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by Chris Teale — March 7, 2017 at 4:55 pm 0

A new women’s clothing and accessories store opened December at the Lee Heights Shops, replacing the recently-shuttered Lemon Twist Arlington.

Lemoncello Boutique at 4518 Lee Highway is a family-owned store that sells clothes for women of all ages, including young children and babies. It opened under different ownership from the previous store.

It also sells gifts and other items, including photo frames, jewelry and beauty products. Brands sold include Vineyard Vines, Scout and local jewelry designer Second Daughter, owned by Jessica Speckhard.

Lemoncello replaced Lemon Twist, which sold similar items and brands from the time it opened on Lee Highway in the late 1980s until it closed last year.

The store was part of a small retail fashion chain.

As of yet, the other Lee Heights Shops store to close recently, Bradshaw’s Children’s Shoes, appears not to have been replaced. It shuttered last year due to the owners’ retirement, after the store had served Northern Virginia since 1834.

by Chris Teale — March 7, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Buckingham Florist front storefront

(Updated at 4 p.m.) The Buckingham Florist, a long-time local business on N. Glebe Road, closed last week and appears to have relocated to Annandale.

Open since the 1940s, the florist delivered to Arlington County, Arlington National Cemetery and other parts of Northern Virginia.

Jean Tucker Bassin founded Buckingham Florist with her late husband Myer. Their son Neil Bassin is listed on various websites as having also owned it. In 2013, another website said Buckingham Florist was owned by Kim Park, who also owns Annandale Florist and Tysons Flower Affair.

As of last week, the flower shop’s location at 301 N. Glebe Road in the Buckingham Shopping Center was shuttered, an empty shell with no fixtures or fittings and some of its tiled floor ripped up. A retail leasing brochure lists the 1,460 square foot space as “coming available.”

An employee at the next-door Ravi Chatkhara takeout restaurant said he heard rumors the florist would be relocating elsewhere and would be replaced by a coffee shop.

The phone number listed for the florist is still active. A person at that number answered Tuesday and told ARLnow.com the store is now located in Annandale and open, but hung up when asked for further details.

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Law enforcement command center outside Dominion Towers on 3/7/17 (courtesy photo)

There is an “ongoing and active criminal investigation” happening today at a Columbia Pike apartment building.

Arlington County Police, Virginia State Police and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement executed a search warrant this morning at Dominion Towers (1201 S. Courthouse Road), in connection with a criminal investigation, a police spokeswoman said.

“Police are executing an ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) search warrant in the 1200 block of S. Courthouse Road,” said ACPD’s Ashley Savage. “Virginia State Police and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents are assisting in the execution of the search warrant. This investigation is not related to ICE’s immigration enforcement.”

A neighbor who witnessed the law enforcement activity said a mobile command center and a Chevrolet Suburban with a sign reading “OFFICIAL ICE BUSINESS” were parked outside the building around 6:30 a.m. The neighbor described “residents shuffling into that RV in their pajamas.”

Police are not releasing additional information about the investigation at this time, Savage said.

Courtesy photo

by Chris Teale — March 7, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Custis Trail detours through Rosslyn (Courtesy Arlington County)Users of the Custis Trail around Rosslyn will begin experiencing phased detours starting tomorrow, as crews start utility work nearby.

From tomorrow until April 17, the trail will be rerouted east of N. Lynn Street onto an adjacent paved public driveway, according to Arlington County.

The route will have a steeper grade than the current trail, so bicyclists are advised to dismount before entering the detour zone.

On April 18, the next phase sees the trail rerouted at the northeast corner of its crossing at N. Lynn Street. The crossing will be shifted north until May 8.

The fourth and final phase begins May 9 west of N. Lynn Street, with the trail rerouted to the south side of Lee Highway between N. Lynn Street and N. Fort Myer Drive by Gateway Park until June 1. As the detour route for this phase is narrower than the current trail, bicyclists are asked to dismount or slow down when pedestrians are nearby.

Workers from the county along with the Virginia Department of Transportation and Dominion Virginia Power will be performing the work as part of the Lynn Street Esplanade & Custis Trail Improvements project. The project is intended to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, particularly at the dangerous intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway.

Signs will inform trail users of the various detours, and work dates may vary.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 7, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

Ask Eli banner

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: After reading your article two weeks ago about remodeling before selling a property, I was wondering what your thoughts are on remodeling our rental property. It’s a 1BR + den a couple blocks from the Virginia Square metro with a perfectly functional bathroom and kitchen, but about 15 years old.

Answer: A couple of weeks ago, I warned about spending money on major remodeling projects before selling your home and you should be equally cautious about making major updates to a rental property. In your case, it doesn’t sound like spending $15,000+ remodeling the bathroom and kitchen is a good investment at this time. Here are some of the questions/factors you should consider:

Payback Period

How long will it take to break-even on your remodeling expenses based on projected increase in rent? A moderate remodeling of your bathroom and kitchen is likely to increase the amount you can rent your unit by $150-$200/month (this is case-by-case), meaning your pay-back period is likely 10+ years. Keep in mind that the market value of your updates will depreciate annually and usually at a faster pace under the wear and tear of a rental unit.

Tenant Profile

The ROI of remodeling is heavily based on the type of tenant you’re most likely to have. Your tenants will most likely place more value in convenience, affordability, and functionality than they do aesthetics and upgraded finishes/appliances. As the tenant profile shifts towards families and higher-end properties, the ROI of upgrades increases.

Length of Stay

The less time a tenant plans to stay in a property, the less concerned they’ll be with updates, but tenants planning to stay for three or more years will consider their rental to be more of a home and place great value in an updated kitchen and bathrooms. As the tenant profile shifts to longer rental periods, the better the ROI on remodeling. In your case, the tenant profile is more likely to stay for 12-24 months, diminishing the value of remodeling.

Tax Write-Offs

According to Joseph Aiken, CPA with Aiken & Company, the current tax code considers any capital expenditures on remodeling to be depreciable assets, meaning you can’t write off the cost of your remodeling in the year you spent the money, rather deduct it over a 27.5 year depreciation schedule.

My advice for investing in a rental property is similar to investing in pre-sale improvements. Fresh paint, quality floors, lighting, and a deep clean go a long way on a rental property without breaking the bank and can usually be written off as maintenance expenses on your taxes. Check out IRS Publication 527 for tax details on rental properties.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to Eli@RealtyDCMetro.com. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at http://www.RealtyDCMetro.com.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

by Chris Teale — March 7, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

The lawsuit against 64 people who spoke in opposition to Nova Armory, the Lyon Park gun store, helped provide the impetus for a state bill to protect protesters from similar court action.

House Bill 1941, introduced by southwest Virginia Del. Terry Kilgore (R-1) and co-patroned by local Del. Mark Levine (D-45), provides immunity from a lawsuit to anyone who speaks out on a matter of public concern, unless they knowingly make false statements. Defendants in so-called “strategic lawsuits against public participation” could be awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs under the bill.

It passed unanimously in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate, and awaits the signature of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

Levine said the desire to protest goes beyond party politics, and the new bill protects the First Amendment rights of those across the political spectrum.

“This is not a partisan issue,” he wrote in a message to supporters. “Liberals will want to protest gun stores, just like conservatives will want to protest affordable health care. But people should have a right to state their opinions and protest without fearing a lawsuit.”

Levine had initially proposed a bill of his own related to the subject, House Bill 2446, with sanctions against plaintiffs who “bring an action to deter someone from exercising his constitutional rights.” That bill was tabled in the House Committee for Courts and Justice. Levine then signed onto HB1941 as chief co-patron.

Nova Armory sued opponents who spoke out against its opening, including Arlington County’s seven state representatives, who signed a letter to landlord Katya Varley on General Assembly letterhead expressing their objections.

Nova Armory alleged in its lawsuit that the owner and landlord were harassed, and that death threats were mailed to Lauren Pratte, the store’s 16-year-old “owner-in-training.”

In a press release last March threatening such action, Pratte said ownership were concerned about the infringement on their civil rights by their state representatives.

“We’ve given up on fact-checking all their false statements,” Pratte said at the time. “Instead we’ve told our lawyers to concentrate on any actions in which we are deprived of our civil liberties by these so-called public servants — they’ll regret any abuse of their authority.”

But one day before the lawsuit was due to be heard in Arlington County Circuit Court, the Washington Post reported the store filed a notice to drop the suit.

“I am delighted — though not surprised — to learn that Nova Armory nonsuited its lawsuit today,” Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48), another defendant, said in a statement to the Post. “From the very beginning it was clear that this lawsuit had no basis in law or fact.”

At the monthly meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee earlier this month, Levine said the bill has a broader mission beyond this one lawsuit. Instead, he said, it protects anyone who wishes to exercise their First Amendment rights.

“If you want to go out and protest, you are free to go out and protest,” he said. “They can’t sue you.”

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Police car (file photo)A burglary last night led in some very scary moments for a Fort Myer Heights resident.

The break-in happened just after 7:30 p.m., at an apartment building on the 1300 block of Fort Myer Drive.

“An unknown subject entered a female victim’s residence,” according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The female victim was in a bedroom at the time and heard noises originating from the kitchen. The victim believed the subject retrieved a knife from the kitchen as he made his way towards her location.”

“The subject then tried to force his way into the bedroom but was unsuccessful in gaining entry,” the crime report continues. “The subject fled the scene shortly after. A K9 track of the area returned with negative results.”

The only description the victim was able to give officers was that the suspect was wearing gray shoes. Police say the investigation is ongoing.

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2017 at 9:30 am 0

Demolition work in the former Mad Rose Tavern and future Bao Bar space

Resident Helps ACPD Arrest Break-in Suspects — On Saturday an Arlington resident spotted a group of people breaking into car and immediately called 911, leading to the arrest of three juvenile suspects. Police say such cooperation from the community can help them fight crime. Over the weekend more than 30 vehicles were “entered and rummaged through” in Arlington. [Facebook]

Alexandria Schools Closed Wednesday — Alexandria City Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday after more than 300 staff members requested leave. That coincides with Wednesday’s “Day Without Women” protest. Arlington Public Schools will remain open, a spokesman said, although Wednesday is an early release day for elementary schools. [Twitter, InsideNova]

Orange Line’s Abysmal On-Time Rate — Last year trains on Metro’s Orange Line were only on time 56 percent of the time. [Twitter]

Spotlight on Uyghur Cuisine — Crystal City’s Queen Amannisa is one of three restaurants serving Uyghur cuisine — with its mix of Chinese, Central Asian and Middle Eastern influences — in the D.C. area. Uyghur “is going to be the next big thing in the United States,” said a partner in the restaurant. [Washington Post]

Chick-fil-A Coming to DCA — A new Chick-fil-A restaurant is coming to Terminal C at Reagan National Airport, in the former Cosi space. [PoPville]

Grand Opening for Xfinity Store — On Saturday Comcast celebrated the grand opening of its new 6,700 square foot Xfinity store in Courthouse. The store replaces the former Comcast Service Center in Clarendon. The store “features a comfortable seating area and informational, interactive displays where customers can learn more about Comcast’s products and services, including Comcast Business services, the X1 Entertainment Operating System, Xfinity Home automation and security offerings and Comcast’s suite of mobile apps.”

by Buzz McClain — March 7, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

There is a lot going on in and around Bistro 360. It’s a restaurant, yes, but it’s also an elegant wine bar, a neighborhood wine and food market, and a source of fresh-made prepared entrees and sides to go.

The theme? A little of everything, from everywhere.

The name of the restaurant, Art Hauptman explains, reflects the global intentions of the offerings. “We have food and drink from around the world,” he said. “We want to give people a sense of what’s possible, but right here in Arlington.”

So you don’t have to go to Armenia to get Armenian string cheese. It’s right there in the case, next to the peanuts and garlic chips from the Philippines. Not far from the trio of tasty dips from New Zealand. Near the Asian-inspired lemongrass pork chops with kimchi puree.

“We’re trying to do interesting things you don’t see all the time,” says Hauptman, a well-traveled and long-time Arlingtonian who has owned the restaurant since it opened in 2014.

Located on a corner between Rosslyn and Courthouse, convenient to both neighborhoods, Bistro 360’s dining room boasts a menu ranging from lamb ragu with Thai basil to pan-roasted Asian duck breast to murg makhani, an original take on Indian butter chicken.

The daring menu lives up to its name: It’s not every restaurant that has shrimp and grits, potato gnocchi and Indonesian nasi goring with shrimp and chicken side by side.

In the wine bar, which also serves cocktails and beer, a menu of exotic nibbles and fresh house-made bread, along with a wide assortment of wines by the glass, keep the international conversation going during happy hour (daily from 4:30 to 7). Free wine tastings take place each Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30. (Many wines are half-price on Wednesdays in the bar and the dining room.)

Small plates available in the bar or dining room include deviled eggs with candied bacon, tuna tempura, Spanish garlic lemon chili shrimp, lamb sliders and PEI mussels, among other savory offerings.

Bistro 360’s chef, Travis Obertach, came to Arlington from North Carolina (which explains the shrimp and grits, we imagine). He says he enjoys the diversity of the clientele in Arlington and the challenge of keeping things seasonal and surprising. Surprising? How about a wonderfully complex fried green tomato with caraway tomato jam, goat cheese, and a morsel of house-cured pork belly?

Obertach also helps with the menu and operation at Hauptman’s other Arlington restaurant, the New Zealand-themed Cassatt’s Kiwi Café and Gallery. Cassatt’s is a casual dining bistro that opened in 2002 for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch in Lee Heights remains the home of the best flat white in Arlington.

In addition to preparing cuisines of the world for two restaurants, Obertach is overseeing the cooking for Hauptman’s newest venture, an events catering service called World’s Fare Catering. For information call 703-577-4124 or email worldsfarecatering@yahoo.com.

As a convenient neighborhood market, Bistro 360 has some 200 wines, most of them imported, about two dozen cheeses and a refrigerator case that requires some asking for information, for example, do those sweet chili drops (plump berries, actually) go well with miso-glazed salmon?

In any case, it will be an adventure, just the way Art Hauptman intended.

Bistro 360 is located at 1800 Wilson Boulevard; call 703-522-3600 or use OpenTable to make a reservation. Cassatt’s Kiwi Café is at 4536 Lee Highway; call 703-527-3330.

The preceding was a business profile written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by Bistro 360.

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