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by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

A TJ Maxx store is coming to Pentagon Row, according to a building permit.

The store appears to be under construction in the former Hudson Trail Outfitters space on S. Joyce Street.

The outdoor retailer closed the store last year as the company shut down after nearly five decades in business.

Discount fashion store TJ Maxx will be one of the largest retailers by square footage at Pentagon Row, along with the existing discount shoe store DSW, which is located in a similar retail space on the same block. The nearest existing TJ Maxx stores are in Falls Church, D.C. and in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard shopping center.

by ARLnow.com — May 23, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

MorningNotes2

Van Doren, Talento Win Dem Endorsement — Tannia Talento and incumbent Nancy Van Doren convincingly won the Democratic endorsement caucus for School Board last week. Talento and Van Doren were the most-endorsed candidates in the race. They will now move on to the November general election. [InsideNova]

Gate Problem at Clarendon Dog Park — A stuck gate reportedly trapped people and dogs in the Clarendon dog park Friday evening. Firefighters responded to the scene to help open the gate. [Twitter]

Female WW2 Pilots Gain Burial Rights at ANC — Bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama has granted Women Airforce Service Pilots, who served during World War II, formal burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery. Those rights were revoked due to a Dept. of Defense legal finding and policy change last year. [Voice of America]

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 21, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

This is the first post in a two-part series. The second post will focus on the Potomac Solar Co-op, currently open for Arlington residents interested in purchasing solar at a discount rate. For now, past is prologue. 

Solar has been the energy source of the future for decades. Since at least the 1990s, we’ve all been waiting for solar panels to make the one last technological breakthrough that makes it cost-competitive. It’s always been a few years away.

Wait no longer, folks. Solar is here.

At the end of 2014, Virginia SUN launched a solar co-op in Arlington, offering residents a chance to purchase solar panels as a group. Arlington’s Initiative to Rethink Energy and Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment helped support and promote the co-op, which ran through most of 2015.

A solar co-op works using the principle of bulk purchasing. Customers were able to purchase their solar panels at about a 30% discount compared to going it alone. The solar systems themselves cost less than half of what they would have just 5 years ago. Virginia SUN also provided guidance throughout the entire process – we’re all frustrated when contractors give confusing information or we feel overcharged.

Ultimately, nearly 300 Arlingtonians had their roofs screened, and of the 130 or so good candidates, 34 folks ended up installing solar systems. With their panels in place, Arlington’s solar co-op participants are reaping the benefits of lower (or nonexistent) electricity bills and a lighter carbon footprint for years to come.

If interested, enter your information near the bottom of this page to have your roof screened for solar panels. Also, check back in a two weeks for part two of our series on solar.

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2016 at 7:30 pm 0

Bike to Work Day 2016 - Unicyclist at the Ballston pit stop Enjoy the nice weather while it lasts — cool and soggy weather returns to the area this weekend.

As long as you’re staying indoors during Saturday’s rain storm, we would love your feedback about the comment change we made last month. When we polled readers a week after the change, which requires that commenters have a Disqus account, most people were neutral to positive about it.

Has that changed at all? Let’s find out. Consider both your experience as a commenter and as a comment reader — overall, have the comments improved? — when casting you vote.

In the meantime, feel free to discuss this or any other topics of local interest in the comments.

by Adrian Cruz — May 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm 0

Seven Arlington students graduated Friday from a culinary program that trains individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the skills necessary to get a job in a commercial kitchen.

This was the sixth incarnation of the D.C. Central Kitchen’s Culinary Training Program, which meets locally at the Fairlington Community Center. The graduation ceremony was held in Rosslyn Friday afternoon and the Arlington students were joined by eight other students from the Central Union Mission, a homeless shelter in D.C.

One of the speakers at the ceremony was Napolean Boakye, a graduate of the fifth Arlington class. He first found out about the program while living in the Carpenter’s Shelter in Old Town Alexandria. As a result of the program, he was offered two jobs in the culinary field and he now works with the National Youth Escape Arena in Maryland.

“This job training sponsored by Arlington County positively influenced me and prepared me to change my way of thinking and my life,” said Boakye. “I said to myself, never again. I’m tired of failure. I’ve been there, done that, I’m moving on to success.”

Two students won the program’s Ron Swanson Life Skills Award: Bryce Churchman from the Arlington program and Gary Lucas from the D.C program.

Along with culinary classes, the students also receive self-empowerment classes and get to train outside of the classroom, with each student receiving a month-long internship. Some of the internship sites included the Key Bridge Marriott, Mess Hall in D.C. and Nando’s Peri-Peri.

The graduation rate for Arlington students ranges between 85 to 90 percent and graduates have an 90 percent job placement rate.

Photos by Jackie Friedman

by Adrian Cruz — May 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm 0

After months — maybe even years — of constant “harassment” from an anonymous neighbor, North Highlands resident Mary McCutcheon had enough, as did the rest of the community.

On Thursday, McCutcheon organized a neighborhood meeting in front of her house — in the small community just north of Rosslyn — to discuss a neighbor who was constantly calling Arlington County to report supposed violations of zoning codes in local yards. It was enough of an issue that even County Board Chair Libby Garvey showed up.

“The county enforces some of the property maintenance and zoning codes in response to complaints and almost never in a proactive way,” McCutcheon told ARLnow.com. “This wouldn’t be bad except it effectively deputizes the small number of complain-o-holics around town with a great deal of power.”

Over the last couple of years, McCutcheon has constantly battled Arlington County over her plants. The owner of three properties in the neighborhood, she has received numerous violation notices as a result of complaint-driven code enforcement. In a letter to the editor sent to ARLnow in 2014, McCutcheon described in detail an instance in which an Arlington County inspector deemed her in violation of a weed-related ordinance following a complaint.

And she’s not alone. Someone, it seems, does not like the aesthetics of other nearby properties, either. And neighbors are fed up with it.

“Finally there is a critical mass of people who have been complained about,” she said, of the meet. “We have approached the County Manager and the County Board and the higher-ups in zoning and code enforcement.””

Some 20 neighborhood residents attended the meeting, along with Garvey and the county’s new Resident Ombudsman, Robert Sharpe.

At the meeting, McCutcheon displayed the offending items including her overgrown rose bushes, a fence surrounding the property and a small library she kept in front of her home.

“I think that complaint-driven code enforcement has so many inherent evils that we must put an end to it,” said McCutcheon. “We must have codes in this county that are enforceable and will be enforced and are worthy of being enforced, otherwise rewrite them. When code is enforced capriciously like this, I hope the county stops accepting this type of complaint.”

Garvey seemed sympathetic, agreeing that the code should have room for interpretation in situations where the perceived violation is not a threat to safety or other people’s property.

“There are situations where things should apply where they shouldn’t and there ought to be a way to exercise judgment,” said Garvey. “This property is beautiful but it doesn’t fit the narrow definitions of what we have had. I’m not sure what the solution is because I can’t say we’re not going to enforce our code but maybe there is a way of giving the code a little judgment or some situational awareness.”

McCutcheon was not the only one there who experienced the passive aggressive wrath of an anonymous resident.

One resident mentioned an incident where her babysitter received an threatening letter from an anonymous source due to her parking her car in the wrong location. The letter contained profanity and other threats and it was signed “The County Board.”

McCutcheon claimed the harassment began after she took down a white mulberry tree that was on public land near her house. The white mulberry is known to be an invasive species, crowding out native species. After removing the tree, McCutcheon says that a particular neighbor immediately became hostile, claiming that the tree was the only thing blocking his view of townhouses in front.

After the initial event, she described how this neighbor — a particularly grumpy British man — would become increasingly aggressive and rude to her in later encounters on the street. Soon after, she began receiving calls from county officials about the complaints, which she assumed came from the same person.

“One time I was walking my dogs and he was walking backwards just to scream at me. I was so scared I wrote a letter to Adult Protective Services but I never sent it,” said McCutcheon.

Other residents shared their own experiences, suggesting that the prickly Brit was the source of the complaints.

While she was describing the chronology of events, the neighbor in question exited his house and quickly became upset with the gathered group. He also began aggressively questioning the presence of a reporter, an ARLnow.com intern, and threatened to call the police after another resident tried to intervene.

Sharpe arrived soon after, temporarily defusing the situation as he took the man aside to discuss the issue.

After speaking with the man, Sharpe recommended that for the short term, McCutcheon comply with the directives to trim her rose bushes in order to avoid further conflict while the county comes up with a more permanent solution.

The mystery, however, deepened after the meeting adjourned.

In a later email, McCutcheon notified ARLnow that after speaking with Sharpe, it was confirmed that the neighbor was not, in fact, the source of the complaints.

[He] is still a nasty man,” McCutcheon said. “But it is someone else who is complaining.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 20, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

4631 34th Street S.
Neighborhood: Fairlington
List Price: $539,000
Open House: Sunday, May 22 from 1-4 p.m.

The good life begins at home in this rare four level, 1,700+ square foot, Clarendon model townhouse with three bedrooms (2 masters) and three full baths on four finished levels.

Step inside to beautiful hardwood flooring and an open floor plan. The open kitchen leads to a lovely private Georgetown-style patio, perfect for grilling and entertaining.

The Fairlington neighborhood is known for its charm, pet-friendliness, and wonderful amenities with multiple pools, tennis and basketball courts, a community center, weekly farmer’s market and more. You’ll love living so conveniently to Shirlington and major commuter routes. Welcome home to the good life!

Visit this webpage for more information including a 3-D immersion tour.

Contact: Donna Hamaker, Realtor
Buck & Associates
DonnaHamaker.com
(703) 582-7779
[email protected]

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2016 at 12:25 pm 0

(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) An SUV smashed through the front of the Hallmark store at the Bradlee Shopping Center near Fairlington around noon today.

Firefighters from Arlington County were dispatched to assist Alexandria units on scene, but no injuries and no serious structural damage was reported. The area was closed off to shoppers while crews worked to remove the SUV from its final resting spot, most of the way into the store.

The store is located at 3670 King Street in Alexandria, near the center of the strip mall shopping center.

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

Arlington FY 2017-2026 CIP graphicArlington voters may be asked to decide whether the county should spend tens of millions of dollars on Metro, maintenance, parks and recreation and other capital improvements this fall.

County Manager Mark Schwartz presented his proposed FY 2017-26 Capital Improvement Plan earlier this week. The County Board will now hold a series of work sessions and public hearings before final adoption of the plan and the November slate of bond referenda by the Board on July 19.

The CIP includes $177 million of proposed bond referenda for November, for the following projects:

Metro and Transportation – $59 million

  • Metro – fulfilling our ongoing commitment – $30 million, a 31 percent increase from the 2014 referenda ($23 million).
  • Paving – maintaining our roads – $24 million a 27 percent increase over the last CIP

Parks and Recreation – $19 million

  • Maintenance capital of $12 million;
  • Land acquisition of $3 million a 50 percent increase over the prior CIP

Government Facilities – $70 million

  • Design for Fire Station 8 (Completion of the Fire Station 8 Task Force work will inform a construction referenda request in 2018)
  • Facilities Maintenance capital — $11 million
  • Construction of Lubber Run Community Center – $46 million
  • Barcroft Gymnastics Expansion – $3 million

Community Conservation – $17 million

  • Continued support of Neighborhood Conservation – $12 million
  • Construction of the Nauck Town Square – $5 million

Joint County Schools – $12 million

  • Parking structure at Thomas Jefferson site

Schwartz’s plan is notable both for what it contains and what it doesn’t contain. For one, the plan asks for no additional funds for the proposed, scaled-down Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center.

The plan is being billed as a balance of new capital spending projects and maintenance that stays within the limits needed to preserve Arlington’s AAA bond rating, at a time when Arlington Public Schools is in the midst of major construction projects to keep up with rising enrollment. The CIP assumes annual county revenue growth of 2-3 percent, which officials say is a conservative projection.

This is the first Capital Improvement Plan since the cancelation of the Columbia Pike/Crystal City streetcar project. The plan “reallocates money from the cancelled project into a premium [bus] transit network for Columbia Pike that eventually will offer a one-ride trip from the west end of the Pike to Potomac Yard.”

“Our priorities are clear,” Schwartz said in a press release. “We will fund a premium transit network for Columbia Pike that will bring many of the benefits of a streetcar, at less cost, to that heavily traveled corridor. We include substantial funding for Schools capacity needs and the Superintendent’s proposed CIP priorities. We also will address our community’s growing need for recreational facilities and open space by replacing the aging Lubber Run Community Center and moving forward with the Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center and surrounding 10 acres of parkland within existing funding. We also will fund the design of a new fire station to replace Lee Highway’s obsolete Fire Station No. 8.”

“The proposed CIP is a 4.4 percent increase over the FY 15-FY 24 Adopted CIP of $2.7 billion,” the press release notes.

“It includes more than $1.3 billion in funding for transportation over the next 10 years. Some of that money would be used to expand the County’s successful Arlington Transit (ART) bus system, adding 25 buses to the 65-bus fleet by FY 2022. Another $421 million is proposed for water-sewer infrastructure funding over the next 10 years. Also included is funding to acquire the Buck property, on N. Quincy Street, and $6 million to build an on-line payment portal and supporting systems.”

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2016 at 11:10 am 0

The Spirits of ’76, a new Revolutionary War-themed restaurant and bar from the general manager of Georgetown’s former Rhino Bar, is hoping to open in July.

Signs are now up outside the restaurant at 3211 Washington Blvd, in the former Taste of Morocco space, across the street from Northside Social.

Restaurant managers have been mum about their plans, at least when contacted by ARLnow.com, but said on Facebook this week that they were “shooting for a July opening.”

There will undoubtedly be opportunities for a fun thematic rivalry with its next door neighbor, the European-inspired Park Lane Tavern, especially if it opens on July 4.

Photos by Jackie Friedman

by Jackie Friedman — May 20, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Today is Bike to Work Day around the D.C. area. More than 1,500 people were expected to participate in Arlington alone.

This year Arlington County hosted seven “pit stops” for the event — in Ballston, Crystal City, East Falls Church, Rosslyn, Shirlington and at Penrose Square on Columbia Pike. Six were morning pit stops; the seventh, also in (or, at least, near) Shirlington, is an “afternoon party” at New District Brewing, from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

The two biggest stops were Ballston and Rosslyn, where bicyclists gathered en masse, enjoying the nice weather and offerings from various vendors in a festival-like atmosphere. At the stop in Rosslyn, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) pedaled in and gave a brief speech.

“Let’s make Arlington and D.C. a better place to live,” he said.

Tim Kelley, marketing manager for BikeArlington, said that Bike to Work Day started in 2002 and has become a fun annual tradition for bike commuters and occasional cyclists alike. BikeArlington was expecting 500 people to stop by the Ballston pit stop and more than 1,000 at the Rosslyn location.

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Bikes for sale in the Barcroft neighborhood (Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick)

Is Aircraft Noise Getting Worse? — Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak has taken up the issue of aircraft noise complaints in Arlington. Some residents say the noise has gotten worse recently, particularly with more helicopters and tilt-rotor V-22 Ospreys overhead. So far, the Dept. of Defense has not explained the purpose of the numerous Osprey flights. [Washington Post]

Amish Super PAC Has HQ in Clarendon — A political action committee that’s trying to convince the Amish to vote for Donald Trump this fall has its headquarters in Clarendon. [Quartz]

Arlington Honored as ‘Walk Friendly Community’ — Arlington has again been honored as a Gold-level Walk Friendly Community. Arlington is one of 15 communities nationwide to achieve the gold rating. [Arlington County]

‘Whimsical’ Old Victorian Farmhouse For Sale — A “whimsical” Queen Anne-style Victorian home that dates back to 1881 is on the market for $1.3 million. The home, in Arlington’s Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood, was the setting of a notable children’s novel, among other distinctions. [Washington Post]

InsideNova Implements New Ads? — InsideNova, the web home of the Arlington Sun Gazette, appears to be running 30 second video ads that cannot be closed with each new page view. That’s what ARLnow.com encountered this morning; it’s unclear if that is happening for every user. InsideNova content was previously placed behind a paywall, which has since been quietly removed. [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 20, 2016 at 8:05 am 0

Just Listed banner

Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

Buyers will be delighted to know that Arlington’s real estate market set a new record this week for fresh inventory for the year.

This week some 99 new listings hit the market. The previous high mark was 96 new listings two weeks ago. The pace of ratified contracts backed off a bit this week with 78 homes being sold. Of those, 31 sold within 7 days. Agents continue to tell stories of multiple contracts and bidding wars. The average list price of ratified properties shot up this week to $751,516. That’s the highest mark so far this year.

Interest rates remained virtually steady this week with the 30-yr fixed rate still at about 3.72%.  Lots of economic news this week indicating an improving economy has Wall Street speculators anticipating that the Fed will raise short-term interest rates at its meeting in June. That’s a real possibility that would affect consumer credit.

You can access all active listings in Arlington on the Cathell Team website.

by Jackie Friedman — May 19, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

A new pie store is now open along Lee Highway.

In April, two Arlington moms, Wendy MacCallum and Heather Sheire, opened Livin’ The Pie Life on 2166 N. Glebe Road. “We are happy to be here, it’s our dream home,” said MacCallum.

Before opening up their store, MacCallum and Sheire sold pies at the Clarendon and Westover farmers markets. Sheire also has a food blog that she said has contributed to the growth of the business.

They sell both savory and sweet flavors; customers are able to choose from a variety of sizes and flavors, which rotate seasonally. Large sweet pies range from $24-36.

Some flavors include strawberry rhubarb, Wendy’s Key Lime Pie or their most popular flavor, apple. Livin’ The Pie Life makes certain that the ingredients they use to bake the pies of the highest quality, with fresh, locally-sourced fruit in season or top quality frozen fruit out of season. One of their biggest mottos is that “if it’s in the name it better be in the pie,” said Sheire.

In addition to pies, the store offers coffee from Virginia-based Red Rooster Coffee. Plus, there are t-shirts for sale.

For both MacCallum and Sheire, one of the most important things to them is the strong bond that they have with their customers.

“The most rewarding thing is that we’ve met really great people who have become consistent customers at the shop,” said Sheire. For die hard customers the store offers a Pie of the Month Club — $370 for a year’s worth of pies.

Aside from just dropping by the store, customers can order pies online for delivery or pickup.

by Adrian Cruz — May 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm 0

Metro SafeTrack plan for June 2016

There will be nearly two weeks of continuous single-tracking between Metro’s Ballston and East Falls Church stations next month, and that’s just the start of a sweeping plan to make Metrorail safer and more reliable.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld released the final version of its SafeTrack plan on Tuesday. Intended to catch up on years of deferred maintenance, the plan will condense three years of track work into less than a year of a “safety surge,” resulting in major transit disruptions.

SafeTrack logo (image via Metro)The expedited maintenance, which will focus on various high-priority parts of the Metrorail system, comes as a result of the constant track problems and safety concerns about infrastructure Metro has faced over the past year.

The plan extends maintenance times on weekends, weeknights and midday hours and it also contains 15 “safety surge” projects, which will each involve 1-6 weeks of single tracking or complete shutdown of certain parts of the system.

The project will heavily affect rush hour commutes as service on the affected lines will be greatly reduced, resulting in extended wait times and more crowding on trains.

“Safety comes first, and I want to remind the region that SafeTrack is not just about the 15 maintenance surges,” said Wiedefeld in a press release. “SafeTrack also includes weeknight work that will require single track operations in sections starting at 8 p.m.; it means closing the system at midnight on weekends as opposed to 3 a.m. and committing to a moratorium on extra hours of early morning or late night service when it conflicts with track work.”

Here’s the list of track outages will affect Arlington riders:

June 4-16: Ballston to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Orange Line runs every 18 minutes to/from stations Vienna to Ballston, additional trains from Ballston to New Carrollton. Silver Line trains run every 18 minutes at all times.

June 18-July 13: Minnesota Ave/Benning Road to Eastern Market
Impact: Entire Line Segment Shutdown
Service Change: Orange and Silver line trains run every 10 minutes at all times, Blue line trains run every 12 minutes between Franconia-Springfield and Arlington Cemetery only. Yellow Rush+ runs all day.

July 5-11: Reagan National Airport to Braddock Road
Impact: Entire Line Segment Shutdown
Service Change: Blue and Yellow line trains run every 12 minutes at all times.

July 12-18: Reagan National Airport to Pentagon City
Impact: Entire Line Segment Shutdown
Service Change: Blue and Yellow line trains run every 12 minutes at all times.

July 20-31: Ballston to East Falls Church
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Orange Line runs every 18 minutes to/from stations Vienna to Ballston, additional trains from Ballston to New Carrollton. Silver Line trains run every 18 minutes at all times.

Nov. 3-11: East Falls Church to West Falls Church
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Orange Line trains run every 16 minutes from Vienna to New Carrolton, additional trains from EFC to New Carrollton. Silver Line trains run every 16 minutes.

Dec. 7-24 (Minus Dec. 17): Pentagon to Rosslyn
Impact: Entire Line Shutdown
Service Change: No Blue Line service. Yellow Line Rush+ runs all day, delays and crowding expected. Arlington Cemetery station closed.

Jan. 2-13 and Jan. 23-Feb. 3: Braddock Road to Huntington/Van Dorn St.
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Blue Line trains run every 18 minutes. Yellow Line trains run every 6 minutes from National Airport to Mt. Vernon Square only. Shuttle trains running between Huntington and King Street only.

March 6-19: East Falls Church to West Falls Church
Impact: Continuous Single Tracking
Service Change: Orange Line trains run every 16 minutes from Vienna to New Carrolton, additional trains from EFC to New Carrollton. Silver Line trains run every 16 minutes.

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