Arlington, VA

ARLnow Weekend Discussion

Happy Friday, Arlington! A warm September weekend filled with local events (and a County Board meeting) is on tap.

For those catching up after a busy week, here are the most-ready ARLnow articles of the week:

  1. Mass Panic in Ballston After Unsubstantiated Report of Active Shooter
  2. Line Stretches for Blocks at Amazon Job Fair in Crystal City
  3. Arlington Lands at No. 6 on Best ‘Cities’ for Singles List
  4. Mysterious Time Capsule in Ballston To Be Opened Next Year
  5. Large Property Next to Glebe Elementary School For Sale for $8.8 Million
  6. Car Runs Into House After Fleeing Traffic Stop
  7. It’s True, We’re Finally Launching an Alexandria Site
  8. Video: Man Seen Peering into SUV Near Reported Vehicle Break-In

Feel free to discuss those or any other local topics of interest in the comments.

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Planned climate change protests in D.C. may cause major disruptions during Monday morning’s commute.

Arlington County Police are warning those driving into the District to expect delays. Also expected: an increased police presence in Arlington.

“The National Capital Region may experience traffic disruptions during the morning commute on Monday, September 23, 2019, due to protests in Washington D.C.,” ACPD said in an advisory Friday afternoon. “Commuters are encouraged to follow local news reports and adjust travel as necessary. Police will monitor conditions and the public can expect to see an increased law enforcement presence throughout Arlington County.”

Protesters affiliated with the group Shut Down DC plan to block key roads and intersections to “bring traffic and business as usual to a standstill.” Their goal, according to Washingtonian, is “creating major havoc… to get people in power to pay attention and enact change” to address climate change.

“Shut Down says its blockades are being strategically placed to impact the most powerful in DC: the intersections chosen will all be near places of money or power; the group is staying out of the way of public transportation,” Washingtonian reported.

Monday’s planned action follows a worldwide climate change strike today. Millions took to the streets in some 150 countries around the globe, organizers said, while a youth-organized event in Arlington drew dozens to the Courthouse area.

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The following op-ed was written by Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington).

The Labor Day holiday may have passed but the rights of workers remain at the forefront of my agenda.

When Democrats flip the General Assembly this year, it will be the first progressive legislature in modern history. Democrats will finally be in position to make government work for all Virginians, not just the wealthy few and big corporate donors. While Virginia may be the best state for business, it is the worst state for workers and that needs to change.

At the very top of the progressive agenda is to repeal the so-called “Right-to-Work.” Eradicating this law is both a civil rights issue and a matter of economic justice. Hopefully, it will also be at the top of Governor Ralph Northam’s list, and that of his newly established Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law. This commission is charged with reviewing the Virginia Code and administrative regulations to address the Commonwealth’s remaining policies that promote or enable racial discrimination or inequity. Its report is due to the Governor by November 15th.

A little history: the origins of Virginia’s right-to-work law is based on discrimination. Virginia passed its right-to-work law in 1947 during the tenure of Governor William Tuck, an avowed segregationist and union buster. Right-to-work spread across the south and mid-western states after World War II to block workers of all races from coming together to fight for better wages and benefits.

Dr. Martin Luther King understood the true nature of right-to-work. Dr. King said, “In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone… Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped.”

So why hasn’t this law been repealed sooner? A lot of right-to-work’s staying power has to do with its name, and the support received from the business community and the Republican Party.

Right-to-work may sound positive but it is far from it. People mistakenly think “right-to-work” means “right to a job,” and that they cannot be fired without cause. This is the exact opposite of what it means. Right-to-work prohibits union security agreements between companies and labor unions. It creates an unfair environment where employees cannot be compelled to join a union or pay union dues, but still may receive the benefits and protections of unions if they work in a unionized environment.

The purpose of right-to-work is to starve unions and make it harder for them to be effective advocates for things like: living wages, employer-sponsored family health insurance, vacation and sick leave, and pensions – all things Arlingtonians support. And make no mistake: while right-to-work hurts all workers, this policy has an outsized effect on people of color because they are the segment of the workforce mostly likely seeking to organize and fight for better wages and benefits.

Virginians are not fooled. When Republicans and business groups led an effort in 2016 to enshrine right-to-work in the Virginia Constitution, it was rejected by Virginia voters 54 percent to 46 percent. In Arlington, it was soundly rejected 62.5 percent to 37.5 percent.  When Virginia Democrats take the majority in 2020, it’s time to repeal Right-to-Work and put Virginia workers first.

Op-eds are written by local newsmakers on local topics of interest. The views and opinions expressed in the op-ed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.

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Owners of mixed-use buildings in Arlington are struggling to find tenants for ground floor retail space, and instead have been seeking permission to fill the space with other uses.

The Arlington County Board will consider three such requests — from office buildings in Rosslyn and Ballston and Le Meridien Hotel in Rosslyn — at its meeting on Saturday.

“It is definitely a trend,” said Michael Smith, director of real estate at Bethesda-based retail strategy firm Streetsense. “We are at a point in time where we have a lot of retail space and a decreasing number of prospective tenants to fill those spaces.”

The owner of the Ballston Pointe building at 4300 Wilson Blvd (which once housed Ted’s Montana) is asking permission to convert its 2,132 square-foot ground floor space into a gym for residents and office space.

Likewise, Le Meridien seeks to convert its 900 square-foot retail space into offices, and the 1776 Wilson Blvd building in Rosslyn (home of Quinn’s and formerly of Kona) wants to cast a wider net for “retail equivalent” tenants like education organizations to fill its 22,829 square feet of unused retail space.

County staff wrote in a report to the Board that the Meridien vacancy is “due to a combination of design and location factors the site has not been a successful retail space” and in another report, that 1776 Wilson “cited difficulty retaining leases with tenants that meet the definition of retail.”

“Municipalities are trying to encourage ground floor retail environments to create sense of place, but the reality of it is that there is only so much of it going around,” said Streetsense’s Smith.

He cited millennials’ penchant for prioritizing experiences over things as one reason retail has been declining over the last decade — leaving fewer prospective tenants. Another problem with filling ground-floor retail space is that not all spaces nor streets are ideal areas to attract shoppers.

That contrasts with an aggressive, former Arlington County policy dubbed “retail everywhere,” which was replaced in 2015 with a more “curated” approach.

Restaurateurs have long bemoaned certain portions of the county, like the western side of Glebe Road in Ballston, as places businesses struggle. The old adage of “location, location, location” applies in Arlington, but sometimes it’s hard for businesses to figure out what will work in which places.

Smith said buildings in Arlington’s neighborhoods like Rosslyn, which is hillier and sleepier at night compared to places like Clarendon, typically have a harder time finding and keeping retailers. However, he noted the Rosslyn Business Improvement District’s community events and artwork are steps toward making the area more attractive to people and businesses.

“While we would all want our streets lined with beautiful boutiques or cafes, that’s just not the reality,” he said.

The County Board has issued approvals for retail space to be turned into alternatives like medical offices for years. Members have also OKed converting office space back to retail space, though that process is sometimes fraught.

An auction by East Falls Church bookstore One More Page recently generated discussion on whether the county also had an obligation to help ground floor retailers weather rising rents.

Smith said that government-led programs or economic incentives only make sense “if the numbers pan out and its win-win for everyone.”

“The best thing you can do is turn the faucet off, and put retail where it belongs,” he said.

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Arlington Community Foundation Spirit of Community Luncheon

Arlington Community Foundation’s annual Spirit of Community Luncheon to honor William T. Newman, Jr. Spirit of Community award recipient Dr. Alfred Taylor, Jr.

This year’s event will include Honorary Co-Chairs Kristian and Chuck Todd.

Welcome to New Homes, a biweekly column highlighting the new construction real estate market, written by Conor Sullivan and Dave Moya of Three Stones Residential at Keller Williams Realty. We are here to share our experience and expertise in lot acquisition, financing and construction of custom homes. 

Quick Ways To Make Your Home “Smart”

New construction homes are popping up everywhere in Arlington County.

These homes are beautiful and updated with all the bells and whistles of “smart-home” technology, but may not be the perfect fit for everyone. To help your home compete against the new construction in the marketplace, there are a few simple upgrades to make your home smarter, safer and more efficient.

  • Ring Doorbell: This motion activated video doorbell system allows you to view your front doorstep while you are away, or even speak to visitors remotely, all through the app. Keep an eye on packages that have been delivered, or who comes to your front doorstep while you’re not home.
  • Smart Light Bulbs: These Wi-Fi enabled LED light bulbs allow you to access the lighting in your home from anywhere using an electronic device or smart speakers. Forgot to turn that kitchen light off before leaving? No problem — turn it off from your phone!
  • Smart Speakers: Smart devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo can sync to your smart electronics via Wi-Fi letting you control them with your voice. Turn off your lights or the heat up hands free!
  • Nest Thermostat: Installing this sleek new thermostat in your home is not only visually appealing, it’s convenient! Control the thermostat remotely from your smartphone using all the Nest technology features. The device will eventually learn the climate of your home and automatically adjust the temperature when conditions change.
  • TP-Link Smart Plug: If your appliances don’t have Wi-Fi, you can use this adapter to easily control them from an app. Turn on your coffee maker before you even get out of bed!

Having these tech-savvy upgrades will not only bring your home to the 21st century and boost it’s value, it will give you peace of mind knowing you have security in place for when you’re out of town.

It could also help save money, if you forgot to turn off your lights or turn down the heat, it is now just an easy click away from your smartphone. If you have any questions about these upgrades or your home’s market value, please contact us at [email protected] or 571-429-7670.

Below is a list of new homes currently on the market in Arlington.

Want to learn more about financing a New Home build? McLean Mortgage (NMLS ID: 99665) can handle all of your construction financing needs. You can build your new home with as little as 5% down. Contact construction loan expert Troy Toureau (NMLS ID: 5618) at 301-440-4261 or AnyHomeLoans.com to learn more.

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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:

705 N. Barton Street
6 BD/5 BA single-family home
Agent: Compass
Listed: $1,795,000
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

3228 N. Pershing Drive
4 BD/3 BA single-family home
Agent: Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc
Listed: $1,150,000
Open: Saturday 2-4 p.m.

 

1418 N. Rhodes Street, B102
2 BD/2 BA, 1 half bath condo
Agent: Kw Metro Center
Listed: $949,949
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

5209 16th Street N.
4 BD/3 BA single-family home
Agent: Kw Metro Center
Listed: $849,900
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

 

3919 7th Street S.
3 BD/2 BA single-family home
Agent: Kw Metro Center
Listed: $650,000
Open: Saturday 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

 

820 N. Pollard Street #405
1 BD/1 BA condo
Agent: Kw Metro Center
Listed: $524,900
Open: Saturday 1-4 p.m.

 

1024 N. Utah Street #325
1 BD/1 BA condo
Agent: Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc
Listed: $395,000
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

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If you want to remain in the dark about the contents of the mysterious Ballston time capsule, which is set to be opened next year, read no further.

Melinda Schaedig, who was a third grader at Taylor Elementary School in 1988 when the capsule was buried, approached ARLnow with details from when the capsule was put into the ground.

“In 1988, it seemed like 2020 would never arrive, but here it is in the blink of an eye,” Schaedig said. “I just turned 40 and the time capsule is all that I have been thinking about as I have been waiting for this day for a long time.”

In the 31 years between the time capsule was buried and now, Schaedig said some of her memories from the burial have grown hazy, but she reached out to her third grade teacher to help put more details together.

“It was a big deal at the time,” Schaedig said. “I’ve always thought about it. I recall a couple months ago I was driving in the car with my mom and kids and I said ‘2020 is coming, is there anything on the building?'”

Schaedig saw the plaque and inquired inside the building, eventually being directed to the top floor where the building’s owners told her what a spokesperson for WashREIT told ARLnow yesterday: the capsule is there and but the company has no idea what’s inside.

But Schaedig remembers.

“I remember seeing a steering wheel with an airbag, which was new at the time, and maybe some Redskins memorabilia,” Schaedig said.

An article in the Northern Virginia Sun said a signed baseball, old coins and a postcard from an Arlington auto dealership were included as well. The article notes that Schaedig — then Melinda Foulke — added a poster showing how America has changed since the Constitution was signed.

The poster selected via a competition for local elementary school students.

“The contest presented local teachers with an opportunity to review Ballston’s evolution from farmland in the 1800s to the retail, business and retail center county planners forsaw when they wrote the Ballston Sector Plan in 1980,” the Sun noted.

Foulke said she dug up old news footage her mother had kept around, in which the building owners talked about how Ballston was poised to become the new downtown of Arlington.

“They talked about how in the future, there were unlimited possibilities because of the number of corporations moving in,” Foulke said. “They were predicting that with growth between Rosslyn and Ballston, [Arlington] would have more office space than Miami.”

(That turned out to be true: as of 2018, Arlington had 41.7 million square feet of office space compared to the Miami area’s 35.6 million square feet.)

The video does show some items being placed in the capsule, confirming Foulke’s memories of a steering wheel and a Redskins pin.

WashREIT said they were unsure how to open the time capsule. One of the old clippings shows Schaedig and the late County Board member Ellen Bozman holding a key to the capsule. Schaedig says she doesn’t know where the key is now.

“I hope to go when they open it,” Schaedig said. “It’ll be exciting to bring my kids and my family. It’s silly, but it’s been a part of my life.”

Newspaper photos courtesy Melinda Schaedig

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Clarendon Day and two other festivals will take to Arlington streets on Saturday, prompting celebrations, road closures, and delicious food all around.

The massive Clarendon Day street festival which draws tens of thousands of attendees will run from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. this Saturday, September 21, and will feature food trucks and booths from vendors like donut maker Good Company, live music, arts and crafts vendors, and dance performances.

The annual Clarendon Day races will also return. Participants can sign up for the 5K race at 8 a.m., and a 10K race at 9 a.m. starting at Wilson Blvd and N. Fillmore Street, with both finishing in Rosslyn at Wilson Blvd and N. Fort Myer Drive. Runners also have the option of running both races.

Children can take part in their own, 713-foot race around the plaza driveway of the Market Common. The race, which starts at 9:30 a.m., welcomes parents along with kids and does not require separate registration for both. All kids who join the race will be awarded for their participation.

Registration costs $15 for the “Kids Dash” race, $45 for the 5K, and $50 for the 10K. Runners interested in both the 5K and the 10K can pay $55 for both races.

ACPD will close several streets from 3 a.m. until approximately 10 p.m. to make room for the festival, including:

  • Wilson Boulevard between Washington Boulevard and N. Garfield Street
  • Clarendon Boulevard between Washington Boulevard and N. Garfield Street
  • N. Highland Street between Washington Blvd. and N. Hartford Street

Police will also close additional roads for the races from 5-10:30 a.m.:

  • Wilson Boulevard, between N. Garfield Street and Route 110
  • N. Kent Street, between Wilson Boulevard and 19th Street N.
  • The entirety of Route 110 northbound, from Route 1 to Wilson Blvd. Southbound lanes remain open to traffic.

Elsewhere, near Columbia Pike, police will close 9th Street S. between Walter Reed Drive and S. Highland Street from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. to make way for the Prio Bangla Multicultural Street Festival, which celebrates pan-Asian and Latin American cultures and runs from 12-9 p.m.

The all-day festival will feature vendors with traditional foods, as well as handcrafts, clothing, and jewelry, paintings and henna art, and representatives from local businesses.

“By simply the trading and transferring of ideas, customs, beliefs, cultural habits etc. between diverse cultures living here in the USA, we would be able to accomplish our vision of living in harmony in this community,” organizers wrote on its event page.

Meanwhile, the newly renamed Green Valley neighborhood will also be throwing a celebration of its history and culture from 12-6 p.m. at Drew Elementary School (3500 23rd Street S.)

The community party will feature a DJ, a basketball tournament at 2 p.m. for youth and service workers, as well as a fish fry and barbecue.

“Today, residents pride ourselves on being part of a community where all are welcome,” organizers wrote in an email announcing the event. “Despite development, migration and gentrification that have altered the demographics drastically, we are determined to retain our unique identity as Green Valley continues to be one of ‘Arlington County’s Finest Communities.'”

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