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by Heather Mongilio — September 1, 2015 at 3:30 pm 686 0

A Cat Named Denali cover (Courtesy of Gretch Brenckle)

Two Carlin Springs Elementary School staff members have created a new book series to help kids learn U.S. geography.

Gretchen Schuyler Brenckle and Kathryn Belcher Frazier recently released “A Cat Named Denali: An Outer Banks Adventure,” the first book in the series. In the children’s book, Denali goes on adventures while traveling with her family and learns fun facts about the United States, according to the book’s summary.

Brenckle, a counselor at Carlin Springs, wrote the story, and Frazier, a third grade teacher at Carlin Springs, illustrated the book. Brenckle said that she was inspired to write the book to give kids a fun way to learn geography.

“I am so excited to help children of all ages learn more about our country with Denali the Cat, who is on the adventure of a lifetime as she travels with her family, meeting new friends and learning fun facts about the United States,” she said in a press releases.

Frazier added: “Though I always remind my students not to judge a book by its cover, I hope these illustrations will entice and encourage young readers everywhere.”

Both Brenckle and Frazier live in Arlington and are Yorktown High School graduates.

“A Cat Named Denali: An Outer Banks Adventure” is available for purchase on Amazon or at Barnes and Nobles and Books A Million. The book costs $14.95.

by Heather Mongilio — September 1, 2015 at 12:00 pm 304 0

American flag (file photo)

Most Arlington County government offices will be closed this coming Monday, Sept. 7, for the Labor Day holiday.

Libraries, courts, nature centers and administrative offices will be closed on Monday in observance of the holiday.

Parks will be open, and county pools will operate on a modified schedule. The Washington-Lee pool will be open from noon to 4 p.m., the Wakefield High School pool is open from noon to 6 p.m., and the Yorktown pool will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

ART will run on a holiday schedule, meaning the 41, 51 and 87 buses will operate on Sunday times. All other routes will not run on Labor Day. Metro will run on a Sunday schedule and will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight.

Trash and recycling will be collected as normal.

by Heather Mongilio — August 31, 2015 at 3:35 pm 1,712 0

(Updated Sept. 1 at 5:45 p.m.) The Rosslyn Business Improvement District and Arlington County have turned an unused fountain at Gateway Park into a new sandbox.

The sandbox will officially open on Sept. 12 during the Rosslyn Jazz Festival, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. There will also be kids activities, including face painting and sidewalk chalk drawing.

Located on the western edge of the park, by Lee Highway, the sandbox features the work of local artists Evelyn Powers and Patrick Kirwin, who have painted the edges of the sandbox with flowers, insects and other critters.  The artists will also paint stone bunnies, turtles, frogs and other creatures that will be placed around the sandbox, according to a press release.

The former fountain now has a main sand area reachable by stairs, surrounded by a sand-filled moat.

“Once an unmemorable part of the park, we hope it will become a place where children and their caregivers can go to relax and have fun,” the Rosslyn BID said in a statement.

by ARLnow.com — August 31, 2015 at 1:35 pm 3,319 0

Hudson Trail Outfitters on Pentagon RowHudson Trail Outfitters, the venerable local outdoor retailer, will be closing its stores, including one location on Pentagon Row in Arlington.

The Maryland-based company, which has four D.C. area stores, announced today that it will begin winding down its operations after nearly five decades in business.

Among the stores set to close are locations in Fairfax, Rockville, Tenleytown (D.C.) and Pentagon City, the latter of which is at 1101 S. Joyce Street on Pentagon Row.

The Pentagon Row store was open as normal today. Employees said they had not yet been told when exactly the store would close.

Hudson Trail Outfitters CEO Sandy Cohan wrote the following email to customers today.

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that after nearly fifty (50) years in business, HTO will be closing its remaining four stores and shutting down the business.

HTO has been an institution in the DC Metro Area since 1971. From day one the mission was simple: open a store that sells the greatest outdoor gear and apparel on the planet, hire only those who love the outdoors and who are passionate about health and happiness, and provide Positively Outrageous Customer Service to everyone. The retail landscape has changed so much within the last 36 months and the Company has decided that the time has come to begin to ‘wind down’ all company affairs, knowing that it never had to compromise any excellence standards on behalf of the community.

The community and the Company have always supported each other with such dignity and respect, and the Company will always be proud of the role that it played in helping to improve the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people, employees and customers, within the DC Metro Area. During this transition, all customers and all employees can count on continued excellence and pride from all associations with the Company. HTO firmly believes that an orderly wind-down of affairs provides the best opportunity for professional closure and maximum success and efficiency in what are otherwise sad and nostalgic circumstances.

The Company wishes to thank all of its customers and team members (past and present) for nearly five (5) decades of committed loyalty, high standards, professionalism, association, trust, support, partnership…and most importantly…. friendship. And what a ride it has been – who would have ever imagined that Ground Zero for what is now internationally known as Specialty Active Outdoor Retail was going to be Kensington, Maryland, or, that a passionate and creative outdoorsman from Washington, DC would one day grow up to both pioneer an entire industry, and, to become the example and trend setter for how that industry would grow and evolve for nearly half of a century?

In advance, thank you for your continued support during this transition.

by Heather Mongilio — August 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm 2,468 0

A garden in front of a Columbia Forest home is center of a debate between the county’s Department of Environmental Services and a local resident.

Maraea Harris created a Change.org petition to save her garden, which is planted on a hellstrip, the piece of land between a sidewalk and the road. It all started when a county official told Harris to remove the garden because it violated the county’s weed ordinance due to the plants’ heights, she said.

“Rather than work with me to create a workable solution while maintaining the environmental value and beauty of the space, the only option I was given was to make it grass or mulch,” Harris said on the petition.

Harris appealed the county’s decision. Yesterday, someone in the county manager’s office informed her that the county will postpone the removal of the garden until it can discuss the case internally, she said.

The county reached out to Harris after receiving a complaint that the garden made the sidewalk — located along a dead end portion of S. Buchanan Street — inaccessible for handicapped people, said Luis Araya, a county official with the Department of Environmental Services.

“A DES inspector contacted the owner of the residence and asked them to remove these items from the public street right-of-way as they created a hazard to public safety and were unauthorized use of the public right-of-way,” Araya said. “The county does not allow such uses to the public.”

According to the Arlington County Garbage, Refuse and Weed Ordinance, weeds and grass have to be one foot tall or less. The ordinance does not specifically mention whether flowers can be planted in the public right of way.

“The purpose of grass strips that exist between the curb and sidewalk on public streets are to accommodate street lights, water meters, street signs and other infrastructure-associated items maintained by the County and private utility companies,” Araya said.

Residents must also keep all vegetation off of sidewalk and the road in order to prevent safety hazards. Harris’ garden was becoming dangerous, Araya said.

“There are many potential safety hazards that the public can encounter in unauthorized landscaped areas in the public right-of-way such as tripping hazards, visibility issues for vehicles, narrower sidewalks limiting the width of ADA clearances for wheelchairs and, in this particular location, bee stings,” he said.

Harris said that she had no problem adjusting her garden to make the sidewalk more handicap accessible. However, she did not want to completely remove the garden, which brings butterflies and other insects to the neighborhood.

“It is a small space but there is more life in the 4 x 20 ft. space than all the neighborhood grass lawns combined,” she said on the petition.

Despite the one complaint from a neighbor, Harris said most people on S. Buchanan Street enjoy the garden. As of today, 53 people had signed the petition for the garden, including some of Harris’ neighbors.

“They like to have it because their kids walk by it to what’s in it and what’s growing,” she said.

As a gardener, Harris said it is frustrating that the county has many pollination and environmental efforts, but they want to mow over her garden hellstrip garden and others like it. Helping residents understand the guidelines and working toward a compromise over the hellstrips would be more beneficial, she said.

“Instead of coming after them, why not support them?” Harris said.

by Heather Mongilio — August 28, 2015 at 12:15 pm 1,610 0

Business is reportedly robust at Rappahannock Coffee (2406 Columbia Pike) despite a new Starbucks moving across the street.

The independent coffee shop, which once was the only cafe serving the portion of the Pike around Penrose Square, is so far not seeing negative effects from its newfound competition with the Seattle-based chain, according to owner Gi Lee.

“Our customers are loyal customers,” Lee said.

The new Starbucks opened at 2413 Columbia Pike in the middle of August, worrying some Pike residents that it would hurt Rappahannock and cause it to close. The local coffee shop had faced previous threats of demolition back in 2013 when a developer proposed building apartments on the strip of land where Rappahannock is located.

ARLnow.com observed 17 customers in Rappahannock this morning over a half hour period. At Starbucks across the street, we counted 27 customers over the course of 15 minutes.

Although the chain store sees more customers in the morning, it might not be due to customers defecting from Rappahannock. Lee said most regular customers are still coming in for their morning cup of joe, the beans for which are roasted in-house.

“Everybody likes our coffee,” he said. “It’s very fresh here.”

Rappahannock customer and vocal fan Jason Gooljar said the chain may have attracted new customers from the neighborhoods around the Pike while the local coffee shop kept its old customers. He professed his reverence for the small shop in a Facebook post, which he posted from Starbucks.

“So yes, I’m here at the Starbucks,” he wrote last Wednesday evening. “[Rappahannock] closes early.”

(Starbucks is also open three hours later than Rappahannock, which operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Starbucks is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is slow in the evening and Lee said he does not anticipate increasing the hours.)

Starbucks and Rappahannock offer two different environments, Gooljar said, and the two stores attract different types of customers.

Rappahannock has a more neighborhood feel, where customers interact with each other and the baristas, Gooljar said. Signs next to tables at the coffee shop encourage people to sit with their neighbors and meet new people.

“This store, people have made some really good friendships here,” he said.

On the other hand, Gooljar said, Starbucks is more individual — people typing away quietly on laptops or grabbing an espresso drink to go while on their commute.

One of the new Starbucks customers is South Arlington resident Kevin Keaty. He was already a loyal Starbucks customer and went to one of the chain’s stores in Pentagon City before the Columbia Pike location opened, he said.

“I really do like their products,” he said.

Horst Lummert, a new Arlington resident, visits both coffee stores and said he has noticed people in the Starbucks at night after Rappahannock has closed. On the other hand, Lummert said he sees about 20 customers in Rappahannock when he stops by in the morning. He has been a loyal Starbucks customer for many years, but he said there is something nice about visiting a local coffee shop.

“I come here because of the wonderful service,” he said. “And the coffee is pretty good.”

The manager of the Columbia Pike Starbucks referred ARLnow.com to the company’s corporate media relations department for comment.

by ARLnow.com — August 28, 2015 at 11:00 am 9,617 0

Arlington ZIP code map(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Pentagon City, Crystal City and Rosslyn have the highest percentage of Ashley Madison users in Arlington, according to the hacked user list from the site.

The now-notorious hack exposed the names, addresses and other personal information of the site’s millions of users, who signed up with the promise of finding partners for discreet extramarital affairs.

ARLnow.com obtained a list of local users, sorted by ZIP code. There are some duplicate and anonymous entries in the data, so the following represents the raw number of user entries by ZIP code, sorted by percentage of the overall population.

22211 (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall)
Users: 17 (2.6% of 648 population)

22202 (Crystal City, Pentagon City, Aurora Highlands)
Users: 311 (1.6% of 22,543 population)

22209 (Rosslyn)
Users: 192 (1.6% of 12,314 population)

22201 (Clarendon, Lyon Village, Lyon Park)
Users: 437 (1.3% of 33,476 population)

22206 (Shirlington, Fairlington, Nauck)
Users: 195 (1.0% of 19,051 population)

22213 (Bishop O’Connell High School area)
Users: 30 (1.0% of 2,936 population)

22203 (Ballston, Buckingham)
Users: 190 (0.9% of 21,850 population)

22205 (Westover, Waycroft-Woodlawn)
Users: 145 (0.8% of 17,087 population)

22204 (Columbia Pike corridor)
Users: 323 (0.7% of 47,233 population)

22207 (North Arlington neighborhoods)
Users: 221 (0.7% of 30,920 population)

Among those Arlington residents named on the list is an unsuccessful candidate in a recent local election. However, because ARLnow.com cannot verify that those named on the list were the actual users of the site, we will not name users nor link to the list. Comments that name users will be removed.

Correction: We erroneously combined the 22202 and 22203 ZIP codes in an earlier version of this article. The error has been corrected.

by Eleanor Greene — August 27, 2015 at 4:45 pm 2,006 0

Ammanisahan flyerThe area’s first Uyghur restaurant will be opening this fall in Crystal City, according to one of its owners, Emam Maimaiti.

The restaurant will open in the space of the recently closed Charlie Chiang’s (320 23rd Street S.).

The new restaurant will be called Queen Ammanisa and feature Uyghur food from province Xinjiang in Northwest China, a place formerly known as Turkestan, Maimaiti explained. Uygur cuisine is being discovered in other parts of the United States, Maimaiti said, but he and his partner Fatima Baikeli are anxious to bring it to the D.C. area.

Uyghur cooking is a product of its geography and therefore is a mix of Persian and Chinese cuisines. It has kebabs and noodles “like you’ve never had before,” Maimaiti said. Lamb, mutton and beef are common in Uyghur food, as are carrots, raisins and lots of vegetables, he wrote in an email. Uyghur food is often halal too, due to the ethnic group’s predominantly Muslim culture.

As for the name, the partners had planned to name the restaurant Amannisahan, as posted on the window of the building now, which was the name of their previous restaurant in Beijing, where the suffix “han” means queen. They have decided to change it to the English translation, “Queen Ammanisa.” Queen Ammanisa was a queen and musician from the region who lived in the sixteenth century.

The owner would not reveal a specific opening date but hopes that the restaurant will be able to open mid to late fall.

by Heather Mongilio — August 27, 2015 at 3:35 pm 6,059 0

Plane landing at Reagan National Airport, as seen from Gravelly Point (photo by Alex)

Despite the cries of many residents for more open, green space in the county, not all park goers are happy with the parks that currently exist in Arlington.

Among otherwise glowing reviews, there are a number of one, two or three star Yelp reviews of parks in Arlington, detailing the numerous problems some visitors experience.

Complaints ranged from the park’s design, lack of proper cleanup by park employees or that the park just didn’t have enough to offer.

Parks in Arlington aren’t alone in receiving negative comments. In honor of the National Park Service’s 99th birthday, the publication Mother Jones this week shared some not-so-nice reviews of national parks across the country, in a post entitled “I Can’t Stop Reading One-Star Yelp Reviews of National Parks.”

James Hunter Park

James Hunter Park (via Arlington County)

James Hunter Park (1299 N. Herndon Street) — the Clarendon dog park —  is dog-friendly, and has an open lawn, water feature and a “plaza terrace,” according to the park’s website. However, one reviewer claims the park was not designed with dogs in mind.

James Hunter Park Yelp review

(more…)

by Heather Mongilio — August 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm 992 0

Henninger Media Services, a production company with ties to Discovery Channel, National Geographic and Oscar-winning documentaries, has found a new home in Courthouse.

The production company is responsible for “finishing” videos, whether it be a show on National Geographic or a documentary that wins an Academy Award. In finishing, or post production, specialists at the company edit the film, color and audio in order to make a show look cleaner. It’s very much a behind the scenes job — if it’s done correctly, a viewer wouldn’t realize that anything had been done.

In addition to editing, the company also does design work, such as creating the main menu on a DVD, and archive work, including helping the National Archives.

The company’s new space is tucked away at 1320 N. Courthouse Road, near the Arlington County Police Department and county government offices. It was previously located on Wilson Blvd, next to Earl’s Sandwiches. Although slightly hidden, the company’s new office on the first floor of the building is anything but small.

The company has 13 editing suites, six audio studios, three color correction suites, two quality control rooms, a voice recording studio, various administrative and design spaces and the “core,” where it hosts all the servers and technology needed to run a production company. Henninger bills itself as “the largest production/post-production company in the Mid-Atlantic.”

“It is relatively rare that one company houses all the expertise,” said Mike Weiss, vice president of Business Development.

The new move allowed Henninger Media Services to have a fresh start when it came to the technology in the office, said CEO Robert Henninger. The space now uses fiber glass cables with the capability to run videos in ultra high definition, one of the newest trends in video.

“It gave us a lot of flexibility in terms of technical capability,” Weiss said. “It modernized us.”

Innovation and embracing new technology is one of the five core values of the company, Henninger said, with the other four being quality, service, teamwork and creativity.

These five values have helped Henninger Media Services, which was founded in 1983, become the company it is today, he said.

Today, the company works with big names like Discovery Channel, National Geographic and PBS, where they put finishing touches on shows and documentaries run on the networks. It also works with corporations, such as Capital One, small businesses, colleges, such as American University, and political campaigns.

The company declined to list some of the well-known television programs it works on, citing confidentiality agreements, but one such program — verified independently by ARLnow.com — is “Gold Rush: Alaska,” one of the Discovery Channel’s top-rated series.

Henninger Media Services worked with President Barack Obama’s first campaign to help edit a 30-minute paid ad. They also worked with Sen. John McCain when he ran against George W. Bush in a presidential primary.

Political campaigns are a specialty because they have an intense workload and very quick deadline.

“You have to really be prepared to do what it takes,” Henninger said.

The company has also worked with Oscar-winner documentary “Innocente.” The company has done multiple projects with directors Sean and Andrea Fine, as well as Sean’s father, who was also a director.

“We were part of the team that won an Oscar,” Henninger said.

In addition to the many non-fiction films that company works with, Henninger said he would like to get involved with feature films.

“Doing some fiction work would be fun,” he said.

by ARLnow.com — August 26, 2015 at 10:00 am 573 0

Ground floor of the Metropolitan Park Acadia building in Pentagon CityA CorePower Yoga studio is coming to the ground floor of the new Metropolitan Park Acadia apartment building in Pentagon City.

The company has applied for building permits at the soon-to-open building, at 1201 S. Fern Street.

This will be CorePower’s second Arlington location — it recently opened a studio in Courthouse. The company also has locations in Georgetown, Merrifield and Falls Church.

by Eleanor Greene — August 25, 2015 at 4:45 pm 2,885 0

Arlington just created the region’s first map for bicyclists to find the least stressful routes for commuting.

The Bicycle Comfort Level Map ranks routes by the volume and speed of vehicles, topography and whether cycling infrastructure — like bike lanes — is in place. It also includes locations where different amenities may be found, such as repair stations, drinking fountains and Capital Bikeshare stations.

Routes are color-coded based on those criteria from blue, which is easy, to orange, which is difficult. The map was developed over several months by county engineers with input from the local community.

“We know many new riders would like to ride to more places, but have commented they don’t feel comfortable on many streets, even those with designated bike lanes or sharrows,” Henry Dunbar, director of the county’s BikeArlington program, said in a press release. “There are many low-stress ways to get around Arlington’s busy corridors and this new map makes it easy for riders to find them.”

According to the press release, the new map is part of a strategy to encourage “everyday biking” in the community. Other efforts to encourage cycling include the production of the film Arlington Passages, which will premier in September. 

After an initial distribution to all Arlington residents via The Citizen newspaper, the county will make the maps available at Commuter Stores, transit information kiosks and local bike shops. An electronic version is also available on the BikeArlington website.

If you have a suggestion about a new route or a ranking that should be changed, BikeArlington is accepting feedback at [email protected]

by ARLnow.com — August 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm 2,519 0

Monica Ten-Kate, a 21-year-old with ties to Fairlington, will make her big television debut tonight.

Monica Ten-Kate (photo via Facebook)Monica the Medium,” a new reality series on ABC Family starring Ten-Kate, will premiere tonight at 8 p.m. The show will follow Ten-Kate as she attends Penn State and navigates the pitfalls of dating, all while supposedly communing with her classmates’ dead relatives.

Ten-Kate graduated from Oakton High School in Fairfax County in 2012 but her business is registered to a Fairlington condo owned by her father.

Ten-Kate has been making the rounds promoting her series on this week on shows like The Insider and Access Hollywood Live.

by Heather Mongilio — August 24, 2015 at 5:45 pm 601 0

Four months after a triumphant announcement featuring the governor and county leaders, startup incubator 1776 is starting to warm up to its new Crystal City offices.

The company recently opened its new location at 2231 Crystal Drive, less than a half mile away from the Crystal City Metro station. The new 1776 office is spacious and bright, with walls made up of mostly windows overlooking Reagan National Airport, the Potomac River and D.C.

1776 came to Crystal City after acquiring startup funder and research firm Disruption Corporation, which previously ran its Crystal Tech Fund and offered office space to startups in the space. Both companies were working on a similar system that tried to determine which startups were worth investing in.

Disruption founder Paul Singh joined the 1776 team but left shortly after the acquisition was completed, according to the Washington Business Journal; the paper later revealed that 1776 hastily acquired Disruption after Singh’s company ran out of money.

The office space is currently being redesigned to make the new place look more like 1776’s headquarters, near Scott Circle in the District. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Donna Harris, said 1776 saw a chance to expand its footprint, its network and its mission in Crystal City.

“We saw a real opportunity to try and bring together the region’s abundant resources to help empower those startups, and to drive new economic growth across the region,” Harris said.

Since its arrival in Arlington, the incubator has held a Challenge Cup and hosted Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) to celebrate the White House’s Startup Week. During his visit, startup members of 1776 talked about their products, and a couple of the startups gave demos.

The new Crystal City office is similar to the original D.C. office in that it is a hub for startups, Harris said. The company is planning to use its new location to provide classes, curriculum items, events and mentoring for startups in Arlington.

“As part of our effort to create new opportunities for local startups throughout the Washington Metro region to grow and scale, we plan to use our Crystal City campus as a hub for connecting startups to the growing innovation economy and the powerful talent, expertise, corporations, and government agencies in Crystal City and throughout Virginia,” Harris said.

1776 is also looking to help connect startups with institutions within the private sector and government that are connected with cyber security and data, Harris said, and the location in Arlington helps the company provide these resources.

“As the headquarters for the world’s most important government agencies, regulatory bodies, corporations and policymakers, we believe there is unique promise right here in the Washington metro area for civic-minded startups — and unique resources they can’t find anywhere else,” Harris said.

1776 isn’t the only startup incubator in Crystal City. Eastern Foundry, which works to connect new businesses with government contracting, is a few buildings over at 2011 Crystal Drive.

What makes 1776 unique, Harris said, is that the incubator looks to help startups in industries that are important to everyday life but are hard to change.

“Everyday, there are hundreds of startups working diligently on ideas that have the power to transform and improve our lives as citizens,” Harris said. “We are excited to see how we can work with those startups to improve Arlington’s community and economy.”

by ARLnow.com — August 24, 2015 at 3:10 pm 3,770 0

Charlie Chiang’s has closed in Crystal City.

The Chinese restaurant, at 320 23rd Street S., has posted signs on the doors directing customers to its Shirlington location at 4060 Campbell Avenue..

“Thank you for your years of patronage!” the signs say. “We have consolidated our operations with our Village at Shirlington location — Ping by Charlie Chiang’s… Please visit us there!”

Another sign on the door says that a new restaurant will be replacing Charlie Chiang’s and will be “opening soon.”

The new restaurant will be called Amannisahan and will serve Uyghur cuisine, according to the sign. In an indication that a quick reopening may indeed be in the works, Amannisahan says it’s currently hiring restaurant managers and waiters.

Uyghur food is a blend of Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Chinese cuisines, serving dishes like kebabs and noodle soups.

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