Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Demolition Starts at HQ2 Site — “Roughly a dozen demolition workers from construction firm ACECO were on site in yellow vests and hard hats, along with a couple of excavators, one of which sat on a mound of bricks as it tore down the southeast side of the single-story building.” [Washington Business Journal]

Apartments are Hot Near HQ2 — “The development patterns that are taking place in Crystal City make it a more live-work-play area versus being an office-dominated submarket that has an underground mall… That area is evolving with new product coming online and Amazon making its presence in the region. All of those things have helped generate demand for multifamily housing.” [Bisnow]

New Pool House for Army Navy CC — “Arlington County Board members on Jan. 25 are expected to approve procedural matters that will pave the way for Army Navy Country Club to renovate its swimming areas and construct a new poolhouse.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Eateries Absent from Top 20 List — The new 2020 Washingtonian 100 Very Best Restaurants list does not include any Arlington spots in the top 20. [Washingtonian]

County Pitches in to Route 7 BRT Study — “The Arlington government will toss in just under $40,000 in support of the next phase of a plan to develop high-quality bus service in the Route 7 corridor. Arlington will allocate $39,200 as its share in covering the $560,000 cost of a ‘mobility analysis,’ the fourth phase of the study.” [InsideNova]

Four Mile Run Biz Celebrates 25th — Family-owned car repair business Auto Stop Arlington is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend with an event that will include a food truck, beer and wine tastings, and kids activities. [Facebook]

RIP Jim Lehrer — The longtime host of the PBS Newshour, which is produced in the Shirlington area, has died at the age of 85. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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On Jan. 29, 2010, ARLnow.com launched with an inauspicious post that basically no one except the family and friends of the site’s owner read. It was followed by a post about 2-4 inches of snow in the forecast.

Ten years later, despite major challenges in the local news biz, this site is still around. A quarter million people read it each month. We have a dedicated, full-time team; a newly-formed alumni group; a long list of fantastic advertising clients (thank you for supporting local journalism!); and an office in a Ballston high-rise complete with a mini fridge stocked with Diet Coke and a granola bar drawer.

Yes, we’ve come a long way in the past 10 years. And we’re looking forward to the next 10.

To celebrate, ARLnow is pleased to invite everyone who lives or works in Arlington, or just is a fan of the site, to join us at Bronson Bierhall (4100 Fairfax Drive) on Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 5-7 p.m. for a free happy hour event.

We’ll have local beer flights and a special Arlington cocktail available for purchase, local movers and shakers, and the entire ARLnow team on hand. Meet your neighbors, local notables, and maybe even an ARLnow commenter or two. Also: we’ll have 10th Anniversary cups for the first 100 people to arrive.

Please RSVP via Facebook so we can better estimate a guest count. See you there!

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Morning Notes

Crows Are Swarming Rosslyn at Dusk — “As the sun begins to sink below the horizon, ghostly caws and flapping wings echo through the air. Then, they come in droves. Hundreds, if not thousands, of huge, black birds darken the sky, swooping through buildings and swarming like giant gnats. This Hitchcockian scene is a typical Tuesday in North Rosslyn.” [Washingtonian]

New Candidate for School BoardCristina Diaz-Torres has announced that she is running for Arlington School Board to replace Tannia Talento, who is not seeking a second term. Diaz-Torres is planning a campaign launch event on Columbia Pike this Sunday. [Twitter, Facebook]

Arlington Residents Are Up at All Hours — “The massive Nov. 8 water-main break underneath Chain Bridge Road taught Arlington public-works officials a number of lessons. Among them: Some county residents are up and at ’em in the wee hours of the morning. The county government received its first call complaining of no water at 2:59 a.m., a mere three minutes after the rupture of the 36-inch, 75-year-old pipe.” [InsideNova]

More on GMU Arlington Campus Expansion — “As George Mason University leaders celebrate the 40th anniversary of the school’s Arlington campus, they promise that its Amazon-inspired expansion will be ‘unlike any building ever built’ by a state institution.” [Washington Business Journal]

Upgrades for 911 Call Center — “The County’s 9-1-1 call processing system was upgraded today! Our staff are thrilled to have made the switch to this top of the line system that will allow us to best collaborate with neighboring jurisdictions and serve the community.” [Twitter]

NORAD Exercises Planned Tonight — “Don’t be frightened if you see and hear military aircraft speeding overhead… The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is expected to conduct air exercises over the Washington area from Thursday night into early Friday morning. Flights are scheduled between midnight and 5:30 a.m.” [WTOP]

Five Year Anniversary of Streetcar Cancellation — “Five years ago this week – Nov. 18, 2014 – County Board Chairman Jay Fisette stood somewhat grimly in front of a microphone and TV cameras to announce that Arlington officials were abandoning plans for a streetcar system in the Columbia Pike corridor.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Food Star to Open in Bailey’s Crossroads — “A Food Star grocery store is opening up in the former Toys R Us building at 5521 Leesburg Pike in Bailey’s Crossroads – possibly by the end of the year.” [Annandale Blog]

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(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) After one year in Arlington, Peruvian restaurant El Fuego (2300 N. Pershing Drive) is still going strong.

On the heels of its one-year anniversary in the county, El Fuego owner Manny Alfaro says new things are on the way, including a new drink menu with beer, wine, and Pisco cocktails — as soon as the restaurant obtains its Virginia ABC permit.

“Plus, something big is coming on Food Network for Father’s Day that I can’t say much about,” Aflaro said. “Stay tuned!”

The Lyon Park space is the brick-and-mortar location to El Fuego’s successful D.C. area food truck. Settling down after being mobile for years wasn’t easy, said Alfaro, but it’s been worth the effort.

El Fuego offers traditional Peruvian cuisine with staples such as ceviche, plantains and “lomo saltado,” a beer stir-fry served with white rice and french fries.

But Alfaro, who likes to draw influences from other cultures, opened his business in order to have the freedom to cook outside the box. For example, Alfaro’s “aji de gallina” dish, made from pulled chicken, is wrapped in an egg roll with mozzarella cheese.

“We have the blessing of Peruvian cuisine’s incredible diversity and variety will always allow us to bring something fresh to the table,” he said.

The food truck still roams around D.C. and Arlington, serving area lunch crowds, but having a fixed restaurant location has allowed Alfaro to make new friends and establish new regular customers.

“Neighbors, followers, old friends, all in all Arlington has been the most welcoming,” said Alfaro. “Exactly that, welcoming, and it’s been great.”

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Morning Notes

Arlington’s Name Change Centennial — “On Sept. 25, 1919, the Alexandria Gazette published a letter  from the Alexandria County Civic Federation proposing a name change for the County. The letter asserted that Alexandria County was “constantly confused with the City of Alexandria”… Proposed names included George Washington, Arlington, Pocahontas, and Alcova (ALexandria COunty VA).” [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Arlington Nat’l Considering Rule Changes — “Arlington National Cemetery is proposing new rules that would eliminate burial and inurnment eligibility for service members who die on active duty but not in combat, ending a custom that goes back to the cemetery’s founding in 1864. It is one of a series of tough new proposals, requested by the government, that seek to address Arlington’s fast-dwindling space.” [Washington Post]

WJLA May Go Off the Air for Some — Rosslyn-based TV station WJLA (ABC 7) may go dark starting Friday evening for DirecTV, U-verse and AT&T TV Now subscribers. The station’s parent company, Sinclair Broadcasting, is engaged in a heated carriage dispute with AT&T. [FierceVideo. Dallas Morning News]

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If you want to remain in the dark about the contents of the mysterious Ballston time capsule, which is set to be opened next year, read no further.

Melinda Schaedig, who was a third grader at Taylor Elementary School in 1988 when the capsule was buried, approached ARLnow with details from when the capsule was put into the ground.

“In 1988, it seemed like 2020 would never arrive, but here it is in the blink of an eye,” Schaedig said. “I just turned 40 and the time capsule is all that I have been thinking about as I have been waiting for this day for a long time.”

In the 31 years between the time capsule was buried and now, Schaedig said some of her memories from the burial have grown hazy, but she reached out to her third grade teacher to help put more details together.

“It was a big deal at the time,” Schaedig said. “I’ve always thought about it. I recall a couple months ago I was driving in the car with my mom and kids and I said ‘2020 is coming, is there anything on the building?'”

Schaedig saw the plaque and inquired inside the building, eventually being directed to the top floor where the building’s owners told her what a spokesperson for WashREIT told ARLnow yesterday: the capsule is there and but the company has no idea what’s inside.

But Schaedig remembers.

“I remember seeing a steering wheel with an airbag, which was new at the time, and maybe some Redskins memorabilia,” Schaedig said.

An article in the Northern Virginia Sun said a signed baseball, old coins and a postcard from an Arlington auto dealership were included as well. The article notes that Schaedig — then Melinda Foulke — added a poster showing how America has changed since the Constitution was signed.

The poster selected via a competition for local elementary school students.

“The contest presented local teachers with an opportunity to review Ballston’s evolution from farmland in the 1800s to the retail, business and retail center county planners forsaw when they wrote the Ballston Sector Plan in 1980,” the Sun noted.

Foulke said she dug up old news footage her mother had kept around, in which the building owners talked about how Ballston was poised to become the new downtown of Arlington.

“They talked about how in the future, there were unlimited possibilities because of the number of corporations moving in,” Foulke said. “They were predicting that with growth between Rosslyn and Ballston, [Arlington] would have more office space than Miami.”

(That turned out to be true: as of 2018, Arlington had 41.7 million square feet of office space compared to the Miami area’s 35.6 million square feet.)

The video does show some items being placed in the capsule, confirming Foulke’s memories of a steering wheel and a Redskins pin.

WashREIT said they were unsure how to open the time capsule. One of the old clippings shows Schaedig and the late County Board member Ellen Bozman holding a key to the capsule. Schaedig says she doesn’t know where the key is now.

“I hope to go when they open it,” Schaedig said. “It’ll be exciting to bring my kids and my family. It’s silly, but it’s been a part of my life.”

Newspaper photos courtesy Melinda Schaedig

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Morning Notes

Spotted: Leading Edge of Dorian — The “exhaust” of Hurricane Dorian could be seen over the D.C. area yesterday afternoon, in the form of a large sheet of cloud. [Twitter]

Arlington Name Centennial Approaching — “Arlington government officials currently are in the brainstorming phase on plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Arlington becoming ‘Arlington.’ It was on March 17, 1920, that Gov. Westmoreland Davis signed legislation formally changing the county’s name from Alexandria County to Arlington County.” [InsideNova]

Bloomberg BNA Changes Name — Crystal City-based news organization Bloomberg BNA has changed its name to Bloomberg Industry Group. [Twitter]

Video: APS Staff Gets School Year Started — Arlington Public Schools staff starred in a music video to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas Hit “Let’s Get It Started,” created for start of the new school year. The video also features now-former superintendent Patrick Murphy dancing while getting off a school bus at the end. [YouTube]

Local Startup Raises $51 Million — Arlington-based telecom startup Federated Wireless has raised $51 million in Series C funding, the company announced yesterday. [Federated Wireless]

What Long-Time Residents Like About Arlington — “Judy and Raoul Wientzen have owned their home in North Arlington since 1984. Judy told us what they love about their home.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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District Taco began as a stand-alone food cart and expanded into the burgeoning regional restaurant chain it is today.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of District Taco, which was co-founded by Marc Wallace and Osiris Hoil. The company is marking the occasion with an event in Rosslyn tomorrow (Thursday).

“ATTN, amigos!” the company said in a social media post. “Join us back where it all started for our 10 year anniversary… from 12-1 p.m. we will be on the corner of Lynn St & Wilson Blvd, in Rosslyn, handing out tacos and giveaways! Come celebrate with us and pose for a photo with our original taco cart.”

Hoil said he also plans on celebrating by taking a trip down to Mexico in August to visit family and reminisce about his mother’s cooking — the inspiration for many District Taco recipes.

Hoil’s entrepreneurial story began when he came to the United States as an immigrant and was laid off from a construction company during in 2007, around the time of the economic crisis. He said despite his dismay at the time, he still thinks highly of the firm and hired them to build several District Taco locations.

The District Taco cart launched in 2009, but was retired in 2014. Since then, two bricks-and-mortar District Taco locations have opened in Arlington: at 5723 Lee Highway — its very first storefront — in 2010 and in Rosslyn (1500 Wilson Blvd) in 2016.

District Taco now has 14 locations, according to its website, and plans to add at least three more in 2020, according to Hoil. They also want to double their office space by 2021.

“Everything we have done is by scratch,” said Hoil. “We have learned so much from other people and big companies.”

Photo 1 via Twitter

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Email may be one of the internet’s oldest technologies, but email newsletters are all the rage right now.

The reason for the recent resurgence in popularity is the medium’s simplicity: if you’re a media outlet, email newsletters let you reach readers directly, without being subject to a Facebook algorithm or a Google ranking. If you’re a reader, it’s an easy way to scan the day’s headlines without having to type in a bunch of URLs into a browser or scroll through endless social feeds.

ARLnow’s email newsletter has been around for almost as long as ARLnow itself — 9 years as of today — and faithfully delivers headlines from the past 24 hours to more than 12,500 subscribers around 4 p.m. daily.

For those subscribers — and you, if you’re not currently subscribed but would like to do so now (it’s free) — we’re thinking about ways to deliver even more cool stuff in 2019.

Among the ideas we’re currently considering:

  • A monthly email version of those local coupon packs you get in the mail
  • A monthly happy hour directory (now that it’s becoming legal)
  • A monthly email devoted to events and things to do in Arlington for kids and families
  • Other monthly emails focused on local topics like health and wellness, home and garden, etc.

Have any ideas on those or any other things we can offer through our email newsletter? Let us know in the comments.

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Morning Notes

‘Coffee With a Cop’ Comes to Clarendon, Pentagon City — The Arlington County Police Department is hosting a pair of “Coffee with a Cop” events later this month, at a Starbucks in Pentagon City and Northside Social in Clarendon. In a press release, ACPD said it “is committed to developing and maintaining strong relationships with those we serve, a vital component to ensuring the public’s trust.” [Arlington County]

Potomac Roaring Over Great Falls — Those within earshot of the Potomac River are being treated to an especially loud roar this week as the rain-swollen river “churned and even exploded into the air at Great Falls.” It also flooded parts of Alexandria and the Georgetown riverfront. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]

Artisphere Closing Anniversary — It has been three years since Artisphere closed its doors in Rosslyn. The former county-funded arts venue is now a co-working and events space.

Photo courtesy @jimcollierjr

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(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Joe’s Place Pizza & Pasta will be celebrating its 40th anniversary next week, and several state legislators and Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol are expected to be in attendance.

On Wednesday, Joe’s Place will offer its pizza, pasta and salad buffet bar at the original price of $3.99 for both lunch and dinner.

The restaurant, at 5555 Lee Highway, is the final remaining branch of a family-run chain that began in Woodbridge in 1978, a rep noted. It was founded by Joe Farruggio, who came to the U.S. from his hometown of Agrigento, Sicily. It is now managed by Joe’s nephew, Rosario Farruggio, and hosts numerous community events and fundraisers for local schools, sports teams and nonprofits each month.

A private event will also be held at the restaurant next week and is expected to feature a brief program during which a Congressional proclamation from Rep. Don Beyer’s office will be presented to the office.

“We have so much to be grateful for, especially all of our longtime staff and loyal customers,” the restaurant’s staff wrote. “Thank you!”

File photo

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