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ARLnow Weekend Discussion

We hope you get to enjoy the weekend’s sunny, mild weather, which should be a nice backdrop for the beginning of Passover tonight and Easter on Sunday.

Before the outdoor activities begin and the Easter baskets are filled, let’s take a look back at ARLnow’s biggest stories over the past week.

  1. Want to Live Comfortably in Arlington? Here’s What It Will Cost You
  2. Alt’s Vegetarian Restaurant to Open Soon in Lyon Park
  3. Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for Ballston Homicide Victim
  4. La Tasca Has Closed in Clarendon
  5. Ballston’s Lebanese Fast Casual Restaurant Badaro Now Open
  6. Arlington Bar Owners Cheer Chef Geoff’s Happy Hour Advertising Lawsuit

Feel free to discuss these topics, your weekend plans or anything else that’s happening locally in the comments below. Have a great rest of your weekend!

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Podcast: Virginia’s 2018 Teacher of the Year, Michelle Cottrell-Williams

Michelle Cottrell-Williams, an Arlington Public Schools high school teacher, was named Virginia’s Teacher of the Year for 2018.

Join her and ARLnow assistant managing editor, Bridget Reed Morawski, as the two talk APS world language reductions proposed for next year’s budget, the one-to-one device program, and guns in schools.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

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Gallery Clarendon Opening Delayed Over Permit

The Clarendon Art Gallery opening has been delayed to early May.

Signs went up for Gallery Clarendon on March 9, and the nonprofit gallery intended to open this Sunday (April 1). However, it has not yet received its occupancy permit from the county.

Jane Coonce, Gallery Clarendon’s executive director, told ARLnow that she had applied before the signs had gone up for the occupancy permit. She expressed disappointment that it hadn’t come through yet, but was understanding.

Noting that the time of her permit application coincided with spring break, Coonce added that she’s “sure any employees who had kids probably had to stay home with the kids, so that might have put the county behind.”

Until a permanent commercial tenant is found, the gallery, built and developed by volunteers, will call the former Fuego Cocina y Taquileria space home, rent-free other than utilities costs.

The cavernous first floor space will host the gallery, while the second floor will accommodate artist studios and art classes for both children and adults.

Though Coonce said that equipment cannot be installed until the gallery has received its occupancy permit, the build out will be finished by the end of the day on Friday, and volunteers will have the space cleaned up by Saturday.

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Improvements Planned for Seven Corners Bridge

Improvements are planned for a one-way bridge linking eastbound Route 50 to Wilson Boulevard in Seven Corners.

The bridge is blocks away from Arlington’s western border with Fairfax County.

A new concrete bridge deck, steel beams, and concrete end walls have been proposed for the bridge, which was built in 1958, as well as upgraded bridge railings.

A new sidewalk would be installed along the opposite side of the bridge’s existing sidewalk, which would be rehabbed.

A public information meeting with project displays and a presentation by Virginia Dept. of Transportation staff is planned for Tuesday (April 3) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School (3333 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church).

Public comments can be given at the meeting. Project financing comes from state and federal infrastructure funds.

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Urban Tandoor Now Open in Ballston

Urban Tandoor opened its doors yesterday (March 29) in Ballston.

The Indian restaurant, at 801 N. Quincy Street, is the newest restaurant in the neighborhood, and is down the street from Ballston Quarter construction. Urban Tandoor replaces Republic Kitchen & Bar, which replaced the former Leek American Bistro.

A lunch buffet will run from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. every day, and an à la carte dinner menu will be available from 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Most entrees on the menu run from $16-20, including an $18 lamb madras dish “cooked with coconut milk and spices.”

Happy hour pricing on certain food items runs from 3:30-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

There are seven dessert options, ten varieties of naan and similar breads, and a number of appetizers, vegetarian and otherwise. There’s also a small kids menu.

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Flying Colors: Up, Down And All Around

Flying Colors is a sponsored column on the hobby of backyard bird feeding written by Michael Zuiker, owner of the Wild Birds Unlimited store at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center. Visit the store at 2437 N. Harrison Street or call 703-241-3988.

We walk straight up. Looking straight ahead to insure we do not walk into buildings, fast moving trains and dinosaurs. Or, at least we did. These days, some of us would never know the dinosaur was on us until it was too late.

Yet, this is a great time to look Up, Down and All Around. Because Spring is finally here! And with it, an abundance of exciting things Up, Down and All Around. Not only in our backyards but in our parks, on the lakes, in the rivers and in the sky.

Many birds are coming up into this area with their normal migration. Many can be seen in our yards. Many can be seen in state and local parks. Many birds can be seen just walking along the Georgetown waterfront.

With the southerly flow of warm air, many migrant birds such as warblers, thrushes and other insect eating birds will be moving into our area. Many are small and hard to see. But you can begin to hear their many songs, especially in the quiet of the morning.

Experiment with different foods in your feeders, especially insect — live or dried — to attract some of these birds.

Also, start to clean your birdbaths and if you have a dripper or mister, set that up. Running water is a fantastic way to attract the insect eating birds. And every other bird in your yard.

So, shed some of the layers you have been dragging around for the last 4 months and flex your muscles as the weather warms. Put your phones in your pockets. Take to the woods, parks and fields.

Look Up, Down and All Around!

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Open Houses in Arlington This Weekend

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:

2522 N. Upland Street
8 bed/6 bath, 2 half bath single-family home
Agent: Ruth Boyer O’dea
Listed: $2,499,000
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

929 N. Daniel Street
7 bed/4 bath, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Ronald Cathell
Listed: $1,898,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

1138 N. Harrison Street
4 bed/3 bath, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Melissa Larson
Listed: $1,284,900
Open: Saturday 1-4 p.m.

1136 S. Glebe Road
4 bed/4 bath, 1 half bath,villa/townhouse
Agent: Sung Cha
Listed: $925,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

2001 15th Street N.
2 bed/2 bath condo
Agent: Anslie Stokes Milligan
Listed: $850,000
Open: Saturday 12-2 p.m.

1515 S. Arlington Ridge Road
2 bed/2 bath condo
Agent: Scott Shawkey
Listed: $500,000
Open: Saturday 1-3 p.m.

4613-C 28th Road S.
2 bed/1 bath condo
Agent: Sheryl Lambson
Listed: $335,000
Open: Saturday 1-4 p.m.

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New Fort C.F. Smith Visitor Center Opens This Weekend

A new visitor center is celebrating its grand opening Saturday (March 31) at Woodmont’s Fort C.F. Smith with free activities.

The center will focus on “Civil War life at Fort C.F. Smith and across Arlington County,” according to an county event page.

During the event, park staff will take community members through fort tours and Civil War museum exhibits. Union Army historic reenactors will perform demonstrations and drilling activities.

Activities will run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Fort C.F. Smith Park (2411 24th Street N.) Kids can don Civil War era uniforms, learn about camp life, and check out archaeological artifacts on display.

The fort is home to the Hendry House event venue, as well as preserved ruins, and ornamental peace garden, wildlife observation points and garden trails.

Photo via Arlington County

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Protected Bike Lane Proposed for N. Veitch Street

A protected bike lane has been proposed as part of a repaving project this summer

The parking on N. Veitch Street between Lee Highway and Wilson Boulevard would be reconfigured to create space for a protected bike lane connecting the Custis Trail and Courthouse.

“This protected bike lane will create a more bike-friendly connection between the Wilson/Clarendon Corridor and the Custis Trail,” says the county’s project page. “This will be considered the second of four phases of construction to create the protected bike lane connection on the Rosslyn-Courthouse corridor.”

The first phase of the “Courthouse-Rosslyn Multimodal Connectivity Improvements” project built protected bike lanes on Wilson Blvd between N. Oak Street and N. Pierce Street in Rosslyn. Additional phases would extend the protected bike lane from Rosslyn to Courthouse.

The second phase of the project this summer would also reconfigure parking on N. Troy Street in Courthouse, between Key and Wilson boulevards, to create additional spaces.

A public design workshop and discussion is planned for Wednesday (April 4) from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at the Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Blvd).

Photos via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Northam Talks Golf Course Bill — Speaking on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) addressed the country club tax bill that Arlington officials want him to veto. Northam said the taxation of Army Navy Country Club, which counts numerous veterans among its members, particularly “needs to be addressed” and that if negotiations are not successful he will “step in and take action,” though the exact action he would take is unclear. [WTOP]

How Arlington Almost Was Home to the Nationals — Boosters of baseball in Arlington almost succeeded in bringing a Major League Baseball team to the county. The Nationals, before landing near Navy Yard in D.C., were considering a stadium site in Pentagon City, but a series of unfortunate events nixed it. [Arlington Magazine]

ART Bus Turns into Sauna — From a Twitter user yesterday: “@ART_Alert my bus driver just begged me to contact you and ask to get his bus fixed. The heat is stuck on the bus and it must be 95 degrees inside.” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Just Listed in Arlington

Just Listed banner
Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

Arlington’s Spring market brought out 72 buyers who ratified contracts this week, and 83 sellers listed their homes. But the overall inventory dropped to just 1.4 months of supply at the current rate of absorption, making it difficult for buyers to have much selection. Of the homes sold, 31 got snatched up within seven days of hitting the market.

Buyers were happy to see interest rates dip a tiny bit this week, rather than their steady climb. The 30-yr fixed rate dropped about four basis points to 4.54% following the drop in the yield on the 10-yr US Treasury note.

Click to see all the fresh new inventory in MRIS and call Team Cathell (703-975-2500) when you find a home you like.

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Female-Focused Small Business Fair This Weekend

A small business fair geared toward highlighting Arlington’s female-owned businesses is scheduled for Saturday (March 31).

The event wraps up Arlington Public Library’s Women’s History Month events for this year, and aims to highlight women who “make history every day in the operation of local businesses and nonprofits.”

Local products and services will be showcased and businesses can distribute coupons and free samples. Karen Bate, Awesome Women Entrepreneurs founder, will give the keynote speech, alongside other speakers addressing topics on women and business.

The small business fair will be held at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) from 11 a.m.-2 p.m on Saturday. The event is a partnership between the library and Arlington Economic Development’s Small Business Assistance Network.

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National Capital Bank Branch Opens on Wilson Blvd

(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) A new branch of National Capital Bank opened this morning (March 29) roughly between Clarendon and Courthouse, marking the bank’s first branch in Virginia.

National Capital Bank bills itself as “Washington’s Oldest Bank,” and has been open since 1889, according to its website.

The bank is at 2505 Wilson Boulevard, which is at the intersection with Franklin Road and N. Barton Street.

The bank takes over the once-vacant former location of another bank, Cardinal Bank, which was bought out by United Bank about a year ago.

Hat tip to Sandra Alboum

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The Right Note: Public Engagement Milestone

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Last week, County Manager Mark Schwartz put out a new “Six-Step Public Engagement Guide for Capital Projects.” The county press release called it a “major milestone.”

County staff will find no objection to a more clearly defined path to consider large scale infrastructure projects. And the process will certainly provide a good path for projects that everyone will generally agree on the need for, but maybe need just need a little tweaking that comes from public input.

But as Mike Tyson once said about boxing, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” In other words, the true test of the guide is what happens when a project turns out to be controversial.

In the case of a controversial project, how will county staff address negative feedback that present major obstacles to move through the six steps?

If, at the end of the engagement process, the staff and elected officials are unable to address concerns in a way that the community feels good about, will county staff just step up the public relations effort to tell Arlingtonians why the project is a good thing? And under what circumstances will the County Board move forward with the project anyway?

What about putting a policy in place to bring the biggest projects to a straight up or down vote with the public? A standalone vote at a threshold borrowing amount of $25 million for a single project does not seem too much to ask. If a majority of the voting public feels the project is worthy, they will approve it.

Finally, what accountability is there for a project that doesn’t live up to its promises? For example, what if the county subsidy for a new aquatics center doubles, or triples over estimates? This is the type of thing that happened when it came to the Artisphere.

Over the years, we have heard a lot about how the government will listen to the public and be held accountable to the public. Every time a member takes over the gavel to chair the County Board, the subject is incorporated into their speech.

Two years ago, the County Board unceremoniously terminated a proposed “Blue Ribbon Panel” that would have provided independent citizen input into county priorities up front. The county auditor has not been given adequate resources to embark on a scope of work that would result in real accountability.

The true test for the County Board moving forward is how they take into account advice, input and accountability that is truly independent of the county manager, not whether there is an avenue to offer it.

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Progressive Voice: Arlington’s Space Squeeze Demands New Solutions

Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.

By Laura Saul Edwards

Arlingtonians used to say that rising enrollment in our public schools was “a good problem to have.”

The catchphrase emphasizes the drawing power of the high quality instruction and student achievement at APS.

But these days, unprecedented enrollment growth, a shortage of seats and limited land for new school construction pose major challenges.

Fresh thinking and problem solving are needed as we face a space squeeze for schools — and for play space and other recreational needs. Building up — not out — is one solution. And building usable green space on rooftops has emerged as another promising option.

On the plus side, green roofs provide space for recreation and athletics when there is little to no available space for these activities at ground level. Just as important, they provide students with the chance to look at trees, plants and other natural amenities instead of industrial rooftops sprouting air conditioning units.

In this way, green roofs serve an environmental purpose while providing students with landscaped areas that can be used as a teaching tool, recreational areas for athletics and fitness and space for special events and programming.

For instance, in Rosslyn on a cramped urban site, construction is progressing rapidly on the new home of the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, opening in September 2019. With seven floors, this facility will be Arlington Public Schools’ tallest building to date.

These massive rooftop terraces on four levels include one large enough to accommodate the equivalent of three basketball courts. These terraces create more functioning space on this small site with its compressed ground-level athletic field than would otherwise be possible if the new school were simply a multi-story box.

The rooftop terraces on top of the fanning bars of this modern building (picture a spread deck of playing cards) are a radical departure from the large, grassy suburban campus. Currently the programs are located with a traditional school building, full growth trees and acres of space for Ultimate Frisbee games.

But most people involved in reviewing the unique fanning bars design with its innovative rooftop terraces agreed that it made moving to the urban location more palatable. And the move also made space possible for a sorely needed middle school on H-B Woodlawn’s old site.

As green rooftops take hold in design nationwide, architects are learning how to lower the cost while addressing concerns with maintenance and drainage. Green rooftops can’t be the answer everywhere because each project and site is different.

Yet, given Arlington’s scrunch for space, even the most unlikely sites are being snapped up and creatively re-envisioned, often bringing a plus for the environment.

Imagine the old Alpine restaurant on Lee Highway – vacant for eight years – torn down and replaced by a three-story glass-paneled contemporary building for The Children’s School, a non-profit pre-school.

Imagine two secure rooftop green decks, where kids can safely run and play. A tree buffer to the residential area to the south. Open air, sunshine and a revitalized stretch of land.

Under a use permit application recently submitted to Arlington County, three stories would be above grade, with parking mostly underneath and wide drop-off areas at ground level for parents. The building would step back to the rear in respect for the nearby Glebewood neighborhood.

The Children’s School, a non-profit entity for employees of Arlington Public Schools and others, is being displaced from its current location at Reed in Westover, so finding a new home is urgent.

As people recently viewed the architect’s preliminary plans, some wondered if there was a more spacious location. Not in space-squeezed Arlington, said Chris Smith, representing the Children’s School.

“Believe me, we explored every other possible site. This is the only one that worked,” Smith said.

Green rooftops are design solutions that can help ensure new schools will provide much-needed capacity and serve the whole child while making a positive change on the surrounding environment and furnishing recreational space to the community during non-school hours.

Since Arlington will always stay land-locked and land-starved, this is exactly the type of creativity needed as APS enters a hectic period of building capacity for thousands more students in the upcoming years.

Laura Saul Edwards has lived in Arlington County since 1994. A former congressional aide and lobbyist, Ms. Saul Edwards is now a piano teacher and community activist. She was PTA president at Nottingham Elementary School and co-chair of the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program’s PAC. She serves on the School Board’s Advisory Council on School Facilities and Capital Projects (FAC) and is an APS 2012 Honored Citizen.

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