Arlington, VA

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq. and Laura Lorenzo, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

In one of our recent columns (A cry for help if there ever was one. – Ed.), we suggested that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ days were numbered. So far, Secretary Mayorkas has kept his post. We want to explain why we think he has rough sailing ahead, and, in the course of doing so, offer some information about what’s going on at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Mayorkas is an old immigration hand. When he became DHS Secretary, wise observers described his elevation as a signal that the Biden Administration intended to return to normalcy.

Returning to normalcy only works, as a policy, in normal times. Unfortunately for Mayorkas, these are not normal times at the U.S.-Mexico border. The number of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border (typically from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) is setting new records, and the numbers are expected to increase over the next six months.

DHS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, still on the job

So, it’s a crisis. Crises force people — even bureaucratic infighters — to take a position. Mayorkas has accordingly found a position, and it is much more dovish on irregular migration than we would have expected. His recent statement to Congress lays out his position in a straightforward way:

  1. DHS is set to encounter more irregular migration at the U.S. border this year than it has for at least twenty years.
  2. DHS is receiving so many unaccompanied minors that it cannot always transfer them to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. DHS continues to use its Title 42 pandemic authority to expel single adult asylum seekers. (Title 42 empowers the President to take actions to protect public health, and, under color of Title 42, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is expelling immigrants on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic.)
  4. The Trump Administration released one — no, several — live ferrets into the immigration machinery, and it’s taking time to sort that out.
  5. Root causes of migration in Central America need to be addressed.

That’s all well and good, but the effectiveness of these arguments will diminish over time. The use of Title 42, in particular, is going to become increasingly untenable as the coronavirus pandemic recedes; and if the Administration does not stop using Title 42, we predict with confidence that a sympathetic federal judge will, at some point, force it to do so.

If Mayorkas’ approach fails, and unaccompanied minors continue to strain federal resources at the border, what will the Biden Administration do? Our prediction is that the Administration will do what past Presidential administrations have done, right and left: shoot the messenger. James predicts by September.

We don’t envy Mayorkas’ problems, and we wish him every success in administering U.S. law fairly and humanely. But he has a tough job. There’s only one tougher job at DHS right now: ICE Director. No one, it seems, wants the position.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and we will do our best to respond.

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Clarendon mainstay The Liberty Tavern was vandalized overnight.

Someone apparently fired a BB gun at the front door and windows of the restaurant, on both the Wilson Blvd and N. Irving Street sides, cracking the glass. Police are investigating.

“At approximately 1:22 a.m. on April 15, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the front door and windows of a restaurant were cracked with what appeared consistent with damage from a BB gun. There is no suspect description(s). The investigation is ongoing.”

It’s unclear why Liberty Tavern was singled out by the vandal or vandals. Savage noted that “no similar incidents have been reported” today.

Liberty Tavern was famously visited by President Obama in 2011, and by now-President Biden in 2013 for a taping of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. It was among the top vote-getters for Best Restaurant for Takeout and Delivery in the winter 2021 edition of ARLnow’s Arlies awards.

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Work could begin soon on the 65-year-old W. Glebe Road Bridge, which Arlington County says is “structurally deficient.”

This Saturday, the Arlington County Board is set to approve a $9.9 million contract that would kickstart the project. Improvements include replacing the top of the bridge, repairing its supports and making it more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.

According to the county, the bridge is in poor condition and requires attention soon. The bridge has been restricted to vehicles weighing fewer than five tons since a routine inspection in November 2018 uncovered structural problems.

The bridge “needs immediate superstructure replacement as further deterioration of the beams may result in bridge closure for [an] extended period,” a staff report said.

W. Glebe Road Bridge will remain open to vehicles and pedestrians during construction, which is expected to last 18 months, the county said, adding that extra time is needed to move underground utilities.

“The project includes removing the existing prestressed concrete superstructure and constructing a new superstructure with steel girders and a concrete deck,” the report said. “The project also includes repairing the existing substructures, and installing new,
wider sidewalks, bike lanes, architectural features and enhanced lighting.”

This bridge is the first to be rebuilt as part of an agreement between Arlington and Alexandria to share the costs of rehabilitating and maintaining five bridges across Four Mile Run which connect the two jurisdictions. Once the repairs are complete, Arlington will be fully responsible for inspecting and maintaining the W. Glebe Road Bridge.

The next bridge slated for attention is Arlington Ridge Road, which needs to be repaired in two to five years, according to the county. Other bridges in the agreement are at Shirlington Road, Route 1 and Potomac Avenue.

The county said it has received community feedback in favor of replacing the bridge, adding separate areas for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and incorporating art.

Such art elements would “connect the design of the bridge to Four Mile Run and the communities that live in the area,” the report said.

According to the county, some people voiced concerns about the length of the project. A shorter build time would require closing the bridge, staff said.

“The public prefers the bridge remain open during the construction period,” the county said.

Photo (1) via Google Maps, (2-3) via Arlington County

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A pair of Arlington projects recently received national recognition for their unique design and use of steel.

The Top Steel Design Awards recognize — as the name might suggest — building architecture that incorporates steel in interesting and distinct ways.

The Merit Award went to the Ballston Quarter Pedestrian Walkway, which opened in 2019 after the original bridge was torn down in 2017. A judge in the Top Steel Design Awards credited the choice of frame and the walkway’s “visually captivating” quality.

“The crossover segment at mid-span creatively addresses the offset entrances of the connected buildings, and the steel HSS frame is an ideal choice to resist the complex forces of this innovative bridge design,” Stephanie Hautzinger, associate vice president of  CannonDesign in Chicago, said in a press release. “The resulting structure has a sculptural quality that is visually captivating from both the exterior and interior.”

The project was designed by studioTECHNE architects in Cleveland.

A new Arlington Public School building was also among the ten winning projects from across the U.S., which were categorized by overall cost. The Heights, the new home to H-B Woodlawn and the Stratford Program at 1601 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, won the top award for the $75-200 million category.

The school was designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group in Brooklyn and Leo A Daly in D.C.

Judges praised the unique structure of the building.

“The ambiguity of how this building is supported is one of the most fascinating features of the structure, and it is all due to the structural steel trusses behind the scene,” said Maysa Kantner, a structural steel specialist, in the press release. “Coordination and communication are required on every project but I imagine for this level of uniqueness, those two things had to be stepped up in a big way. It is so great to see what can be done with project teams when they all work together and think outside the typical box-shaped buildings!”

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Legislative Update for Landlords in NOVA

This webinar will review all Virginia Laws going into effect on July 1, 2021. Ensure you’re in the know and operating within the law.

There will be a special section specifically covering the legalization of marijuana.

This meeting will take

Morning Notes

Feds: Comfort Inn Hosted Gun Cache — “Members of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group likely stored weapons at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, as part of their plan to have an armed rapid-response force during the January 6 insurrection, federal prosecutors said. The new details flesh out previous accusations from prosecutors that members of the Oath Keepers assembled a ‘quick reaction force,’ or QRF, in Virginia that could deploy into the nation’s capital if needed.” [CNN, Politico]

Nature Centers Reopen — “Another sign things are returning to a semblance of normalcy, albeit slowly (this is Arlington, after all): The Gulf Branch and Long Branch nature centers, operated by the county government, have reopened. Hours and exhibitions are limited, but this marks the first time in nearly 13 months that Arlington residents have had consistent access to the nature centers.” [Sun Gazette]

Shirlington’s Past and Present — “This pet-friendly community five miles southwest of the District and adjacent to Highway 395 started off as a 27-acre former shopping center. Shirlington was one of the first strip malls in the country when it opened in 1944. For a while, it had the largest shopping center in the area and originally was named Chernerville, after automobile dealer Joseph Cherner, but the name didn’t stick. Instead, it was renamed Shirlington, a blending of Shirley Highway (395) and Arlington.” [Washington Post]

Amazon Not Abandoning Office Work — “As vaccines become more available, most companies may start to expect their workers back in the office and allow for just one or two days of teleworking a week — and Amazon is likely to be among them… That’s good news for many of the businesses and jurisdictions expected to benefit from the 25,000 to 37,850 employees Amazon has said it will bring to the D.C. region as it continues to build out its HQ2 campus in Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Company Donates to African School — “Washington Workplace, an award-winning commercial office furniture dealer in Arlington, teamed up with Business Furniture Installations and a nonprofit alumni association to donate unused office furniture to Pioneer Middle School in Senegal, in West Africa.” [Press Release]

Letter Writer: Don’t Hate on the Cicadas — “The message of the havoc wreaked on young trees and shrubs, and the month of constant shrill buzzing has sent home an idea of impending doom… Although the ominous message of cicada arrival is likely still in your head – and I can’t argue that cicadas aren’t a nuisance – I ask you to remember that they do have a role in our ecosystem and a purpose on our planet.” [Sun Gazette]

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This past week, 44 properties were reported sold across Arlington.

Looking back, as of April 11, there were 615 homes listed for sale in Arlington, according to Homesnap. This includes 420 condos, 154 detached homes and 41 townhomes.

“The median list price is $572,400 and the median sales price is $600,000,” Homesnap reports. “There have been 187 new listings in the last 4 weeks and 269 sales.”

Here’s a look at a few of the properties sold in the past seven days:

In the market? See properties that have been Just Listed and Just Reduced.

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You’re invited to be the first to tour MUSE Old Town North. In grand opening fashion, the brand-new condominium will be welcoming on-site walk-throughs April 17 and 18.

Show-stopping river views help to paint the portrait of a new life in Old Town. An oasis on the Potomac riverfront, MUSE will embody the vibrant and charming neighborhood lifestyle in Alexandria. This new development showcases plentiful amenities and outdoor spaces, and each condominium home comes replete with modern and curated luxury.

There is no shortage of artful inspiration at MUSE Condominium. Located in the Arts District of Old Town North, MUSE offers residents the opportunity to breathe in the beauty and history of the surrounding neighborhood and live a truly artistic lifestyle, including an Arts Walk, a cultural center featuring 100+ local artist studios and classes by the Art League.

Just outside the front entrance will be an array of acclaimed restaurants, retail shops, sports courts and nature. Direct access to the Mt. Vernon Trail and proximity to Tide Lock Park means everything you need to enjoy the location is at your fingertips. Proximity to Reagan Airport, National Landing and the District means access to everything is immediate.

With 29 unique floor plans, each artfully appointed residence offers inspiring spaces to create your own sanctuary. The spacious units begin at 920 square feet for select one-bedroom residences and span to large two-bedroom plus den homes at just under 2,200 square feet. Appointed with only the best features and finishes, these residences are sure to impress.

During your hard-hat tour, you can see it all for yourself: tall ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass with operable windows. Soon to be finished with seven-and-a-half-foot wide engineered hardwoods, modern Italian cabinets by Snaidero®, custom designer lighting and luxurious spa bathrooms with Waterworks fixtures. Modern gourmet kitchens make for chef-inspired cooking with Bosch® and Thermador® appliances, European flat-panel wood cabinetry, and a center island.

A 24-hour concierge and porter service, along with additional white-glove services, are on par with those at a luxury hotel in the expansive lobby. Amenity spaces also impress — from the lobby lounge to rooftop fitness areas. Doors from the penthouse club room open onto a large terrace with grills, perfect for relaxing and enjoying company on any pleasant evening.

Join us for the grand opening event on April 17 and 18 — now booking weekend hard hat tours 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Can’t make it then? Schedule a private visit to the sales gallery with a fully finished model, located adjacent to the property, at 1199 North Fairfax Street #510, Alexandria, 22314.

Muse Old Town North will deliver in late 2021. To schedule a hard hat or private tour go to museoldtown.com, email [email protected] or call 571-771-MUSE.

A pie shop owner says an ongoing county construction project has cost her tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

About six weeks ago, Heather Sheire arrived to work at Livin’ the Pie Life at 2166 N. Glebe Road to find bulldozers tearing up the pavement in front of the shop.

“That’s how much notice I got from the county that there was going to be a disruption,” owner Sheire tells ARLnow, who opened the shop in 2016. She is now seeking financial compensation from county.

The construction was due to the ongoing Lee Highway and Glebe Road intersection improvement project which isn’t set to be substantially completed until the fall.

“Our parking was getting blocked and, then, 21st Road [N.] was getting blocked and, then, the sidewalk was getting blocked,” Sheire says, frustration rising in her voice. “Then, I started to notice our sales were down.”

The shop relies on walk-ups, she says, with about 90% of sales coming from walk-in orders.

Sheire even bought one of those feather-like flags as a way to catch people’s eyes from the road, but it was removed by construction crews.

March 3 was a tipping point. Again, Sheire saw a construction truck parked across the entrance of the shop’s driveway. So, she finally reached out to the county.

“[They] were sympathetic, but I need more than sympathy and friendlessness,” Sheire says. “This was having a very substantial economic impact on my business.”

She tells ARLnow, after comparing numbers from years past, that she believes the business has lost “tens of thousands of dollars” as a result of this construction project.

“I have a historical record from [March] last year to this year… we went from being down 10% to 46%,” she says.

Eric Balliet, spokesperson for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, confirms that Sheire did reach out.

“Once we were made aware of the pie shop owner’s concerns, the project team responded by making every effort possible to accommodate the business during streetscape construction along their store frontage,” he writes to ARLnow.

According to Balliet, this included scheduling construction mostly on Mondays and Tuesdays (when the shop is closed), upgrading bike racks, installing a curb along parking spaces to prevent vehicles from damaging the building, and relocating street signs to improve visibility of the storefront.

Also, as part of the project, the county has upgraded the pie shop’s front walkway to concrete and expanded access to the store’s parking spaces for those driving northbound along N. Glebe Road.

Sheire agrees, for the most part, that the county has either already done the things promised or she believes they will — except for improving access to parking.

“It is trickier to get into the parking now than before. They added a short wall along the sidewalk on Glebe that now must be navigated to get into and out of the parking from Glebe,” she says. “It’s become a maze, a puzzle to get in there.”

But even fixing all of that will not change the financial damage that has already occurred to her business.

“[We] deserve some kind of financial compensation because they were literally blocking access to our business,” Sheire says. “It’s wrong for the county to initiate a project like this without taking into account the economic impact it has on a small business.”

In March, she received her business license tax bill from the county, which set her off.

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she says. “I felt like Arlington County had not given me value for my business license.”

She contacted the Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava and other top local officials about waiving the tax, or offering some sort of compensation, but was told that could not be done.

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Many Arlington residents (more than 1,400 signed an online petition) have been working for more than a year to save the Febrey-Lothrop house and 9-acre estate as a park in Arlington. The local historic review board ruled it historic four months ago; the county parks and recreation commission wants the land for a park. The residents of Arlington need this open, green space and parkland more than the developer to build more $2 million mansions for rich people.

Sadly, the county board let the owner demolish the historic Febrey house in late March, but we still feel that the surrounding 9 acres hold historic value and value as a public park. The county board has showed already it intends to reject historic designation and protection of this land at its public hearing on April 17. We need legal funds to insure that the county government faithfully administers the state historic preservation law, and does not allow the last major open tract of land that still has much history in Arlington to be bulldozed.

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