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by ARLnow.com — May 24, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Arlington Falls in Parks Ranking — Arlington and D.C. both fell in the annual ParkScore rankings of cities by The Trust for Public Land. Arlington was ranked sixth in the nation this year and D.C. ranked fourth, while last year they were ranked fourth and third respectively. [The Trust for Public Land, Washington Post]

Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — The Arlington County Board last night unanimously approved $5.5 million in neighborhood improvement projects, including “street improvements, streetlights, intersection improvements and a neighborhood sign.” [Arlington County]

How to Live in Arlington on $50,000 — A young woman who works as a case manager outlined her expenditures while living in Arlington on a $50,000 salary, as part of a “Money Diaries” feature. Eschewing the urban millennial stereotype of profligate spending, she manages to save $1,000 a month — although that is helped by her parents continuing to pay her cell phone bill. [Refinery 29]

County to Sell Millions in Bonds — The County Board has approved issuing up to $185 million in general obligation bonds to help fund various capital priorities, including: Metro, Neighborhood Conservation, paving, parks land acquisition, maintenance capital, Lubber Run Community Center planning, Nauck Village Center action plan and transportation. [Arlington County]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 24, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Just Reduced banner

Each week, “Just Reduced” spotlights properties in Arlington County whose price have been cut over the previous week. The market summary is crafted by licensed broker Aaron Seekford of Arlington Realty, Inc. GET MORE out of your real estate investment with Aaron and his team by visiting www.arlingtonrealtyinc.com or calling 703-836-6116 today!

Please note: While Aaron Seekford provides this information for the community, he is not the listing agent of these homes.

Less than one week away is one of the most important days of the year: Memorial Day.

To all of the military families who have lost loved ones in battle, my heart is with you. And my gratitude is always (and I mean always) with those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

One of my favorite parts about living in Arlington County are the memorials — right at our doorstep — honoring America’s heroes. They can be easy to overlook, given our proximity – but these are destinations for so many Americans, providing an opportunity to pay respect to some truly incredible people.

I hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day weekend and takes a moment to reflect on our heroes. My family and I certainly will be.

And here are this week’s stats:

As of May 22 there are 233 detached homes, 72 townhouses and 271 condos for sale throughout Arlington County. In total, 54 homes experienced a price reduction in the past week.

Here is this week’s selection of Just Reduced properties:

Please note that this is solely a selection of Just Reduced properties available in Arlington County. For a complete list of properties within your target budget and specifications, contact Aaron Seekford.

by Chris Teale — May 23, 2017 at 4:35 pm 0

Space for police, fire and emergency management, swing space for government offices or Arlington Public Schools, bus storage or parkland might be coming to two sites the county is considering acquiring.

The Buck property off N. Quincy Street near Washington-Lee High School and the Virginia Hospital Center site at 601 S. Carlin Springs Road could both be acquired by the county, which has options to buy or swap for the land and has been going through a review process to determine best future uses for it.

Through that process, there are now five possible scenarios for each on how the county might make use of these sites. Staff outlined those scenarios in a presentation to the commission last week, and the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC) will host an interactive public forum on the plans tomorrow (Wednesday).

Both sites are being tapped to potentially include space for the county’s Office of Emergency Management and police and fire departments. Some scenarios would include parking for ART or Arlington Public Schools buses on the site, with varying levels of open space for recreation and community gardens.

One scenario for VHC (Scenario C) would reserve a 130,000 square foot site as temporary swing space for either APS or the county during construction elsewhere. No plan would place permanent school space at the Buck property, something that had been called for by neighbors in the past.

Other neighbors, meanwhile, previously raised opposition to the county buying the Buck site, and accused the county of “barreling ahead” with the acquisition without listening to community feedback.

“JFAC, working with county and schools staff and with the community, has developed five scenarios for how the county might use each of these possible land acquisitions to meet some of our many pressing facility needs,” said JFAC chair Ginger Brown in a statement. “This forum is meant to put those scenarios before all Arlingtonians, to gather their feedback before JFAC makes recommendations to the County Board.”

The forum will be held in the Wakefield High School cafeteria (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) from 7-10 p.m.

RSVPs are required for those planning to attend the forum. JFAC will also host an open house on Tuesday, May 30 to discuss the potential uses.

An online form will be available on the JFAC website for public feedback on specific use scenarios for the properties, starting on Thursday, May 25, according to a county press release.

by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Dozens of homes in Fairlington are without water pressure this afternoon due to a water main break.

The break was first reported this morning along S. Abingdon Street, between 30th and 31st Street S. Arlington County crews are on scene making repairs, with water service expected to be restored by 8 p.m.

Only one lane of traffic is getting by the work on S. Abingdon Street, according to Arlington Alerts.

Last year Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services crews repaired 203 water main breaks in the county, the department said in a tweet, shortly before tweeting about the Fairlington incident.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 23, 2017 at 3:15 pm 0

Ask Eli banner

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Square footage seems randomly reported on different websites. Why is that and what is it supposed to include? Is the math on $/sqft the same across all sizes or is there a diminishing return at a certain point where more square footage doesn’t translate into more value?

Answer: Total square footage, above grade square footage, and $/sqft are some of the most common criteria and valuation metrics used in real estate, but square footage is also one of the most inconsistent data points we have. For purposes of this column, I will talk in terms of finished square footage used in real estate sales. County appraisers include unfinished space (e.g. storage, garage, decks) at a discounted rated in their tax assessment calculations.

How Is Square Footage Calculated?

I haven’t come across a published definition of how Arlington calculates finished/livable square footage, but in speaking with county tax appraisers it’s considered interior space with finished flooring and walls, and part of the home’s heating and cooling systems. I believe ceiling height (minimum 7 feet) is a factor as well. It does not include garages, decks, attics, or raw storage. It does include closets and bathrooms that are part of finished areas of the home.

Square footage is measured from the framing or exterior walls, so often times the County’s square footage is higher than the usable square footage inside the finished walls of a home.

What Do Most Websites Use?

MRIS, which is the database of record used by REALTORS and where most consumer-facing websites pull data, contains a few fields for square footage.

Taxable Living Area: Pulled from the tax record for above-grade (above ground) finished square footage. It’s a bit of a misnomer because it does not include taxable living space in the lower level(s) of a home.

Above/Below Grade Finished: This is an optional field entered by the Agent to calculate total square footage

Above/Below Grade Unfinished: This is an option field entered by the Agent and does not impact total square footage

Total Finished: Sum of above and below grade finished square footage, if entered by Agent

In my experience, most consumer-facing websites will use the total finished square footage if it’s available and default to the above-grade square footage from the tax record if it is not. Zillow seems to do the best job of pulling from multiple public data sources to get total square footage, even if the Agent hasn’t entered it into MRIS. On the other hand, Zillow allows homeowners and Agents to edit this data. Most square footage readings entered into MRIS by Agents are based on measurements between finished walls, not from the framing.

Common Data Problems

Be careful using square footage to define search criteria or for home valuations because the data can be flawed. Here are some common issues I run into:

Total square footage not entered: If an Agent doesn’t enter data for above and/or below grade finished square footage, the total square footage field is a null value.

New homes: In most cases new construction has a taxable living area in MRIS (from tax record) of zero or if it was a tear-down, it likely has the square footage of the original home which is generally much smaller.

Split Levels/Foyers: Split Levels and Split Foyers were a common design in the 1960s-1980s and usually about half of the total square footage of the home is considered lower level or below grade. In most cases, the square footage number pulled by MRIS from the tax record is only the upper level and thus only about half of the total size is automatically listed.

Additions: If a home has an unpermitted addition or the tax record was never updated, the MRIS taxable square footage will be low and unless the total square footage was entered, the extra space won’t show up.

Condos and townhomes are generally much more reliable when using square footage as a criteria/valuation factor than single family homes.

Price per Square Foot To Compare Values

$/sqft can be an effective valuation tool when you’re assured that the square footage values you’re using in your calculations are accurate and when you’re comparing properties of similar size.  For example, a 600sqft condo selling for $350,000 is nearly $600/sqft while a $2 million single family home with 6,500sqft is just over $300/sqft. Most condos trade in the $400-$700/sqft range and most single family homes trade in the $200s.

I generally avoid using $/sqft when valuing single family homes because the prevalence of inconsistent data introduces too much risk. However, $/sqft can be an effective valuation tool for condos and townhomes, especially when comparing values within the same community where fees and square footage measurements are consistent across each unit.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at http://www.RealtyDCMetro.com. 

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

Newly-signed Seattle Seahawks running back Eddie Lacy spent part of his weekend in Clarendon.

Lacy, who was earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Honors in 2013 while on the Green Bay Packers, was photographed hanging out with Arlington County police officers who were patrolling the bar district. The department posted some of the photos on Twitter Monday, including one with Lacy sitting on a police motorcycle and another in which he is smiling while holding a pair of handcuffs.

Lacy also was spotted at Don Tito, where he posed with co-owner Nick Cordero.

Other professional athletes have been spotted at Don Tito over the past couple of years, including former Washington Capitals player Brooks Laich (with fiancée Julianne Hough) and United States women’s national soccer team defender Ali Krieger.

by Chris Teale — May 23, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

Arlington’s crime rate dipped by almost 3 percent in 2016, but the number of pedestrian-involved crashes rose slightly according to new data from the Arlington County Police Department.

It is the third consecutive year that crime has declined in the county. In 2015, the crime rate dropped by about 6 percent, while in 2014 it dropped by 8.22 percent.

The crime rate takes into account only “Part I” offenses — homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. The grand total was 3,512 in 2016, down from 3,628 in 2015.

Of those offenses, four saw increases from 2015:

  • Rapes increased from 27 to a five-year high of 41.
  • Aggravated assaults jumped from 144 to 177.
  • There were 182 burglaries, up from 179 the year before.
  • Vehicle thefts increased to 167 from 161.

Larcenies and robberies both dropped, while the murder rate held steady with one homicide last year: a fatal stabbing near the intersection of S. Glebe Road and 3rd Street S. on April 1. Police charged a 17-year-old with the murder of Dennis Adams, 46, in what police said was a “domestic incident” that took place in a home nearby.

“Part II” offenses — various felonies and misdemeanors — dropped to 7,288 in 2016 from 7,313 in 2015. Police said they received 83,511 calls for service in 2016, a 4.5 percent drop from 87,475 in 2015.

There were 140 fewer car accidents last year, while crashes involving bicycles — at least those reported to the police department — declined to 32 in 2016 from 46 in 2015. There were 127 crashes involving pedestrians in 2016, 24 more than in 2015, something department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said did not necessarily indicate a wider trend.

Instead, Savage said, police look at the five-year statistics on such crashes. She noted that the previous year’s total of 103 was a low, while the 2012 and 2014 figures all hovered around the 130 mark, which she said is “probably our median.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 23, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

Stock up on discounted drink tickets to use at Crystal City’s popular outdoor beer and wine garden.

Open every Friday starting in June, Fridays at the Fountain not only features a new name (formerly Wine in the Water Park), but also a vastly expanded schedule stretching all the way through October and an upgraded line-up of live music.

The bar serves delicious offerings of beer and wine, all of which are available for take-home purchases at the Crystal City Wine Shop down the street from the event.

Drink tickets, normally $5 each on site, are available for 50 percent off their online price in this exclusive pack of 5 tickets available for $10 (normally $20 online). Only a limited supply is available so act fast!

As an added bonus, the Crystal City drink cards are redeemable at any Crystal City BID event that features a cash/credit bar including the upcoming Father’s Day Auto Festival.

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 WHEN: Every Friday June through October from 5-9 p.m.

WHERE: The Fountain (aka Crystal City Water Park) at 1751 Crystal Drive

WHAT: Crystal City’s popular outdoor beer and wine garden returns with a new name and a vastly expanded season stretching from June all the way through October. Open for business immediately after work at 5 p.m., ease into the weekend with a delicious beverage, live music, or even a discounted painting session with ArtJamz. All beverages are also available for take-home purchases at the Crystal City Wine Shop.

by Chris Teale — May 23, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The proprietor of a food truck that would park near the now-closed Food Star grocery store is set to take over the former Green Room next to the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.

The truck, Tortas Y Tacos La Chiquita, sold Mexican food like tacos, quesadillas and tortas from the parking lot at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.

Owner David Villalobos said on the eatery’s official Facebook page that their new digs at 2911 Columbia Pike will be open in the first or second week of June. He also said that customers can expect “new cakes and tacos” after the grand opening.

The restaurant replaces “The Green Room,” which hosted stand-up comedy and other events adjacent to the main theater. It closed earlier this year as owner Greg Godbout looked for a new tenant.

The changes are part of a wider revamp for the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse, which is preparing to show first-run and art-house movies, up its ticket prices and overhaul its food menu.

by Chris Teale — May 23, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

A plan to designate one of the potential sites for a new public high school as a historic district will be discussed by the County Board tonight (Tuesday).

But the proposal has drawn skepticism from county and Arlington Public Schools staff, who want the Board to deny the request and instead help preserve flexibility for APS as it solves its capacity issues.

The Education Center at 1426 N. Quincy Street is one of three remaining options for the county’s next public high school — not counting a new option involving the center, floated by superintendent Patrick Murphy.

Under the plan for historic designation, the Education Center and the adjacent David M. Brown Planetarium would be saved from possible demolition and subject to a strict design review process for any changes to its exterior.

The request for historic designation came from local resident and Planning Commission member Nancy Iacomini, who described both 1960s-era buildings as “physical embodiments of the forward thinking of Arlington and our County’s hope for the future” in her nominating letter.

Preservation Arlington said in a blog post that the buildings are examples of “New Formalism,” which combined classical and more modern design elements. Both were completed in 1969, after being funded through a 1965 bond referendum.

But in their report on the plan, staff said the Education Center could help address school overcrowding and so designating it would prevent “maximum use (and reuse) of the public facilities we have.”

That is a view echoed by School Board chair Nancy Van Doren, who in a brief letter to County Board chair Jay Fisette expressed the School Board’s opposition to the plan.

“School Board members do not support pursuing historic designation of the building at this time as it would limit options to address the school division’s capacity needs at this site,” Van Doren wrote.

In a previous column, Peter Rousselot argued against the historic designation, and noted that APS is moving its administrative staff out of the building to new offices at Sequoia Plaza 2 on Washington Blvd. The School Board approved the move at its meeting last week.

Staff recommended finding that the site meet some of the criteria for historic designation but that further evaluation be shelved. They also proposed denying the request and collaborating in the future to see how the site can be reused.

by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Fourth High School Option Floated — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Murphy has added a fourth option for adding additional high school seats to the three finalists announced last month. Murphy said the existing Arlington Education Center near Washington-Lee could be used to house 600 students while adding another 700 seats in an expansion of the Arlington Career Center. [InsideNova]

World of Beer Sues Local Owner — Just a week after it was first reported that the owner of the World of Beer franchises in Ballston, Reston and Fairfax was rebranding the restaurants as “Crafthouse,” comes word that the World of Beer corporate office is suing him for allegedly violating their franchise agreement. [Reston Now]

VideoBlocks Moving to Courthouse — After announcing last year that the company would be moving to Arlington, subscription stock video service VideoBlocks has settled on a location: a full floor of Courthouse Tower at 1515 N. Courthouse Road. [Washington Business Journal]

County Board To Discuss Taxi Changes – After a vote on Saturday, the Arlington County Board will hold a public hearing next month to discuss proposed changes to the county’s taxicab ordinance. The changes, recommended by the county’s Transportation Commission, would allow the removal of lights from the vehicle’s roof, modifications to cabs’ color and lettering, and use of GPS metering instead of traditional taxi meters. [Arlington County]

How Rosslyn Landed Nestlé — It was a team effort to land Nestlé as the anchor tenant of the 1812 N. Moore Street tower in Rosslyn, says the head of the Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts. In the end, Rosslyn’s urban amenities, the area’s talented millennial workforce and a handful of state and local incentives helped to “sweeten the deal.” [LinkedIn]

Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 23, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

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The preceding was written and sponsored by Community Pools.

by Chris Teale — May 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

The much-loved Shirlington Dog Park could get smaller under plans being discussed by the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group.

Three alternatives have been put forward for the park along Four Mile Run, including one that would reduce it to approximately 27,000 square feet, known as Alternative 1. The park would be cut in half at the current S. Oxford Street entrance, with the area west of Oxford Street reforested and the park running between S. Oxford and Oakland Streets.

The other two proposals would have the park at around 55,000 square feet (Alternative 2A) or 47,000 square feet (Alternative 2B). Both incorporate a proposed, expanded portion of parkland along S. Oakland Street.

A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation said that new plans are being explored for the dog park due to concerns around stormwater management. Jennie Dean Park and Shirlington Park are also being planned as part of the working group’s wider look at Four Mile Run’s future and a parks master planning process.

The possible reduction in size of the dog park is not quite as drastic a change as earlier rumors — that the county was planning to “move the dog park and make it much smaller, or do away with it” — had suggested. It has, however, sparked loud opposition from supporters of the dog park on social media, including on the park’s unofficial Facebook page.

“Just out of curiosity, what happened to the chorus of reassurances we got from the board reps just a couple of weeks or months ago about them not touching the park?” wrote one supporter. “I don’t know what bothers me more; the fact they continue to push initiatives that put the park at risk or that they misled supporters to believe the park was safe as-is.”

An online petition against the proposal has garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

“4 Mile Run Shirlington Dog Park is the best dog park in Northern Virginia,” wrote one signee. “One of the biggest reasons is its current layout. The small dog area, the water access, and the lengthy, open run area, as well as the seating, provide the best experience. Please do not alter this dog park!”

“It is an all too rare NOVA stress reliever that should be protected, not changed or reduced in size,” wrote another.

A separate Facebook group has also been started dedicated to saving the dog park and energizing supporters.

Parks department spokeswoman Martha Holland said there are no “short term” plans to change the park, but didn’t rule out longer-term changes due to state water runoff rules.

“Currently there is no immediate funding or intention on changing the configuration of the Shirlington Dog Park in the short term, however as capital renovations happen in the future or significant maintenance is needed in the parks, state mandated stormwater management standards will need to addressed,” she said. “County staff is working with the County-Board appointed Four Mile Run Valley Working Group on developing a plan for the park to meet state requirements and community interests.”

The County Board is set to have a work session on Four Mile Run Valley planning on May 30. Holland said that at no stage has removal of the park been on the table.

“The county recognizes that the Shirlington Dog Park, one of eight Arlington County dog parks that residents and their pets enjoy, is a tremendous and much-beloved resource for the county and there has never been any intention to remove it from the area,” she said.

The County Board is set to adopt the parks master plan for the three parks early next year. Public input on the draft concepts will be taken in July.

by ARLnow.com — May 22, 2017 at 3:35 pm 0

The old Ballston pedestrian bridge is no more.

The bridge was torn down over the weekend, closing part of Wilson Blvd in front of the under-construction Ballston Quarter mall and prompting a new location for the Taste of Arlington festival. The demolition included the use of a large crane to lower sections of the bridge.

Today, a construction crew was working to clear leftover debris, while a large section of the bridge sat largely intact, fenced off along the sidewalk.

Via Twitter, one local resident called the dismantling of the bridge and its “Ballston” sign an “end of an era.” A new pedestrian bridge will be built nearby, however, with its opening set for the fall of 2018.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 22, 2017 at 2:35 pm 0

Berry & Berry column banner

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly Berry

The following are six tips that can be helpful when an employee in Virginia is facing significant employment issues like termination, discrimination, or retaliation.

  1. Try to Remain Calm.

It is extremely important that employees remain calm and keep their composure when facing an employment issue. As difficult as it may seem at the time, it is critical to stay calm while at work even when dealing with significant employment issues like termination, separation, or poor performance reviews.

Generally, it is not helpful to argue with a supervisor over an employment issue that arises. Doing so can put an employee at risk for discipline, placement on leave, or even retaliation. In addition, employers could contact law enforcement or security if they feel the employee is irate and getting out of control.

  1. Avoid Using Social Media to Talk About Employment Issues.

We advise employees not to advertise their employment issues on social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Almost inevitably, when employees discuss their employment issues on social media, one of their “friends” will pass it to someone who then passes it on to the supervisor who was a party to the problem compounding difficulties for the employee at work.

  1. Realize that Human Resources Supports Management.

A common misconception is that Human Resources is supposed to be a fair mediator of workplace disputes. This is not the case in 95 percent of employment issues. Human Resources is there to support management’s position in personnel matters. It is important to seek advice elsewhere before reaching out to Human Resources if an employee’s dispute involves a supervisor. HR generally tends to also pass on complaints by employees to supervisors and not treat them confidentially.

  1. Don’t Use Your Work Email Account or Computer for Employment Problems.

Employees should not use their employer’s email account to send personal or private information, especially related to their employment problems. We also recommend that employees not use work computers for drafting personal documents, storing pictures, or other storage. Otherwise, the information employees store on their work computers can potentially be used against them.

It is often very easy to use an employer’s email account or computer for private or workplace issues, but it can hurt an employee’s employment claims later or cause them to be terminated. The employer can potentially claim misuse of a work email account or computer. If an employer begins to suspect problems with an employee, the employer may take steps to review an employee’s email account or computer. Employers also usually archive emails for each employee.

  1. Don’t Talk With Co-Workers About Employment Problems.

It is important to be very careful about discussing employment problems with co-workers in the office, even if they are your friends. It is quite common for an employee to tell a co-worker about his or her employment problems with a supervisor, then the co-worker will (even inadvertently) tell another supervisor or other co-workers where it eventually makes its way back to the supervisor involved. This can result in workplace retaliation.

  1. If Terminated or Separated, Get Legal Advice Before Signing an Agreement.

If an employee is terminated or separated and is presented with a severance, separation, or other settlement agreement, he or she should consult with an attorney to discuss the rights that he or she may be waiving and the terms of the agreement before signing it.

If you need assistance with employment law matters in Virginia or the District of Columbia, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also like and visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

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