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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com June 14, 2012 at 9:15 am 4,901 53 Comments

Could New Theater Become a Financial Drain? — As a condition of its site plan for a new nine-story office building on the site of the old Arlington Funeral Home in Virginia Square, developer Crimson Partners agreed to build a new $3.7 million black box theater inside the building, at the request of the county. But given the financial problems at Artisphere, some are questioning whether the theater will be a financial “black hole” for Arlington County. [Arlington Connection]

Army Celebrates Birthday — The U.S. Army is celebrating its 237th birthday today. On June 14, 1775, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress authorized the creation of the Continental Army. To mark the occasion, Army Secretary John McHugh will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery at 9:30 this morning. [Associated Press]

Mary Marshall Scholarship Recipients To Be Honored — The seven 2012 recipients of the county’s Mary Marshall Memorial Scholarships will be recognized at this Saturday’s County Board meeting. “These young people epitomize the civic spirit of Arlington — just as Mary Marshall did during her decades of service to our community,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said of the recipients. [Arlington County]

  • CrystalMikey

    Happy birthday to the US Army and all its soldiers and civilians! -USAF vet

    • Crystal Dykey

      I thought you were Navy. You must be a different person than who I thought you were all this time.

  • C. Heston

    Will there be caissons descending on Cashion’s?

  • John Fontain

    Scott, your coverage of the Ballston pool party scene was mentioned in today’s Post Express (‘blog roll”). I guess you’re still just a blog to them.

    • Joan Fountain

      Did the piece cite how many times the terms “bro” and “brah” were in the comments?

  • billj

    I’m all for letting artist do their thing but why does Chairwoman Hines have push for more art/theater places? Can’t these events happen at Artisphere? Do our tax dollars really need to pay for someone to perform experimental theater to an audience of like 3 people?

    • Ballston Resident

      You expect me to hike all the way to Rosslyn to get my fix of experimental theater??

    • South Side Chris

      Not sure if they take county funds, but if you want experimental theater, the Synetic Theater in Crystal City has plenty to offer. Their silent production of Othello bordered on a “mad scientist” level of experimentation. Really good stuff.


  • John Fontain

    Seeing that picture makes me a little nostalgic. Not for Mack’s, of course. But just for old Arlington. Things have changed so much even in just the last 10 years.

    I remember when there used to be a Gold’s gym in a former grocery store right in the heart of Clarendon. And the old Blockbuster video. And the empty gas station (where Cheesecake now stands) where you used to be able to park for free and without risk of being towed. And when the currently location of American Tap Room used to be a surface level parking lot where you could park and ride the metro.

    It’s getting harder and harder to remember the way things were before all the changes.

    • Arlingtoon

      We used to live in Ashton Heights, not far from the Clarendon Metro station. We patronized the Blockbuster back when it was an Erol’s. When we first moved in I could sit on our back porch; look up at night and see the stars.

      Then when I looked up all I could see were lights on the construction cranes.

      Then when I looked up all I could see were the lights from the high rises.

      That was when it was time for us to move.

      • AshtonHeighter

        Now most of us sit on our front porch and chat with our neighbors as they walk to and fro from Clarendon. And, for better or worse all our movies are delivered by encoded photon’s over a glass tube.

        • Clarendoom


        • Arlingtoon


    • sArl2

      That nostalgia is called “a sense of place” which Arlington residents no longer have ….most of the landmarks (buildings, businesses, schools, even trees) are gone. It’s like being in Crystal City 30 years ago.

      • Hokie

        But that’s also because Arlington has turned from a place to settle and live into a place for jack-hat 20/30’s to get drunk and hook up and do whatever they want wherever because they are the most important person in their cubicle and thus we all need to bow down and recognize.

        • Clarendoom

          I’m more than happy to gouge the sap out of the jack-hats for rent in my Clarendon townhouse. There is a never-ending line of them.

        • Ballstonian

          Or you could walk a few blocks off the RB corridor and there are plenty of SFHs, largely devoid of young hooligans. I apologize that your once tranquil corner of Arlington no longer exists, but they’re still out there.

      • drax

        “most of the landmarks (buildings, businesses, schools, even trees) are gone.”

        Well, not “most.” Let’s not overstate the case.

      • NorthArlingTim

        + 1000

        • NorthArlingTim

          That was meant for sArl2:

          That nostalgia is called “a sense of place” which Arlington residents no longer have ….most of the landmarks (buildings, businesses, schools, even trees) are gone. It’s like being in Crystal City 30 years ago.

    • Ballstonia

      Let me get this straight: back in the “good old days” of empty gas stations and surface-level parking lots, Clarendon was appealing because you could park for free and then ride the Metro to someplace else?

      And now its a bad thing that Clarendon has developed into a destination unto itself? Good grief.

      • John Fontain

        I was afraid my post would be misconstrued this way. To be clear, I enjoy Clarendon now as much as I did back in the days of empty lots and industrial buildings. Things are different now, and not necessarily for the worse. Just different. And sometimes it’s fun to think back to the way things used to be.

        Anyone else remember ways in which Arlington has changed?

        • Clarendonian

          Clarendon –
          GC Murphy’s, Sears, JCPenny, Woolworth’s, Kresge’s , Ashton Theatre and more- Clarendon in the 50’s was a veritable mecca of middle class shopping and entertainment. Then the decline, then decimation, then the early rebirth with Vietnamese immigrants, then incremental change with addition of youngster-attracting food and music venues then the explosion of expensive trendiness. This too shall pass.

          I may have missed a few details.

          • John Fontain

            Where were these various things located in reference to today’s businesses?

          • Hattie McDaniel

            The triangle formed by Wilson, Clarendon, & Highland was know as the Mekong Delta due to all the Vietnamese Restaurants & businesses.

          • Clarendon

            I know many of them:

            GC Murphy was where the AT&T Store is (was Little Viet Garden)

            Sears – Wholefoods/Clarendon Ed/Market Common (it was distributed with main store, auto, garden)

            JCPenny – Metro Escalator

            Woolworths – Clarendon Ballroom (same building)

            Ashton Theatre – About half way in the Metro park

            Kresge’s – not sure

            There were a LOT more little stores and a few restaurants. Some are depicted in some old photos you can find in the Virginia Room. Maybe some old timers can throw out a few more names and locations.

          • John Fontain

            Fascinating. Thanks so much. Do you know what used to sit in the block that is now DoD/Mr. Days/Pacers?

        • dk

          Cafe Dalat, I’ll never get over you.

      • Merl

        Yes, believe it or not whippersnapper, empty gas stations and surface-level parking lots can give more character to a place than canyons of forgettable office buildings and chain stores.

        • drax

          I don’t believe it.

    • Hal J

      Where is Mack’s?

      • John Fontain

        Over by the Founder’s Square development (Quincy between Glebe and Wilson).

        • Hal J

          Thanks. Can’t believe I haven’t seen (or at least noticed) this place.

    • Mary-Austin

      Yea I think that Chessecake Factory/La Tasca location represents the worst of what Arlington is becoming.
      Does anybody remember Lazy Sunday that used to be across the street? AMAZING ice cream and great childhood memories there.
      Sadly it was pushed out by crazy rent prices and replaced with another generic s**t bar.

      • Falls Church Heifer

        You can still get their product in Falls Church.

        • Mary-Austin

          Their “product” is nothing like it used to be. The couple times I went in the new place it was completely dead. Sad.
          Also I think you missed the point about the nostalgia of the place being in Arlington, Heifer.

          • Jane-Dallas

            Just go to Boccato. They’re better than Lazy Susan anyway.

      • dk

        I liked Lazy Sunday, too.

    • NorthArlingTim

      I felt the exact same way upon seeing that picture.

      I remember a lot of things the way they used to be. I drive around nowadays to someplace I haven’t been in a while and I’m appalled / astounded / disgusted / very sad.

      What scares me is what you say about it getting harder and harder to remember. I’ll see a hole in the ground all of a sudden appear one day and I don’t remember what was there just a short while ago.

      • Hattie McDaniel

        It’s not just Arlington. I went to a part of NE DC last weekend that I hadn’t been to in several years and I was astounded by the change. Amazing.

  • drax

    It’s very cool to have a theatre in Ballston. But the county shouldn’t run or permanently subsidize it.

    • ACDC Hack

      “. But the county shouldn’t run or permanently subsidize it.”

      That thud that you just heard was the sound of my jaw dropping so far that it bounced off the floor.

    • Mc

      It is very cool to have a theater in Ballston. Insanely cool.

  • Patrick

    “some are questioning whether the theater will be a financial “black hole” for Arlington County.”

    The answer is yes.

  • Jacob

    What is with these stealth taxes? The county doesn’t want to build its own theatre so it extorts developers who dare to build housing that people desperately want to include random PC stuff the county wants but knows isn’t financially viable. Government should be transparent, not riddled with strongarming like this.

    • Joan Fountain

      This is an office building, not housing.

    • Chris Slatt

      All of the developer concessions are worked out in public meetings. Most of the big-ticket ones like parks and theaters are adopted as part of Sector Plans that have extensive community outreach.

  • DonDada

    The theater wouldn’t be a financial drain if they could throw in some acts that will fill the seats along with less mainstream stuff. Mix in some better than average stand-up comedians and musicians here and there, and it can be a place people will make it a habit to keep checking the calendar to see what’s coming up. Make it a home for the avant-garde, and people will mostly write it off and forget about it except for the small audience that’s into that. That’s the problem with Artisphere, coupled with the fact that it lacks “welcoming factor” from the street.

    • JohnB

      +1 Better programming would solve the problem.

  • John Fontain

    The Washington Post has a story about the life of the 80 year old woman, Ita Lapina, who died after being struck by the bicycle the other day. Very nice piece. RIP.


    • jackson

      Man, flee to Siberia and live in a basement to escape the Nazis, then decades later killed by a bicycle in Arlington.

      You just never know.

      • John Fontain

        I’m glas she lived a full and healthy life all the way to the end.

        • John Fontain



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