Press Club

Renovated playground at High View Park (photo via Arlington County)Arlington County’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation will be holding two ribbon cutting ceremonies this weekend.

Tonight (Friday), starting at 6:00 p.m., an opening celebration will be held for the newly-renovated High View Park, located at 1945 N. Dinwiddie Street, within the boundaries of the John M. Langston Civic Association.

Renovations to the park include  new play areas, an ADA accessible route from Cameron Street, new benches, and a picnic area.

The event will include moon bounces “for all ages,” face painting, balloon art and refreshments. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 7:00 p.m.

On Saturday, Arlington County will celebrate the restoration of Carlin Hall (5711 4th Street S.). Dating back to 1892, Carlin Hall is currently used as a preschool, a community meeting facility and a recreation center. It recently underwent an extensive structural restoration.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for Carlin Hall at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. The ceremony is part of the annual Glencarlyn Day festivities, which include a pancake breakfast, a parade, a fun fair and a home and garden tour.

Photo via Arlington County

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A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday afternoon for 1776 Wilson Boulevard, one of the county’s newest office buildings.

The $33.5 million office building includes four floors of office space, 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, and 231 garage parking spaces. With environmental features like a green vegetated roof, solar panels, electric vehicle chargers and water use reduction systems, developer Skanska USA is seeking LEED Platinum sustainability certification.

The building is located in Rosslyn at the intersection with N. Quinn Street. The project included the construction of a new section of N. Quinn Street to connect Wilson Blvd to Clarendon Blvd.

Attendees at Friday’s ribbon cutting included representatives from Skanska USA, County Board members Jay Fisette and Chris Zimmerman, Rosslyn BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy, and George Contis, the doctor who sold the property to Skanska in 2010.

The building still being leased out, but confirmed tenants include CRDF Global and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Skanska has also established its new regional headquarters in the building.

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County leaders and VDOT officials officially marked the end of construction on the new Glebe Road bridge over Route 50 yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Construction on the bridge started in the summer of 2011 and wrapped up earlier this week. The bridge was replaced following at least three instances of chunks of concrete falling off the aging span.

The new bridge is 27 feet wider than the old bridge, and features a northbound turn lane onto Route 50, improved “sight distance” for drivers making right turns from Route 50 to Glebe Road, a 17-foot shared use path and a 11-foot sidewalk on either side of the span, decorative green wrought-iron fencing, brick medians, gateway pillars and new LED lighting. The project cost $6 million, according to VDOT.

“Getting this project to construction and improving safety at this location has been a top priority for VDOT,” Garrett Moore, VDOT’s district administrator for Northern Virginia, said in a statement. “We are pleased to deliver a safer, more attractive bridge that will attract more pedestrians and cyclists.”

In the video above, from the county’s “Arlington TV” crew, Moore says he hopes the bridge will last at least 70 years before it needs to be replaced.

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A ribbon cutting ceremony has been scheduled to celebrate the completion of the new Glebe Road bridge over Route 50.

The event will be held Wednesday morning near Thomas Jefferson Middle School, just to the southeast side of the 100-foot-long bridge. Among those expected to ribbon cutting are County Board Chair Mary Hynes, state Sen. Barbara Favola, Del. Patrick Hope, and officials from VDOT, which oversaw the project.

The $6 million project replaced the once crumbling bridge with a wider, more structurally-sound span. Construction began last summer and is expected to wrap up today. The project resulted in frequent lane closures on Glebe Road which often backed up traffic in the area.

The new bridge features a northbound turn lane onto Route 50, a 17-foot shared use path and 11-foot sidewalk on either side of the span, decorative green wrought-iron fencing and new LED lighting.

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Featuring next-generation internet connectivity, computational laboratories and multiple meeting and conference spaces, the new 144,000 square foot Virginia Tech Research Center building in Ballston (900 N. Glebe Road) celebrated its grand opening today.

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, Rep. Jim Moran, and County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman were on hand this afternoon for a ribbon cutting ceremony on the glimmering glass-and-steel building’s seventh floor.

Zimmerman kicked off the ceremony with references to the “human bandwidth” and “internet firepower” that the building brings to Ballston, Arlington’s science and technology hub. Dr. Steger spoke about the research already underway in the building, including research into military medical care, renewable energy and cyber security.

Calling Virginia Tech’s Ballston presence an “international center of excellence” and an “investment in our future,” Rep. Moran remarked on the benefits it will bring to the area and to the university.

“It will pay substantial dividends to Virginia Tech and enhance its mission to become one of the leading research institutions in the world,” he said. Moran added that it would be a mistake to cut federal research funding in the interest of deficit reduction, citing what he said was the need to supplement the “short term, bottom line” focus of corporate research.

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Community leaders marked the grand opening of The Macedonian (2229 Shirlington Road), a new mixed-use affordable housing development in Nauck (Green Valley), with a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning.

The $12 million development consists of 19 one bedroom and 17 two-bedroom apartments, as well as 2,000 square feet of commercial space for the Bonder and Amanda Johnson Community Development Corporation (BAJCDC) and a planned business incubator/shared work space. It was developed by AHC Inc. on land owned by the next-door Macedonia Baptist Church with county, state, federal, private and nonprofit financing.

While some of the attention surrounding the Macedonian is due to its environmentally-friendly features — it has a green roof and other energy-efficient accouterments, earning it the first EarthCraft Virginia certification for a multifamily development — the building’s real mission is the preservation and economic development of the diverse Nauck community against the pressures of higher rents and gentrification. The church, the county and BAJCDC have been fighting to keep Nauck affordable, and speakers today described the Macedonian as an important step in that continuing effort.

“There are more sheep to tend, there are more neighbors to help,” said David Bowers, Vice President of Enterprise Community Partners, which helped to fund the development. “Our work is not done.”

Attendees this morning included Rep. Jim Moran, County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman, Rev. Dr. Leonard Hamlin of the Macedonia Baptist Church and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker — a former Arlington resident and friend of Rev. Hamlin.

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The Arlington County parks department will be celebrating the opening of its new Bluemont Park playground with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday.

The playground, at 601 N. Manchester Street, features play areas with farm and train-themed play equipment, as well as climbing boulders, a play house, swings, a sandbox, picnic area, accessible paths, a drinking fountain and more.

The ceremony is being held between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, and is part of the county’s Neighborhood Day event list.

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The interior of Meda Coffee & Kitchen (courtesy of Meda Coffee & Kitchen)

Ethiopian cafe Meda Coffee & Kitchen has opened on Columbia Pike.

Visitors to the new restaurant, at 5037 Columbia Pike, can dine on traditional Ethiopian fare during its grand opening weekend, set to begin this Friday (July 15).

The cafe, which opened late last month, is open every day at 9 a.m., serving coffee, tea and espresso drinks, in addition to specialty food and baked goods.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 p.m., during which several guests are set to speak. The cafe plans to play music and serve the traditional Ethiopian dish kitfo, a signature offering of the cafe that is made with beef, chili powder and sometimes with cottage cheese and collard green. It will also serve a vegetarian option.

During the event, owner Yohannes Getachew said he plans to serve the dish in a cone made of banana leaves, a way of serving typically for holidays like Meskel, a Christian holiday that is usually celebrated in late September in Ethiopia.

A flyer advertising the grand opening (courtesy of Meda Coffee & Kitchen)

The Columbia Pike Partnership helped set up the ribbon cutting ceremony, invite guest speakers and promote the event, Getachew said.

The cafe is the second Ethiopian restaurant Getachew has run. He used to co-own a similar restaurant in Alexandria, ZeMeda Market and Restaurant.

He chose Arlington as the new location for his cafe because of his familiarity with the place.

“I know Arlington, I used to work here,” Getachew said, adding he loves the environment and the people in the county.

The Pike has several new restaurants and gathering spots on the way, including a new empanada restaurant and “Nightbird Restaurant and Lounge” in the former P. Brennan’s Irish Pub space.

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The Pike, a large-scale work of public art, is finally being installed this week at the southwest corner of Columbia Pike and S. Jefferson Street, near the county line bordering Fairfax.

On Wednesday morning, ARLnow saw the 50-foot-tall reclaimed wind turbine wing lying horizontally while waiting for a crane to raise it on an already-installed steel base dotted with thousands of coins from around the world.

The physical raising of the wind turbine onto the base is scheduled for later in the afternoon, said Jim Byers of Arlington Arts. The sculpture will be fully installed by the end of the week, Byers said, with no impact on traffic and “minimal” impact to pedestrian access. It will have “a slight ‘intrusion’ upon part of the sidewalk,” he noted.

An official ribbon cutting ceremony is set for the fall.

The intent of the artwork is to conjure images of a medieval spear known as a pike being repurposed into a toll gate, in a nod to Columbia Pike’s history as a toll road.

Embedded in the base is nearly 5,000 coins from 117 countries collected from county residents. The international currency is meant to reinforce Columbia Pike’s reputation for being a “world in a zip code.” The sculpture’s location near the border of the two counties is also supposed to serve as a symbolic “gateway.”

The concept was first conceived about a decade ago and construction began back in November.

The work of art was designed by Donald Lipski. He wanted to create something that stood out and united both ends of the county’s portion of Columbia Pike.

“I knew that I wanted to make something that was really vertical that you could see from far away,” he told ARLnow today, standing in front of the two pieces of the sculpture. “I also thought about book-ending the Air Force Memorial at the other end.”

He used wind turbines not simply because of their “beautiful shape” but because it’s a reminder of how we as a society need to shift over to more renewable resources. Using collected coins as decoration on the base was something Lipski has done before, but says it takes on special meaning here in Arlington due to the county’s international population.

“People could walk by here 20 years from now and say to their child, ‘Look, there are coins from Bolivia that I gave when you were just a little baby,’ Lipski says. “I love that.”

Back in 2017, when Lipski first debuted his design, there were some concerns around the public engagement process and the design. The Arlington Mill Civic Association expressed disappointment that they weren’t given ample opportunity to provide input into the design, despite assurances. Douglas Park Civic Association members said that tolls, gates, and blades didn’t make for proper neighborhood symbols.

“Recognizing Arlington Mill is the county’s most impoverished neighborhood, we firmly object to the implementation of any form of blade as representative of our community,” leaders wrote in a letter. “Further, turnpike gates are never welcoming. Their purpose and design is to stop traffic. They disrupt the flow. Surely this is not how Arlington County’s Southwestern Gateway should be depicted.”

The project also took close to a decade to come to fruition, a timeline that was “really long” compared to Lipski’s other projects.

Much of the delay had to do with the sculpture’s construction and installation being included as part of the Columbia Pike Multimodal Improvement Project, a multi-year series of street improvements and utility upgrades along the roadway that extends from the Fairfax County border to just before the Pentagon.

The total project cost for The Pike is about $360,000, according to a county public art budget document. That includes a developer contribution of about $60,000.

Lipski hopes that his art will become something of a county landmark.

“I love it when a piece of mine becomes something that’s part of people’s lives,” he says. “I know there will be people who live in Arlington and.. they’re coming home and they’ll see it and [say], ‘Oh, here we are. We’re home.'”

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The $15 million newly renovated Jennie Dean Park is reopening to the public this weekend, complete with a motorcycle parade, live music, and a celebration of local baseball history.

The opening festivities are set to take place this Saturday from noon-3 p.m. at 3630 27th Street S. in Green Valley, down the street from Shirlington.

It will begin with a “mini-parade” featuring the Crossroads Riders Motorcycle Club and the Young Divas Dance Team, who recently performed at the opening of the John Robinson Jr. Town Square. The program will include remarks from Arlington County Board members and the Green Valley Civic Association, as well as a recognition of the park’s baseball history.

A number of the former semi-pro and amateur players who took their swings at Jennie Dean Park during the mid-20th Century will gather as well.

There will also be a ribbon cutting, a snow cone stand, food, music from JoGo Project, and a basketball tournament for teenagers, a county spokesperson tells ARLnow.

“Due to the projected weather forecast on Saturday with high temperatures in the mid-90s, a water fill station will be set up at the event with cold, filtered water,” the spokesperson noted.

The Shirlington Dog Park parking lot on the 2700 block of S. Oakland Street will be closed during the event, but the dog park itself will remain open.

A lengthy design and construction process resulted in a major renovation of the park, which first opened to the public in 1944. Approximately $15.5 million was spent to completely redo the park.

More than two acres were added along with an updated, ADA-accessible playground that now has age-separated areas. The new restrooms are all-gender, in keeping with a county ordinance, and moved to the front of the park. The picnic shelter has a sustainable, green roof, which is next to renovated basketball and tennis courts.

The two baseball diamonds were moved out of the Four Mile Run floodplain and have new efficient LED lights. The fields are also now named after two long-time community stalwarts, Ernest Johnson and Robert Winkler.

The diamonds will also display pennants of historic Green Valley teams, designed in collaboration with the civic association, that played at the park over the last 70 years.

Along the sidewalks near the diamonds is a history walk, embedded with plaques marking significant moments in the park’s and neighborhood’s history.

There’s a new site-specific work of public art in the western portion of the park. Wheelhouse is a stainless steel multi-sectioned pavilion that “​explores the industrial history of the Jennie Dean Park site through the lens of the great American pastime — baseball.”

The park is named after Jennie Serepta Dean, a formerly enslaved woman who opened the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth in the late 19th century.

It was initially set to reopen late last year, but permitting delays pushed it back a few months.

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(Updated, 12:05 p.m.) Tesla is opening its first Arlington sales and service center today.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is being held this morning at the nearly 64,000 square foot space at 2710 S. Glebe Road, just east of Shirlington. Several local officials are expected to be in attendance, including state Senator Barbara Favola and County Board member Takis Karantonis.

This is Tesla’s fourth Virginia sales center. Prior to the Arlington location, the closest was in Tysons.

ARLnow reported in early March that the electric car company was charging up to open a store on S. Glebe Road near I-395. It’s the former location of a Maserati dealership and, before that, seafood seller M. Slavin & Sons.

Tesla had to first get approval from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to open this and two other stores in the Commonwealth.

Under state law, automobile manufacturers like Tesla are generally not able to sell their cars directly to customers. This law was originally passed, in part, to encourage competition. In fact, for a time, Tesla couldn’t sell cars at its Tysons mall showroom and employees were forbidden from even discussing purchases.

However, that changed last May when the state DMV commissioner approved the company’s request to open three sales centers in Virginia. The reasoning the commissioner gave is that there are no independent dealers in Arlington — or in Charlottesville and Norfolk, where the other stores are opening — that could operate a Tesla franchise “in a manner consistent with public interest,” according to the hearing decision provided to ARLnow.

The Arlington store will employ about 20 people initially with “plans to grow as needed to meet demand,” a company spokesperson said.

In addition to its sales and service location, there are more than 400 Tesla “supercharger” stations in Virginia, where drivers can get a quick recharge of their car’s batteries.

That number includes eight such stations in Arlington, according to a company map. Rosslyn, Clarendon, Ballston, Pentagon City, Crystal City, and the new Tesla store on S. Glebe Road all have at least one publicly available charging station.

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