Street S., with $82.5 million of the project’s $90 million price tag coming from the state through the Amazon deal.

Cristol hopes the project will “transform the beating heart of Crystal City” and encourage its new residents to rely on Metro. She notes that the Crystal City and Pentagon City Metro stations have seen a combined 29 percent drop in ridership since 2010, as the military and federal agencies moved out of the area, and hopes thoughtful transit strategies around Amazon’s arrival will reverse that trend.

Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the transit advocacy-focused Coalition for Smarter Growth, added that a second entrance will help the area manage demand as thousands of employees flock to one of Metro’s sleepier stations.

“By having entrances at each end of the platform, you’re reducing the people congestion at escalators and gates, which is huge,” Schwartz said. “And we know that walking distance makes a big difference in how many people use transit. So to the degree we can shorten it, we should do it.”

Schwartz also hopes the new entrance will provide better accessibility to the area’s Virginia Railway Express station (located a few minutes’ walk up Crystal Drive) for anyone looking to reach the more distant sections of D.C., or Northern Virginia’s outer suburbs. The VRE is even weighing an expansion of the station in the coming years, which would put an entrance directly across from the second Metro access point.

County Board member Erik Gutshall points out that the proposed bridge to DCA would land in just about the same spot. A feasibility study backed by the Crystal City Business Improvement District suggested that an office building at 2011 Crystal Drive would make the most sense for the pedestrian connection, which Gutshall notes also matches up with an entrance to the Mt. Vernon Trail.

All of that could someday add up to a promising transit hub in the area, which developer (and future Amazon landlord) JBG Smith has already begun advertising in its marketing materials.

“You can bike, walk, ride VRE and ride Metro, all together,” Gutshall said.

The project will need about $36 million to become a reality, with $9.5 million chipped in from the state and the rest coming from Arlington and the NVTA.

The county will need even more cash for the Route 1 improvements: about $250 million in all, with $138.7 million coming from the state’s Amazon deal. The proposal doesn’t include a funding stream for the rest, but the changes could be quite substantial indeed.

The documents don’t lay out details beyond a goal of improving the “pedestrian improvements” on the road, but officials say a guide could be the changes detailed in the county’s Crystal City sector plan. Those plans involve bringing the highway to the same grade as other local roads, eliminating the soaring overpasses that currently block off large sections of the neighborhood.

“This may, in fact, lead to the total reimagining of Route 1,” Dorsey said.

In all, the county expects to spend about $360 million — about $222 million in already committed funding and $137 million in future grants — to fund transportation improvements in the area. The state’s total could one day go as high as $295 million, depending how many workers Amazon ends up hiring for the area.

The county’s commitment is large enough to give some local budget minders heartburn.

“Where will Arlington get $360+ million in transportation bond capacity — since we are bumping up against our credit limit for the next decade or more, without meeting all school needs?” local activist Suzanne Sundberg wrote in an email. “Raising the tax rate would be my first guess. We can probably expect to see our real estate taxes double over the next 15 years.”

County Manager Mark Schwartz has often warned about the strain on the county’s debt limit precipitated by recent fiscal pressures, and taxes may well go up on residents in the coming years, even with the Amazon revenue windfall.

But Dorsey waived those concerns away, noting that the county has long planned for the spending associated with many of these projects, and will have hefty state dollars to rely on for the rest.

“Our investments are already planned,” Dorsey said. “We’re not bringing anything new to the table.”

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Celebrate the Holiday Season with the Arlington South Lions Club

The South Arlington Lions Club will be hosting its annual Christmas Tree Sale and Christmas Tree 5K on Columbia Pike this holiday season!

Benefits from the Christmas Tree 5K and Lions Club Christmas Tree Sale will provide resources for sight preservation, disaster relief, Arlington Youth activities, the Arlington Free Clinic and the Arlington Food Assistance Center. The Club will be providing Christmas trees to low-income families as well to provide joy during holiday celebrations.

The Lions Club will hold its 55th annual Christmas Tree Sale starting Friday, November 23rd through Monday, December 24th this holiday season. The Christmas Tree Sale returns to Columbia Pike for its 27th year on the Pike.

The Christmas Tree Sale will take place at the corner of Columbia Pike and South Four Mile Run Drive between 12pm-8pm (Monday-Friday) and 9am-7pm (Sat-Sun).

The William A. Wildhack Christmas Tree 5K will take place on the W&OD Trail from Columbia Pike to Bluemont Park and back on Saturday, December 1st at 11:00am. Participants can register for the 5K at www.safetyandhealthfoundation.org/christmastree.

Please join the South Arlington Lions Club in celebrating the holiday season by joining us for our events this year!

Winter Weather Advisory Issued for Arlington

Arlington County will be under a Winter Weather Advisory Thursday as a mix of snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain fall, causing a potentially slippery morning commute.

The National Weather Service says residents should “be very careful if you venture outside tomorrow.”

More from NWS:

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO 1 PM EST THURSDAY… * WHAT…MIXED PRECIPITATION EXPECTED. TOTAL SLEET AND SNOW ACCUMULATION OF UP TO ONE INCH, AND ICE GLAZE ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO A TENTH OF AN INCH EXPECTED. * WHERE…PORTIONS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, CENTRAL MARYLAND AND NORTHERN AND NORTHWEST VIRGINIA. * WHEN…FROM 4 AM TO 1 PM EST THURSDAY. * ADDITIONAL DETAILS…PLAN ON SLIPPERY ROAD AND SIDEWALK CONDITIONS IN SOME AREAS. THE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS COULD IMPACT THE MORNING COMMUTE. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… BE VERY CAREFUL IF YOU VENTURE OUTSIDE TOMORROW. WATCH YOUR FIRST FEW STEPS IN PARTICULAR AS YOUR STEP OR PATH MAY BE COATED WITH ICE. A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW, SLEET OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. EXPECT SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES, AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE YOU ARE CALLING FROM CAN BE OBTAINED BY CALLING 5 1 1. &&

AAA Mid-Atlantic is also cautioning motorists to take it easy on local roads and consider delaying non-essential trips.

Brace yourselves. We are likely in for a slippery commute tomorrow morning. People in the Washington, D.C. metro area will be waking up to a wintry mix Thursday morning, the National Weather Service and area meteorologists are forecasting. The forecast calls for a mix of “sleet, snow, and rain, and freezing rain.” Motorists and commuters should be especially careful on their morning commute and throughout the day, AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging, as the precipitation is expected to continue, either changing to rain or snow in the region.

Winter doesn’t officially arrive until the “Winter Solstice,” which falls on Friday, December 21, 2018. Although the Washington metro averages a blizzard “once every four to six years,” the District has an annual snowfall average of 15.5 inches, and we had snow in the forecast on the first day of Spring this year. Yet when it comes to rainfall, the city experiences an average of 115 days per year with precipitation. A “wintry mix” of precipitation can cause a big mess and pose special problems for area commuters.

“Thursday morning’s predicted wintry mix of precipitation will make for slippery conditions on roadways in our region,” said John B. Townsend II, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Roads that are slick or ice-covered can create a worst-case scenario for commuters. The first rule of safe driving during wet weather is to slow down to improve tire traction. Plus, given the darker morning and evening commutes, be especially cautious and look out for pedestrians.”

Hazardous storms and inclement weather are a factor in more than half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Given the weather forecast, AAA Mid-Atlantic is encouraging drivers to be prepared and offers the below tips:

Avoid braking and turning at the same time. Brake first, then turn, then accelerate. Accelerate and decelerate more slowly than you would on dry roads.

  • Leave plenty of space between your car and the car ahead of you. Increase following distances to at least 6 seconds.
  • Drive with your low-beam headlights on, even during daylight.
  • Be predictable. Use turn signals, make sure lanes are clear before changing and leave plenty of time to stop.
  • Avoid using cruise control, which can reduce traction.
  • If you start to skid, don’t slam on the brakes. Continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go.
  • Avoid puddles when it’s safe to do so.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Stay alert and minimize distractions. Don’t text, talk on the phone or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • In snow and ice, try not to stop when heading up a steep hill. After you’ve stopped, applying extra gas to get started again may only spin your wheels. Get some momentum going on a flat road as you approach the hill to help you reach the top, then reduce your speed and drive down the hill slowly.
  • If your visibility is so limited you can’t see in front of you, carefully pull off to the side of the road and stop completely.

File photo

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Grant Cardone Brings 10X Sales Training to the DC Metro…

Famed sales trainer Grant Cardone is bringing his world-class sales training to the Hyperfast Sales Bootcamp in Falls Church, Virginia on December 7th, 2018. This is a great opportunity for sales education, professional networking, and personal growth. Attendees also get a free ticket to Grant Cardone’s 10x event in Miami (while supplies last).

The Hyperfast Sales Bootcamp will offer four hours of networking and learning actionable business strategies from industry leaders: Grant Cardone will discuss mindset and closing techniques; Keri Shull will discuss team building and systems; Dan Lesniak will speak on “How to Dominate Any Market;” Sean Fritts will talk about follow-up systems; Lab Coat Agents Tristan Ahumada and Nick Baldwin will speak on the topic of automating lead response in “The Automatic Agent.”

Keri Shull says: “The only thing better than spending an hour learning from Grant Cardone is bringing him to Washington DC to help hundreds of agents explode their business in 2019!”

Dan Lesniak says: “There are very few opportunities to see trainers like Grant Cardone in this area. I have benefitted so much personally from events like this, so it is nice to bring one to the DC area so people can experience this without having to travel.”

Keri Shull and Dan Lesniak are the founders of Keri Shull Team and Orange Line Living. They’ve sold over $2 Billion in real estate, and sold over 400 homes in 2018 as of November. They’ve organized the Hyperfast Sales Bootcamp to make world-class sales training accessible to the Washington DC metropolitan area. The sales bootcamp will be especially helpful to salespeople working in real estate, tech sales, pharmaceuticals, and government. Small teams, large teams, and solo salespeople are welcome.

Hyperfast Sales Bootcamp offers group bundle pricing, and is still accepting sponsors. For more information, visit http://hyperfastsalesbootcamp.com or email [email protected]

With Amazon On the Way, You Can Help Fund More Local Journalism in Arlington

Dear Arlington,

We have some good news: Nearly nine years in, ARLnow is on solid footing.

Thanks to our loyal readers and valued advertisers (who you should support!) ARLnow is one of the few solidly profitable online-only local news outlets of its kind. Not publisher-driving-a-Tesla profitable, but we’re not in danger of going away anytime soon.

This is why we’ve never asked for donations.

But as you might have guessed, this is changing. Because while we often hear from people who say they love the site and don’t want it to change, we also hear from readers who want more.

Have you ever thought, said, commented or tweeted that ARLnow should investigate a certain community issue that’s important to you? Or that we should have had someone attend a certain meeting? Or written more in depth on a certain topic?

If so, you’re certainly not alone. We hear it all the time. But the fact of the matter is that the ARLnow you see today is the result of daily heroic efforts, stretching the journalistic resources we have at our disposal — given our current business model — to the max and then some.

During this crucial time for Arlington as a community, with Amazon on the way and plenty of challenges ahead, it is more important than ever for local journalism to thrive here. With the support of our community, we could uncover more truths, hold more people and institutions accountable, and tell additional local stories.

So while we’ve resisted it since our founding in 2010, it’s now time to ask: will you support us and help elevate the level of local journalism in Arlington?

Head to our new Patreon page and see how you can pitch in, what perks you can get, and what your monthly contribution could help fund.

Thank you!

Sincerely,

The ARLnow Team
(Scott, Jordan, Alex, Catherine, Dwayne and Vernon)

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Mediterranean Restaurant Replaces Mazagan on Columbia Pike

Mediterranean-themed restaurant Caspi is replacing the Moroccan eatery and hookah bar, Mazagan Restaurant, next to the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.

Located at 2901 Columbia Pike location, Mazagan Restaurant was purchased last week and will be replaced with a restaurant featuring a menu of Mediterranean and European cuisine, one of the owners told ARLnow. He added that the restaurant is aiming for a soft opening this coming weekend, followed by a grand opening in late November.

A peek inside the windows reveals a torn apart inside with construction tools and signs of major renovation. A Virginia liquor license application from Huseynov and Sam LLC is posted in the window facing Columbia Pike.

Mazagan Restaurant opened at the spot in May 8, 2014 after replacing the quirky electronics store Venus Stereos & TVs. The website for the Moroccan eatery says “closed” and “under construction.”

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School Board Vigorously Defends Washington-Lee Renaming Process in New Court Filings

Opponents of the decision to change the name of Washington-Lee High School have long claimed the School Board improperly cast aside its established engagement process on the matter — but the school system has now provided its most robust rebuttal of those charges to date.

A trio of students at Washington-Lee are hoping to block the school’s renaming with a lawsuit targeting the School Board and other top Arlington Public Schools officials, arguing primarily that the Board rushed a vote on the issue and failed to follow its proscribed process for accepting public comments on the name change.

The Board and its lawyers have already asked a judge to toss out the suit, claiming that the question of whether Board members followed their proposed engagement schedule is irrelevant in the legal proceedings. But, in a legal memorandum filed in late October, the APS lawyers argue extensively that the Board “properly followed its procedures in voting to rename W-L,” should the students’ legal challenge survive a judge’s scrutiny.

In short, name-change opponents have accused the Board of misleading the community by promising a two-step process, and not delivering; they argue the Board pledged to first revise its policy for naming all county schools, then consider whether to change Washington-Lee’s name specifically. Instead, the Board changed the naming policy, then voted to rename W-L all on the same night back in June.

The students backing the lawsuit, who have asked the court to withhold their names despite some giving on-camera interviews about the case, even claim a recording of their meeting with Board Vice Chair Tannia Talento bolsters those arguments. In that conversation, Talento did admit that “there was never any intentional engagement to the community about specifically changing [the name of] Washington-Lee.”

However, in the Oct. 26 motion, the School Board’s attorneys argue that name-change challengers have misunderstood what Board members promised to do.

The motion points specifically to the Board’s vote in October 2017 to adopt a four-stage process for drafting a new school naming policy. That process involved a staff committee identifying the names of schools that “may need to be considered for renaming” based on a revised policy governing school monikers, which ended up including W-L. Then, the Board agreed to “in tandem” adopt the new naming policy and “begin a renaming process for any schools that may need to be renamed.”

That means the lawyers believe Board followed its planned process during its June meeting, despite the claims to the contrary.

The Board’s attorneys do note that Superintendent Patrick Murphy did proposed a “modified procedure and timeline” for the process in January, which did allow for a separate round of community engagement and Board vote on a potential W-L renaming.

However, the lawyers write that “at no point did the School Board vote to adopt this alternate procedure and/or its accompanying timeline,” making it merely a proposal and not set policy. The attorneys even go on to describe Murphy’s January plan as a “non-binding, contingency plan” that “never supplanted the naming process or its accompanying timeline that had been previously adopted by the School Board in fall 2017.”

“Plaintiffs’ specific allegations that the School Board gave no advance public notice that the revised naming policy would be considered for a vote — and that the amendment was not circulated to the public in advance of its June 7, 2018 meeting — are both factually contradicted by the plaintiffs’ own amendment complaint and exhibits, and are legally irrelevant in any event,” the lawyers wrote.

Certainly, there are a variety of other legal arguments that the Board’s lawyers make to justify their earlier request that the case be dismissed. They believe the students don’t have standing to sue — as all of them are currently seniors, and won’t be attending the school by the time it’s set to be renamed in fall 2019 — and that the lawsuit improperly targets Board members and school leaders in their personal capacities, rather than the Board as a whole.

The attorneys also point out that a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge dismissed a similar legal challenge to the renaming of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church earlier this year. That school is now known as Justice High School.

The students and their attorney now have until Dec. 7 to file a motion rebutting the Board’s claims. A judge is set to hold a hearing on whether the case can go forward on Dec. 19.

Meanwhile, the Board has pressed ahead with the renaming process, in the hopes of voting on a new name for Washington-Lee next month.

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Arlington Pet of the Week: Oliver

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Oliver, a 10-year-old bulldog with a face that breaks hearts.

Here’s what his owner, Justin, had to say about him:

This is Oliver but his friends call him Gus. He’s a 10 yr old American Bulldog, weighing in at 110lbs now, but he came to us as a puppy from Arizona. This breed’s agility, intelligence, and loyalty made them very helpful for handling cattle. Their strong jaws and muscular build was perfect for hunting wild pigs in American south where they had no natural predators. But by the end of World War II, the American Bulldog was almost extinct until a few breeders scoured the south for specimens to revive the breed. Today, the American Bulldog is in no danger of extinction and is mostly a family-friendly companion.

Oliver is a perfect gentleman who watches the neighborhood closely and when we have a visitor he lets us know with a few barks. But, that usually wears him out and he heads back to his bed for a siesta. At the dinner table he is very well behaved and never begs, but he does watch intently and after a while his sad face makes it impossible to not give him at least one little table treat. During the dog days of summer he especially loves watermelon, and he can eat it right out of your hand so gently you would think he was a puppy.Everyone in the neighborhood knows and loves him and he enjoys playing with kids and other dogs.

Ollie enjoys resting just about anywhere. He is a gentle giant who loves to snuggle close and his soothing snores help humans fall asleep like listening to the sounds of the ocean. But, it could also means he needs a CPAP machine for dogs.  At the end of the day he likes his family time where he can rest with his rawhide and relieve the stress of living in northern VA. He’s a great buddy!

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos, they don’t fit in our photo galleries!

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care is the winner of six consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Awards, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year and a proud supporter of the Arlington County Pawsitively Prepared Campaign.

Becky’s Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in Arlington and all of Northern Virginia, as well as PetPrep training courses for Pet Care, CPR and emergency preparedness.

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Small Biz Focus: Virginia Supports Veterans, V3 Certification Opportunity

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

By Sindy Yeh

In honoring our veterans this past week, we would like to share a wonderful program the Commonwealth of Virginia sponsors in support of those leaving the military seeking employment.

Did you know the Commonwealth of Virginia is one of the most veteran-friendly states in the nation?

Virginia is comprised of the most veteran-owned small businesses in the country. Not so surprising considering Virginia is home to the Pentagon in Arlington and the world’s largest naval base in Norfolk. There are hundreds of thousands of active-duty service members serving within the Commonwealth’s borders and many have chosen to call Virginia home upon leaving the military.

With more than 750,000 veterans located in Virginia, the Commonwealth has had the fastest growing veteran labor force over the past 5 years and is projected to continue to have the fastest growing veteran population over the next five years.

With such a highly skilled and adaptable workforce living here, Virginia recognizes the opportunity to promote veteran talent to the civilian workforce and to help businesses become more successful by focusing on hiring the right people for the job.

One such initiative, the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Program, provides education, training and connectivity resources to assist companies to implement nationally recognized best practices in recruiting, hiring and retaining veterans. Virginia companies who have completed all V3 training requirements and have submitted a veteran hiring plan will be recognized as an official “V3-Certified Company.”

Furthermore, V3 qualified companies with fewer than 300 employees may qualify for up to $10,000 in grants, with $1,000 being awarded per eligible veteran that is hired and retained for at least one year.

Several Arlington companies are officially V3-Certified, namely Lunarline, CACI, Cydecor, G4S Secure Solutions, First Division Consulting, Shoulder 2 Shoulder, By Light Professional IT Services and National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association.

We encourage Arlington companies to consider becoming V3 certified to seize the opportunity to find the workforce they need within the veteran community.

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