Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Death of WeLive? — “WeWork is exploring ending its push into communal living, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The New York-based office-sharing company is working with an adviser and holding talks about handing over operations of its WeLive location in Crystal City, near Washington D.C.” [Bloomberg]

No Fair This Summer? — “Whether the Arlington County Fair will be held as scheduled in August, and how it might change due to the impacts of COVID-19, remain an open question. ‘We continue to closely monitor the evolving situation and are committed to following the facts and recommendations provided by public-health officials,’ organizers of the fair said.” [InsideNova]

School Decision Expected by July 4 — “Arlington students, parents and teachers should know by the 4th of July what the county school system’s plan is for re-starting classes in the fall. In-person classroom instruction ‘is the goal we want to get to,’ new Superintendent Francisco Durán told School Board members on June 4, but he was not ready to commit to having students back in class when the school year begins Aug. 31.” [InsideNova]

Gyms CrossFit Weigh in on Founder’s Comments — Since the founder of CrossFit posted a controversial tweet, CrossFit gyms across the country — including in Arlington — have been posting statements to distance themselves from him. Greg Glassman has since resigned as the CEO of CrossFit. [Instagram, Instagram]

Local Nordstrom Stores Reopening Tomorrow — “Arlington residents hoping for a little retail therapy will soon have their desires granted, at least as far as one local clothing chain is concerned. The Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores in Pentagon City will reopen for customers on Thursday, according to a company release.” [Patch]

Axios Covering Fees for Protesting Employees — “Arlington County-based digital media company Axios distributed a companywide email stating that it would cover bail or medical bills for employees who have participated in recent protests associated with the police killing of George Floyd, The New York Times first reported Tuesday.” [Virginia Business]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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He’s performed at the Kennedy Center, at the Columbia Pike Blues Festival, and overseas for the troops.

And now — in lieu of his usual concerts and club gigs — Chester Chandler, better known as Memphis Gold, is performing from his apartment balcony in Ballston every Friday night from 8-9 p.m.

The informal outdoor concerts, near the intersection of N. Randolph Street and 9th Street N., have started attracting dozens of onlookers — socially distanced on the sidewalk, for the most part. From his 8th floor perch, Chandler and his guitar give the neighborhood an hour-long musical respite from the stress of life during the pandemic.

Chandler tells ARLnow that he got the idea from seeing locked-down residents in cities around the world opening their windows at 8 p.m. to bang pots and pans and make noise.

“I saw some people come out on their balcony, I said well this would be a good time to play some music, have a good time, and be happy we’re alive,” he said. One Friday night, with little fanfare and no public announcements, Chandler went outside and started playing. He’s kept it up every Friday night since.

“It turned out to be a good thing,” he said, “now people chant for more.”

Chandler doesn’t do much self-promotion during the concerts, to the point that many don’t even know who’s playing on the starkly lighted, distant balcony. But Chandler’s humility belies his musical resume.

He is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, who grew up on the famous Beale Street blues corridor. He is a Vietnam veteran who has toured internationally, playing blues festivals and concerts for U.S. troops. He also claims to be the first musical act at Whitlow’s, when it moved to Clarendon in 1995.

Chandler’s musical career started after nearly four years of homelessness in the early 90s. While living on the streets of D.C., he visited a pawn shop and saw a guitar on sale for $600. He convinced the shopkeeper to set it aside for him and eventually saved up enough from doing yard work for “little old ladies” to buy it. After that, he was able to support himself through his music.

Chandler, 65, has lived in the Randolph Towers apartment building for nearly two decades, and says there’s no place he’d rather be.

“Arlington has been my home for the last 20 years, and I tell you, I’ve love every minute of it,” he said. “I love my neighbors… I’m centrally located, and I’m an old man in a sea of yuppies around here.”

Chandler said he’ll keep playing on Friday nights until he can resume paying gigs. The loss of income has been tough, he said, but he’s been able to get by on veteran benefits and online donations from fans. And whenever he can, he gives what he can to support first responders and homeless vets.

One welcome side effect of Chandler’s playing and the pandemic? All of those passersby who are getting to hear his soulful guitar playing potentially becoming fans of the genre.

“I like it when the younger kids discover blues music,” he said.

A Friday night balcony concert in Ballston…

Posted by Arlington Now on Friday, April 17, 2020

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A man is in police custody after he allegedly went berserk at an apartment building in the Bluemont neighborhood, near Ballston.

The incident happened shortly before 3 p.m. and drew a crowd outside the building.

Initial details are sketchy, but Arlington County Police say they were dispatched to the 800 block of N. Wakefield Street for a report of a man damaging property. Upon officers arriving, the man threw a dumbbell out of an apartment window, according to police.

Broken windows could be seen on the third floor of the building. Firefighters also responded and were asked to evaluate a possible gas leak from an appliance in the apartment, according to scanner traffic.

Officers were ultimately able to arrest the suspect.

“The subject was taken into custody and will be transported to an area hospital for evaluation,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “”No officers were injured.”

“We remain on scene investigating,” Savage added. “There’s no ongoing threat to the community.”

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A sequence of events led to the side of an apartment building in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood catching on fire Monday evening.

The Arlington County Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire on the 2400 block of 27th Court S. around 7:30 p.m. Residents were evacuated as firefighters worked to extinguish the smoky fire.

Within minutes, the flames were out and the cleanup work was starting.

ACFD spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli tells ARLnow that the blaze was caused by “improperly discarded smoking materials” that caught mulch on fire and subsequently spread to the vinyl siding of the building. From there, the flames crept up the side of the building and burned the plywood under the siding.

The fire was quickly extinguished, no one was injured, and no residents were displaced. Tirelli said the incident “seems accidental” and no charges are pending.

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Morning Notes

VHC Staff Honored by NYSE — Two radiation therapists at Virginia Hospital Center, Melinda Mack and Amanda Sprecher, were honored during the opening bell ringing at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. [Twitter]

Tomorrow is Arlington’s ‘Community Day’ — “A beloved Arlington tradition, Neighborhood Day brings communities together to enjoy the great outdoors and strengthens ties between neighbors.  In our currently socially-distant world, Neighborhood Day 2020 (May 2) is swapping out the traditional outdoor get-togethers and focusing on how Arlingtonians can build community while staying apart.” [Arlington County]

Fundraiser for Shelter Employee Bonuses — “I’m raising money to benefit four emergency shelters in Arlington County. The front line staff at these organizations are heroes who risk their personal health and wellness for those most vulnerable. I want to offer each front line staff member a $5/ hour bonus for their selfless work for at least two weeks.” [GoFundMe, Facebook]

Courtland Towers Store to Become Apartments — “It’ll soon be ‘bye, bye, bodega,’ as Arlington County Board members are allowing the owner of the Courtland Towers apartments in the Courthouse area to replace its longstanding ground-floor convenience store with four additional residential units and other amenities for residents. The proposal had generated pushback from nearby residents and garnered formal opposition from the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Federation.” [InsideNova]

Roots Closing at Pentagon City Mall — “Toronto clothing retailer Roots Corp. said Wednesday it will close both its stores in Greater Washington. The closure of outposts in Georgetown and at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City come as part of the liquidation of the apparel company’s U.S. subsidiary through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing — a measure being taken to close the stores quickly and in a cost-effective manner, the company said.” [Washington Business Journal]

Fund Created for Local Immigrants in Need — “The Dream Project, a nonprofit organization offering educational assistance to immigrants in Northern Virginia through scholarships and mentoring, has established an emergency relief fund to help immigrant students and families who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” [Press Release]

Hotel Donates Rooms to County — An unnamed hotel in Arlington has donated rooms to the county to serve as Permanent Supportive Housing for up to 16 people, reducing their risk of COVID-19 exposure. [Arlington County]

Electric Bills Going Down This Month — “Dominion Energy says Virginia customers will see a $6 discount on their billing each month starting on May 1. ‘The cost of fuel has gone down and we’re passing the savings directly on to customers,’ Dominion Energy said.” [NBC 12 Richmond]

New County Initiative Tackling Hunger — “Arlington County announced a new initiative for the coronavirus era: the Cooperative for a Hunger Free Arlington. We talked to those heading the group — Abby Raphael, Diane Kresh and Amy Maclosky — about what it is and how they plan to help during these tough times.” [Facebook, Apple Podcasts]

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Firefighters battled an apartment fire in the Penrose neighborhood Thursday morning.

The fire in a second floor unit of a three-story, garden-style apartment building on the 2000 block of 4th Street S. was first reported around 9:45 a.m. Firefighters from nearby Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall encountered heavy smoke upon arriving on scene, but were able to quickly extinguish the flames.

Residents in the apartment were able to get out as the fire spread and there were no injuries to the occupants or firefighters, we’re told.

A dog that was inside the apartment, however, was not able to get out. Firefighters attempted CPR after removing the dog from the apartment, but it succumbed to its injuries, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli. The dog’s body was wrapped in a blanket by rescue personnel.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Map via Google Maps. Staff photographer Jay Westcott contributed to this report.

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An Arlington man is facing a number of charges after police say he drunkenly charged at officers in an apartment hallway while half naked.

Police were dispatched to one of the RiverHouse apartment buildings in Pentagon City around 2 p.m. Monday, after a caller said someone they knew was intoxicated and “acting disorderly” in an apartment.

“Upon arrival, the subject charged at officers and remained combative,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Following the deployment of pepper spray and a taser, the subject was taken into custody. He has been transported to an area hospital for evaluation. No officers were injured.”

An ACPD crime report add that the 40-year-old man was “partially undressed” and that the taser was used after the pepper spray “had little effect on the suspect.” He now faces charges of Indecent Exposure, Obstruction of Justice and Drunk in Public.

More from the crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2020-03300111, 1400 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 2:04 p.m. on March 30, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. The reporting party advised dispatch that the known male suspect was allegedly intoxicated and acting disorderly inside a residence. Arriving officers located the partially undressed suspect in the hallway of the apartment building. The suspect repeatedly ignored the lawful commands of officers to stop and get on the ground and continued to act aggressively and advance towards them. An officer deployed OC Spray, which had little effect on the suspect and he continued to advance towards officers. A second officer then deployed their taser, enabling the officers to place the combative suspect into custody. The suspect was transported to an area hospital for medical treatment. Kenneth Archer, 40, of Arlington, Va., was charged with Drunk in Public, Obstruction of Justice and Indecent Exposure.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Fire at Columbia Pike Apartment Building — One person was hospitalized and subsequently arrested after a fire at the Serrano Apartments on Columbia Pike Sunday night. [Twitter]

State Funds to Stabilize ART Service — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $420,926 in state grant funds to support Arlington’s local transit operations during the COVID-19 emergency… Arlington Transit (ART) buses, like transit services across the region, have experienced significant declines in ridership and revenue.” [Arlington County]

Arlingtonian Recounts Coronavirus Experience — Roy Schwartz, an Arlington resident and the co-founder of Clarendon-based Axios, tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month. In a brief podcast interview, he recounted the experience, the delays in getting test results, and the contact from Arlington’s health department. [Axios]

Construction Projects ContinueUpdated at 9:10 a.m. — “While shuttering many businesses to try to slow the virus’s spread, officials in the District, Maryland and Virginia have designated construction as ‘essential,’ along with hospitals, grocery stores, banks and a handful of other businesses. All three jurisdictions have also allowed private construction, including home building and commercial developments, to continue.” [Washington Post]

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A new development that will build new housing in Rosslyn while renovating one of the region’s oldest hotels got the green light from the Arlington County Board over the weekend.

The board approved the redevelopment of the Key Bridge Marriott site by a 4-0 vote. The project will include the renovation of the hotel — one of Marriott’s earliest hotels, which first opened in 1959 — as well as the construction of three new 16-story residential buildings, with about 300 rental apartments and 150 condo units.

With the site perched above the Potomac River, near Key Bridge, many of the new homes will have enviable views of the river and D.C.

The project also includes the construction of two new street segments, as well as the contribution of land and funding for a new public park.

More from an Arlington County press release:

The aging Key Bridge Marriott hotel at 1401 Lee Highway will be partially demolished and renovated, and three new residential buildings will be added to the site under a plan approved by the County Board.

“This plan adds much-needed housing in Rosslyn, new public open space and a major renovation of the Marriott Hotel, greatly enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of this highly visible site in Rosslyn,” Board Chair Libby Garvey said.

The Board voted 4-0 to approve the redevelopment plan. […]

In addition to renovating the hotel’s 445 rooms, developer KBLH, LLC, will build three 16-story residential buildings, with a total of 451 units, on the 5.5-acre site on the north side of Lee Highway. One of the new buildings is expected to offer rental apartments and the other two are planned as condominiums. The modernized hotel’s new façade will face Lee Highway and Gateway Park.

The plan, which evolved significantly before and during the public review process, also calls for two new streets that will connect with an esplanade open to the public on the north end of the site, accessible to pedestrians and cyclists but not cars. The esplanade will offer views of the Potomac River and Georgetown and connect to the bike path leading to Key Bridge. A crescent-shaped park will be built on the site’s Fort Myer Drive frontage and will provide an improved bicycle and pedestrian path to Key Bridge. Most of the park is on National Park Service property and will require federal approval for improvements.

The developer has committed to achieving LEED Gold certification for the residential buildings and LEED Silver for the hotel and will install ENERGY STAR and WaterSense appliances. Among other community benefits, the developer would contribute land for a new public park on the site, fronting on Fort Myer Drive, $870,075 to help plan and build the park, and a contribution of $1.75 million to the County’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.

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As the number of COVID-19 cases in Arlington continues to grow, those in apartments and condos might be wondering about the risks of living in close proximity to others who might test positive for the virus.

It’s worth noting that Arlington County’s health director said earlier this month that “the vast majority” of apartment dwellers have nothing to worry about in terms of their building’s heating and air conditioning systems — the air handling systems “should not lead to spread” of the virus.

But should a coronavirus case be reported in a building, there’s still concern about surfaces and people the infected person might have come into contact with. A memo forwarded to ARLnow from a resident in an apartment building near Ballston details some of the steps landlords are taking to mitigate such coronavirus exposures.

Key to the response: notification of residents and deep cleaning of the building’s hallways and common areas.

The memo is below, with the address and other details redacted to protect the privacy of the infected person.

TO:  Residents
FROM:  Dittmar Management Team
DATE:  March 20, 2020
RE:  Deep cleaning program

As you are aware, earlier today we were notified by a resident that a person living in the same apartment was diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus. Dittmar has not been notified of any diagnosis directly from the resident, the CDC or the Arlington County Public Health Department.

Later this afternoon, our third party service provider will begin sanitizing all public areas through a direct contact process. As an additional precaution we have contracted the company to fog the hallway with the EPA approved chemical Sporacide. In order to minimize the impact on your residency the work will be done overnight. At 9:30pm, the company will begin covering and taping off all apartment doors from the hallway. They will effectively be making the hallway a containment zone. Once the hallway is contained, they will begin a six hour fog. Please do not return to your home after 9:30pm or plan to depart until at least 5am. They will have staff on site throughout. At the conclusion of the sanitizing process, the plastic will be removed and you are free to leave your apartment.

In the unlikely event that the fire alarm is activated and you are required to evacuate, the fogging will stop and you may tear away the plastic barrier.

Please continue to follow the guidelines established by the CDC.  The website is https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.  Additionally, Arlington County has established a Covid-19 hotline to answer questions that you may have.  The number is 703/228-7999.

Thank you in advance for working with us to maintain a healthy home for all.

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After years of anticipation, preliminary plans have been filed for a major redevelopment project in Courthouse.

Apartment developer Greystar has filed a preliminary site plan application for the “Landmark Block,” consisting of the former CosiBoston Market and Jerry’s Subs restaurants, and the current Summers Restaurant and Mattress Warehouse.

The aging, low-slung buildings a block from the Courthouse Metro station are proposed to be replaced with a 20-story residential tower.

Greystar is proposing to contruct a 210-foot tall building with 418 residential units, about 400,000 square feet of total floor space, a rooftop deck, second floor pool and parking garage. The garage would have space for 418 bikes and 224 cars, including 60 vehicle parking spots for visitors.

The building would also have ground floor retail space, and penthouse apartments on the 20th floor. Greystar says the building would at minimum meet LEED Gold certification requirements, and the overall project would include a community benefits package with affordable housing and public art contributions, as well as “recognition of historic features and buildings,” among other things to be negotiated as part of the site plan process.

A planning process five years ago suggested that at least some of the building facades on the block would be preserved. The Envision Courthouse Square process also envisioned the Landmark Block redevelopment as being to the north of what could eventually become “Courthouse Square,” a large green park with underground parking below.

As part of fulfilling that more pedestrian-friendly vision for Courthouse, Greystar’s plans depict N. Uhle Street — located between the future building and the Metro station — as a tree-lined “promenade.”

While Greystar is listed as the applicant, affiliates of JBG Smith are listed as the owners of the underlying properties in county documents.

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