It may not be worthy of a “blue ribbon panel” designation, but a group of county staffers will soon be tasked with examining the tangle of Arlington County’s various codified master plans and priorities.
The County Board unanimously approved a charge for the “interdepartmental staff team” yesterday afternoon, with little further discussion. The team will conduct an “integrated review” of the 11 elements of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, along with various neighborhood and place plans and County Board resolutions, and will report back to the Board this spring.
The overarching goal: “to clearly communicate Arlington County’s priorities.”
In April, the Board approved the creation of a “blue ribbon panel” of mostly outside experts to do basically the same thing: develop “recommendations for how the Board should develop strategic priorities.” A month later, the Board voted unanimously to defer the creation of the panel, following complaints from community groups.
County Board Chair Libby Garvey, who’s championing the initiative, says the latest charge is the successor to the blue ribbon panel plan and is intended to be more informative than prescriptive.
“Things are all in different places,” she said, referring to the county’s sundry plans. “We want to put it all in one easily accessible and understood place and make things more clear.”
“I’ve been talking for years about the need to do strategic planning,” Garvey continued. “The blue ribbon panel approach was to get a small group of people to tell us how to do that.”
Following the complaints, Garvey said, “it was pretty clear to me that we needed to approach it in smaller steps.”
The County Board will consider the group’s report — it will also be placed on the county website for public review — and will then decide whether more action is necessary.
“That seems like a good step and we’ll see where we go from there,” Garvey said.
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A new pedestrian bridge for those heading to and from the renovated Ballston Quarter mall and the Ballston Metro station has cleared a regulatory hurdle.
The Arlington County Board yesterday voted unanimously to approve a site plan amendment for the bridge, which will replace an existing pedestrian bridge. The old bridge is, in the eyes of the mall owners and the county, fairly pedestrian appearance-wise.
The latest design renderings for the new bridge, from bridge architect StudioTECHNE, show a geometric steel-and-glass design that crosses above Wilson Blvd at an angle. Among the words used to describe the design in a presentation to the County Board were “sophisticated,” “iconic,” “vibrant,” “safe,” “well lighted” and “experiential.”
The bridge will feature the following improvements, according to the presentation:
- “Climate-controlled space with less slope that will improve safety and comfort of bridge crossing.”
- “Opportunities for sitting and viewing areas along the traverse of the bridge.”
- “Planters and sitting areas integrated into the bridge design at the sidewalk.”
- “An architecturally memorable design that blends function and artistic expression and creates an iconic civic presence in the heart of Ballston.”
“The new bridge will be not only more functional, but also more beautiful — it will be a real asset to Ballston Quarter and our community,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said, in a statement.
The existing bridge is expected to close to pedestrians mid-October, with demolition expected to begin shortly thereafter. Construction of the next bridge is expected to start at the beginning of March, following a public process to finalize the design. The newly-renovated mall and pedestrian bridge are scheduled to open on Sept. 13, 2018.
The old bridge’s demolition will allow for major changes to the façade of what’s currently known as Ballston Common Mall. From a press release:
Demolition of the existing pedestrian bridge will make way for a public plaza that is a key community benefit of the Ballston Quarter redevelopment.
Once the existing pedestrian bridge is removed, the mall façade that fronts on Wilson Boulevard will be transformed and the existing entrance to the mall will be eliminated. A 3,386 sq. ft. public plaza will be created at street level on Wilson Boulevard with steps and seating areas leading into another 2,500 sq. ft. of sunken, public plaza space with outdoor restaurant seating and event space.
Forest City Enterprises, developer of Ballston Quarter, will construct the new bridge with funding provided through the partnership between the County and Forest City. The reconstructed bridge will have public access easements that do not exist today, and it will be more functional and aesthetically pleasing than the current bridge.
Inside, instead of a traditional food court, the new mall will feature an “‘experiential food hub’ that will combine eat-in dining, prepared food sales and market elements,” perhaps similar to D.C.’s Union Market, the Washington Business Journal reported today.
The County Board also voted yesterday to formalize its public-private partnership with mall owner Forest City. The partnership means that a county-created Community Development Authority will pay up to $55.5 million in public infrastructure costs associated with the mall project, while receiving a portion of any increase in tax revenues associated with the mall.
Two women who were walking behind the victim at the time offered to help clean up the liquid. After the encounter, the victim walked away, only to realize that cash had been stolen from her purse.
From an Arlington County Police report:
GRAND LARCENY FROM A PERSON (significant), 160923027, 1400 block of S. Eads Street. At approximately 9:54 a.m. on September 23, officers responded to the report of a grand larceny from a person that had just occurred. When on scene, it was determined that a female victim was walking on the sidewalk when she felt an unknown liquid being poured on the back of her head. The victim turned around and two Hispanic females offered to help clean off the substance. The victim then continued to walk off and later realized an undisclosed amount of cash was missing from her purse. The first suspect is described as a Hispanic female, approximately 5’6″ tall and weighed 150 lbs. She was wearing a long sleeve blue and white dress and dark pants. The second suspect is described as a Hispanic female, approximately 5’6″ tall and 150 lbs. She was wearing a long sleeve shirt and pants.
Also in this week’s report, a man was arrested in the Courthouse area Saturday morning after he allegedly walked up to a woman on the sidewalk and grabbed her breast.
SEXUAL BATTERY, 160924027, 1800 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 10:25 a.m. on September 24, a female victim was walking on the sidewalk when a male subject approached her and grabbed her breast. The victim screamed causing the suspect to flee the scene. Officers located and apprehended the subject shortly after. Ramy Gabry, 23, of an unknown address, was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He is being held without bond.
This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Charlie, an attention-loving dog who won this year’s Crystal City Pups and Pilsners social media photo contest. (That’s him, above, at the dog-friendly beer tasting event last weekend.)
Charlie is a Shih Tzu who, like many of us, enjoys being a “lazy bones” on the weekend.
Here’s what Charlie’s owner had to say about him:
Hi, my name is Charlie! I’m a 3 year old Shih Tzu. I may be small but I love being the center of attention!
I’m very friendly and want to say hi to everyone and everything! I loooove going outside during the week and being a lazy bones on the weekends. I have a few tricks if you have treats. If you’re in Arlington or attend dog friendly events, you may see me running around. Check out my Instagram, @TzuAndBrew, where you can see pictures of me and the craft beer my humans drink!
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 Crystal City Shops shopping center at 2100 Crystal Drive hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning for one of its newest tenants: an Arlington Public Library branch.
The temporary, pop-up library is located near TechShop, a high-tech workshop that’s popular with startups, students, hobbyists and tinkerers. Dubbed “The Connection,” the compact, one-room library has adopted a tech and tinkerer theme, with free WiFi internet, books about coding, puzzles and games for rent, and gadgets like GoPro cameras and iPads for online magazines.
There will be weekly programs like book clubs, a lecture series, storytelling for children and strategy gaming, according to the library.
“The Connection is a temporary pop-up project designed to integrate the Library into the daily lives of Arlington residents,” the library said in a media advisory. “The pop-up library will serve residents east of Route 1, which runs through Crystal City and poses a physical barrier to access for many people to the nearest community library.”
That nearest library — Aurora Hills, near Pentagon City — is also slated for interior renovations.
Today’s ribbon cutting was scheduled for 10 a.m. and, wasting no time for pomp and circumstance, the ribbon was cut at right 10:01 a.m. Attendees included local residents, representatives from property owner Vornado, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, Arlington Public Library director Diane Kresh and other county officials.
The pop-up library is expected to be open at least until next summer, though it could remain open beyond that if it receives additional funding in next year’s budget. It is currently scheduled to be open 38 hours per week, Tuesday through Saturday.
Airbnb, which has become an alternative to hotels or vacation rentals for many, is growing in popularity, prompting county staff and the County Board to initiate a public process that is expected to lead to regulations on such rentals.
Nearly 1,000 properties in Arlington were listed on Airbnb this month, according to a county press release. The number was closer to 1,600 earlier this summer, said County Manager Mark Schwartz.
While Airbnb is allowing residents to earn extra income by renting out their homes, some say Airbnb renters can make for lousy neighbors. Officials say they’ve heard from both residents concerned about Airbnb and from Airbnb hosts who want the service moved out of legal limbo in Arlington.
“We have several goals for regulating short-term residential rentals,” Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said in a statement. “We want to protect the character of Arlington’s neighborhoods, ensure public safety for our community, reduce barriers for those who already are or may want to use their homes as short-term rentals in a legal and responsible manner and provide a mechanism for enforcement.”
In October, the Board is expected to pass a Request to Advertise for public hearings on a Zoning Ordinance amendment related to short-term rentals. A final vote on the new regulations could take place as early as December.
One complicating factor: the Virginia General Assembly is considering legislation that would prevent local governments from restricting or collecting hotel taxes on short-term rentals.
“We do not know at this time, what the new legislation will include, and thus the impacts on local government ability to regulate short-term rentals,” County Manager Mark Schwartz told the Board. “We do know that there has been a demand from the community, including short term rental hosts, asking for rules on how to operate legally. By acting prior to the end of December 2016, the County can help inform the state’s ultimate decision.”
New Restaurants Coming to Rosslyn — A bunch of new restaurants and a cafe are coming to Rosslyn as part of the under-construction Central Place project. Fast casual eateries Sweetgreen, Nando’s Peri-Peri and The Little Beet are signing deals with developer JBG. A Compass Coffee is also set to open and negotiations are reportedly underway with Cava Grill. [Washington Business Journal]
Sidewalk Cafe for Pike Beer Garden — The Arlington County Board last night approved a use permit that will allow the future beer garden at the corner of Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive to operate a 32-seat outdoor cafe. The outdoor seating will “enliven the restaurant space and provide greater activity on this corner” of Columbia Pike, county staff wrote. County Board members expressed enthusiasm for the business, from the owner of nearby Twisted Vines, with Jay Fisette calling it “a fabulous use for this site.” [Arlington County]
Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — Last night the County Board approved $4.7 million in funding for six neighborhood conservation projects. The projects include a neighborhood sign for the recently-renamed Arlington Mill neighborhood; street improvement projects in Yorktown, Waverly Hills and Lyon Park; new LED streetlights in Arlington Heights; and a vegetation and sidewalk project in Boulevard Manor. [Arlington County]
Guas Appears on ‘Chopped Junior’ — Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse was back on national TV last night, starring as a judge on the Food Network show “Chopped Junior.” [Patch]
WERA Anniversary Nears — Arlington’s own community radio station WERA will be celebrating its first anniversary in just over two months. The low-power FM station is “having an impact,” with some ninety producers generating local programming. Fundraising for the station, however, has been sluggish. [InsideNova]
Fmr. Sen. Warner to Endorse Clinton — At an event in Alexandria this morning, five-term former U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) is expected to endorse the presidential ticket of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). It will be the first time Warner has endorsed a Democrat for president. [Politico]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) Arlington County and much of the D.C. area could see upwards of 3-6 inches of rain between Wednesday night and Friday morning.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the area that’s now in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Friday, warning of the potential for streams and creeks to flood.
THE FLASH FLOOD WATCH IS NOW IN EFFECT…
* FROM 6 PM EDT THIS EVENING THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING
* A POWERFUL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER THE MIDWEST WILL BRING PERIODS OF HEAVY RAIN TO OUR AREA TONIGHT THROUGH THURSDAY NIGHT.
* WIDESPREAD RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 3 TO 6 INCHES ARE EXPECTED… WITH LOCALIZED SPOTS POTENTIALLY GETTING UP TO A FOOT OF RAIN. ADDITIONALLY… THE EASTERN SLOPES OF THE NORTHERN BLUE RIDGE AND CATOCTIN MOUNTAINS HAVE AN INCREASED RISK FOR GREATER TOTALS.
* HIGH POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR FLOODING OF SMALL STREAMS… AS WELL AS URBAN AREAS. ADDITIONALLY THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR THE HARDEST HIT LOCATIONS TO SEE SEVERE FLOODING AND FLASH FLOODING.
THESE NEXT FEW DAYS WILL BE A DANGEROUS TIME… REQUIRING MORE THAN THE USUAL AWARENESS… PLANNING AND PREPARATIONS.
IF YOU ARE NEAR STREAMS OR DRAINAGE DITCHES… KEEP AN EYE ON THEM AND BE READY TO QUICKLY SEEK HIGHER GROUND. WATER MAY RISE RAPIDLY.
CLEAR OUT STORM DRAINS.
THOSE PRONE TO BASEMENT FLOODING SHOULD PREPARE. COMMUNITIES PRONE TO FLOODING SHOULD PREPARE.
CONTINUE TO CHECK IN ON THE FORECAST FOR UPDATES.
WARNINGS WILL BE ISSUED FOR AREAS WHERE FLOODING IS IMMINENT. ENSURE YOU GET WARNINGS FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE THROUGH YOUR MOBILE PHONE AND OR NOAA WEATHER RADIO.
BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION IF A WARNING IS ISSUED FOR WHERE YOU ARE OR IF FLOODING IS OBSERVED.
ENSURE YOUR KIDS DONT PLAY NEAR FLOOD WATERS.
REMEMBER IF YOU COME ACROSS WATER CROSSING A ROAD… TURN AROUND DONT DROWN!
— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) September 27, 2016
— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) September 27, 2016
Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol’s Twitter account was hacked and started tweeting out dozens of spam links during Tuesday afternoon’s Board meeting.
The spam barrage started shortly after the meeting got underway at 3 p.m. As of 5:30 p.m. the tweets had not yet been deleted.
Kristol is perhaps the Board’s most active member on Twitter, often tweeting out community information and brief summaries of Board meetings.
Update at 6:25 p.m. — The hack has been fixed, Cristol tweeted.
Thx for concern, @ARLnowDOTcom. Hack fixed 2 hrs ago. but hard to delete 100s of tweets while doing the ppl's work in a board mtg!
— Katie Cristol (@kcristol) September 27, 2016
The Cosi restaurant in Courthouse has closed.
Lunch-goers hoping for a Cosi sandwich or salad found instead a locked door. A sign posted on the door said the restaurant is closed.
“We truly appreciate your patronage and we apologize for any inconvenience,” the sign said.
It was not immediately clear if the closure was permanent or temporary, although the restaurant’s interior appeared to be in the process of being cleared out and a number of items from the restaurant were placed in and around the dumpsters behind the building.
The Cosi is located at 2050 Wilson Blvd, just steps from the Courthouse Metro station.
Update at 5:45 p.m. — A Cosi in Reston Town Center has also closed.
Arlington County Police say they responded to the 1700 block of 15th Street S., in the Pentagon City area, early Sunday morning for a report of a “domestic dispute.” When they arrived on scene, the man — who was involved in the verbal altercation — became combative.
“One of the parties involved took a fighting stance, approaching officers and trying to strike them,” police said in a crime report. “After a brief struggle, the subject was taken into custody. While an officer was placing a seatbelt on the suspect, he attempted to bite the officer. Then while in booking the subject became combative again, causing multiple injuries to an officer.”
David Quinton Green was arrested and charged with assault and battery on a police officer and drunk in public, according to ACPD. He was held without bond.
The Clarendon Apple Store (2700 Clarendon Blvd) has reopened after nearly six months of renovations.
The updated look isn’t too radical departure from the previous design. MacBooks, iPads and iPhones are still arranged on large tables for customer to try out; purchases are still made with the assistance of iPhone-toting employees rather than at registers.
One thing noticeably absent: any sign of an Apple logo near the entrance.
The Pentagon City mall Apple Store is up next for a redesign. The store closed on Sunday for several months of renovations.
Members of the Ballston-Virginia Square Civic Association were given an early look at two new developments planned for the community over the next few years.
The 40-year-old church, which is used by Grace for meetings but not for Sunday services, would be replaced by a seven-story condo building and a block of four-story townhouses. A series of townhomes and a private driveway is planned for the parking lot.
The developers described the project as “a relatively modest in-fill development” that’s in keeping with the “urban townhouse” neighborhood that surrounds it. The development, like the neighborhood, tapers from the towers of central Ballston to the south to the lower-density townhomes and condos to the north.
Officials from NVR said the plans are preliminary and have not yet been filed with the county.
Also at Monday’s civic association meeting, local developer Eleventh Street Development presented early plans for a new apartment building in Virginia Square.
The proposed six-story, 220-unit rental complex, at the intersection of Kirkwood Road and Washington Blvd, would replace the closed Sport & Health gym, the Slye Electronics building and an automotive business.
Developer Garrett Erdle, who previously helped to develop Penrose Square on Columbia Pike, told residents that the building is at least three years away, following “a structured and lengthy” regulatory process.
Before a site plan process for the building can start, the county and its Long Range Planning Committee is expected to discuss land use planning for the parcel and the area as a whole. The special General Land Use Plan study that the development will first go through is expected to take about a year.
Residents at the meeting expressed concerns about the height of the building, parking along their already-crowded streets and a potential lack of public green space in front of the building. The developer responded that the proposal for the building is in the very early stages and that they will take public feedback into account throughout the process.
Average Lifespan in Arlington — Arlington and Fairfax county residents have a higher average lifespan than residents of D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, according to newly-released data. The average life expectancy in Arlington and Fairfax is 86, compared to a nationwide average of 78. [Washington Post]
Protesters Arrested Outside Pentagon — A total of 21 demonstrators were arrested during an anti-war protest outside of the Pentagon yesterday. According to Pentagon police, those who were arrested were attempting to block an employee entrance near the Pentagon transit center. [Patch]
African American History Book — Updated at 7 p.m. — Arlington County’s Historic Preservation Program has published a new, 59-page book about the history of African Americans in Arlington. The book includes the history of Calloway Cemetery. Since 1891 the cemetery, along Lee Highway, “has been the burial site for dozens of African Americans, including a slave who fought in the Union Army.” [WJLA]
Wardian’s Berlin Marathon Performance — Arlington resident Michael Wardian, 42, ran the Berlin Marathon over the weekend in 2:28:19. Wardian is currently on pace to run all five 2016 World Marathon Majors faster than anyone in history. [Twitter, Competitor]
Theater: ‘Man of La Mancha’ — The Arlington Players performance of ‘Man of La Mancha’ was “filled with exceptional performances and is quite inspiring,” writes a reviewer. “Don’t miss it.” The one-act performance is two hours with no intermission. [DC Metro Theater Arts, InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The shots were fired during a fight between two groups outside the Doubletree hotel on Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City.
No one was hurt and so far no arrests have been made, according to police.
From the crime report:
DISCHARGE OF A FIREARM, 160925005, 300 block of S. Army Navy Drive. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on September 25, police were dispatched to the report of shots fired. The investigation revealed a physical confrontation between two groups had ensued and one male subject discharged a firearm several times into the air. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6’2″ tall and wearing a black cap, light blue shirt, and blue jeans. There were no injuries reported.