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by Buzz McClain — April 4, 2017 at 6:00 pm 0

When we checked in on Ouli a year ago, the new mobile personal concierge app, developed in North Arlington, impressed early adopters with its groundbreaking two-way engagement abilities and it’s ability to learn your likes.

Now meet Ouli 2.0, released in March. Not only does it deliver consumer-choices for you based on your location and previous interaction–and the more you use it, the more it learns about you–the new home page brings you “the best thing to do right now” when you open the app, says Pierre Malko, CEO of Dante Inc., the Arlington-based software company that’s been building technological innovation since 1998.

“It could be where to have happy hour or what show is available at a local theater,” he says. “Ouli comes to you with recommendations for experiences that are pertinent at that point in time based on where you are.”

Other added enhancements include an integration with Uber — you can book your ride through the app — and OpenTable, to make reservations based on Ouli’s recommendation. One of the benefits of Ouli is that it only suggests viable selections, so sold-out restaurants and performances won’t be recommended.

A year ago there were about 100 merchants in the Ouli database, mostly in Arlington because that’s where the app launched. But now, Malko says, Ouli’s reach goes beyond Northern Virginia into Washington and Maryland and the programming has expanded into the arts, nonprofits, farmer’s markets and volunteer opportunities.

“Ouli is all about connecting you with the local community,” says Malko. “Usually we gravitate to well-known places like the Shakespeare Theatre and the Kennedy Center, and that’s fine, but there are tons of local performers and artists who are doing great shows in nearby establishments that you would not have heard of otherwise.”

Malko is proud of the improvement to add nonprofit organizations and volunteer opportunities to the mix, which he hopes will enrich not just the Ouli user but the community at large.

“As a person with a family in Arlington who is also very involved in the community, I always like to know about the things that are going on,” he says. “But it’s not always easy to find. You have to search a million different places.”

Community engagement with Ouli, he says, “is helping us all enjoy and support local causes that are important to us, or local establishments that we love to have around. And the more we engage, the higher the chances that they’ll stick around for a long time.”

The new Ouli release offers an improvement on the personalization and two-way engagement attributes of the app. In short, they’ve made it less intrusive, and thus more welcome, all the while still giving you notifications of sales, events and other specials in the neighborhood you happen to be in, “but only if there’s a high likelihood that you’ll care about it,” he says.

“We didn’t want this to be one other thing that bothers our users, so we spend a lot of time and energy on taming it,” Malko says. “Honing those personalization skills was not easy, but we’re giving the user what they want and also not bothering them with things they don’t care about…We want to make this a service that helps them enjoy their life and do so economically.”

Yes, there’s an app for that. It’s called Ouli.

Ouli can be downloaded here for immediate use. See what the best thing going on around you is right now.

The preceding post was written by Buzz McClain and sponsored by Ouli.

by Chris Teale — April 4, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

A Super Bowl-winning former linebacker joined the BalletNova Center For Dance to kick off a new community engagement program today.

Former Washington Redskins linebacker Andre Collins joined BalletNova for its “M.O.V.E” residency session at Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in the Arlington View neighborhood Tuesday morning.

M.O.V.E stands for motivation, opportunity, vitality and empowerment. The school-based program uses accessible movements to teach elements of dance and develop sophisticated choreography, while challenging children physically and mentally. For most students participating in the M.O.V.E. program, it is their first experience with dance.

The school residencies are six to eight weeks in length, with classes meeting once a week for an hour. Each residency culminates in a performance at the school.

Collins joined the class earlier this morning. He studied dance in college and took classes while playing in the NFL. After graduating from Penn State, he was drafted by the Redskins in the second round of the 1990 NFL Draft.

After four years with Washington, including winning Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, he played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions before retiring in 1999.

He is now director of retired players for the NFL Players Association and executive director of the Professional Athletes Foundation.

Photo via Professional Athletes Foundation

by ARLnow.com — April 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Rents in Arlington continue to increase, but at a relative crawl, according to new data.

The median 1 bedroom monthly rent in Arlington was $2,030, while the median 2 bedroom rent was $2,620, according to rental website Apartment List. That’s a 0.7 percent increase compared to March 2016 and the same year-over-year rate of increase as the District, where 2 bedroom rent was $3,050.

Other D.C. area jurisdictions were a mixed bag: a 0.6 percent rent decrease for Bethesda, a 2 percent rent increase for Alexandria and a 6.4 percent increase for Gaithersburg. Among D.C. neighborhoods, Foggy Bottom was the most expensive with median 2 bedroom rent at $4,620 and Petworth was the fastest growing with an 8.8 percent rent increase over last year.

The good news for Arlington: the county is top-rated nationally for renter satisfaction.

Arlington received an A+ overall ranking in Apartment List’s second annual Renter Satisfaction Survey, with high marks for crime and safety, jobs and career opportunities, and public transit.

Arlington received a D ranking for affordability, C- for schools and C for taxes, according to Apartment List.

Other cities getting the top overall renter satisfaction grade included Lincoln, Nebraska; Pasadena, California; Boston, Massachusetts; and Madison, Wisconsin.

Table via Apartment List

by Chris Teale — April 4, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Designs for the project to improve 12th Street S. in Crystal City are coming together, and now the public can take a look themselves.

The “Ask the Project Team” event for the Complete Street project between Clark and Eads streets is scheduled to take place on Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. at The Connection pop-up library at 2100 Crystal Drive. The designs are 30 percent complete, so this event means residents can provide feedback on any major concerns in the plans.

The project will help create dedicated bus lanes for the Crystal City/Potomac Yard Transitway in that section of 12th Street S. — the same stretch in which a commuter bus crashed into an apartment building last week — as well as provide pedestrian improvements.

It will add two-way bicycle lanes under the Route 1 bridge, which will link a future two-way bicycle track on Army Navy Drive to a planned two-way bike lane along S. Bell Street heading toward the Crystal City Metro station. Those new bicycle facilities will then link to Long Bridge Drive.

The design will also include improved landscaping, sidewalks, pedestrian ramps and streetlights, as well as new north/south crosswalks at Army Navy Drive. It is adjacent to the 12th Street S. extension project from S. Eads Street to S. Fern Street in Pentagon City.

After the meeting, the project display boards will remain at the library for public viewing until April 15.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 4, 2017 at 1:00 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: The best time for me to purchase a home is over the next few months, but I’ve heard from friends that the spring is highly competitive. Do you have any tips for being more competitive in the spring market without overpaying?

Answer: In a couple of weeks I’ll publish a summary of real estate data for the first quarter of 2017 in Arlington, but I can tell you that this year is off to an explosive start and the “spring market” started early. Warmer weather brings more buyers to the market and more competition over our limited housing inventory. Here are some tips on how you can improve your chances submitting a winning offer without exposing yourself to unnecessary risk or overpaying:

Take Your Time, Do Your Homework

I always tell clients that a home has two values — market value and personal value. Personal value will drive how you structure your offer and what you’re willing to pay relative to market value. Hopefully you’ve spent time over the last couple of months sharpening your criteria and understanding how it fits within your budget. If you’ve put in the right prep work upfront, you’ll be able to recognize personal value quickly and make strong offers with confidence.

Settle Faster

One way to make your offer stand out is by settling in three weeks instead of the more common 30-40 days. The settlement period is the time between the contract being signed (ratification) and the home purchase. It’s dictated by the time your lender needs to prepare your loan, so talk to your lender early on about ways to reduce your settlement period. Most sellers want to close on a property as soon as possible.

Contingencies

Most offers in Arlington include contingencies (protective terms for a buyer) for financing, appraisal and a home inspection. The shorter you can make each contingency, the more attractive your offer will look to a seller. Talk to your lender about how long they need for the financing and appraisal contingencies and don’t add unnecessary time to them.  Home inspections are valuable steps in the buying process, but also carry significant risk to the seller.

There are a number of ways to improve the “normal” 7-10 home inspection contingency to make your offer more attractive such as reducing the length of the contingency to five days with a short negotiation period, using a Pass/Fail contingency by removing the right to negotiate, making the inspection for informational purposes by removing the contingency all together (do not make this decision without considerable discussion), or getting approval from the seller to conduct a pre-inspection before making your offer.

Seller Preferences

Before making your offer, find out if the seller has any preferred terms such as a post-settlement occupancy (aka rent-back), home purchase contingency, or timing of settlement (Virginia loans should close end of month).

Watch Days on Market

The number of days a property has been on the market will help you decide how to structure your offer. You should be prepared to make your strongest offer within the first week of a listing and adjust your terms with each week a property sits.

The spring market can be a great time for buyers who are prepared for the additional competition because you’ll see a significant increase in inventory, so that illusive two bedroom + den or half-acre yard with a deck is more likely to appear. If you’re not prepared to make a strong offer, the spring can be frustrating and defeating because you may watch your dream home(s) go to other buyers who have made smarter, but not necessarily higher, offers.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. 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 — April 4, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

Three Arlington School Board candidates looked to ease neighborhood fears about the future Reed Elementary School at a forum Monday night.

A presentation last month by Arlington Public Schools staff suggested the 725-seat elementary school offer the International Baccalaureate as a countywide choice program when it opens in 2021.

But neighbors have raised concerns about the traffic impact of students being bussed in, and neighborhood children having to be educated elsewhere.

And at a candidate forum hosted by the Highland Park-Overlee Knolls Civic Association, incumbent James Lander and challengers Maura McMahon and Monique O’Grady all agreed the IB designation was just a suggestion and not set in stone. A fourth candidate, Mike Webb, was absent.

“There is no decision, there is no proposal, it’s a concept,” said Lander. “It’s a concept I don’t support, but it was a way to get the conversation started with the community.”

The school currently hosts The Children’s School, a nonprofit that provides education and child care for the children of APS parents, and the Integration Station, which helps students with disabilities integrate with those without disabilities.

But it is set to be the temporary location for the Stratford program while the Stratford School building is renovated.

The Stratford program will then relocate in 2019 with H-B Woodlawn to the redeveloping Wilson site in Rosslyn.

The Reed School site would then be revamped as an elementary school, with construction likely to begin that year once Wilson is open, Lander said.

And rather than be an IB choice program, the majority of those present appeared more supportive of Reed being a neighborhood school. O’Grady encouraged neighbors to make their voices heard on that point.

“I keep hearing from the community that a neighborhood school is important,” she said. “If that’s what you want, I suggest you come together and advocate for that.”

McMahon, meanwhile, said APS must be strategic to combat its growing enrollment and ensure the programs it already has are of a high standard. She cited previous conversations with parents about adding schools with immersion programs in world languages like French and Mandarin.

“My opinion is they would be great, but we have a lot of other things we need to focus on first, like do we have enough schools?” she said.

Transportation and traffic also weighed heavily on the discussions around Reed. Lander said he wanted to revisit adding an exit on the back of the site, a plan that has not been supported in the past. McMahon said discussions on bussing must also involve catering to low-income families who use public transportation to get to and from school.

And while several attendees said the community is often consulted too late in the planning process for such projects, O’Grady said getting involved early would be a good way to shape the future.

“I think it’s an exciting time for your community, and it’s the perfect time to step up and say, ‘This is what we want,'” she said.

by ARLnow.com — April 4, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

As Arlington school officials consider locations for a new high school, a resident has nominated one of the potential sites for consideration as a local historic district.

The 1960s-era Arlington Education Center and planetarium, next to Washington-Lee High School, should be designated historic and preserved, says Nancy Iacomini, an Arlington Planning Commission member.

More from the website of Preservation Arlington:

Designed by Cleveland-based architecture firm Ward and Schneider, the building is an excellent example of “New Formalism” which combined classical design elements with modern materials and techniques. Bethlehem Steel used a new cost-saving technique of steel wedges to construct the building. Both buildings were completed in 1969, having been funded by a 1965 bond referendum and designed with community-wide input. In 1967 a special citation from the American Association of School Administrators said the center “should attract the public and focus attention on the importance of education.” The two buildings were built as a pair and symbolize the great civic pride of Arlington and its’ investment in the future.

Arlington’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board will now consider the nomination. If the HALRB recommends historic designation, public hearings will then be held by the Planning Commission and County Board.

Iacomini says there is both architectural and cultural significance to the Education Center, which currently houses Arlington Public Schools administrative offices and the School Board’s meeting room.

From her nomination letter:

Structures are literally visual landmarks of our shared history; the Education Center is emblematic of an important era of Arlington’s past…

Clearly the 1960s was a boom time for the county — a time when we were beginning to plan for the future of the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor and time of great growth in our schools but also still a time of grappling with social issues in our schools. The Education Center and the planetarium are physical embodiments of the forward thinking of Arlington and our County’s hope for the future. They should stand as reminders of our accomplishments and goals of the past as we continue to provide for the future.

The Education Center and Planetarium are proud civic buildings of a set, carefully designed and constructed with taxpayer funds on publicly owned land. It is not unlike the commitment we’ve made to the new school on the Wilson site. They are part of our shared civic heritage.

by ARLnow.com — April 4, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) A Maryland man has been arrested and charged with half a dozen counts of assaulting police officers and medical personnel.

Police were called to a restaurant on the 4700 block of Lee Highway last night just before 10 p.m. for a “report of a disorderly subject.” The name of the restaurant was not released, but Metro 29 Diner, Thirsty Bernie and Cowboy Cafe are located on or near that block of Lee Highway.

The suspect then became combative and assaulted five police officers and bit the finger of a paramedic while in custody, according to police.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ASSAULT & BATTERY ON POLICE, 2017-04030296, 4700 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 9:52 p.m. on April 3, police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly subject inside a restaurant. The responding officers escorted the subject outside and as they were conducting the investigation, he allegedly became combative and assaulted multiple officers. Once in custody, the subject bit the finger of an Arlington County Fire Department Medic attempting to evaluate him for injuries. Jorge Luis Quintero-Amaya, 28, of Temple Hills, MD was arrested and charged with Assault & Battery on Law Enforcement (x5), Assault on Medical Personnel, Resisting Arrest, Obstruction of Justice and Failure to ID. He was held on no bond.

by ARLnow.com — April 4, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

(Updated at 10 a.m.) Despite some recent arrests, more than 200 vehicles have been broken into so far this year in Arlington, and the criminals do not appear to be slowing down.

According to Arlington police, there were 209 “larceny from auto” reports taken from Jan. 1 to April 3. Most of those crimes were likely preventable, requiring only that the owner of the vehicle lock their doors.

“The majority of our thefts from vehicles are from unlocked cars,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Our investigations and witness accounts reveal that in the majority of cases, suspect(s) are seen walking up a street and trying door handles. They enter a vehicle that opens and bypass a vehicle that does not.”

“Locking your vehicle’s doors and removing valuables increases the likelihood that the suspect(s) will move on,” Savage added.

The latest series of car break-ins was reported in Fairlington yesterday morning. Officers located eight vehicles that had been entered and rummaged through.

“At approximately 8:05 a.m., police responded to the 4700 block of 30th Street S. for the report of items thrown about the ground,” Savage said. “The initial investigation suggests that the vehicles were unlocked. The investigation is ongoing.”

In addition to the public service announcement flyer above, ACPD has also issued the following tips for residents.

1. No matter if you park on a public street, in a driveway or garage take all valuables out of your vehicle. This includes keys, key fobs, purses, cash, credit cards and electronics. Don’t forget the valet key that comes with some vehicles.

2. Lock your doors and pull on the door handle to verify it’s locked. If a thief can get into a vehicle, they can also have access to a garage door opener and can gain access to your home. Always ensure the door between your garage and home is locked.

3. Call police if you see people looking into vehicles. The telltale sign that this has occurred in your neighborhood are open doors with the interior dome lights on. If you don’t see the perpetrator(s) but suspect some vehicles have been entered, call the non-emergency number at 703-558-2222. If you see a suspect in your vehicle, DO NOT APPROACH THEM and call 911 immediately.

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