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(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) For the second year in a row, the in-person Marine Corps Marathon and associated festivities have been cancelled.

The Marathon, a major tourism event for Arlington, had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 31. It kicks off in Rosslyn and winds with way into and through D.C. before crossing the 14th Street Bridge, rounding the Pentagon, and finishing in Rosslyn.

Organizers cited health concerns as the reason for the cancellation.

“After exhausting all possibilities, the opportunity to safely operate and execute a live event is just not feasible at this time,” said Rick Nealis, director of Marine Corps Marathon Organization, in a statement.

The cancellation is mostly Covid related, we’re told.

“Due to the current Health Protection Condition level as well as the workplace safety measures directed by the White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, the Marine Corps Marathon Organization had to make the difficult decision to cancel this year’s live and in-person events,” Nealis clarified, in response to an inquiry from ARLnow. “Our main priority is to preserve total force readiness as part of the Department of Defense and the National Capital Region.”

The full press release about the cancellation is below.

The 2021 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) Weekend events scheduled for Friday, October 29 through Sunday, October 31 in Arlington, Virginia and the nation’s capital, have been canceled due to security and safety precautions currently in place.

“After exhausting all possibilities, the opportunity to safely operate and execute a live event is just not feasible at this time,” said Rick Nealis, director of Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO). “Though we had high hopes to welcome home our running community this October, we are excited to still be able to celebrate the 46th running of “The People’s Marathon” virtually. We are anxiously looking forward to next year when we can #RunWithTheMarines in person once again.”

“The 46th Marine Corps Marathon is now a virtual event! We are excited and look forward to seeing the results of your hard work and dedication over the past year,” said Colonel Brooks, commanding officer of Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region – Marine Corps Base Quantico. “Although we were not able to conduct a live event for 2021, we trust that each of you understand that safety for you and our great support team took priority. As Marines, we are trained to adapt and overcome, and this is a great test of your ability to adapt and overcome all things this year has presented. I ask that you run hard and with purpose, and finish strong! Be safe everyone! Semper Fi!”

Runners currently in the live MCM, MCM10K and MCM50K categories have the option to:

  • Receive a virtual entry to the distance of the same race.
  • Receive a full registration refund.
  • Defer entry to 2022 at no additional fee.

Further instructions and a link to the registration change form will be sent to the e-mail address provided by participants during registration.

The virtual MCM Weekend events including the MCM, MCM50K and MCM10K must be completed between October 1 and November 10 – the Marine Corps Birthday. All participants will receive via mail the corresponding participant shirt, commemorative patch, bib and finisher medal. Runners will also have access to an online event program, personalized finisher certificate and several digital engagement platforms.

The 47th MCM Weekend is scheduled for October 28 – 30, 2022.

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Promotional material for Axios D.C., a new newsletter covering the D.C. region (courtesy of Axios)

(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Clarendon-based Axios is growing quickly, in part due to its entry into a shrinking business: local news.

The media company, which covers national news with short, punchy articles, has launched more than a dozen daily city and regional newsletters. One spotlighting the D.C. region debuted this week.

The new venture, Axios Local, aims to “help readers get smarter, faster about their hometowns.”

Following the acquisition of a local news publication in Charlotte, Axios launched six newsletters earlier this year, from Denver to northwest Arkansas. By the end of October, Axios Local will have eight more locally-focused newsletters, including D.C.’s.

Publisher Nick Johnston tells ARLnow that Axios distinguishes itself from other local news outlets by applying its well-known smart brevity style to individual cities and regions.

“We call it ‘smart, lifestyle reporting,’ where you get a lot of hard, scoopy news but you are also writing about the community,” says Johnston. “People care about museums that are opening or cool places to eat or what’s happening with festivals [over] the weekend. Can you combine all of that with a little bit of a local voice? Would readers respond to that? So far, the early response has been great.”

Axios aims to cover a mix of bigger cities, smaller cities, and college towns, he says. The nation’s capital was a natural choice because of its size, audience and endless supply of topics — not to mention the fact that it’s Axios’ home turf.

“D.C. is a big, awesome, dynamic city with a great market,” Johnston says. “Also, an audience that knows us a lot from our political reporting.”

The key is to hire great, in-the-know journalists, notes Johnston.

Axios D.C. is written by Chelsea Cirruzzo, Cuneyt Dil and Paige Hopkins. Both Cirruzzo and Dil have plenty of local bonafides, with Hopkins coming from Charlotte, where the already-popular Charlotte Agenda was rebranded Axios Charlotte after being acquired for a reported $5 million.

The D.C. newsletter will cover the District as well as Arlington, Alexandria and neighboring Maryland counties. Dil tells ARLnow that the newsletter’s goal is to cover the regional conversations that folks are having, not necessarily every city council or county board meeting.

“That [can] be about housing, transportation — Metro is always a regional story,” he said. “Everyone’s interested in what’s going on in terms of lifestyle, food and entertainment-wise in D.C.”

The pandemic revealed the importance of a regional focus, Dil notes, since COVID-19 crosses borders and the impact of policies extends beyond individual jurisdictions. Arlington’s Amazon-fueled redevelopment boom is a prime example of that, he said.

“There’s now Amazon and redevelopment everywhere. It’s part of this massive regional story of the whole area changing right before our eyes. We want to cover that,” says Dil.

Amazon, it should be noted, is Axios D.C.’s first advertiser.

Dil and Johnston say the region’s size, with two states, one city and a number of localities, does present a challenge.

“It’s been fascinating to get a sense of how you pick and choose,” says Johnston. “There’s just so much happening. And, also, how do you cover it in a comprehensive way?”

He said a recent story about vaccine mandates for public employees struck this balance, explaining D.C.’s mandate and ticking off mandates in other jurisdictions.

In terms of operations, many Axios employees still work from home, but Johnston says the Clarendon office at 3100 Clarendon Blvd remains the company’s “central hub.”

After this fall, Johnston says staff will focus on getting a better sense of what appeals to readers and how the business works in various local markets. The current plan is to launch newsletters in a dozen more cities in 2022.

The growth comes as Axios shakes off failed talks of merging with The Athletic or being acquired by German publishing company Axel Springer. The latter ended up buying Rosslyn-based Politico, from which the Axios founders split when founding their company in 2017.

Still independent and newly-invigorated by its foray into local, Axios recently announced a number of promotions, including moving Johnston to the newly-created publisher role, after he previously served as Editor in Chief. He will oversee both the local news operation and “Axios Pro,” a new subscription service.

“I’m super excited about just continuing to grow as fast as we can,” Johnston said.

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Morning Notes

Tesla Dealership Coming to S. Glebe Road — ARLnow’s scoop from February is all but confirmed: “Tesla Inc. appears to be filling the high-end auto dealership void left by Maserati’s closure in South Arlington. The electric automaker will convert the former Maserati and Alfa Romeo dealership at 2710 S. Glebe Road into a 63,854-square-foot auto sales, delivery and vehicle service center, per plans obtained from Construction Journal. The work is expected to be fairly quick, starting in November and finishing up by January.” [Washington Business Journal]

Long Bridge Concert Tomorrow — “Join us, along with Arlington Parks & Recreation, Saturday, September 25 for the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center Community Celebration featuring a festive fall beer garden and live entertainment including Virginia native and HOT 99.5 Rising Artist Winner, Jerel Crockett beginning at 5 PM. The night will include a diverse lineup of some of the DMV’s hottest DJs, Farrah Flosscett and King Iven, as well as the rock/pop/funk band, Up All Night, playing all your favorite songs from the 80s, 90s, and today.” [National Landing]

Big Crash on GW Parkway — “A reader sends this photo of the earlier crash on the GW Parkway, near Key Bridge, in case anybody drives by later and wonders what happened to the wall.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The End is Near for an Old Home — “A demolition permit has been granted the owner of the 130-year-old Fellows-McGrath home at Washington Blvd. near Sycamore St. It’s disappointing to Tom Dickinson and other preservation activists who had filed an application to protect it… Manassas realtor Masum Kahn, who bought the house after eight months on the market to build modern homes, has not set a demolition schedule. Though he would consider selling ‘for the right price.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Caps Player Honored by ACFD — “Earlier this month the ACFD presented @Capitals @GarnetHathaway with a citizens award for his charity known as #HathsHeroes. This charity has given so much to local first responders and we are extremely thankful to Mr. Hathaway for his work in the community.” [Twitter]

Oddity of Arlington Transit History — “The Rosslyn-Ballston corridor is a famous example of early transit-oriented development because of the Orange Line, but the area was home to an innovative transit experiment long before Metro. From 1936 through 1939, a streetcar-bus hybrid provided service from the City of Fairfax to Rosslyn and into DC.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Arrest in Seven Corners Sex Assault Case — “Patrick Michael Chaloupka, 38, of Woodbridge has been charged with additional felonies for another sexual assault that occurred at a Falls Church hotel. Officers responded to a hotel on Aug. 26 in the 6100 block of Arlington Boulevard for the report of an assault that occurred three days prior.” [Fairfax County Police Department]

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Just Listed in Arlington

Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Andors Real Estate Group.

Good morning, Arlington, and welcome to JUST LISTED!

This past week we had way less new inventory, but buyer demand remained steady. This meant an overall decrease in available inventory, a welcome sign for sellers who are wondering why their homes are taking a bit longer to sell.

This is starting to paint a picture of two different markets within the county. For instance, over just the past four or five weeks, my team has had a couple of homes sit on the market for a few weeks, a couple go under contract promptly at or very near asking price, and one go well over $100,000 above asking price with half a dozen offers.

To dissect that just a bit further, it shows a bit of a divide in what buyers are willing to do, or not do, depending on the property. Some of the nicest homes that check most of the standard boxes (renovated, standard configuration of bathrooms and bedrooms, maybe a nice yard, perhaps a garage) are getting the lion’s share of the buyer’s attention. While those homes receive multiple offers and sell above asking price, there are still hundreds of properties being overlooked week over week throughout Arlington, at all price points.

The homes that don’t fly off the shelf usually have something, or lack something, that doesn’t show up “on paper.” By this I mean that it may appear to be comparable to recently sold homes at a specific price based on beds, baths and location, but when you dig a bit deeper, there is more to uncover. The ones that sit might be on a slightly busier road, or the bed/bath configuration/location within the home isn’t as ideal, or there is either a large hill or steep street/driveway to overcome. In a pickier market, these can linger a bit longer than others.

Price is always a factor, and with widely voiced concerns about the sustainability of our upward trending, expensive marketplace, it seems we still have room to grow. I’m seeing more than one force at work here, theoretically pushing down the prices in some ways, and pushing prices higher in another.

Force #1 — perception — The perception that prices are at an all-time high and therefore can’t or won’t go any higher. This is understandable but has also been going on for about 10 years. If it kept you on the sidelines 10 years ago, today’s prices would be absolutely astronomical compared to that decision a decade ago.

Force #2 — needs — The majority of Arlington sales, especially detached homes and attached/semi-detached, such as townhomes, are need-based. Either a job relocation, expanding family or other major life event results in most of our inventory being bought as a “primary residence,” which is much more resilient than when an investor buys, seeking only specific and measurable returns.

Whatever forces are acting strongly for a particular home, the Arlington market is still hot, favors sellers, and is likely to continue in that direction for the foreseeable future, and then some.

Now for more of this week’s numbers and analysis: Sellers listed 77 homes for sale this past week, 30 less than the week before. Buyers ratified 77 contracts, two less than the week prior. Additionally, 28 of the ratified contracts were on homes JUST LISTED in the past seven days.

There are 543 available properties for sale throughout all of Arlington and across all property types: 144 are detached homes, 61 are townhome/semi-detached homes and 338 of the available units in Arlington are condos.

For a bit of perspective, this same week last year, sellers listed 97 homes and buyers ratified 52 contracts. There were also only 488 available properties for sale this week last year.

The average list price for currently available properties is $771,785 and the median is $580,000. Currently available properties in Arlington have an average of 61 days on market (DOM) and a median of just 35.

Click here to search currently available Arlington real estate. If you see a home that you’re interested in purchasing, give us a call!

Call the Andors Real Estate Group today at 703-203-1117 to talk more about buying or selling Arlington real estate. Below are eight new listings that I think you might like to check out.

1631 N. Randolph Street
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Arlington Drive Electric Day

Come see electric vehicles, talk to owners and learn about the benefits.

Serrano Apartments (photo via Google Maps)

Work continues at the Serrano Apartments to improve living conditions for residents of the affordable housing complex.

Repair and maintenance work started in earnest after advocates brought to light the deteriorating conditions of the Columbia Pike complex in May. Since then, the County Board has kept tabs on housing nonprofit AHC Inc., which owns the building, and its commitment to make things right.

During the County Board meeting on Tuesday, members said they were pleased to see progress on the physical conditions in the complex. They were dissatisfied, however, with AHC’s communication efforts, after hearing reports from residents and advocates that communication gaps and “disrespectful” treatment persist.

“We’re in the middle, not at the end,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said. “I’m pleased with the micromanagement, candidly, but I think communication is absolutely critical.”

In a letter to the board, Housing Commission Chair Eric Berkey said the biggest strides have been removing the rodents and getting a handle on air quality issues.

“It is revealing that little of our September 9, 2021 meeting was dedicated to current physical conditions challenges,” he said.

Susan Cunningham, the interim CEO of AHC appointed after the previous head resigned, said rodent infestation is now down to just three apartments.

Meanwhile, about two dozen units will be abated for asbestos and condensation on cooling pipes. Testing by Arlington County confirmed there were no “systemic air quality issues in the building, no airborne asbestos or lead paint,” she said.

Of the 280 units in the building, the county has inspected all 221 that opted into its inspection program. Arlington County Housing Director Anne Venezia said staff will begin inspecting other aging affordable housing properties for deferred maintenance.

Communication remains a primary concern for the Housing Commission and the County Board. Berkey said to its credit, AHC has made some improvements on that front. Cunningham says AHC now communicates with 85% of residents via text, sends out anonymous third-party surveys, and holds monthly meetings with professional translation services.

But poor treatment of residents continues, longtime advocate Janeth Valenzuela said.

“No one should be asked to put up with dismissive, rude and disrespectful treatment that makes them feel like a problem to be fixed rather than a human being,” she said. “There are fundamental and systemic changes that need to be made at AHC.”

The advocate suggested cultural competency and trauma-informed training for all AHC board members, employees and contractors, as well as customer service training.

Cunningham said a cultural competency curriculum could be in place next year, with trauma-informed training done in-house.

Finally, the County Board urged AHC to prioritize compensating residents whose belongings have been damaged. Residents had reported damage to their possessions when maintenance requests were ignored or mismanaged and during the relocation process some opted into.

AHC has launched a claims process that replicates renters’ insurance, which Cunningham said few residents have.

Although compensation for such losses was a chief priority for the County Board, Valenzuela says a claims system was not set up until ARLnow reported on an online fundraiser for Serrano residents.

AHC “did not offer compensation to residents for property losses until advocates started a public fundraiser that received press attention,” Valenzuela told the Housing Commission, according to Berkey’s letter.

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What’s Next with Nicole is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

An increase in extreme weather events and community power usage has made the need to modernize our power grid’s resilience a pertinent topic of discussion.

For that reason, it is past due for Arlington to update its 15-year 2002 Underground Utility Plan and for the Virginia Legislature to have Dominion spend some Strategic Undergrounding Program funding to underground main lines in urban/suburban corridors instead of exclusively undergrounding suburban/rural tap lines as is current practice.

In Arlington, over one-third of our energy usage comes from electric energy, which is primarily provided by Dominion Power. A known way to reduce energy loss in the process of distributing electricity while also reducing prolonged power outages is to underground power lines.

Virginia Legislature and Dominion Energy’s Strategic Undergrounding Program
How it currently works

All Dominion Power users pay a portion of their utility bill towards the multibillion-dollar Strategic Undergrounding Program that has been authorized by the Virginia Legislature. The parameters are set in Code 56-585.1 A6.

Virginia requires undergrounding project areas average nine or more outages over a 10 year period, that the project doesn’t cost customers over an average of $20,000 per customer and, specifically, the code references upgrades to ancillary tap lines and does not mention main lines which are what typically line major corridors. Dominion representatives confirmed tap lines are what are chosen for improvements. In Arlington, Dominion’s Program financed tap line undergrounding on N. Marcey Road (2016), N. Kenmore Street (2018), 16th Street N. (2018), N. Somerset Street (2020) and another project is expected on N. Kensington. The estimated cost of all four completed projects was about $750,000.

As you can see, these projects are located in leafy neighborhoods and not where a majority of residents live. Dominion representatives stated that the reason behind this choice also lies in that it is easier for their trucks to access main roads than suburban areas during storms which is why there is a better cost benefit analysis for those areas.

Moving forward

Virginia Legislators should dedicate a portion of the Strategic Undergrounding Program towards main line undergrounding. Notably, the relative cost per project would increase and, for that reason, I suggest only a portion of the fund for the highest priority main lines.

Leaving out urban ratepayers in areas passes on these costs to either 1) renters of apartments or office tenants, by way of developers needing to pay for undergrounding to get an approved site plan; or 2) all taxpayers in those urban jurisdictions, by way of local governments needing to put undergrounding efforts on a bond referendum. This creates a negative financial burden on areas like Arlington, Alexandria, Norfolk, Richmond or Virginia Beach from benefiting from this program — adding to already high local rents and putting pressure on local governments for bonding measures.

Additionally, this past week the Virginia State Corporation Commission that regulates Dominion, found that Virginia customers paid Dominion more than $1.1 billion above fair profit over four years and might need to pay back or cut rates to the tune of $312 million. This might be one of many ways the General Assembly might choose to reinvest those funds (as well as investments in renewable energy, etc.).

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The union representing Arlington Public Schools teachers is calling for “drastic and immediate” improvements to the school system’s new remote learning program.

This school year, when most students returned to their brick-and-mortar buildings, others continued online learning through the newly-created APS Virtual Learning Program.

Four weeks in, staff say that the program still has deep problems, in addition to the staffing shortages which ARLnow previously revealed. We’re told by teachers that the issues range from communication to teacher treatment to a lack of needed resources.

“Every day our educators are being forced to go above and beyond the call of duty,” Arlington Education Association President Ingrid Gant said during a press conference yesterday afternoon on the steps of the union’s headquarters along Columbia Pike. “We, the members of AEA insist the School Board members take action regarding the poor state of communications, staffing and support across APS, particularly in Virtual Learning Program.”

She outlined a variety of concerns, including missing textbooks, incomplete schedules, inadequate substitute coverage, and programming for special education students and English learners, as well as abrupt teacher transfers and long work days.

In response, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said the school system has not yet had a conversation with AEA about these concerns.

“We welcome that dialogue and have been transparent about the challenges with the Virtual Learning Program and the steps we are taking, as well as the timeline for the distribution of summer school bonuses,” he said.

A number of teachers — some speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution — tell ARLnow that they feel abandoned. They say there are no regular faculty meetings, emails to administrators go unanswered, and new teachers do not know where to turn to for instructional support and lesson plan help.

“Everything is falling on the teachers to make it work, with no leadership whatsoever. Where is the leadership? Where is the support? There’s no community, nothing,” said one secondary teacher.

“Communication has been dreadful,” said a special education teacher. “It has gotten better, but it has a long way to go. It’s not just with administration, but with home schools as well.”

Bellavia suggested that VLP staff struggling with internal communication issues use the same paths available to other employees.

“As is the expectation for all APS staff, they should start with their administrator to seek help or express concerns,” he said. “If they continue to have concerns, teachers are welcome to reach out to Office of Academics content supervisors or directors.”

Educators also say they’ve been moved to other positions within the program but have not had instructional support or tools to develop lesson plans. Veteran teachers say they’re grateful to have years of experience and their own resources at their disposal in order to get through the myriad of problems.

In one instance, seven teachers signed up to teach English learners were reassigned to teach whatever else they had certifications in — from elementary classrooms to specific high school subjects — in order to address shortages. Teachers tell us that this hasn’t been good for morale.

“Based on teacher credentials, teachers were placed in classes for which they were certified to teach or reassigned to a brick and mortar school​, as necessary,” Bellavia confirmed.

Up until this week, staff say they did not know who within or outside the VLP to consult for instructional help, absences or problems with students’ schedules. Each physical school has support staff and administrators equipped to handle these problems, but the chain of command in the VLP has not been clear, they say.

In contrast, Bellavia said VLP has support staff, including a math coach, a reading coach, a counselor and an assistant administrator. Teachers have been informed about available resources and can begin picking up items at APS headquarters.

“A counselor? What counselor? I don’t think that’s accurate,” the secondary teacher said in response.

Meanwhile, the special education teacher described her program as “a mess.” Special education teachers’ caseloads have yet to be finalized, and in some cases, students with varying needs and different education plans are placed in one classroom, with the teacher expected to deliver individualized instruction.

Still, she said, “I’m not going to give up. I’ll keep beating my head against the wall until things change.”

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