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Lane Conversion and Speed Decrease May Be Coming to Crystal Drive

If approved at tomorrow’s (Saturday) County Board meeting, a portion of one of Crystal City’s thoroughfares will receive a substantial upgrade and a speed limit downgrade.

Crystal Drive is currently a one-way street between 26th and 27th streets, but as part of an ongoing conversion project it will be turned into a two-lane roadway. The project will also add a right turn lane at the northbound intersection of Crystal Drive and 26th Street S., a left turn lane at the westbound intersection of Crystal Drive and 27th Street S., and bike lanes and sidewalk improvements.

The two-lane expansion in other sections of Crystal Drive occurred in 2013. The two-lane conversion between 26th and 27th Streets S. will be the third and final phase of the street’s conversion to an almost entirely two-way road.

At tomorrow’s meeting, the County Board will vote on a contract for the $1.2 million project.

At the same meeting, the Board will also vote on whether to authorize a public hearing on lowering the speed limit along Crystal Drive from 30 to 25 mph.

The county’s Transportation Master Plan recommends 25 mph as the standard speed limit on arterial streets in Arlington’s downtown districts where there are high volumes of pedestrians and high density land development. A study of the local traffic was conducted at the request of the Crystal City Business Improvement District and determined that Crystal Drive qualified for a speed limit reduction.

If approved, the speed limit reduction will be considered at the Board’s Oct. 20 meeting.

Photo and map via Arlington County

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Ballston-Based Coffee Bar Eyes Expansion Throughout D.C. Region

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations. 

(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) Republik Coffee Bar was founded out of frustration.

Elan Irving, director of operations for Republik Coffee Bar, said when the founders of the coffee bar were looking a premium coffee options in the area, they were underwhelmed.

“We were looking for a place to enjoy premium coffee served in an inviting environment staffed by friendly baristas with a pleasant ambiance,” said Irving. “Surprisingly, there are very few places that embody all of these qualities, so we decided to provide such space for like minded coffee lovers.”

Irving said the largest challenge that faced the burgeoning company initially was finding a price balance.

“One of the challenges is to keep prices low without sacrificing on the quality of the product as well as keeping a staff of highly qualified baristas,” said Irving. “We were always in pursuit of better coffee, better brewing methods, and very competitive prices. We don’t believe in charging $5 for a six-ounce cappuccino.”

Since launching, Republik Coffee Bar has started an aggressive expansion campaign. Less than one year since its Ballston location opened, Republik has started a second franchise coffee bar in McLean. In six months, Republik plans to open two more locations inside D.C. and eventually another in Fairfax.

“If you are afraid of taking calculated risks, you shouldn’t be in business of investing in new businesses,” said Irving. “This is also true in our business. We are very confident in our concept and very happy to see the response we received in Ballston. This has encouraged us to expand into other locations.”

For now, Republik Coffee Bar is local, but the chain has much larger ambitions if the continued regional launches go well.

“Our short term goals are establish our brand into a very respectable local brand in the D.C. metro area,” Irving said. “If we are successful in achieving this, we will continue to expand regionally and then one day, nationally.”

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Arlington Public Library Helps Rebuild a Puerto Rico Library

One year after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, the Friends of the Arlington Public Library is donating $5,369 to help rebuild a damaged library on the island.

The Águedo Mojica Marrero Library at the University of Puerto Rico is still in rough shape, located in one of the hardest hit areas on Puerto Rico’s eastern coast. The building and the collections inside were both damaged by the storm.

According to Henrik Sundqvist, communications officer the Arlington Public Library, the Friends of the Arlington Public Library donates $1 to a charitable organization for each person who completes the summer reading program. This year, a total of $5,354 Arlingtonians completed the program, 700 more than last year, with an additional $15.17 from unsolicited cash donations from Arlington kids.

Additionally, the library will be hosting a free panel discussion about Puerto Rico, moderated by Michelle Fernandez, a librarian and University of Puerto Rico graduate.

The event will be held next Thursday (Sept. 20) from 7-9 p.m. in the Central Library (1015 North Quincy Street).

Photos contributed by Friends of the Arlington Public Library

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Wilson School Construction Moves Forward Ahead of Fall 2019 Opening

According to Arlington Public School (APS) officials, construction is on track for the new secondary school at the Wilson School site in Rosslyn (1601 Wilson Blvd).

In August, much of the steel and concrete work on the site was completed. Throughout September, construction will be occurring on the following, according to APS documents:

  • Façade wall framing will begin.
  • Curtainwall installation will begin.
  • Door Frames and Interior Framing will begin.
  • MEP rough-in (ductwork, electrical, plumbing) will continue.

Meanwhile, Washington Gas will continue replacement of a gas main on Wilson Blvd to allow for the construction of a new electrical vault under the road.

The $100 million building is set to open in fall 2019, and will someday be home to both the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs.

Photos via APS

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Lotus Grill and Noodles in Shirlington Closes

(Updated at 7:30 p.m.) Lotus Grill and Noodles, a Vietnamese restaurant in Shirlington, has closed its doors for good.

The restaurant has been on 4041 Campbell Ave in the heart of Shirlington since 2013. From its Facebook page:

We’d like to thank all our local patrons, loyal customers and our friends & family [who supported] us over the past 5 years, and even thanks to our Facebook fan just hitting “like” us and never had a chance to visit us once. Yes, we surely missed being a part of a nice area [like] Village of Shirlington. Adieu, ciao, sayonara, bye bye and thank you again.

The interior of the restaurant is currently empty, but the owners said at the door that they are currently showing off the space to new clients.

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Yong Kang Street Starts Cooking in Pentagon City Mall

Yong Kang Street, a long awaited dumpling and noodle restaurant, is open for business in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

The restaurant features a mix of flavors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. The restaurant is named after a street in Taiwan famous for its restaurants and street food.

Yong Kang Street is located between Garrett Popcorn and Haagen-Dazs. The restaurant is open 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Courtesy photo

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Kenmore Middle School Wins National Special Olympics Award

Out of 30 qualifying schools across the nation, Kenmore Middle School has been selected as one of five schools chosen for the Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools National Recognition Program.

The program recognizes schools that have met all 10 national standards of excellence set out by the leaders of the Special Olympics.

These standards include unified sports that allow students with and without disabilities to train and play as teammates, inclusive youth leadership, and engagement throughout the school. Schools must also demonstrate a plan to sustain these activities for years to come.

On April 12, ESPN will recognize Kenmore Middle School in a national banner awards ceremony.

Photo via Special Olympics Virginia

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The Great Eatery in Rosslyn Has Permanently Closed

A long-time restaurant inside the 1000 Wilson Blvd food court has closed its doors for good.

The Great Eatery was a cafeteria-style restaurant offering convenient, casual dining to those working in the office tower. It had been located inside 1000 Wilson Blvd for 30 years.

According to Monday Properties, the owners of the restaurant decided to retire.

For over 30 years, The Great Eatery has been an essential part of our daily routines. The Moon Family has dedicated their time to serving us our breakfast in the mornings and welcomed everyone in the Rosslyn community for lunch. However, at the end of August, Mr. Moon will retire, and The Great Eatery will discontinue doing business.

Monday Properties has certainly valued the warmth and hospitality from The Moon Family over the years, and we congratulate them for over three decades of hard work. The Great Eatery was the first dining option to open here at the towers, and we are thankful for many memories. We wish everyone at The Great Eatery all the best.

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Idido’s Coffee Coming to Columbia Pike

Idido’s Cofee, a social house featuring coffee and serving light fare, is coming to Columbia Pike.

The coffee shop will be joining Pureluxe as the ground floor retail of Columbia Place (1107 S Walter Reed Dr), a mixed use development in Arlington Village.

The owners of Idido’s Coffee couldn’t be reached for comment, but Michael Steven, president of the Association for Columbia Place, told ARLnow he’s enthusiastic about the new business.

“We’re all excited for it to come in,” said Steven. “We hope it’s successful here.”

The timeline for when Idido’s will open is unknown.

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Grand Opening Scheduled for Gallery Clarendon Saturday

Gallery Clarendon is celebrating its grand opening.

On Saturday (Sept. 15), the Gallery Clarendon will officially open at the corner of Clarendon Blvd. and and Fillmore St. in the former Fuego restaurant corner.

Gallery Clarendon is the newest professional art gallery created by the Arlington Artists Alliance, and first opened its doors in late June.

The grand opening will start with festivities at 11 a.m. with activities for adults and children. A more adult-oriented wine reception runs from 5-8 p.m., catered by nearby restaurants and featuring the music of local band HYFY. The reception will give visitors a chance to meet and mingle with the gallery artists.

The Gallery Clarendon will showcase art from local artists and manage professional artist studios. The professional studios on the second floor of Gallery Clarendon will be open daily to the public from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

The gallery will also host events and offer classes for aspiring artists, operating an art academy that will offer day and night classes for adults and children.

On the second Fridays of every month, Gallery Clarendon will host a free opening reception for a new exhibit. Each month, the main gallery space will change with a fresh show from a different local artist.

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‘X’ Marks the Spot for Arlington Public Library’s New Logo

Arlington Public Library has unveiled a new lineup of fall activities, along with a new tagline and a controversial new logo.

A series of lectures throughout the fall include talks from a variety of authors. Events throughout September, which is National Hispanic Heritage Month, include classes, activities, and movies focusing on the history and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans.

Finally, during “Banned Book Week” at the end of September, the library will host activities spotlighting books that have been challenged in schools, bookstores and libraries.

“Books are change agents,” said Director of Arlington Public Library Diane Kresh on the library website. “They challenge our beliefs and biases, help us learn to think for ourselves, and expose us to different experiences and cultures. I encourage you to commit to reading at least one challenged book this fall.”

All of these events tie in with the library system’s new tagline: “Everyone Has a Story.” Kresh said the tagline highlights the commitment to inclusion and diverse points of view.

But it’s the logo that has people talking. The logo, seen above, is a neon green book with a white ‘X’ in the middle. The logo was designed in-house by the library’s communications team.

“The addition of a bold ‘X’ emphasizes the position of the library as the public commons, an educational and cultural destination for tens of thousands of Arlington residents and library patrons,” said Kresh.

Online, some praised the new look, but for many more the intent of the new logo didn’t land. Of the 13 comments on the library website, nearly all of them centered on the logo and few of them were praising it.

“I’m not sure that an sends the message you are promoting,” said one commenter on the library website. “It looks more like it is signaling the end of books. Yes, X marks the spot, but it also means deletion.”

Reception on Twitter was just as divided.

The library will use the logo and tagline as they continue outreach efforts for its community oral history program.

Logo via Arlington Public Library

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APS Teacher Wins Regional ‘Teacher of the Year’

Tim Cotman received two big pieces of news on Wednesday (Sept. 5).

One was the surprise announcement by Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni that Cotman was chosen as “Teacher of the Year” for the state’s Region 4, covering all of Northern Virginia.

The other was that his daughter was being born.

Cotman is an English teacher at Jefferson Middle School and the school’s minority achievement coordinator, a specialist in working with minority students to close the achievement gap in public schools. Cotman has been working in APS for 22 years, both with students and behind the scenes developing training for staff.

Cotman’s daughter was born at 5:30 a.m. and so was unable to attend the assembly held at the school, but FaceTime’d in to receive congratulations from Qarni and the students and staff of Jefferson Middle School.

In April, Cotman was chosen as Arlington’s Teacher of the Year. The award particularly noted the effort he put not only into teaching, but into coaching, facilitating, mentoring and parent outreach.

Cotman is one of eight teachers from regions across Virginia under review next week to be selected for Virginia’s Teacher of the Year award. An announcement is expected to come Sept. 14. The winning teacher will then be put forward by Virginia for the National Teacher of the Year program.

Should Cotman win statewide, he’d follow in the footsteps of Wakefield High School’s Michelle Cottrell-Williams, who won in 2017.

Photo Courtesy Arlington Public Schools

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Rosslyn Jazz Fest Returns Saturday, Prompting Street Closures

The Rosslyn Jazz Fest returns tomorrow (Satuday).

The annual festival, expected to bring in over 10,000 people to Arlington’s Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway), will run from 1-7 p.m.

The festival will feature jazz music from artists like Cory Henry and The Funk Apostles, Orquesta Akokan, True Loves, and Aztec Sun. The Rosslyn Business Improvement District put together a playlist to give attendees a sampling of the music.

In addition to the live music, bar areas will be set up to serve wine and beer, and several local food trucks will be set up in the area.

The festival is also accompanied by several street closures. According to Arlington Police:

  • Eastbound lanes of Lee Highway, between Fort Myer Drive and N. Lynn Street, will be closed from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Detour signs will be posted.
  • N. 19th Street, between Fort Myer Drive and N. Moore Street, will be closed from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
  • Exit 73 from Eastbound Rt. 66 to Rosslyn will be closed from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
  • Eastbound Lee Highway will be closed at N. Rhodes Street from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Drivers are highly encouraged to use N. Veitch Street or N. Rhodes Street as alternate routes to access the Courthouse or Rosslyn areas.
  • DETOUR: Local traffic within the closure zone wishing to access Rt. 66 or the Key Bridge by way of Lee Highway EAST should exit Lee Highway at 1) N. Veitch Street, 2) N. Rhodes Street, 3) N. Quinn Street, or finally 4) Fort Myer Drive and use Wilson Blvd to access N. Lynn Street.

Attendees of the event are encouraged to use Metro or other forms of transportation to get to the event. Street parking in the area will be restricted, with motorists encouraged to keep an eye out for temporary “no parking” signs.

Photo via Rosslyn Business Improvement District

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Fall Tree Giveaway Kicks Off

As part of an effort to expand Arlington’s tree canopy, the Department of Parks and Recreation will be giving away 400 trees for free this fall.

Arlington Residents can apply through the Parks and Recreation website to receive a “whip”; trees in two gallon containers ranging from two to four feet in size.

There are currently nine different types of trees available for pick up. There is a limit of one tree per residential property. Multi-family properties can contact the Tree Stewards organization to acquire more than one.

There will be two distribution days to pick up your trees.

  • Sat., Oct. 20, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Arlington County Nursery – 4240 S Four Mile Run Dr. 22206.
  • Wed., Oct. 24, 3-6 p.m. Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden Parking Lot – 850 N Lexington St. 22205.

Photo courtesy Arlington County

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ACFD Taps Northern Virginia’s First African-American Female Battalion Chief

Almost 24 years after she answered a radio ad seeking to recruit new firefighters, Tiffanye Wesley has been selected as Arlington’s southern battalion chief.

The county’s fire department tapped her for the post Sunday (Sept. 2), making her both Arlington and Northern Virginia’s first African-American female battalion chief.

There are two battalions in the Arlington Fire Department, divided between north and south, with each encompassing five stations. Wesley is chief of the southern battalion, coordinating operations not only between the five stations but with partner agencies across Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax.

“If there is a fire call, I’m in charge of that call,” said Wesley. “My job is to ensure everyone goes home safely.”

When Wesley first joined the Arlington Fire Department, she said she walked in the door with no expectations. She’d never known any firefighters or been into a fire house, and said she failed the physical ability tests twice, but she kept training and going back to try again.

Before being selected as battalion chief, Wesley was commander of the Crystal City station, Arlington’s largest and one of its busiest stations. Wesley stepped into the battalion chief role temporarily in 2016, which she said gave her an opportunity to get to know the other stations in the battalion.

“Every station is different,” said Wesley. “My goal is to go sit down with the officers and let them know up front what [my] expectations are and to give me theirs. I believe, as long as you set up right up front what you expect, it makes it easier. The problem comes in when you don’t know what your leader expects, then you tend to fall back and do whatever you want to do.”

Currently, Wesley says the department is also awaiting news of who will replace Fire Chief James Bonzano.

“Right now, the department is looking for a new fire chief,” said Wesley. “Everyone is in a holding pattern, we’re not sure who that person will be, whether they’re from inside the department or someone totally new, we will have to learn that person; their ideals and expectations.”

As Wesley settles into her new role as battalion chief, she says the outpouring of support from friends and followers of her active social media accounts has been overwhelming. Among the most interesting was a call from a fire chief in Nigeria congratulating her on the promotion.

“My promotion was not just for me, it’s for everyone who has watched me, who has been sitting back and passed over and doubted their own self, whose doubted it would ever happen,” said Wesley. “It’s all for those people. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t give up.”

Photo courtesy Arlington Fire Department

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