Arlington, VA

Arlington County Police are investigating what the department characterized as a suspicious death.

Officers and medics were dispatched to an apartment at the AVA Ballston Square building (850 N. Randolph Street) around 5:30 p.m. Friday. Initial reports suggested that a young man was in cardiac arrest, with blood coming from his upper extremities, and that several other people were inside the apartment at the time.

“Upon arrival, an adult male victim was located deceased inside a residence,” police said in a press release. “Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”

“This remains an active criminal investigation and the preliminary investigation has not revealed an immediate threat to the community,” ACPD said. “Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Detective J. Senn of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4049 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS‬ (8477).”

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A three day weekend is here, meaning extra rest and relaxation for many, and no need to feed the parking meter on Monday.

Some snow and freezing precipitation may make for hazardous travel on Saturday — even though Arlington is outside the current Winter Weather Advisory — so be careful if you’re on the roads. The main event in Arlington on Sunday, other than the NFL playoffs on TV, will be the scheduled Martin Luther King Jr. tribute at Wakefield High School.

ARLnow staff will either be off or working on other projects on Monday, so nothing will be published except in the event of breaking news.

For the die-hards reading this, you might wonder whatever happened to our top vote-getting rejected t-shirt design. Well, the “King of the North (Arlington)” shirt is here and you can order it today.

Get it as either a short sleeve or long sleeve t-shirt.

Here are the most-read articles on the site this week:

  1. Arlington County Ready to Hit the Gas on Lee Highway Transformation Plan
  2. Uber Driver Arrested After Pedestrian Struck at Advanced Towing Lot
  3. Red Hook Lobster Pound Pinches New Space Near Clarendon
  4. Police Investigating Death on Yellow Line Train
  5. Arlington County Moving Forward With Pedestrian Bridge Near Shirlington
  6. There’s a Simple Explanation for High Recent Water Bills, Officials Say
  7. Windows Smashed, Airbags Stolen in Car Larceny Spree
  8. New Apartment Building Now Open Near Courthouse
  9. Quick-Service Lebanese Eatery LEBTAV Opens in Ballston

Feel free to discuss those or any other topics of local interest in the comments. Have a great long weekend!

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Police responded to an unusual accident in Ballston Friday afternoon.

A Toyota Prius appears to have been driven into a construction zone at the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Quincy Street and partially fallen into excavated portion of roadway — possibly an uncovered utility vault — in a scene that looks somewhat like Arlington’s version of the infamous Pittsburgh sinkhole bus.

No injuries were reported.

The crash was not obstructing traffic and did not appear to have a significant impact on the construction work. A 22-story apartment tower is being built at the site, which was formerly home to long-time local watering hole Carpool.

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It’s dwarfed by an adjacent apartment building and it’s unclear when it was first built, but if you’ve ever wanted to own a commercial building in the middle of Ballston outright, now’s your chance.

The vacant Sichuan Wok building at 901 N. Quincy Street went on the market in the fall for an asking price of $3.2 million.

Sichuan Wok closed in 2018 and its owner, who ran the restaurant with her late uncle, is now offering the building for sale, according to listing agent Virginia Smith. It’s still configured as a restaurant, with nearly 3,000 square feet of total floor area and a full kitchen, though the property also presents a redevelopment opportunity.

The 5,200 square foot lot is zoned C-2, which permits smaller “service commercial” uses, as compared to some of the high-rise offices and apartments around it.

“Excellent opportunity for an investor, developer, or user to acquire a rarely available fee simple retail property in such a dynamic, vibrant Arlington location… 2 blocks from the new Ballston Quarter,” says a sales flyer.

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Morning Notes

Home Prices Up in 2019 — “Data from Bright MLS, a multiple listing service that analyzes real estate data in the Mid-Atlantic region… revealed the average home sale price in Alexandria City, Arlington and Fairfax counties, collectively, rose by 4%, from $590,582 in 2018 to $614,236 in 2019.” [WUSA 9]

Endorsements for Choun — Chanda Choun, who is running in the Democratic Arlington County Board primary against incumbent Libby Garvey, has received the endorsement of a pair of current and former elected officials: former County Board member Jay Fisette and, most recently, current Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy. [Twitter, Chanda Choun]

Chain Salon Locations to Close — “The parent company of Hair Cuttery, Bubbles, and other salon chains will close more than 80 locations around the country starting later in January… A full list of the stores that will shutter was not disclosed. There are more than 30 Hair Cuttery locations, 20 Bubbles locations, 14 Salon Plazas and three Salon Cielos in Greater Washington.” [Washington Business Journal]

Musical Performances at DCA — “Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) will host its annual Black History Month celebration of achievements and contributions to American history by African Americans with musical performances for passengers traveling through both airports each Thursday during the month of February.” [Press Release]

Dorsey Absent from WMATA Board Meeting — Arlington County Board and WMATA Board member Christian Dorsey was absent from the latter body’s meeting yesterday, raising an eyebrow. A WMATA spokesman tells ARLnow that Dorsey was not at the meeting because we was “going to Richmond to provide testimony.”

Monday: MLK Day of Service in Arlington — “Celebrate the National MLK Day of Service by joining EcoAction Arlington to clean up trash and debris from Four Mile Run and surrounding streets. Everyone is welcome; we will provide supplies and snacks.” [ARLnow Events]

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This fall, a pair of electric school buses will replace two older diesel buses in the Arlington Public Schools fleet, the first trickle of an expected wave that could convert the fleet to 100 percent electric by 2030.

Dominion Energy is helping to supply the two buses, and 48 others, to 16 Virginia localities, including Arlington. Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Prince William County are among the jurisdictions receiving new buses from Dominion.

“We will be getting two buses sometime in the fall,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed to ARLnow this afternoon, following the Dominion announcement. “They will replace two buses that are next in the replacement cycle.”

The new buses will be manufactured by Thomas Built Buses, a traditional school bus manufacturer that is now producing electric models. Dominion is offsetting additional expenses associated with the electric school buses beyond the cost of a standard diesel bus.

The power company is working on a multi-phase plan to move Virginia school divisions to all-electric school bus fleets by 2030. Beyond environmental benefits, Dominion says the buses will be used, essentially, as batteries on the power grid to help supply more electricity during peak times.

More from a press release:

The electric school buses will serve as a grid resource by creating additional energy storage technology to support the company’s integration of distributed renewables such as solar and wind. The “vehicle-to-grid” technology leverages the bus batteries to store and inject energy onto the grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not needed for transport. The buses also provide environmental and health benefits through reduced emissions and reduce operation and maintenance costs for schools by up to 60 percent.

“We are excited to move forward with our commitment to bringing the benefits of electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve,” said Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II.  “This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools.”

This initial deployment will bring electric school buses to each of the company’s operating regions. Localities were selected based on the benefit the batteries would bring to the electric grid. […]

This is just the first step in a larger initiative to replace diesel-powered buses with electric buses. Phase two of the project, with state approval, would expand the program to bring at least 1,000 additional electric school buses online by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes. Phase three would set the goal to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements in Dominion Energy’s footprint be electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.

Photos via Thomas Built Buses/YouTube

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What’s Next with Nicole is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

There is somewhat of a false dichotomy in our community right now about growth. Are you pro-growth or not?

Plainly, an economy does not succeed without growth. It is my belief, too, that for long-run economic success and stability, growth must be built on sustainable infrastructure.

I would define infrastructure as anything that we issue a bond for. In the past decade that has included schools, transportation, parks, and miscellaneous for projects such as fire stations; in years prior it has also included utilities and government buildings. Bonds theoretically support assets that last ten years or longer.

TLDR: We need growth to provide housing and office space for our growing economy. This does not preclude us from proactively planning for that implication on our schools, parks, transportation, utilities and basic infrastructure needs.

How Do We Track Growth Impacts

I asked the County Board what steps are in the site plan review process for new development to measure the impact on infrastructure.

Christian Dorsey gave a nod to a useful tool, the quarterly development tracker, that shows every development by sector, units, and square foot.

Matt de Ferranti noted that in the site plan review process there is an accounting for estimated number of seats added to designated school districts from new housing development. In my research there is also typically a requirement for a developer to create a Transportation Management Plan that includes items such ongoing payments to Arlington County Commuter Services and loaded SmarTrip cards for new tenants.

All of this is intended to help various departments plan for the future. Unfortunately that information from the site plan review process is not included in the development tracker and doesn’t include future planning outside of schools.

There was an acknowledgement that we do not measure the long term fiscal impacts of development like other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, but that “smart growth” studies support the notion that we will receive net positive benefits.

To understand that process between the planning and budget departments, I asked the county’s Budget Director about the communication between their offices. He indicated that beginning this year they had more frequent and informal discussions about what projects are in the pipeline and how it would impact revenues. There was not a mention of how it would impact infrastructure or future expenditures.

 Growth Impact Varies

Growth’s impact on Arlington varies by development type. This seems to not be acknowledged in current planning processes.

For example, apartment buildings are taxed as commercial buildings, not residential buildings. How we assess taxes on commercial and residential buildings are different and the fact that over half of residential units in Arlington are rented means that the distinction of if a development is going to be condos or rentals has an impact.

Read More

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(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) Construction on a row of new townhomes is expected to start this spring in the Buckingham neighborhood.

Los Angeles-based Resmark Companies and Tysons-based Madison Homes is developing “an upscale enclave of 19 single-family townhomes” at 19 N. Trenton Street, a half block from Route 50.

“The project is fully entitled with construction on the first homes expected to start in spring of 2020,” the companies noted in a press release. “Designed in a traditional style, the four-level townhomes at Trenton Square will sit on a tree-lined street, just over three miles from Washington, DC.”

The townhomes will each be just over 2,000 square feet, with 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths, as well as a two-car garage and a “walk-out terrace” on the fourth floor. Construction on the first nine homes is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, with the other 10 expected to be built by the summer of 2021.

Also in the press release, the developer touted proximity to Ballston and to Amazon’s HQ2.

“Positive economic and demographic trends in the greater D.C. region continue to drive demand for new for-sale housing in Northern Virginia,” said Resmark’s Stephen O’Neil, Vice President, Investments. “Trenton Square enjoys an exceptional infill location in Arlington and provides easy access to employers in the District and Tysons, and to future Amazon offices in National Landing,” he added. O’Neil also noted that future homeowners at Trenton Square will be a mile from the Ballston Metro and diverse shopping, dining and entertainment options at Ballston Quarter.

Andrew Rosenberger, Vice President of Madison Homes, stated that Trenton Square is anticipated to be one of the only townhome communities to be actively selling in Arlington County during 2020. “There is strong pent-up demand for new home communities in this coveted area. The Ballston submarket, along with other Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor submarkets, have experienced considerable economic growth in the last decade, yet the housing supply hasn’t kept pace. We’re thrilled to have Resmark as our partner on this project.”

The lack of new townhomes for sale in Arlington, referenced in the quote above, is notable as officials consider ways to add more “missing middle” housing in the county. Housing advocates have urged Arlington County to facilitate the production of more townhomes, duplexes and other small-scale forms of multi-family housing, to provide more affordable housing options that meet the needs of residents looking for something in-between apartments and traditional single-family detached homes.

The townhouses will be replacing a pair of aging, single-family homes. The project is part of the redevelopment of the adjacent Red Cross site, which will also build affordable apartments along the Arlington Blvd service road.

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Demolition on the Amazon HQ2 site in Pentagon City is expected to begin soon.

The 2.1 million square foot office-and-retail development along S. Eads Street, the first phase of Amazon’s permanent second headquarters in Arlington, was approved by the County Board in December.

Now, construction equipment is being staged ahead of demolition of the two-story warehouse building and parking lot currently on the site. According to an off-the-record presentation given to local civic associations earlier this week, a slide from which was obtained by ARLnow, demolition and site preparation is scheduled to start within the next month or two.

Excavation will run from the second quarter of 2020 to the end of the year, while construction of the above-ground portion of the complex is expected to start in the second half of 2021. Construction and interior work is expected to wrap up by the middle of 2023, according to the presentation.

In the meantime, the growing contingent of Amazon employees in Arlington will work out of temporary office space in Crystal City.

“We’re looking forward to beginning demolition at the Metropolitan Park site in the very near future; some staging activity has already begun,” an Amazon spokeswoman told ARLnow. “Amazon is already here and we’re hiring. As the MetPark site takes shape, we will continue to grow the teams in our leased space in Crystal City, where we now have nearly 450 employees.”

It’s not yet clear whether Amazon will hold a groundbreaking ceremony as work at the Pentagon City site gets underway.

Some local residents, particularly those who live in apartment buildings across the street, have expressed concerns about construction noise from the project. Permitted working hours extend until 9 p.m. on weekdays, we’re told.

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Citing staffing challenges and future budget cuts, Arlington Public Schools is discontinuing its summer enrichment programs for elementary students this year.

While axing the summer programs — which offered advanced classes on computer programing, math and world geography — APS said it will continue providing make-up classes and resources for students who are falling behind. Outdoor Lab sessions will continue as well.

“We are focusing our resources and staffing to provide makeup and strengthening courses to students who need extra help and additional support,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

The decision is not sitting well with some parents.

“Arlington Public Schools [is gutting its] summer enrichment program with little advance notice leaving parents in the lurch,” one parent said in an email to ARLnow.

In a letter to families, below, Interim Superintendent Cintia Johnson said the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation’s summer programs may pick up some of the slack created by the APS decision.

Dear APS Staff and Families,

As you begin to make plans for this summer, I am writing to share updates to the APS Summer School Program for 2020. This year, in order to make the best use of available staff and resources, and to serve the students of greatest need, we will no longer be able to offer elementary summer enrichment programs, including: Global Village Summit, Fun with Coding, Math Academy and Summer Laureate. Outdoor Lab sessions will continue for elementary and middle school students.

We came to this decision based on increased challenges in staffing summer school strengthening, as well as anticipated budget reductions for the 2020-21 school year. While this was not an easy decision, these changes allow us to sustain our high-quality summer strengthening program and provide excellent teachers and staff to serve students with the greatest need.

We are working closely with the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to identify similar offerings and will communicate comparable camp providers through a follow-up School Talk message in early February, prior to the DPR summer camp registration. Arlington County offers fee reductions for eligible students, making these options comparable in price to APS offerings. Please note:

  • DPR summer camp registration begins on February 12 at 7 a.m. Lots of fun and enriching experiences for your student, with reduce fees as needed.
  • Don’t wait to sign up for a camp until you hear if your student is referred to APS summer school.  Spots fill quickly.  Students who are referred to APS Summer School and must cancel a camp in conflict with APS Summer School can notify DPR by Monday, March 16 to get a full refund. All other cancelations follow DPR Cancelation Policy.

The APS Summer Strengthening Program, which runs July 6-31, will continue to be offered for elementary students who meet specific eligibility requirements established by the Department of Teaching and Learning. Enrollment is by teacher and principal recommendation only for students who are at least one grade-level below in reading and/or math. Eligible students will be notified during Parent-Teacher conferences on March 5-6. A letter will also be mailed to families indicating student eligibility.

Lastly, the make-up and strengthening fee for all programs, PreK-12, will be $150. Students who currently receive free or reduced-price meals will continue to pay $56 for summer classes, and students who receive Extended School Year services, may attend free of charge. The 2020 Secondary Enrichment fees and New Work for Credit fees will remain the same as in 2019.

These changes were presented by APS staff and approved by the School Board at the December 19 meeting. The full presentation is available online on BoardDocs.

I hope that this notice helps you plan accordingly. I also encourage you to participate in the APS Summer Activities Fair on Friday, February 7. This is a great way to learn about the many academic and arts programs, sports camps and other offerings available for the summer. Additional resources are provided below. Please contact the Summer School Office by phone at 703-228-7645 or by email at  [email protected], if you need additional assistance.

Sincerely,

Cintia Johnson
Interim Superintendent

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The Arlington County Police Department is considering changing up the look of its dress uniform.

The “Class A” uniform — which differs from the standard navy patrol uniform worn by most officers in the field (the patrol uniform is green for K9 handlers) — is due for a change because its heather blue color is “increasingly difficult to obtain” from distributors, ACPD said.

The new options are navy blue and gray. The department is testing out both before reviewing feedback and making a decision.

More from a press release:

The Arlington County Police Department has launched a test and evaluation of new Class A dress uniforms. Members of the public can expect to see select officers wearing dress uniforms in navy blue or gray as they evaluate the fabric, fit, function and durability of these garments. All officers participating in the test and evaluation will be easily identifiable as Arlington County Police Officers as the test uniforms will be adorned with the police department’s patch, officer’s name tag and badge of authority.

The department proposed exploring new uniform options after discovering that unique uniform colors, including our current heather blue shirt and pant stripe, are increasingly difficult to obtain. The new Class A selection is expected to simplify and streamline the distribution of uniforms across the department.

The test and evaluation will occur through March 2020. The department will then review the feedback before selecting and implementing a new Class A uniform by the summer.

Which uniform option do you like best?

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