Submit Content
Jordon Bevan (photos via ACPD)

A man who was charged with a hate crime after allegedly shoving a restaurant employee in Crystal City and refusing to pay for his meal pled guilty to a lesser offense.

In May 2021, Jordon Bevan left a local restaurant without paying, pushed an employee and used anti-Asian slurs, the Arlington County Police Department alleged at the time.

Bevan was charged with a hate crime, which is a felony, along with the misdemeanors of resisting arrest, defrauding an innkeeper and petit larceny. The nature of the slurs he is alleged to have used is unclear and court documents reviewed by ARLnow only detail Bevan using the term “Asians.”

The “dine and dash” case and hate crime allegations were widely reported, with a video of the incident broadcast on local TV news.

The hate crime charge was later amended, however, to the misdemeanor assault and battery, according to court records. Bevan pled guilty to that in September 2021 and was not prosecuted for the other crimes.

After his May arrest, Bevan was discharged to reside in Ohio with his mother and seek mental health treatment, including psychiatric visits and medication, according to court records.

“There was a strong mental health component to this case, which included a resolution requiring mental health treatment, along with restitution and no contact provisions, all pursuant to a plea agreement wherein other charges were dismissed,” Arlington’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti told ARLnow. “That usually happens on our motion. There was a follow up hearing in December 2021 to ensure mental health compliance and our notes indicate the court deemed that Mr. Bevan was compliant.”

Mental health symptoms noted during an evaluation after his arrest were later found to no longer be present “likely due to treatment with antipsychotic medicines,” according to Bevan’s court file.

When asked if the hate crime charge was dropped because of insufficient evidence, a plea deal or otherwise, Dehghani-Tafti said there were multiple factors to consider.

“For each case, we take into consideration the evidence that supports the elements of the charge, mitigating evidence such as mental illness, and what is the just thing to do for all the parties involved,” she said. “Balancing all those things, here it made sense to focus on mental health treatment.”

According to a statement from the restaurant employee who was shoved, Bevan came into the restaurant and ordered what she described as too much food. She said she tried and failed to persuade him to shorten his order.

After being served he changed tables. The employee said she noticed he had disappeared when she went to take orders from other customers.

“My son and I went to follow him,” she said. “I asked him to pay for the food, but he kept saying ’emergency.'”

The woman continued to ask Bevan to pay while her son recorded the confrontation. When her son called the police, Bevan tried to run away.

“I went in front of him to block him, but he kept trying to run,” she said. “He said, ‘Asians, get out of my face.'”

She said she fell after he bumped into her with his shoulder and he got away as she rose to give chase.

When asked if ACPD could confirm provide more information about the hate crime allegation, spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow that “no additional details are available to ensure the integrity of any future court proceedings.”

Court records show Bevan was also charged with two counts of petit larceny and one count of resisting arrest in April 2021 for separate, alleged “dine and dash” incidents in the Pentagon City area.

Records indicate he was only prosecuted for one count of petit larceny, for which he paid a $151 fine. He has a court date on Tuesday, Oct. 11 to review his progress.

0 Comments
A bus parked at a new bus bay outside of the Ballston Metro station (staff photo)

(Updated 6:00 p.m.) A new survey shows that a majority of Arlingtonians are satisfied with public transit, but their levels of satisfaction vary by geography.

Mobility Lab, a division of Arlington County Commuter Services, surveyed county residents last year to gauge travel patterns for work and non-work trips as well as concerns about public transit. This “state of the commute” survey was last conducted in 2010 and 2016, and the 2021 results included additional information about the pandemic’s effect on travel in Arlington.

ACCS uses the data to improve how it markets bicycling, walking and transit options to residents, businesses, and commercial and residential property managers, said Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors. Those people-facing efforts include Bike Arlington, Walk Arlington and Arlington Transportation Partners.

“The primary uses of ACCS surveys are to check how well these programs are running,” she told ARLnow.

Of the 4,213 respondents, 71% of residents said they were satisfied with transit in Arlington. But people living along Metro corridors were happier with their options than people living in parts of  South Arlington where the bus is the main transit mode.

People living along the Rosslyn-Ballston and Route 1 corridors were the most satisfied with their options, at 81% and 75%, respectively. And they were more likely to be members of Capital Bikeshare, at 37% and 38%, respectively.

Outside of the Metrorail corridor, the survey found satisfaction levels of 64% in Shirlington, 58% in Columbia Pike and 64% in what was deemed “Other South.” Shirlington residents reported lower rates of availability for various transportation services in general and only 13% said they had a Bikeshare membership.

Pors said a takeaway from the survey for ACCS might be that they need to focus their outreach in Shirlington “to make sure they’re aware of their options… and make sure apartment managers are talking to tenants, and using daily face time to make sure they’re fully informed.”

What the data will not do, Pors said, is set which transit projects to prioritize — for instance, applying more time and staff to improving bus transit along the Pike over adding a second entrance to the Ballston Metro station.

Concerns about safety and long waits

While generally happy with their options, Arlingtonians did have some gripes with the transit system, including how long one must wait for the bus or Metrorail as opposed to driving.

Nearly 40% said they would have to wait too long for transit to arrive while another 35% said the trip would take too long.

As for barriers to bicycling, two-thirds of residents said they don’t feel safe riding a bike in traffic, while another 37% mentioned concerns about the network of bike paths or bike lanes.

The pandemic spurs changes

The survey showed how transit use for non-work trips changed during the pandemic. While remote work contributed to the widely reported steep drop in Metro ridership, between 2015 and 2021, transit use for non-work trips also declined from 87% to 68%.

But one form of transportation increased during the pandemic: walking. About 34% reported walking “somewhat more” for non-work trips and 22% walking “much more.”

In fact, many respondents said the most important transportation needs facing the county post-pandemic are ones that take them outside: walking (58%) and cycling and scooting (42%).

Meanwhile, most respondents said they won’t be changing their commuting mode anytime soon: 81% who drove alone, 82% who used transit, and 71% who biked or walked indicated they would keep doing so post-pandemic.

Still, to chip away at those statistics, Arlington is embarking on extensive marketing efforts to encourage people to swipe their SmarTrip cards and stop driving.

“Through ACCS, [the county is] going to come out with more messaging to get people to feel comfortable on transit again,” Pors said. “There has been that loyal set of riders who’ve stayed through the pandemic. Maybe this is an opportunity for people who shifted to single-occupancy vehicles to try something new, and pitching bus as that option.”

0 Comments
The proposed bridge between Crystal City and DCA at its starting point in the planned Virginia Railway Express station (courtesy of Arlington County)

It’s a little less park-like than New York City’s High Line, but Arlington County has come up with a concept for new pedestrian bridge from Crystal City to National Airport.

Now, it is asking people to share their feedback.

Over the past year, the county, the Virginia Department of Transportation and a Boston-based civil engineering firm have evaluated 16 possible bridge and tunnel connections across active train tracks, the GW Parkway and National Park Service land.

After concluding the site could not accommodate tunnel entrances, VDOT and the county were left to consider two bridges. Today (Tuesday), Arlington launched a public engagement period for a preferred alternative, moving the needle forward on what’s being called the Crystal City to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Multimodal Connection project — or CC2DCA.

The county proposes starting the bridge at the planned Virginia Railway Express Crystal City station at 2011 Crystal Drive  and ending in the second level of DCA’s Terminal 2 parking garage.

If built, it would take about five minutes to walk the 1,300 feet from the station to the airport, per a press release from the National Landing Business Improvement District.

The proposed Crystal City to DCA bridge starting point at the planned Virginia Railway Express station (courtesy of Arlington County)

The bridge would be an enclosed girder bridge running perpendicular to the rail tracks.

Then, the CC2DCA would run at an angle over the GW Parkway.

Initially, the county considered an arch bridge, but a bridge supported with girders would allow the county to link the connector with the Mount Vernon Trail without re-aligning it, per a staff presentation.

The bridge segment over the GW Parkway (courtesy of Arlington County)

Once it links up with DCA’s Terminal 2 parking garage, pedestrians would have a dedicated walkway through the garage to the terminal. This path would eliminate 40 parking spaces, according to the presentation.

The bridge segment over the GW Parkway and linking to DCA’s Terminal 2 parking garage (courtesy of Arlington County)

Ballpark estimates put the project at $43 million, the presentation said. So far, CC2DCA already has over $38 million in committed funds.

Now through Nov. 6, people can share their feedback in English, Spanish and Chinese, attend a public meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 25, or submit comments via email, according to the project webpage.

“The team is sharing concepts to make sure needs and priorities are aligned,” Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors tells ARLnow. “This is the preferred recommended alternative to date, but it hasn’t been approved by any agencies as of now.”

After collecting public feedback, the county plans to present its recommendation to federal agencies in December, Pors said.

The preferred alternative could be confirmed by next spring and the design phase could start by the end of 2023, per the National Landing BID press release.

The second-place contender would have started at 2231 Crystal Drive and ended at the third level of the Terminal 2 parking garage. Staff ultimately decided against it because it was projected to cost $64.5 million, would eliminate 130 parking spaces at the airport and it would not be as centrally located for rail users, per the staff presentation.

Read More

0 Comments

An art installation in the shadow of the under-construction first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 is getting taller.

Last month, crews began laying the groundwork to build “Queen City” by Nekisha Durrett, per Clark Construction, the group building out the first phase, dubbed “Met Park” and located at the corner of 13th Street S. and S. Eads Street.

The tower, situated in the park south of 12th Street S., will pay tribute to the former Black community by the same name, which was located nearby before it was razed by the federal government to make way for the Pentagon.

“We are excited to give you a closer look at our progress over the last few weeks,” Clark Construction said in an email on Friday. “The structure is starting to take shape. The installation will stand approximately thirty-five feet tall, when complete.”

The structure’s reclaimed brick façade will highlight the area’s past as a hub for brick production, while park-goers will be able to explore its decorative interior.

Construction of “Queen City” is expected to deliver with the rest of Met Park in 2023, Richard said.

When asked about a timeline for completing the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2, Richard said, “We’ll share more information [about the opening] in the coming months.”

The structure will be located in Met Park’s forthcoming green space. There is disagreement, however, over what it should be named.

Survey respondents, area civic associations and the National Landing Business Improvement District voted to name the 2.5-acre green space “Met Park” — the old name for the grassy patch that Amazon is paying $14 million to revamp.

They voted for the name “Pen Place” for the park in the second phase of Amazon’s HQ2, also dubbed Pen Place.

A majority of members of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, however, recommend naming Met Park’s green space Elm Park and Pen Place’s, Fern Park.

The least popular options, both in the survey and in the HALRB meeting in August, were Goldfinch and Chickadee Park.

Meanwhile, Clark Construction reported that crews made “a lot of progress” on the park and surrounding buildings last month. In an update from Sept. 16, the company said crews poured concrete on the “overlook,” which is the highest walkable point inside the park.

“Rubber surfacing is being installed under playground equipment,” the email said. “Additionally, we recently received the first stone shipment for seat walls that will be featured along pathways throughout the park.”

This time last year, workers placed the timber first beam in Met Park’s event center and began pouring the 10th floor of concrete.

This summer, Amazon announced four additional local businesses, including two restaurants, to open at Amazon HQ2. The tech company celebrated the “topping out” of Met Park in March.

The tech giant has, at this point, assigned “more than 5,000 employees” to its HQ2, Amazon spokeswoman Hayley Richard told ARLnow yesterday (Monday). It was first announced in April that Amazon had hired its 5,000th HQ2 employee.

To kick off the new school year, Amazon donated more than $250,000 to Arlington Public Schools and two D.C.-area nonprofits addressing food insecurity, to open food pantries at a handful of public schools in Arlington.

0 Comments

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) A conference highlighting innovations in how people talk to their technology is returning to Crystal City next Monday.

VOICE22 will feature speakers from national and international companies and has backing from big-name tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Salesforce.

The conference is “the world’s largest voice-tech trade event and conference” said Pete Erickson, who founded the Ballston-based startup Modev, which is hosting the event.

“This market is being made before our eyes as people, machines and algorithms are increasingly working in tandem, making Conversational AI a must-have for most consumer-facing organizations,” said Erickson.

Scheduled speakers represent JPMorgan Chase, Walmart, Instacart, Nat Geo, Intuit, Capital One and NPR. The conference will feature panels on customer service, retail, entertainment and publishing, transportation, healthcare, and financial technology.

“Modev is bringing the top brands in the world together to accelerate Conversational AI with our clients, and VOICE22 is the perfect showcase for high-profile key decision-makers, partners and influencers to shape this global market,” Erickson said.

Erickson founded Modev, a Ballston-based startup that also produces the VOICE Global event, presented by Google Assistant, and the award-winning VOICE Talks internet talk show.

North of 600 attendees are expected to attend, but Modev is shooting for 1,000. Attendees represent companies around the world, but a few in attendance hail are regional, including McLean-based Witlingo and Centreville-based XAPP.AI.

The local startup’s conference, now in its fifth year, was held in Arlington for the first time in 2021. The 2018 and 2019 conferences were both held in Newark, New Jersey and together attracted some 7,000 attendees. The conference was held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.

This was the first major tech event to relocate to the area since Amazon announced it would build its second headquarters in Pentagon City in 2018, Arlington Economic Development previously said.

VOICE22 kicks off on Monday, Oct. 10 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City (2799 Richmond Hwy) and will run through Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Promotional graphic for the VOICE22 conference in Crystal City (courtesy photo)
0 Comments
The family of Darryl Becton with Arlington NAACP President Julius “JD” Spain, Sr. (staff photo)

A man who was charged in connection to the death of Darryl Becton in Arlington County jail in 2020 has been found not guilty.

Antoine Smith was charged in September 2021 with the misdemeanor of falsifying a patient record.

Smith worked for Corizon Correctional Health, the jail-based medical provider at the time of Becton’s death, which has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care.

When reached by phone, Smith’s attorney declined to comment on the outcome of the case.

The charge was levied against Smith as part of a year-long investigation into the circumstances surrounding Becton’s death at the Arlington County Detention Facility.

In the wake of his death, the Arlington branch of the NAACP called for an independent investigation. The jail, meanwhile, cut ties with Corizon and updated its protocols.

One month later, Becton’s family filed a $10-million wrongful death lawsuit against Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur, the elected official who oversees the jail and the Sheriff’s Office, as well as Corizon and four medical staffers, including Smith.

The suit alleges that medical staff did not treat and properly monitor Becton’s drug withdrawal symptoms or high blood pressure, despite being aware of his condition and the risks associated with it.

The lawyer for the case did not return a request for comment on how the not-guilty verdict for Smith impacts the lawsuit.

Becton was the fifth person — and the fourth Black man — to die in the facility while in custody in five years, according to the Arlington branch of the NAACP. Since then, the number of people who have died in the detention facility has risen to seven, prompting the Arlington County Board to pledge greater oversight over how the jail is managed.

For the NAACP, the charges against Smith were never its focus.

“Even had Mr. Smith been found guilty of that charge, it would not have answered the central question: why did Mr. Becton die?” Arlington NAACP President Julius “JD” Spain told ARLnow. “The NAACP remains committed to helping our entire community understand how this avoidable tragedy happened, so we can work together to ensure it never happens again.

“We will continue to advocate for a better public safety system that reduces the reliance on prisons as means of solving social problems, and advances effective law enforcement,” Spain continued.

The verdict does raise a host of questions about who supervises jail-based healthcare providers and their employees, and where was that supervisor when Becton died, Spain said.

“So, finally, why did it take this unnecessary and tragic death, seven in seven years, to ultimately cause the Sheriff’s office to find a new contractor?” Spain said. “To date, no one has been held accountable. Is it a toxic work environment, fear of retaliation, or improper management of personnel? Every day that passes without an answer, trust and confidence in leaders and the justice system erode.”

The jail has taken some corrective steps to improve its treatment of inmates, including hiring a quality assurance manager, planning to buy a new medical tracking device and updating health check protocols.

These actions led Virginia’s Jail Review Committee, part of the Board of Local and Regional Jails, to conclude that “no further measures are necessary” and close its investigation into the Arlington jail last month. Its investigation found evidence suggesting the jail had broken state regulations in Becton’s death, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

0 Comments

A proposed bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians between Crystal City and the Southwest Waterfront area of D.C. has received $20 million in federal funding to move forward.

When complete, the 16-foot-wide shared-use path will connect Long Bridge Park and East and West Potomac parks via the Mount Vernon Trail.

On the Virginia side, the bridge will be located behind the Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center (333 Long Bridge Drive), which opened last year. It will eventually provide a connection to the expanded and relocated Virginia Railway Express (VRE) station set to open in 2024.

Several local elected officials, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Christian Dorsey and Alexandria Vice-Mayor Amy Jackson, gathered this morning (Friday) at the aquatics center to hold an oversized $20 million check and celebrate the project, which could be completed by 2030.

“This is going to be a major gateway for Arlington that allows residents and visitors who walk, bike or roll to come to this beautiful facility and the environs around Long Bridge Park, but then be able to move on to Crystal City and National Landing and points beyond via the Mount Vernon Trail and the robust bicycle infrastructure that we are developing that will go all the way through to the City of Alexandria,” Dorsey said. “This helps meet Arlington and our region’s goals of moving more people with less automobile traffic. ”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) secured the funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, which was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Warner co-wrote.

“I am thrilled to announce this new funding for the Long Bridge Pedestrian Crossing project. This $20 million investment was made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law I was proud to help write and will help the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VRPA) complete a new span across the Potomac dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians,” Warner said in a statement. “This project is a key component of the broader effort to fix a major rail chokepoint and expand commuter and passenger service over the Potomac River.”

The shared-use bridge serves as environmental mitigation for the Long Bridge Project to add a two-track rail bridge next to the existing two-track 117-year-old Long Bridge, owned by the freight railroad company CSX Transportation. Once completed, the expanded railway is projected to bring an annual $6 billion in benefits to the region by 2040, according to a press release.

“We would never even be in the running [for funding for this project] if it weren’t for the infrastructure bill,” Warner told reporters after the event. “That’s got $58 billion additional dollars for passenger rail. We intend to make sure the District and Virginia get its share and it’s our hope the passenger rail bridge would open before the end of the decade.”

The goal of the $2 billion Long Bridge Project, discussions for which began in 2010, is to alleviate rail congestion on the existing Long Bridge. Annually, up to 1.3 million Amtrak passengers and 4.5 million VRE commuters traverse the bridge, in addition to CSX freight trains, according to a project website.

Officials say that the aging bridge is heavily utilized and frequently experiences bottlenecks, and — as if to prove their point — a freight train and an Amtrak train sped by within five minutes of each other during the media event.

Meanwhile, pedestrians and cyclists looking to cross the Potomac at this point have to navigate crossings shared with vehicles and maneuver a 10-foot-wide shared-use path on the 14th Street Bridge.

The lead agency on the project will be the VPRA, which the Virginia General Assembly created in 2020 to “promote, sustain and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth,” said VPRA Executive Director DJ Stadtler.

While elected officials heralded the new pathway over the Potomac, pedestrians and bicyclists in attendance told ARLnow that the 16-foot bridge is still too narrow to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Stadtler told ARLnow that VPRA’s initial 10% complete designs proposed a 14-foot bridge, but in response to feedback, is widening it to 16 feet for the 30% complete designs. The agency has “considered all options” and has determined the current proposal is an appropriate width, he added.

There will be opportunities for the public to weigh in next spring.

During the event, Dorsey joked about the bridge width.

“What did you say, a 20-foot bridge?” he said, to cheers from cyclists in attendance.

Read More

0 Comments

In the shadow of Amazon’s HQ2, the Americana Hotel stands vacant and ready for redevelopment.

The hotel at 1400 Richmond Highway, which JBG Smith purchased in late 2020, is in a prime location. Met Park, the first phase of Amazon’s headquarters, is across the street. PenPlace, the project’s second phase, is down the road. The Crystal City Metro station is a block south.

But the prospect of building apartments and retail right next to a global tech company’s second headquarters came with two issues: physical problems with the land and questions about when, and how, neighboring properties and Route 1 would change.

The Americana property slopes down significantly. It abuts an elevated portion of Route 1 that the Virginia Department of Transportation proposes lowering. The building is surrounded by apartment buildings, a hotel and a VDOT-owned patch of grass, all of which could be redeveloped or reconfigured in the future.

JBG Smith representatives say the proposal, filed in April and accepted by the county this month, accounts for these conditions and questions. They say it meets a county zoning requirement that towers be separated by 60 feet and a recommendation in the Crystal City Sector Plan that podiums be separated by 40 feet.

“We have designed the building around trying to maintain the maximum flexibility for that future development, but there is nothing in the current plan that is in any way not compliant or fully in accordance with the sector plan and zoning ordinance,” land use attorney Kedrick Whitmore told members of the Long Range Planning Committee this summer.

The aging Americana Hotel — which was once featured in a Russell Crowe movie — would be replaced with a 644-unit, 19-story tall building with 3,674 square feet of ground floor retail, according to the application materials. A below-grade parking garage would provide 191 on-site parking spaces and an existing garage at the Bartlett Apartments (520 12th Street S.) would provide an additional 206 off-site spaces.

The developer aims to achieve LEED Gold certification.

“The building includes work-from-home, fitness, and other amenity spaces, as well as outdoor access to balconies and two rooftop terraces with unobstructed views of the surrounding landmarks,” Whitmore wrote in a letter included in JBG Smith’s application.

And the developer aims to break ground before VDOT gets started on rebuilding Route 1 at-grade. VDOT plans to wrap up a second study phase of the proposed changes early next year.

“We do acknowledge that’s an issue we have to discuss with county staff and VDOT,” Jack Kelly, a Vice President with JBG Smith, told the LRPC. “We made high-level assumptions on setbacks, based on what we know about the future alignment of Route 1.”

The developer also had to do “a lot of guesswork” to design around potential redevelopment projects for the adjacent Embassy Suites by Hilton Crystal City National Airport, The Paramount apartments and the VDOT parcel, said Malcolm Williams, an associate with JBG Smith, in the same meeting.

Read More

0 Comments
Innovation Elementary School fifth-graders make solar ovens outside (via APS/Twitter)

A few hundred parents say Arlington Public Schools should prioritize recreating pre-Covid normalcy in the classroom and evaluating the use of electronic devices.

That’s according to a recent informal survey conducted by Arlington Parents for Education, a parent group that began during the pandemic to advocate for reopening schools.

Since schools reopened, APE has evolved into a School Board watchdog group, with priorities such as reversing pandemic-era learning loss. The group says the survey will inform what APE should advocate for, in addition to ending Covid protocols. The priorities don’t surprise School Board candidates and other education advocacy groups, but some groups say the survey does not speak for the parents they represent.

The survey netted a few hundred responses, about 70% of which reside in North Arlington and a little under 30% in South Arlington, with some respondents living outside the county. Most have elementary-aged children, followed by children in middle and high school. Some also indicated they had children in area private schools, which saw an influx in public school families when they returned for in-person school before APS.

“We recently surveyed hundreds of our parents to see how their students are doing in a post-pandemic world at APS and what they want APS and APE to focus on,” APE said in a statement. “Overwhelmingly, parents want a return to normalcy for their students — full resumption of field trips, in-person orientations, back-to-school events and other parental involvement opportunities in all APS buildings.”

“This also means returning to the pre-pandemic golden rule applicable to any illness: if you’re sick, stay home,” the group added.

APS is, in fact, returning to pre-Covid procedures for field trips and events, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said.

Masks became optional as of March 1, but students, visitors and teachers have some Covid protocols to follow.

Those with Covid-like symptoms must present a negative test or alternative diagnosis from a medical provider or isolate at home for five days before returning to class. Meanwhile, volunteers, like APS employees, must have proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing to volunteer, Bellavia said.

For APE, that’s not normal. But for Smart Restart APS, a parent group that started to push for protocols such as outdoor lunch and improved ventilation, said there is no return to life pre-2020.

“Smart Restart APS believes we are living in a new reality, and APS should continue to have appropriate, common-sense measures to adapt to living in this new reality, one which includes the ever-present possibility of COVID-19 infection spreading through our schools,” the group said in a statement. “We have to adapt — not ignore — the new situation.”

The spread of Covid still impacts families, whether a parent misses work or a child brings home Covid to a high-risk family member, the group continued.

“Everyone has a right to access a safe and healthy school environment,” the Smart Restart statement said. “COVID-19 in the air should not be a part of that.”

Read More

0 Comments

A nondescript garden apartment building in Ballston has attracted the interest of a potential developer.

The developer has filed a conceptual site plan for Ballston Gardens, located at 4314 N. Carlin Springs Road, around the corner from the Harris Teeter at 600 N. Glebe Road. The brick apartment building was constructed in 1961 and has a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units, according to property records.

The preliminary proposal describes a 107-unit building, with two townhouses and 84 parking spaces, partially above and below ground.

Ballston Gardens is noticeably shorter and older than the two multifamily buildings surrounding it: The Springs, a five-story, 104-unit building owned by Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing and completed in 2016, and the Carlin Senior Apartment Community, which was built in 1996 and recently renovated.

Arlington County planning documents envision greater heights for a new residential building. A building on the Ballston Garden site could be up to six stories tall, while The Springs site is zoned for five stories and the Carlin senior apartments site for nine stories, according to an addendum to the 1995 North Quincy Street Plan, approved in 2013.

Developers have the option to file conceptual site plans before official site plan applications so they can work with a team of county staff to iron out any major zoning, code or process issues with their plans, per the county website.

When reached by phone, the developer declined to comment on the conceptual plan.

A side view of a conceptual proposal for Ballston Gardens (via Arlington County)
0 Comments

(Updated 09/30/22) As Arlington County continues collecting feedback on the preliminary concept plan to turn Langston Blvd into a “Green Main Street” over several decades, a few disagreements have emerged.

Some say county staff need to coordinate more with existing plans for two neighborhoods along Route 29, as well as the Missing Middle Housing Study. Others say the building heights should be taller — to allow for more affordable housing — or are too tall already.

Late in August, Arlington County released a draft plan showing what Langston Blvd, formerly Lee Highway, could look like if the county encouraged denser housing and more walkable, greener streets, and planned for future infrastructure, transportation and facility needs. Since then, the county posted an online feedback form and launched in-person feedback opportunities called Design Studio sessions and virtual neighborhood meetings.

More than 200 people have attended the three virtual community meetings and Design Studio sessions, and more than 200 people have responded to the feedback forms, Rachel LaPiana, a staff member with the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, tells ARLnow.

“We encourage the community to provide feedback on a set of specific questions about what is proposed in the PCP and attend one of the upcoming community events,” she said.

There are still a number of opportunities to learn more about Plan Langston Blvd and provide feedback, which staff will collect through early November. This Saturday, the Langston Boulevard Alliance will host a walking tour, during which county planners will be able to answer questions. Another tour will be held on Sunday, Oct. 16.

The Langston Boulevard Alliance is also hosting three Design Studio sessions, held from 12-2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 and 21 and Nov. 4 at its office (4500 Langston Blvd). A fourth virtual community meeting discussing housing, stormwater and transportation will be held Tuesday, Oct. 11, from 7-9 p.m.

It’s too soon to summarize the substance of the feedback that has been collected, LaPiana said.

“Once the engagement period ends, we will compile and analyze all of the community feedback,” she said.

Differing takes have since surfaced during a debate for County Board candidates held by the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, as well as during this month’s County Board meeting.

“I’ve largely heard muted feedback, and that is not always the case with plans,” said County Board member Matt de Ferranti, who’s running for re-election this November, during the debate earlier this month. “I have heard a number of compliments. I actually think the plan is in decent shape.”

But, he said, the plan challenges the county’s ability to advance multiple planning fronts simultaneously, including the controversial Missing Middle Housing initiative, in which the county is considering whether to allow townhouses, duplexes and other low-density housing types in residential areas zoned exclusively for single-family homes.

“We have to, at least in my view, do them separately, because we can give our community full chance for engagement,” he said.

Independent candidate Audrey Clement questioned why upzoning is needed at all, with the bevy of new housing units proposed in Plan Langston Blvd and envisioned in the approved Pentagon City Planning Study, which, like Plan Langston Blvd, calls for significant, mostly residential redevelopment and more designated green spaces.

“We have something called a siloed process, where we have three plans, each ignorant of each other, that will increase housing on a massive schedule. That doesn’t make sense,”  Clement said. “These plans should not be developed in a vacuum, but that appears to be what is happening right now.”

East Falls Church homeowner Wells Harrell told the County Board this month that Plan Langston Blvd ought to examine why development has lagged in East Falls Church and Cherrydale, despite the fact both underwent planning efforts in 2011 and 1994, respectively.

“Metro today remains surrounded by parking lots at the East Falls Church Metro station, and so far, there’s only been one — one —  residential development since the plan was adopted in 2011,” Harrell said. “We need to take stock of why we haven’t achieved the goals set forth in the Cherrydale and East Falls Church area plans… in order to not just learn from the lessons we had there, but to guide us going forward and make sure we achieve the visions for Langston Blvd.”

A detached garage across from the East Falls Church Metro station (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

County planners previously told ARLnow that they need the County Board’s go-ahead to revisit the East Falls Church plan. Further discussion about encouraging development in the area could come after the Board adopts a final Plan Langston Blvd document.

For now, plan authors say a final Plan Langston Blvd draft will recommend whether the existing redevelopment roadmaps for East Falls Church and Cherrydale need to be reviewed and refined.

Building heights are another source of disagreement. Plan authors write that building heights were lowered in response to some critical community feedback. That criticism also suggested the changes would diminish the stock of market-rate affordable apartments, lower property values, change neighborhood character and push out small businesses.

County staff say that lower heights may satisfy some residents, but it will slow down redevelopment.

“Staff believes the proposed concept plan will offer incentives for redevelopment, however, the levels are only moderately different from what is allowed for by-right development and site plan projects,” county planner Natasha Alfonso-Ahmed said in a video introducing the plan. “This means that we may see more by-right development, and improvements such as streetscape enhancements may take longer to be realized or happen in a fragmented way.”

And the changes dismayed pro-density advocates, including Harrell and independent County Board candidate Adam Theo.

“I am disappointed to see that the most recent draft has scaled a lot of that back,” Theo said.

De Ferranti, meanwhile, says there is one neighborhood where the heights may still be “a touch too high” — the area near Spout Run Parkway, where plan calls for buildings 12-15 stories tall.

“That decision is one we have to engage as a community on,” he said.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list