(Updated at 11:55 p.m.) It’s still somewhat business as usual at Ballston Common Mall, despite impending major renovations.
A number of stores, restaurants and the much-maligned movie theater remain open. But the scene will be changing this spring, when work on the project to convert aging shopping mall to a modern shopping center with open-air plazas, called Ballston Quarter, begins.
“Our schedule continues to proceed according to plans,” said Gary McManus, spokesman for Cleveland-based Forest City, the mall’s owner. “Forest City has not wavered from its plans and timeline to begin demolition on the Ballston Quarter site in May/June of this year.”
Mass store closures inside the mall were expected after the end of 2015, but many stores have remained open and intend to stay open until just before demolition starts.
“The stores that remain open are doing so at their request and we were able to accommodate that request as we wade through the permitting process leading to demolition in the spring,” McManus said. “It never was and still is not our intention for all stores at the mall to close.”
Businesses with an exterior entrance — Macy’s, Regal Cinemas, Rock Bottom Brewery, Noodles & Co., Panera Bread, Sport&Health Club and CVS Pharmacy — are expected to remain open during the renovations.
Construction is expected to take about two years and Ballston Quarter is expected to open in time for the holiday shopping season of 2018.
Transit Displays Installed in Crystal City — Real time transit data displays are being installed around Crystal City as part of the Crystal City Potomac Yard Transitway project. The signs display bus arrival data and have text-to-speech capability for the seeing impaired. [Twitter]
Valentines Day Cards for Bus Drivers — Arlington Public Schools students are being encouraged to give their school bus drivers Valentines Day cards this week. [Twitter]
Stratford Anniversary Memories — Participants in the integration of Arlington’s Stratford Junior High School in 1958 recalled memories of the event during an anniversary celebration last week. “None of the four 12-year-olds then realized the national significance of their action,” writes Charlie Clark. “They viewed it like a day job, after which they returned to real friends on the neighborhood playground.” [Falls Church News-Press]
ACFD: Bring Pets Inside — Given this weekend’s bitter cold forecasted temperatures, the Arlington County Fire Department is reminding residents to “make sure to bring our four-legged friends inside.” [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by John Williams
The following promoted post was written for ARLnow.com by Buzz McClain and sponsored by The Mill.
The Old Town Alexandria building now known as The Mill has been many things since it was built when James K. Polk was president in 1847. In its 169 years it has served as a cotton mill (hence the name), a bottling facility for a brewery, a spark plug factory and the headquarters of the international police chiefs association.
As of earlier this year, it is now a place you can live in — in modern, boutique loft-apartment splendor — with views of the Potomac River and the crucial convenience of a centralized location in historic Old Town.
The property developers, the locally based CAS Riegler, respected the historic integrity of the building while incorporating the amenities modern city dwellers expect in luxury apartment accommodations. So for example, you get useful USB-ports in rooms with soaring 10- to 15-foot ceilings; you get quartz countertops and soft-close high-end cabinetry in kitchens with rustic exposed brick walls.
“The architect and designers did a fantastic job of seamlessly integrating the vintage charm of the historic building–such as the exposed brick walls and ceiling beams–with the sophisticated and polished look of modern apartment living,” said Tracy Fones, chief operating officer of The Property Portfolio, the progressive-minded firm managing The Mill. “They mix remarkably well.”
Fones points out that of the 25 apartments in The Mill, several are two-levels. “They are nothing that you can find anywhere else,” he said. But they are moving fast: “Of the five penthouse two-level apartments, we have only two left.” In addition to the duplexes, there are a variety of single-level one and two bedroom apartments available with stunning original details and soaring ceiling heights that speak to the building’s industrial past.
Among highlights of the common areas, Fones points out The Mill has its own outdoor park coming soon with an art installation and a top-floor club room with video and Internet and a balcony with views across the Potomac of the colorful Capital Wheel at National Harbor.
Fones adds that The Mill has hard-to-find furnished short-term rentals available as well as long-term furnished rental arrangements. And he advises those interested to call for information on great spring leasing specials.
The Mill is at 515 Washington Street in Old Town Alexandria. For more information, contact the building management on The Mill website.
Each ticket is only six bucks and is good for a drink and a guaranteed seat at Mad Rose.
We’ll be asking Cristol and Dorsey about a variety of local issues, including:
- The compromise deal to widen I-66
- The change they hope to bring to Arlington
- Millennial and minority participation in county government
- Bar crawls
- Post-streetcar plans for Columbia Pike
- How they managed to win last year in a very competitive Democratic primary
We’ll also be asking three questions suggested by readers, which had the most upvotes as of Tuesday:
- Moo 2.0: “Why do we have to pay $33 for a car sticker even though we already pay personal property tax on the vehicle and registration fees?”
- Obvious Troll: “The county board has repeatedly shown a willingness to approve new high density developments without accounting for the increased stress the added students living in those developments will place on nearby schools. Will you start requiring builders to make direct contributions towards new PERMANENT student seats in the county (not just trailers), rather than settling for ‘public art’ concessions? If not, why not?”
- Arlington Guy: “What is your plan for lowering the tax burden on existing residents? Isn’t that the best way to keep our seniors in their homes and get the younger folks to stay here instead of moving further out when it comes time to start a family?
Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask their own questions during the latter half of the event.
The alleged crime happened around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, on the 2900 block of Clarendon Blvd, near the Cheesecake Factory.
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ATTEMPTED ROBBERY, 160209041, 2900 block of N. Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 3:28 p.m. on February 9, a male subject blocked the path of two females and demanded their purses. The suspect implied he had a weapon in his jacket. The victims fled and the suspect was later apprehended down the road. Michael William Lewis, 22, of Washington DC, was arrested and charged with attempted robbery. He is being held without bond.
This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Hank, a nine- or 10-year-old dog who likes chasing motorcycles.
Originally from Georgia, Hank now lives in Clarendon with his owner, Patty.
Hank has been a resident of Arlington for a little over a year. He’s adapted well enough to apartment life. He had two houses in Georgia before moving here … one in the city and one on a lake. (Lucky dog!) He had been rescued from the side of I-40 in Nashville by friends Andy and Melanie, who fostered him for a couple of weeks before my husband and I adopted him.
Andy and Melanie saw him trotting down the shoulder of the road, with skinny flanks and bright green chewing gum stuck onto his hind end. During their two weeks fostering him, they discovered he was a lovable, athletic and curious little guy. Given they’re from Nashville, they named him Hank Williams; I renamed him Highway Hank.
He has a problem with motorcycles, we learned a few months after adopting him: he chases them. We figure that’s how he made his way onto I-40. He probably chased one onto the freeway entrance ramp and it outran him.
Now he is a mellow old dude of maybe nine or ten. Very chill. Not a big fan of other medium-size to large male dogs, so the dog park is out of the question. Instead, Hank prefers people, and especially little children. And food. As a once-homeless young pup, he must have forever been on the hunt for chow. He still snorts around every corner of every door front and bus stop on our walks around Clarendon, hoping against hope for chicken bones or goldfish that have spilled out of kids’ strollers.
Expressive eyes and a happy spirit make him a target of many kind smiles and sweet comments and ear rubs.The snow is a joy for him. He happily bounces into it and across it and eats it. The salt on the sidewalks is quite another story. It is abrasive to his gnarly old pads. He’s quite happy with his socks and boots on, though … which always elicit the sweetest comments, especially from kids and old people.
I work from home and don’t know what I would do without him.
Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos, they don’t fit in our photo galleries!
Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care is the winner six consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Awards, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year and a proud supporter of the Arlington County Pawsitively Prepared Campaign.
Becky’s Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in Arlington and all of Northern Virginia, as well as PetPrep training courses for Pet Care, CPR and emergency preparedness.
The compromise is intended to appease lawmakers from outside the Beltway, many of whom opposed the idea of tolling I-66 without adding capacity to the often clogged highway. It’s likely to rankle some residents in Arlington, where in the 1970s a citizens group formed to oppose the construction of I-66 in the first place. That group now advocates for a “wiser, not wider” I-66.
According to various news reports, the compromise calls for eastbound I-66 to be widened to three through lanes between the Dulles Connector Road the Fairfax Drive/Glebe Road exit, within the existing highway right-of-way.
Outside-the-Beltway lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, were calling for I-66 to be widened before being tolled. The McAuliffe administration’s plan for converting I-66 to high-occupancy toll lanes inside the Beltway during rush hour — tolls for vehicles with 1-2 occupants, free to those with 3 or more occupants — was in danger of being blocked in the Virginia General Assembly without the compromise. The plan originally called for widening to be considered as a last resort, after studying the efficacy of the HOT lanes in improving traffic congestion.
“If we don’t take this deal now, it’s not going to happen for a generation,” state Sen. Barbara Favola said, as quoted by NBC 4.
The deal will allow tolling on I-66 to begin in 2017 and the new lane to be in place by 2020, at a construction cost of $140 million, according to WTOP.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey released a statement on the plan shortly after it was announced, expressing disappointment.
We are disappointed with the news of the amended plan for I-66, which will immediately widen I-66. We respect that Governor McAuliffe and his administration worked hard to protect the earlier plan, which delayed the widening of I-66 until we had several years’ worth of experience with multimodal solutions. We appreciate that — aside from the decision to widen immediately — many of the original elements remain intact:
- Toll revenue is dedicated to multimodal improvements;
- NVTC (our region’s transit agency) receives the toll revenue;
- Local governments retain the authority to spend these funds on local projects; and
- Any widening occurs within existing right-of-way.
As the new plan moves forward, Arlington will be vigilant, working to ensure that appropriate environmental analyses are completed efficiently and comprehensively. We will do all we can to mitigate harm from the widening, and we will explore possible improvements to accompany the widening. As always. Arlington will be working to promote improved regional transit. We need frequent, reliable, and comfortable transit systems along the east-west corridor that get people quickly to where they want to go.
Update at 3:00 p.m. — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) has weighed in with an interesting statement, suggesting that Arlington County’s opposition to a partial I-66 widening, as proposed, may not be too strong.
Arlington County had a longstanding agreement that I-66 would not be widened inside the Beltway. Today’s announcement by Governor McAuliffe changes that understanding, and with no public input so far.
My initial reaction is one of concern for Northern Virginians who have worked – many of them for decades – for an alternative approach to big highways. But I continue to learn details of the proposal and to listen to constituents on all sides of this issue.
Early conversations with elected officials who represent Arlington County indicate that Arlington is more open to this partial I-66 widening than in the past, and that the potential benefits from I-66 tolls will bring important transit and multi-modal benefits to the surrounding corridor. I remain dubious about additional asphalt, and await input from my Arlington and other constituents about today’s proposal.
Update at 11:55 a.m. — After the jump, the press release from Gov. McAuliffe’s office.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were the big winners in yesterday’s New Hampshire primary.
How will “outsider” candidates Trump and Sanders fare in Arlington, when the Virginia presidential primary takes place on Super Tuesday, March 1? Let’s find out.
The following polls reflect the Virginia presidential ballot as approved in December. If you’re planning to vote, let us know who you’re planning to vote for on March 1.
Four File to Run for School Board — It looks like there are four candidates running for two Arlington School Board seats this year. Incumbent Nancy Van Doren is running for reelection, while School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez is retiring. First-time candidates Tannia Talento and Michael Shea are seeking the Democratic endorsement for School Board, while Realtor Chaz Crismon has filed papers to run without seeking the endorsement. [InsideNova]
More on Complete Streets Plan — The Arlington County Board approved a new Neighborhood Complete Streets program last month. The program ranks road projects by “points” earned by problems like speeding issues, frequent crashes, poor lighting and a lack of sidewalks, plus proximity to schools and transit. Some residents, however, are unhappy that the program doesn’t allow neighbors to directly vote on projects in their community. [Arlington Connection]
Arlington May Get Its Tourism Tax Back — Five years after having its ability to impose a 0.25 percent hotel tax surcharge stripped by the Virginia General Assembly, as retribution for the county’s I-395 HOT lanes lawsuit, the state legislature may be poised to finally give Arlington its tax authority back. Revenue from the hotel tax funds the county’s tourism promotion efforts and is supported by the local tourism industry. [InsideNova]
It’s Ash Wednesday — Among the churches placing ashes on the foreheads of commuters at local Metro stations for Ash Wednesday this morning was Calvary United Methodist Church in Aurora Highlands, which greeted commuters at the Pentagon City Metro station. [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Cecilia Cassidy has been tapped as the group’s interim executive director, effective immediately, CPRO announced today.
Cassidy was formerly the executive director of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. She retired from that post in 2013.
In a press release, after the jump, CPRO notes that Cassidy is a longtime resident of Arlington Village, along the Pike.
Publicly-traded energy tech firm Opower is staying in Arlington, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) announced at a press conference this morning, marking some good news for a county beset by the departures of large government agencies.
McAuliffe and County Board Chair Libby Garvey were among those making the announcement at Opower’s current headquarters at 1515 N. Courthouse Road in Courthouse, which President Obama visited in 2010, when the company was still a startup.
Opower will be moving down the street to a new office building at 2311 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse. The building — already approved by the County Board — is set to be constructed over the next two years, replacing a row of restaurants. Developer Carr Properties had been calling the 8-story building the “Clean Technology Center,” which seems consistent with Opower’s sustainability and energy conservation mission.
Virginia and Arlington County had been fighting to keep Opower, which was being courted by the District and by The Wharf, the massive new development on the Southwest D.C. waterfront.
“Keeping Opower in Arlington County has been a high priority of my administration,” McAuliffe said. “This high-profile energy software company is growing rapidly and making a major impact on global challenges, and we are committed to further strengthening this important corporate partnership. The technology industry is booming in Virginia, and wins like this expansion help us continue to build on the momentum in this important sector.”
“Arlington has watched Opower grow from a startup venture to a thriving leader not only in the region, but in the entire clean technology industry,” Garvey said. “Arlington’s highly-educated workforce and easy transportation access were things Opower was looking for as the company continues to grow, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with them for a long time to come.”
McAuliffe helped arrange a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help Arlington keep Opower.
“Arlington County will match the state funding with a performance-based local economic development incentive grant,” the county notes in a press release. “Arlington will provide an additional annual performance grant through the remaining years of the lease term subject to job and occupancy requirements. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.”
Opower plans to invest about $10.5 million in its new, 63,000 square foot headquarters and expects to add 70 new employees within three years. The company will also retain 357 jobs that currently pay above the region’s prevailing wage.
“Opower has been with Arlington since the beginning,” said Victor Hoskins, Director of Arlington Economic Development. “The company is a model for the fast-growth technology companies we’re hoping to attract to Arlington, and we simply could not be more pleased that Opower has decided to continue to be a part of Arlington’s business community.”
The building at 2311 Wilson Blvd will have a total of 150,000 square feet of office space plus ground floor retail spaces when it’s completed.
Trendy salad purveyor Sweetgreen will be opening the doors of its new Crystal City location (2200 Crystal Drive) this Thursday, Feb. 11.
The store will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., offering organic salads and seasonal bowls. During the grand opening, Sweetgreen will be donating 100 percent of the day’s proceeds to FRESHFARM Market’s Matching Dollars program.
Another popular and growing local fast casual restaurant chain, Taylor Gourmet, is expected to open next door later this winter.
El Rancho Peruvian Chicken, at 3610 Columbia Pike, appears to have closed.
A neighboring business owner told ARLnow.com that the restaurant closed a couple of weeks ago and has not reopened since. Inside the eatery around noon yesterday, the doors were locked and chairs placed on top of the tables.
No explanation was given for the restaurant’s closure and no signs announcing the closure were posted on the windows at the time of ARLnow.com’s visit.
Snow Emergency Routes to Be Enforced — For future large snowstorms (not for today’s flurries) Arlington County will begin enforcing towing on snow emergency routes, after more than two decades of non-enforcement. County Board Chair Libby Garvey also said Arlington’s snow clearing effort can use a bit of improvement. “There are clearly some things we need to do better,” she said. [InsideNova]
Substance in Potomac Found to Be Fuel Oil — The oily sheen on the Potomac is fuel oil, tests have determined, ruling out that it’s jet fuel or fuel from a car. The U.S. Coast Guard and Arlington authorities are still trying to find the source of the leak. They spent much of Monday inspecting storm drains in Arlington. [WTOP, Washington Post]
Highline RxR Celebrating First Anniversary — Crystal City after-work watering hole Highline RxR is celebrating its first anniversary starting at 5 p.m today. The celebration will feature live music, food and drink specials and “some weird and rare craft beers on draft.” [Facebook]
Rock Climber Pleads Guilty in Arlington Man’s Death — Thirty-three year-old David DiPaolo of Bristow has pleaded guilty to the gruesome Dec. 28, 2013 killing of 68-year-old Arlington resident Geoffrey Farrar at the Carderock Recreation Area in Montgomery County. An argument in the parking lot led to an altercation while the two men were rock climbing, and during the struggle DiPaolo struck Farrar in the head with a claw hammer multiple times. Farrar died from massive head injuries. DiPaolo pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. [NBC Washington]
Delivery of Yard Waste Carts Begins — Some 33,000 homes in Arlington will receive their new yard waste carts over the next 6-8 weeks. The county’s new yard waste collection program begins March 14. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.
Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.
Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade and Ball*
Wilson Blvd from N. Barton to N. Irving Street
Time: 7-11 p.m.
When the weather cooperates, the Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade is a fun, free family friendly event with bands, floats, marchers, dogs and horses, and who knows what else. This year’s event will feature a Mardi Gras Ball at Clarendon Ballroom.
New Hampshire Primary Results Watch Party
GMU Founders Hall (3351 Fairfax Drive)
Time: 7-10 p.m.
Come watch coverage of the first-in-the-nation 2016 presidential primary at GMU’s School of Policy, Government and International Affairs. Pizza and drinks will be provided as the results roll in from New Hampshire. RSVP requested.
ARLnow Presents: The County Board Young Bloods*
Mad Rose Tavern (3100 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
ARLnow.com and Mad Rose Tavern present a discussion with the newest County Board members, Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey. Hosted by Sarah Fraser, this discussion will focus on the change Cristol and Dorsey hope to bring to the Board.
Sweetgreen Opening in Crystal City*
Sweetgreen (2200 Crystal Drive)
Time: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sweetgreen is opening a new store in Crystal City and is donating 100% of proceeds to support FRESHFARM Matching Dollars. The program helps make fresh foods more affordable to shoppers using SNAP benefits by doubling what they spend.
Arlington Philharmonic’s Exclusive Screening of ‘Maestro’*
Rosslyn Spectrum Theater (1611 N. Kent Street)
Time: 6-10 p.m.
For its 10th anniversary, the Arlington Philharmonic will host an exclusive screening of the new documentary “Maestro” about storied conductor Paavo Jarvi. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with film director and producer David Donnelly.
‘The Girls Who Glow’ Historical Drama*
Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd)
Time: 7-9 p.m.
Free performance and “talkback” about little known historical injustice: the “Radium Girls,” teenage factory workers in the 1920s who were slowly poisoned while painting glow-in-the-dark watches with toxic radium.
Valentine’s Day Comedy and ‘The Princess Bride’ Movie Night
Arlington Cinema Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike)
Time: 12:30, 3:30 and 7:00 p.m.
Live comedy featuring Drafthouse favorite Randolph Terrance, followed by a screening of one of the best movies ever made, “The Princess Bride.” The 12:30 p.m. showing is a family-friendly event with a live magic show. Only $10 — inconceivable!
“Cucina Italiana” Valentine’s Day Dinner*
Osteria da Nino (2900 S. Quincy Street)
Time: 4-9:45 p.m.
Owner Antonio Pino invites couples to enjoy a cozy, three-course prix fixe dinner at Osteria da Nino in Shirlington for Valentine’s Day. Includes a complimentary bottle of Prosecco, red roses and romantic live music.
Love Stinks, the Anti-Valentine’s Day Party
Clarendon Ballroom (3185 Wilson Blvd)
Time: 8 p.m.-Closing
Hate Valentine’s Day? You’re not alone. Celebrate this Hallmark-created “holiday” on the dancefloor with DJs Little Fos and INov8 while imbibing $5 specialty cocktails and meeting like-minded singles.
*Denotes featured (sponsored) content