Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) Last week’s torrential rainstorm flooded thousands of homes and businesses — but something mysterious happened, too.

Just upstream from where it meets Four Mile Run, the Lubber Run stream disappeared.

Earlier this week the stream appeared to be miraculously vanishing around a tree stump, according to a video posted online and on a local listserv. The water was a trickle of its usual flow when a resident shot the video, and the stream left a dry bed of round rocks exposed after the water appeared to disappear.

At first, when contacted by ARLnow, all the Department of Environmental Services (DES) could say for sure was that the stream hadn’t been “rerouted intentionally.”

Jessica Baxter, a DES spokeswoman initially it could take days to find the reason for the phenomenon as storm clean-up continues county-wide and crews work on the damage the storm wrought to public areas.

Raging flood waters washed away at least six pedestrian bridges in the county, including two over Lubber Run.

The department sent crews out Wednesday and Thursday to investigate the steam on a hunch the water could have somehow flowed into an underground pipe.

“There were a few trees that fell over the stream, including a stump that fell and possibly damaged our sewer main,” Baxter said on Thursday after crews visited the stream. “However, given the water entering the main, we are having challenges determining where the damage is.”

The crews then worked to divert the water — which had begun to swell again since its post-storm lull the resident captured in his video. Then the county crews used CCTV technology to inspect the pipe.

On Friday morning at 7 a.m., Baxter reached out to ARLnow to say crews had made a breakthrough.

“Crews got the tree stump removed from the area and we did observe a broken pipe,”she said. “We have our emergency contractor on-site to make repairs today.”

After the repairs to the pipe were completed later this afternoon, Baxter said crews are expected to return early next week for additional repair work, including inserting a liner into the pipe.

A 2011 assessment of all streams and their ability to prevent floods noted that many parts of Lubber Run were considered “stable,” but also noted that the stream had “poor utility elements” at the time.

Lubber Run is not just a feeder for Four Mile Run, it’s also a perfect habitat for underwater critters like crayfish and fly larvae, and snakes, snails, and worms make their home in the stream, which is lined by shaggy water elms.

ARLnow could not locate the mysterious tree dropping-off point after an hour of bushwhacking along the stream banks Tuesday afternoon. However, it was clear that the storm had left its mark in the area.

Bits of broken bridges were beached along the banks as far as Four Mile Run, and picnic tables were covered in silt after being swallowed by the rising water. The stream itself was brown with sediment and fallen tree limbs still littered the walking paths. A golden retriever could be seen jumping in and out of the stream with one of the thicker limbs in his mouth.

0 Comments

Arlington may be the landing spot for Amazon’s HQ2, but it was selected for an even tastier honor today: the unveiling of a new Blueberry McGriddles breakfast sandwich from McDonald’s.

Corporate officials, including the company’s national Culinary Innovation Spokesperson, were on hand to debut what is basically an egg sandwich with a pair of blueberry pancakes as buns.

Offered with sausage or bacon, along with egg and cheese, the new McGriddles sandwich is being tested in the D.C. area market, including at the Rosslyn McDonald’s (1800 N. Lynn Street) where the event was held this morning.

Carol Martino, the Chicago-based culinary innovation spokeswoman, donned a black McDonald’s chef jacket as she described the process of creating the sandwich, a variation on the existing McGriddles sandwich.

Martino said her team was seeking to create a “cravable, indulgent” breakfast sandwich with a “sweet-savory balance.” The sweetness, she said, will likely mean that it’s more of a treat “for certain days of the week.”

The company’s chefs whittled down 30 recipes before selecting the one featured today, which has not only a distinct blueberry-and-maple-syrup flavor — “reminiscent of mom’s blueberry pancakes,” Martino said — but actual, embedded blueberries visible in the blue-tinted buns.

Currently, the sandwiches are only being offered as part of a test in the D.C. area before being, potentially, rolled out nationally. Part of the process of creating the new McGriddles, Martino said, was obtaining a national-scale supply of blueberries should the sandwich prove popular.

Currently, the Blueberry McGriddles are available only at certain McDonald’s locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. In Arlington, those locations are:

  • 1800 N. Lynn Street (Rosslyn)
  • 4834 Lee Highway
  • 3013 Columbia Pike
0 Comments

A D.C.-based taqueria is opening a second location in Ballston.

El Rey is expanding from its original location at 919 U Street NW and opening at Ballston Exchange, near Dirt, across the street from Ballston Quarter mall.

In D.C., El Rey offers tacos, tequila-based cocktails, wine, sangria, beer and weekend brunch.

Prolific restaurateurs Ian and Eric Hilton are behind El Rey. The brothers are also opening a new French bistro, Cafe Colline, in the former Cassatt’s space along Lee Highway.

Ian Hilton told ARLnow the opening date is still up in the air, but they’re hoping to open at some point this winter.

Photo via Ballston Exchange/Instagram

0 Comments

The expanded EvolveAll fitness studio near Columbia Pike is now open, after missing the mark on its original goal to open in May.

Owner Emerson Doyle said that the company had problems “trying to line up getting out of our old lease, coordinating the move, finishing the build out, and getting our [certificate of occupancy] with Arlington County.”

“Everything always takes longer then our optimistic minds think,” Doyle said.

The Columbia Pike studio, which is located at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive, has 10,000 square feet of space, separated into four rooms that allow trainers to run simultaneous classes.

EvolveAll has nine instructors who teach a wide gamut of classes including children’s martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, yoga and fitness boot camps. Personal training and massage therapy are also offered.

“We have the same schedule as before but are adding early morning yoga and bootcamp classes, starting with Tuesday and Thursday at 6:15 a.m.,” Doyle said of the new class schedule.

The company’s website notes that the fitness studio aims to serve as a “meeting space for local communities of growth minded people.”

Photos courtesy EvolveAll

0 Comments

Arlington resident Roey Hadar, a 23-year-old journalist at WETA-TV in Shirlington, is a Jeopardy champion.

During last night’s episode of the long-running quiz show, which was originally taped in March, Hadar topped five-time champion Sam Kavanaugh, a teacher from Minneapolis, and Jennifer Abel, a graduate student from Vancouver, British Columbia. Hadar walked away with $23,600 in daily winnings, having correctly answered two pivotal Daily Double questions.

Hadar will defend his title on tonight’s episode, facing a teacher from Seattle and a professor from Los Angeles. Jeopardy airs locally at 7:30 p.m. on WJLA (ABC 7).

Hadar live-tweeted during the episode, offering behind-the-scene nuggets like the power outage that almost made him miss the bus to the studio and the quirky ground rules given to contestants before the taping (no wagering $666 or $69). He also revealed that he is still together with his girlfriend, despite host Alex Trebek opining on air that he should “dump her.”

This is not the first time an Arlington resident found success on Jeopardy. Social worker Blair Moorhead notched a victory on an episode that aired in early 2017, while foreign service officer Liz Murphy advanced in the show’s Tournament of Champions following her initial win.

Hadar, a Ballston resident, says he will again be live-tweeting tonight’s episode, offering another interesting show fact: contestants do not receive their prize money until after the episode airs.

0 Comments

District Taco began as a stand-alone food cart and expanded into the burgeoning regional restaurant chain it is today.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of District Taco, which was co-founded by Marc Wallace and Osiris Hoil. The company is marking the occasion with an event in Rosslyn tomorrow (Thursday).

“ATTN, amigos!” the company said in a social media post. “Join us back where it all started for our 10 year anniversary… from 12-1 p.m. we will be on the corner of Lynn St & Wilson Blvd, in Rosslyn, handing out tacos and giveaways! Come celebrate with us and pose for a photo with our original taco cart.”

Hoil said he also plans on celebrating by taking a trip down to Mexico in August to visit family and reminisce about his mother’s cooking — the inspiration for many District Taco recipes.

Hoil’s entrepreneurial story began when he came to the United States as an immigrant and was laid off from a construction company during in 2007, around the time of the economic crisis. He said despite his dismay at the time, he still thinks highly of the firm and hired them to build several District Taco locations.

The District Taco cart launched in 2009, but was retired in 2014. Since then, two bricks-and-mortar District Taco locations have opened in Arlington: at 5723 Lee Highway — its very first storefront — in 2010 and in Rosslyn (1500 Wilson Blvd) in 2016.

District Taco now has 14 locations, according to its website, and plans to add at least three more in 2020, according to Hoil. They also want to double their office space by 2021.

“Everything we have done is by scratch,” said Hoil. “We have learned so much from other people and big companies.”

Photo 1 via Twitter

0 Comments

Two Arlington institutions — one well established, the other new to town — recently clashed in Falls Church, in an incident caught on video.

Infamous trespass towing titan Advanced Towing can be seen in the YouTube video towing an Amazon delivery van as the driver was mid-delivery at an apartment complex, just across the Arlington border in Falls Church.

In the video, the Amazon delivery driver can be seen hurriedly approaching the apartments to make his deliveries. Then, an Advanced tow truck driver — along with two helpers on foot — work to tow the driver’s van, which was parked in front of several empty parking spaces, with its hazard lights on. The tow truck quickly drives off with the van in tow, the big Amazon swoosh soon well in the distance.

Shortly thereafter, the somewhat confused Amazon driver can be seen talking to another Advanced tow driver in the parking lot.

“The new ‘King of the Hill’ is playing out in Arlington,” quipped a tipster who sent the video to ARLnow.

“How are we supposed to get our Amazon Prime deliveries at all?” asked the video poster, a resident. “They’d probably do this to USPS, FedEx, and UPS trucks too.”

Ballston-based Advanced Towing is contracted by property owners to tow vehicles trespassing in lots where parking is restricted to customers, residents or other permit holders. But its reputed aggressiveness in towing has earned the ire of TV personalities, online reviewers and voters.

This was not the only recent unhappy greeting for Amazon and its new HQ2. Across the river in D.C. today, protesters demonstrated in front of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ house.

Video via TheFPStraveller

0 Comments

Arlington Public Library has opened its new pop-up library in the Ballston Quarter mall.

The library partnered with the Ballston Business Improvement District to create the mini lending library, which opened earlier this month on the mall’s first floor, above the Quarter Market food hall. Located at 4238 Wilson Blvd, the mall is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and on Fridays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., until Friday, August 2.

The Ballston pop-up features a reading nook called “Alterspace” where users can control lighting, sound effects and color. The technology behind it was developed by Harvard University’s metaLAB and is being shared outside Massachusetts for the first time.

Ballston Quarter’s website says the Alterspace reading nook is “the ideal environment for meditating, reading, collaborating, playing, or whatever activity brings you here!” The space also includes a mobile charging station for phones and tablets.

This is the library system’s second pop-up, following a successful experimental pop-up in Crystal City.

“Although the Ballston Quarter Pop-up Library is only a short walk from Central Library, we are encountering so many people who aren’t aware of the library and its resources,” said library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist.

“Meeting our community where they are — in the mall during their lunch breaks, after school, or during their evening commute — gives us an opportunity to connect new users with library materials, services, and resources, which they may not know are available to them,” he said.

At least one librarian will be on-site in the space during operating hours to help patrons with check outs and new library cards.

0 Comments

It seems like summer break just started, but some local organizations are already pitching in to help at-risk students prepare for the upcoming school year.

Arlington-based Offender and Aid Restoration and Verizon Wireless retailer TCC are two of the organizations that are setting up drives for backpacks and other classroom necessities in Arlington.

TCC’s program, School Rocks Backpack Giveaway, first started in 2013. The program has donated 950,000 backpacks stocked with school supplies since its founding. TCC asks that on July 24 from 1 p.m-4 p.m. community members drop off backpacks and supplies at participating stores, including a store at 3141 Lee Highway

Offender Aid and Restoration, which works to improve the lives of the incarcerated population through educational programs, community service opportunities and reentry services into society, is also organizing a backpack drive.

Until August 12, Project Backpack, sponsored by OAR, will collect school supplies for children and deliver them with a note of encouragement from their incarcerated parent.

“It is so crucial to maintain strong family bonds while a parent is incarcerated for both the child and the parent,” said OAR’s executive director. “Incarceration not only affects the person going through the system, but everyone closest to them as well.” 

Anyone interested can also donate to the Project Backpack cause online. Community members may also drop off items physically or mail them to OAR’s Arlington office at 400 N. Uhle Street, Suite 704, Arlington, VA 22201. 

File photo

0 Comments

A week after devastating flash flooding, the lights are coming back on for some affected businesses in Arlington.

SER Restaurant in Ballston, which was inundated by water coming through the ceiling during the Flash Flood Emergency, is planning to reopen at 5 p.m. today (Monday), co-owner Christiana Campos told ARLnow.

The reopening comes after the local community rallied to raise more than $10,000 for SER in a GoFundMe campaign. SER says the donations are being used to help fund needed repairs while the owners work through the insurance claim process.

“Thanks to our hard working staff, our construction crew who have been working around the clock to fix the damage and thanks to the humbling outpouring of support from the community, we are so thrilled to being opening today,” Campos told ARLnow. “The power of this community is truly incredible.”

In Westover, where floodwaters destroyed merchandise and knocked out power, the two hardest-hit businesses — Westover Market and Beer Garden, and Ayers Variety and Hardware — first reopened in a limited fashion on Wednesday. Over the weekend, Westover Market announced it was back on utility power and off generators.

“Finally! Regular hours going forward!” the store exclaimed on Facebook. “Limited fresh produce [and] meats have been delivered! Every day we’ll inch closer to 100%. Thanks so much for all the incredible support! We need it! And please send support and prayers to the other businesses affected by the storm!”

A GoFundMe campaign for the Westover merchants has raised more than $67,500.

Also in Westover, the weekly farmers market was held over the weekend, thanks to quick repairs to 18th Street N., which was damaged by the flooding. On Saturday, the director of the company that organizes the market wrote the following letter to Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, lauding the dedicated repair crews.

Mr. Schwartz —

I was notified late this afternoon that the emergency street repairs on 18th Street N. have been completed. Our nonprofit organization is very grateful for the County’s quick response to address the street damage caused by the torrential rain last Monday morning…

This section of the roadway serves on Sunday mornings as a key part of the Westover Farmers Market. We have been in contact with vendors all week regarding whether the Westover Farmers Market could take place, given the roadway damage caused by the storm. This evening I was able to send them an “all clear” message. So tomorrow morning’s market should run without a hitch. […]

Please send our thanks to the personnel in the Department of Environmental Services and to the contractors who assist them for a job well and quickly done. The neighbors who shop each week at this farmers market will benefit from their outstanding efforts this week.

Rob Swennes, Executive Director
Field to Table, Inc.

0 Comments

Ballston restaurant SER is hoping a GoFundMe campaign will keep the business afloat after Monday’s devastating floods damaged the locally-owned eatery.

“The water apparently came through faulty drains in the building’s third floor balcony, spread through the third and second floors, and then seeped into every corner at SER,” owner Javier Candon wrote on the GoFundMe page. “We are at a loss about the physical and emotional toll this has taken on us and our entire SER family.”

The Spanish restaurant has so far raised more than $2,500 after launching the campaign Thursday. The current fundraising goal: $65,000.

Candon noted that this is the fourth time SER has flooded since opening in 2015.  Last July the restaurant had to temporarily close when the it partially flooded after the roof collapsed.

Candon told ARLnow he was “weighing his options” on how best to move forward.

“We are all devastated,” he said via email. “We have been closed all week impacting not only our guests and the parties we’ve had to cancel, but our hard working staff. Everything was damaged in the restaurant as water seeped in everywhere… the furniture, our bar, our ceiling tiles, equipment, etc.”

“We want to remain in the building as this feels like home to us and to all our loyal guests,” he said of the numerous issues the restaurant has faced. “We are hoping to continue to work closely with the landlord to resolve the water issues in the building… The safety of our staff and our guests is paramount to us and we are hoping the landlord will resolve the water issues in the building once and for all.”

Candon said he is filing insurance claims but there’s uncertainty about what will be paid and when. In the meantime, SER is facing mounting costs and will use the GoFundMe proceeds to “to get the restaurant open ASAP.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury to wait for the claims to begin reconstruction,” he said.

Two and a half days after Monday’s storm dumped over three inches of rain across the region in an hour, Arlington County declared a state of emergency. Since then, at least 200 affected residents and 15 business owners have filed claims for aid with the county, reported ABC 7.

The county’s emergency declaration opens up the possibility of state and federal aid, but the declaration still needs to be finalized by the Arlington County Board — and even if approved by state and federal authorities it’s not clear what would would qualify for aid and how much.

SER isn’t the only business raising money online for post-storm recovery.

A resident raising money for flooded Westover stores blew past a $25,000 fundraising goal in less than a day, stretching the goal to $100,000 to help cover the damage caused and merchandise lost when flood waters filled basements and knocked out power.

As of 11 a.m. this morning, the Westover GoFundMe campaign raised about $55,000 to support the damaged shops.

Video via GoFundMe

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list