Arlington, VA

As Election Day nears, Audrey Clement, the Independent candidate for Arlington County Board, took shots at her opponent, County Board Chair Libby Garvey, on the county’s Missing Middle Housing study.

Facing a shortage of moderately-priced housing options in the “missing middle” between apartment buildings and single-family homes, the County is kicking off a study to figure out whether it should open up some areas zoned only for single-family homes to denser housing types.

But Clement, a perennial candidate for the last decade, said Garvey has given outsized importance to the racial-justice component of this plan to gloss over economic problems. One problem is the possibility that these new housing options may still be out-of-reach for Black residents, according to Clement.

“The County has been very successful in persuading people it is a social-justice and racial issue, but the people that they are addressing are not aware of the dynamics of the real-estate market,” Clement said.

In the mid-20th century, Arlington began zoning most of the county for single-family homes and forbade the construction of more compact dwellings, which were more commonly inhabited by the county’s Black population because fewer could afford detached homes. There were also deed covenants that explicitly prevented non-whites from buying homes, even if they could afford them.

Today, 75% of the county is zoned for single-family homes. Given the median income earned by Black Arlingtonians, homes in all but a few neighborhoods are out of reach for most.

“What we’ve got now is the result of very intentional systemic racism,” Garvey said of local housing patterns. “Whether this study is going to fix it or not is hard to say. I don’t think we’re saying that.”

Clement agreed that the effects of Arlington’s exclusionary housing policies in the 20th century remain. She said what is disingenuous is framing duplexes, townhouses or other small-scale, multi-family housing as a way to correct Arlington’s racist past, when some data suggest these new options could be unaffordable due to the county’s inflated land values.

“Due to ever increasing land values no one earning less than area median income will afford the housing built on densified lots,” Clement wrote. “In addition many moderate income residents, including people of color, will be forced to sell when real estate assessments escalate in their up-zoned neighborhoods.”

Garvey did not refute the possibility that the study could find that these alternatives would not necessarily be more affordable, but said it is “way too early” to draw conclusions from a study in its infancy.

“The only thing we’ve said is that we have a real issue with sufficient diversity of housing to meet a lot of needs,” she said.

Clement argues that the current unaffordable housing landscape in Arlington is because the county allowed affordable homes to be torn down and replaced with more expensive housing. Renovating existing structures would be a better solution, she said.

This spring, the County Board voted to eliminate a tax credit to landlords who renovate their buildings. Senior Housing Planner Russell Danao-Schroeder said the program had outlived its usefulness: Only large developers were availing themselves of the credit to keep their buildings at the top of the market.

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(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) A run-up in Arlington’s seven-day moving average of new coronavirus cases eased a bit today.

The average rate of new cases hit 26.4 per day on Sunday, the highest point since June 2. Today, after 12 new cases were reported overnight, that dropped to 25.0 new cases per day.

The cumulative total of cases in the county now stands at 4,384 — about 1.9% of the population — up from 3,997 at the beginning of the month.

One new COVID-related hospitalization was also reported overnight, but the seven-day total of new hospitalizations held steady at eight. No new COVID deaths have been reported in Arlington since Oct. 5, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Arlington’s test positivity rate, which had risen a few tenths of a percent to 3.7% as of Sunday, was down to 3.5% today.

Statewide, the test positivity rate reached 5.0% over the weekend, for the first time in three weeks, as Virginia continues to see a slowly rising epidemic. Modeling by the University of Virginia suggests the state’s COVID-19 caseload will peak just before Thanksgiving.

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Morning Notes

‘Open Schools’ Signs Also Being Stolen — “The debate over whether kids should be learning in or out of schools is getting ugly in Arlington. So much so, dozens of signs that said ‘Open Schools Now’ have gone missing. ‘Some of them have gotten stolen and neighbors have found them in trash cans,’ parent Russell Laird said Friday, standing near 100 new signs that had just been delivered. ‘I told people, keep count of how many were stolen, come back with double.'” [Fox 5]

County Getting More COVID-19 Aid — “The Arlington County Board today accepted more than $3 million dollars in additional federal aid to support low-to-moderate-income residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid included more money for housing vouchers and funding for a range of relief programs to support families and small businesses.” [Arlington County]

Restaurant Week Starts Today — “Arlington Restaurant Week will run from October 19-26. During the week, diners can try set menu items from many local restaurants, at a discounted price. The idea is for diners to find a new to-go place for dining out.” [ARLnow]

W&OD Trail Detour Shifting — “The current W&OD Trail detour route just east of Lee Highway (Route 29) will be shifted for about two weeks beginning October 19 to allow additional construction activity. Crews will reconstruct sidewalks on Lee Highway, the Econolodge entrance on Fairfax Drive, and nearby curb ramps on Lee Highway. Trail users will be directed to a new sidewalk and trail adjacent to the new trail bridge during this detour.” [VDOT]

Gutshall Posthumously Honored By Chamber — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the late Erik Gutshall is our 2020 inductee into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Local Church Gets Big Donation — “Today, Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington received 40 pallets of toiletries and household products worth $250,000 from @FoodForThePoor. They plan to give away the items during their weekly food distribution and through the parish thrift store.” [Arlington Catholic Herald/Twitter]

AED Wins Prestigious Awards — “Arlington Economic Development took home numerous honors at this year’s International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2020 Excellence Awards, which were announced earlier today at the organization’s annual conference. AED’s programs and partnerships were recognized for Economic Excellence in several categories.” [Arlington County]

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ARLnow Weekend Discussion

We are now 18 days from Election Day. Let that sink in.

If you’re sick of hearing about the presidential election, however, perhaps a heaping helping of local news will help. Here are the most-read Arlington stories of the past week:

  1. Postal Inspector Seen Checking Mailboxes Amid Ongoing Complaints About Local Post Office
  2. ‘Bachelorette’ Contestant from Arlington Gets Rose on First Night
  3. Colony Grill, Connecticut Mainstay for Pizza, Now Open in Clarendon
  4. Ask Eli: Housing Market Update, Condo Slide Continues
  5. Joe’s Place Preparing to Reopen as ‘A Modo Mio’
  6. Morning Notes (Oct. 12)
  7. Large Outdoor Cafe Proposed in Clarendon
  8. Two Arrested in Clarendon Amid Ongoing Spate of Vehicle-Related Crimes
  9. Ballston Church Seeking Three-Year Extension for Affordable Housing Project
  10. County Considering Making Office-to-Apartment Conversions Easier
  11. Rate of New Coronavirus Cases in Arlington Highest Since August
  12. Del. Lopez to Get Primary Challenger in 2021

Feel free to discuss any of those articles, or anything else of local interest, in the comment section. Have a nice weekend!

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A group of armed robbery suspects managed to flee into D.C., eluding a phalanx of Arlington police cruisers after being chased across the county.

The incident started around 7:30 this morning. Officers were dispatched to the 1200 block of S. Ross Street, near The Wellington apartments and Columbia Pike, for a report of a person robbed at gunpoint and assaulted by four people he knew.

The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries and was brought to a local hospital. The suspects fled before officers arrived, but were later spotted in the area, according to Arlington County Police.

While Arlington officers typically will not give chase if a suspect in a vehicle flees from a run-of-the-mill traffic stop or minor crime, per department policy, in this case a pursuit was apparently authorized.

The suspects — described as “two Black males and two Black females in their early 20s” — drove down Columbia Pike, S. Glebe Road, Route 50 and I-395, trailed by a growing line of police vehicles. Video shows one officer unsuccessfully trying to disable the vehicle with a Stop Stick, a device for deflating tires.

Undeterred, the suspects kept going and crossed over the 14th Street Bridge into Southeast D.C., where the chase was called off. The pursuit lasted 13 minutes, according to Dave Statter, who produced a video (below) showing the chase as it progressed through Arlington.

Police say the robbery was “not a random attack” and are asking anyone with tips to call 703-228-4180.

The full police press release is below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating an armed robbery that led to a vehicle pursuit on the morning of October 16, 2020.

At approximately 7:31 a.m. on October 16, police were dispatched to the 1200 block of S. Ross Street for the report of a burglary just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was robbed at gunpoint and assaulted by four acquaintances inside of his residence. The suspects stole his property and fled the residence prior to police arrival. The victim sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital.

Officers canvassing the area located the suspects in a vehicle and a pursuit was initiated, which was ultimately terminated in Southeast Washington, D.C. The suspects are described as two Black males and two Black females in their early 20’s.

The preliminary investigation indicates this is not a random attack. This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

File photo

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Four new early voting locations will open in Arlington this weekend.

The Aurora Hills, Langston-Brown, Madison and Walter Reed community centers will all be open for early voting, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. The voting hours at the community centers are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and 2-7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Early voting at the four new locations is in addition to the already-open Courthouse Plaza location, in the former Wells Fargo bank branch at 2200 Clarendon Blvd.

Arlington has seen record levels of mail-in and in-person early ballots. More than 30% of active voters have already cast ballots, Arlington election officials said today, up from 24% last week.

“We’ve never seen volumes this high,” Gretchen Reinemeyer, Arlington’s Director of Elections, told ARLnow last week.

Tomorrow’s kick-off of expanded early voting will draw a number of lawmakers to the area for “get out the early vote” campaign stops.

Sen. Mark Warner, along with fellow Virginia Democrats Rep. Don Beyer and Rep. Jennifer Wexton, will be making stops at community and government centers in Arlington and Fairfax County. Here in Arlington, they trio plan to visit the Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.) at 11:30 a.m. and the Langston-Brown Community Center (2121 N. Culpeper Street) at 12:15 p.m.

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The future is uncertain for the boutique barre fitness studio LavaBarre in Rosslyn.

The gym at 1510 Clarendon Blvd announced on Instagram earlier this week that it would no longer be providing in-person classes at the studio. On Thursday, the studio’s storefront appeared closed and empty, with a lock on the door.

The founders of LavaBarre did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The fitness studio reopened at reduced capacity on June 26, after shutting down when the state went into lockdown in response to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, we must again take a step back from in studio classes,” this week’s social media post said.

Although the brick-and-mortar location is empty, the post invited members to contact the gym about in-person indoor 0r outdoor classes, as well as Zoom classes, “during this closure.”

LavaBarre offers high-intensity workouts that blend ballet, interval training, cardio, pilates and the use of props.

The boutique gym opened in Clarendon in the summer of 2012. Two years later, it moved into its current location and was replaced by Barre Tech, which, according to Yelp, has closed.

In the last five years, gyms offering ballet-inspired barre classes have proliferated in Arlington. Among them are Xtend BarreNeighborhood Barre, Pure Barre, and Barre3 in Clarendon, as well as a Pure Barre in Pentagon City.

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Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend.

Check out the Arlington Realty website for a full list of homes for sale and open houses in Arlington. Here are a few highlights:

1835 N. Kirkwood Place
4 BD/3 BA, 1 half bath single-family home
Agent: Ttr Sotheby’s International Realty
Listed: $1,995,000
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

1881 N. Nash Street
2 BD/2 BA, 1 half bath condo
Agent: Washington Fine Properties, Llc.
Listed: $1,675,000
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

3311 20th Street N.
4 BD/3 BA single-family home
Agent: Compass
Listed: $1,129,000
Open: Saturday 2-4 p.m.

 

1418 Rhodes Street N. #115
2 BD/2 BA, 1 half bath condo
Agent: Compass
Listed: $980,000
Open: Saturday 3-6 p.m.

 

2126 N. Tazewell Court
3 BD/3 BA, 1 half bath villa/townhouse
Agent: Cathedral Realty, Llc.
Listed: $795,000
Open: Sunday 12:30-3:30 p.m.

 

820 N. Pollard Street #603
2 BD/2 BA condo
Agent: Century 21 Redwood Realty
Listed: $669,500
Open: Sunday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

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