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Get Ready For the Ballston-Virginia Square Patch

by ARLnow.com August 24, 2010 at 10:34 am 4,916 31 Comments

Internet giant AOL is rolling out a local news site devoted exclusively to the Ballston-Virginia Square area. The Ballston Patch will launch on September 13 with a paid, full-time editor at the helm.

As we first reported in February, AOL has been planning on launching dozens of its Patch local news sites in the DC area. Then in May, we noted that the company was hiring editors for two different Patches in Arlington. A “Rosslyn-Court House-Clarendon” Patch may still be in the works, but so far it’s not listed as “coming soon” on the Patch web site.

Over here at ARLnow.com, we’re taking the competition for neighborhood news in stride. So we want to know: what sort of stories in the Ballston-Virginia Square area should we cover that we’re not already covering? What events should we be adding to the events calendar? Please let us know in the comments section.

  • TuesdaysChild

    AOL has a long history of failures……I expect the same from the Patch effort.

  • MB

    That’s a curious place to start. And the [insert community name here] template isn’t particularly encouraging.


    If ARLNow wants to top the competition they need to focus more on whats happening in the County as a whole. I’d like to see more coverage on how some county residents are trying to change how Arlington County Government is managed.

    In addition you should do more to cover topics on services offered by the County. I always hear from my neighbors about great little classes that are offered to residents in County Recreation Centers.

    You guys should also do more to cover topics that may not necessarily have much to do with Arlington County but could have an impact on county residents i.e. installation of HOT Lanes and why County leaders are against it.

    Oh heres one I’d like to see you guys focus on: Why has Metro not addressed the issue of busses on Route 16 (Columbia Pike) running so close together? Better yet, why does Metro still run the 16F line when it often carries far fewer people than it should?

    • CadeTyler

      Those 16 buses often run close together because they’re different letter routes, so might have different origins or destinations. Columbia Pike is simply a common trunk for those buses, which is why they have the same number.

      Sometimes it is nice, though, when you see 2 of the same bus close together as everyone invariably jumps on the first one to arrive, even though they can see the second one at the next light. The same thing often happens on Metro during busy periods. Smart people just wait and hop on the empty 2nd bus!

    • Neighbor

      Buses running close together? That sounds like heaven, brother! The Columbia Pike bus system is excellent, in my opinion.

    • Eponymous Coward

      ARLNow rightfully gave considerable coverage to the change-of-government proposal; it isn’t clear what more NPGMBR is looking for here. I have doubts about how many readers would peruse, say, the minutes of the County Board meeting (which are online anyway.) Not to say local politics aren’t important.

      Subjects I don’t see frequently covered are local data trends: demographics, Census data, the real estate market, etc. This might interest Arlingtonians but probably won’t show up in the Washington Post. Or if it does, we’re just a footnote. Even after the housing bust, I would think people would care about these sorts of indicators. Particularly now that we’re getting pummeled by BRAC.

      • Greg

        If you want Real Estate date just read the Sun Gazette. Every week you are guaranteed to either see a story on how low unemployment is in Arlington or how the real estate market is doing.

        To me it’s a waste of time to duplicate the only thing the Sun Gazette does well.

  • xaoc

    I like ARLnow.com and read it every weekday. Your strength is coverage of wide-ranging issues that mean something in people’s lives, even if they are little things sometimes. At the moment ARLnow fills an information vacuum regarding such local details. Sometimes ARLnow is too enthusiastic about restaurant or bar openings to the point I think I may be reading paid advertising. There is more to Arlington life than frenetic consumption.

    • If only it was paid, life would be a lot easier. Those kind of posts are among the most-read on the site.

  • charlie

    i feel really alone on the weekends when nothing new is posted on ArlNow. Need help?

  • charlie

    Since no one really lives in “Ballston Virginia Square” I would supposed this effort is doomed to failure. If I were in Spiderkelly’s and someone asked “where do you live” I may say Clarendon or Ballston or Arlington, but I would never say, “oh, I live in Ballston Virginia Square, do you want my number?”

    • Clarendude

      Why do you think many people who live in Virginia Square don’t say they live in Virginia Square and instead say Ballston or Clarendon?

      • Neighbor

        I feel like a lot of people don’t actually know of the VA Square/GMU stop and area. It kind of seemed that way when I was in Ballston. I don’t think there’s a negative connotation because it’s basically Ballston-extended or Clarendon-extended based on your relative point of view.

        • Clarendude

          I had a friend from New Jersey once tell me that half of Jersey thought of themselves as a suburb of New York City and the other half as a suburb of Philadelphia. Maybe it’s something like that ?

      • charlie

        I think Ballston and Clarendon have more of an identify. Most people don’t even know what Virginia Square was (a shopping center).
        I once rode a Metro and the driver was either being funny or tipsy… we left Clarendon … next stop… Virgin …. Squares … and then we left that and it was … leaving … Virgin …. next stop … Balllllll…. ston.

      • MC

        Virginia Square isn’t like either Ballston or Clarendon. It’s much less commercial, more residential.

        It’s also less developed, and not overrun with drunk people stumbling out of a $2 Bud happy hour.

  • Let’s Be Free

    Economics of this blog would work better by focusing on areas where you can get some ad support. Better economics is the key to better coverage down the road.

    The Sun Gazette cleans up on home improvement and real estate ads — coverage in those areas can draw eyes that gets a chunk of local advertising $$$. Pick up links with some of the broker/development sponsored blogs to drill into this area.

    To develop the restaurant/bar angle that you already emphasize get some volunteers to review and write for placement in your blog (subject to your editorial control) — same goes for music — the IOTA, Whitlows, Clarendon Grill circuit etc.

    Or get some write-ups on service outlets like Gold’s Gym, or Washington Sports and Health.

    Think also consumer goods, like high end autos — could you talk the Mercedes or BMW dealerships into giving you a demo drive and report it here? Or bikes (eeechhhhh).

    Or maybe something more mundane like doing a market basket pricing comparison between the fancy and modern Harris Teeter on North Glebe and the old and inexpensive Safeway on Wilson Blvd.

    Also, consider following the Caps and the comings and goings of players and coaches around town. They’ll be Stanley Cup favorites. Lot of buzz there to generate new eyes.

    Bottom line, you should look in the mail, look for signs around town, and listen/see what’s advertised on radio/TV or the newspapers. The world is full of ideas.

  • Clarendude

    As far as ideas on what to cover – anything that digs up and reports on unique or curious things about Arlington would be of interest to me. That church under the gas station in Rossyln, the underground Safeway in Rossyln, the IHOP in Ballston (must be something interesting there), what’s the history and current with Dan Kain’s Trophy (are they gone forever?) or Public Shoe (will they stay forever?) ? There used to be a Vietnamese restaurant in a building shaped like a boat in Virginia Square (is that really true, or was that my imagination?). Anything that would publicize local artists, etc.

    • MJ

      Wasn’t your imagination. Yes, there was a restaurant shaped like a boat that sat right by the VA Square Metro. It was aweseome to behold. Too bad we never got a chance to go in before it got torn down…

  • FYI

    Dan Kain moved to Pershing, didn’t they? They were still open as of a month or two ago.

    • Clarendude

      I know they did move there. I thought the building they moved to was getting redeveloped ? Anyway, I though there must be a lot of history there. I also know before they were in that space that is now Lyon Hall, they were in the space that is now Spider Kelly’s. Seems like they have some real desire to stay in the area which I admire. Same with Public Shoe. Who else ? Oh, and what’s up with the Grave Stone guys right there at the corner of Highland and Washington in Clarendon ? Must be something interesting there…

  • charlie

    public store and gravestone and even now A1 Clarendon Valet (best cobbler in the area, btw) all had one advantage — they own their property. Actually Dan Kan may have also.

  • BasedHerein

    Every blog on the internet gets overrun with political finger pointing. Even unrelated things like the high school football, music, and arts topics mentioned above get dragged down into Bush/Obama rants. You’d be wise to keep your blog above the fray on that crap. Focus on informing your readers instead of taking unfunny political shots a la yesterday’s pizza article. Also, avoid cheap-seeming articles such as your public shaming of that groper a few weeks ago (have you followed up on his case?). Furthermore, encourage your commenters to not be douche bags who similarly drag down the convo.

    Most of your reporting is of decent quality, and that’s why I read it. But if Patch can inform without engaging in the aforementioned douchey behavior, it will earn my clicks.

  • cj

    How about occasional forays into local commercial real estate and development? Which big development companies are buying and selling Arlington holdings, and who’s trying to redevelop what? Kettler just bought land and sold buildings in Pentagon City. Vornado has megabucks at stake in the Crystal City redevelopment plan headed for Board action soon. JBG has Rosslyn projects that affect the future of Gateway Park. And so on.

  • buddy

    You should cover civic association meetings.

  • RestonRunner86

    I actually just stumbled upon this blog by accident today because a passing reference in one of your entries relating to my mauve-colored socialist exurb appeared on the Restonian blog, and I can’t even begin to tell you how impressed I am. Since most of the DC news networks seem to focus most of their coverage on DC/Maryland (although NoVA has the bulk of the metropolitan population, but I digress) I turn to local blogs like yours and the Restonian to fill that void. While Pat Collins of NBC4 Washington is doing a wildly animated story about a bobcat on the loose in Rock Creek Park I’m surfin’ the ‘Net soaking up all of your excellent contributions! Two thumbs up for ARLNow!

    P.S. Now if you could just tell me where those of us too rich to qualify for subsidized housing and too poor to afford “market-rate” rentals could find a 1-BR apartment in Arlington I’d be as happy as a Tea Partier making out with Ann Coulter!

    • Thanks! Check out the Columbia Pike area or Woodbury Park apartments in Courthouse/Clarendon for cheap rents.

      • RestonRunner86

        I actually have a friend who just moved from Reston to Columbia Pike, but I haven’t heard yet if her experience has been positive or negative. Thanks for the tips! I’ll concentrate my search there when I move. I don’t need granite counters, a concierge, or even a pool for that matter. I’m just looking for convenient, safe, and cheap. I actually fell in love with a high-rise in Cherrydale this Spring while apartment-hunting, but a hectic schedule left me with limited time to find a place and there wasn’t a 1-BR available at that time. It was going for $1,350/month. Anything at or below that would be my budget, so hopefully I can find that along Columbia Pike.


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