Arlington, VA

Good news if you take your kids to play at Edison Park (213 N. Edison Street) in the Arlington Forest neighborhood: Arlington County is planning to put $822,166 of renovations into the park.

On Saturday, Feb. 22, the County Board is scheduled to vote on funding the project. The total proposed allocation is $904,383, with $82,216 set aside as a contingency.

“The overall project focused on five elements: playground equipment and safety surfacing, paving and access improvements, circulation and accessibility, reforestation and landscaping, fencing and site furnishings,” staff said in a report.

A map of planned improvements shows a new swing set and playground at the center of the tiny park, with a seating area to the west and a toddler play area separated from the main playground.

The far east end of the park, past a grassy open area, is planned for reforestation.

The plans for the park were endorsed by the Arlington Forest Civic Association last April.

Images via Arlington County, Google Maps

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Up to 100 homes and business in the Arlington Forest neighborhood will be without water service Friday night into Saturday.

Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services says a valve replacement is needed and the portion of the neighborhood east of Lubber Run is expected to lose water service around 7 p.m. Friday as a result.

Water is expected to start flowing again around 9 a.m. Saturday, DES said.

File photo

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Morning Notes

New Elementary School at Reed Site Approved — “The Arlington County Board today approved a new elementary school for up to 732 students at the Reed site, 1644 N. McKinley Road, in the Westover neighborhood. The Board voted unanimously to approve a use permit amendment for Arlington Public Schools to renovate and expand the existing Reed School/Westover Library to create a neighborhood elementary school.” [Arlington County]

Here’s Where Amazon is Coming, Exactly — Amazon will be leasing office space at three JBG Smith buildings in Crystal City: 241 18th Street S., 1800 S. Bell Street and 1770 Crystal Drive. Amazon also agreed to buy two JBG-owned land parcels in Pentagon City that are approved for development: PenPlace and the remaining portion of Metropolitan Park. [Washington Business Journal]

County Board Discusses Legislative Priorities — “A highlight of the County’s package is a call for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution that was proposed by Congress in 1972. Both the Arlington League of Women Voters, and the Arlington Civic Federation have called on the General Assembly to ratify the ERA.” [Arlington County]

Arlington Projects Win at NAIOP Awards — Nine of the 29 real estate development projects lauded at the Best of NAIOP Northern Virginia Awards on Nov. 15 were Arlington projects. [NAIOP]

Neighborhood Conservation Projects Funded — “The Arlington County Board today approved $2.9 million in Neighborhood Conservation bond funds for projects in Cherrydale and Arlington Forest… The $1.84 million Cherrydale project will improve N. Monroe Street, between 17th Street North and 19th Street North… The $1.08 million Arlington Forest project will make improvements to Edison Park.” [Arlington County]

How DIRT Chose Ballston — “DIRT co-founders @jlatulip and @jamcdaniel visited many parts of D.C. and the greater DMV area before deciding to open in Ballston. ‘We noticed very quickly that this was a special community, one that we could call home and grow with. We love the energy of the neighborhood — Ballston is a young, active community, which fits DIRT perfectly.'” [Instagram]

Verizon FiOS Outage — Verizon’s FiOS service suffered a major outage in the D.C. area yesterday. [Twitter, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Arlington County’s police and fire departments will commemorate National Night Out by holding neighborhood visits at events across the county from 5-9 p.m. tonight (Aug. 7).

In its 35th year, National Night Out strives to build relationships between police and the communities they serve, in part to help increase crime prevention awareness.

The county invites residents to “lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend an evening outside with neighbors, police officers, firefighters and elected officials.”

Events will be held at the following locations:

  • Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:45 p.m.
  • Cathcart Springs (4600 block of 4th Road N.) at 6:30 p.m.
  • Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. and S. Shirlington Road) from 5-7 p.m.
  • Park Glen (824 S. Arlington Mill Drive, between buildings 812-816) at 6:30 p.m.
  • The Observation Deck at CEB Tower (1800 N. Lynn Street) from 5-9 p.m.

Photo via Arlington County

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Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be big news that some kids and their parents plan to sell some lemonade around Arlington on a late-July day — but the lemonade stands popping up around the county this weekend come with a bit more of a message than most.

Activists with the group “Lawyer Moms of America” are setting up several stands in Arlington and other locations around Northern Virginia tomorrow (Saturday), as part of a national demonstration dubbed “Kids Take a Stand.” Parents and kids alike plan to use the event to raise money to hasten the reunification of families separated at the Mexican border.

While the Trump administration has managed to reunite roughly 1,400 children, from ages 5 to 17, with their families ahead of a court-imposed deadline, hundreds of other kids remain in government custody without any connection to their parents.

Though public outrage over the Trump administration’s since-reversed family separation policy has died down, Lawyer Moms of America is hoping to use Saturday’s demonstration to re-focus attention on the issue by putting their own kids in the spotlight.

“The women who founded Lawyer Moms of America heard first-hand accounts from lawyers who knew what was happening with these families at the border,” Natalie Roisman, an Arlington resident and member of the group’s national organizing team, wrote in a statement. “The immediate response was, ‘We have to do something.’ The next step was to think about how we – as lawyer moms – could uniquely contribute and do something effective. We have focused on education, advocacy and fundraising, and now we wanted to do something that would allow our kids to be directly involved.”

Roisman says the group will set up one stand at the intersection of N. Harrison Street and 8th Road N. in the Bluemont neighborhood, with another planned for Arlington Forest. She adds that stands will also be set up in the Waynewood area of Alexandria, at the Falls Church Farmers Market and in Reston, and more could pop up by the time Saturday arrives.

All proceeds of the lemonade sales will go to Project Corazon, an effort organized by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation to provide immigrants at the border with legal services.

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After a man was struck by a car in the middle of a Bluemont intersection, some of his neighbors see new urgency for their years-long effort to force the county to improve conditions for pedestrians in the area.

County police say Eric Larsen was crossing N. Carlin Springs Road near its intersection with N. Edison Street early in the morning last Monday (July 16), when a car slammed into him. Larsen was taken to George Washington University hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and neighbors say he’s still recovering from some broken bones caused by the crash.

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage says “charges are pending” against the driver, but people living in the area see the intersection’s design deficiencies as the real cause of the crash.

Lora Strine, who lives in the Arlington Forest neighborhood nearby, says her citizens’ association has pressed the county for changes in the area going back to at least 2016. She points out that Carlin Springs is a popular option for walkers looking to reach the Ballston Metro, as Larsen was at the time of the accident, or even the Safeway near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive.

Yet Strine says the area lacks clearly marked crosswalks or traffic calming measures to slow drivers, particularly on such a wide road, and she can’t understand why it’s taken the county so long to address the issue.

“This accident is not really an accident,” Strine told ARLnow. “It’s really been years in the making.”

Arlington officials point out that they’re hardly ignoring the area, however.

County transportation spokesman Eric Balliet says workers plan to install a flashing sign that can be activated by pedestrians crossing Carlin Springs near the road’s intersection with N. Harrison Street, just a few blocks from the Larsen crash. That signal should be in place as soon as next month.

Balliet added that the county is also planning some curb extensions and crosswalk improvements all along Carlin Springs, leading up to Edison Street, with work set to start in the spring of 2019 and wrap up the following year.

But Strine feels that’s far too long for the neighborhood to wait, and managed to secure a meeting with county staff and County Board member John Vihstadt to make that argument.

Vihstadt says “the jury is still out” in terms of how, exactly, the Board might be able to speed up the construction, though he certainly agrees with Strine’s assessment of the intersection. He’s spent the last year or so working with Arlington Forest residents on the issue, and he sees a need for the county to act quickly, as development in Ballston continues to ramp up and bring people to the area.

“That’s an awful long time to wait for these measures,” Vihstadt said. said. “I don’t find that  acceptable at all.”

At the very least, Vihstadt hopes to see the county beef up the webpage displaying details about the road improvements to keep neighbors better informed.

But even if Vihstadt can successfully convince officials to speed up construction, Strine worries that the work won’t actually slow cars speeding along Carlin Springs. She’d much rather see an additional stop light in the area, or even a stop sign, to bring speeds down.

“They’re wasting time and money by making changes that we know aren’t going to work,” Strine said. “These are just incremental changes: another Band-Aid, as one of my neighbors said.”

While county officials are confident that their planned changes will indeed slow passing cars, Vihstadt agreed that he wants to see the county do more to take into account “context-specific considerations” raised by neighbors about local road projects.

Overall, he lamented that this latest community clash is indicative of a pattern he’s seen all around Arlington in recent years, and provides a clear example of how the county still struggles to balance traffic congestion and pedestrian safety.

“While we like to say that our public policies like ‘the car-free diet‘ are having a positive impact on Arlington traffic, and I think they are, a lot of neighborhoods don’t yet feel that way,” Vihstadt said.

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The unusual overnight burglary of an Arlington Forest coffee shop has left its owners scratching their heads about what prompted the theft.

Employees at the Sense of Place Cafe, located at 4807 1st Street N. just off Arlington Blvd, arrived early this morning (Wednesday) to discover the glass in their front door smashed in and the cash register emptied. Co-owner Kay Kim expects the thieves made off with about $150 in all.

However, Kim was puzzled that the burglars left the restaurant’s expensive espresso machines untouched, and showed no interest in the iPad the cafe uses for customer orders.

Yet her notebook full of recipes and notes on the precise way to roast various types of coffee beans, one of her most prized possessions, is missing. She stored it in a desk drawer in the cafe’s back office, and she expects only someone intimately familiar with the store would know to look for it.

“It makes us feel like the target wasn’t money,” said Anna Seo, Kim’s niece and an employee at the store. “It’s all very strange.”

Neither Kim nor her sister and co-owner, Kim Seo, can think of any former employees who might’ve harbored a grudge after leaving the cafe, which has been open for just over a year now. Arlington County police spokeswoman Kirby Clark said the department is investigating the incident, but doesn’t have any description of the suspect (or suspects) just yet.

“This has never happened before and we never thought about it,” Kim Seo said. “This area in Arlington was supposed to be pretty safe. It’s very weird and scary.”

Nevertheless, she says the business is open as normal, even if it is still missing the glass from its front door.

Anna Seo notes that the whole incident “could’ve been much worse,” all things considered. But she is still frustrated that her aunt would lose so much hard work, so suddenly.

“Each of our roasts change, based on the season and the temperature, and she had that all written down,” she said. “Now, she’ll basically have to start from scratch.”

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Some Arlington Forest residents are speaking out after spending the last four days without cable or internet service.

Frustrated Verizon Fios customers in the neighborhood are taking to social media and emails to ARLnow to lament the lack of response from the company since their service went down early Saturday morning.

Ken Schellenberg, who lives on 1st Street N., says that Verizon has sent a half dozen estimates for when the problem might be resolved — and has repeatedly missed its targets.

“Promised text messages about updates on the issue never arrive,” Schellenberg wrote. “They claim it’s a widespread outage but neighbors close never lost service at all. It seems more random.”

Some of Schellenberg’s neighbors have reported similar issues on Twitter, where Verizon support staff have been able to offer only limited answers.

Verizon spokeswoman Laura Merritt told ARLnow.com that the company’s engineers are currently looking into the issue. She’s hoping to be able to offer more details soon.

File photo

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(Updated 7:30 p.m.) It isn’t easy being an independent coffee shop with only a handful of part-time employees, especially one outside of a Metro corridor in chain-heavy Arlington.

But Arlington Forest’s Sense of Place Café, which opened eight months ago, is making a go of it and has slowly been gaining both popularity and solid Yelp reviews.

The cafe was full for a Wednesday at mid-morning (March 28), and two baristas scrambled to fill orders quickly while chatting with an ARLnow reporter. On a normal day, the shop sees about 50 customers.

Most customers who walked up to the counter had something positive to say about Sense of Place Café, even if they hadn’t yet tried the shop’s specialty coffee.

“You’re getting a lot of great press on the Mothers of North Arlington listserv,” one woman said to a barista as she ordered coffee, adding that she hadn’t heard of the place until recently but was happy to have more options in the area.

The coffee shop is located at the Arlington Forest Shopping Center, at 4807 1st Street N., and difficult to get to if one doesn’t live in the neighborhood or have a car.

“The size of this mall, it’s not a really busy mall,” explained the coffee shop’s co-owner, Kim Seo, pointing out the next door Brick’s Pizza as the shopping center’s main attraction. “It’s kind of frustrating, not many people come here.”

It’s about 1.2 miles away from the Ballston Metro station, which, according to Google Maps, is a 24 minute walk away. A lot of customers are within walking distance, Seo explained, but many Arlingtonians aren’t aware of the shop or how to get there.

But Seo has found ways to stand out, even if the shop faces geographical challenges. She focuses on the store’s own unique Enzymo Coffee brand, which ferments for two weeks before in-house roasting, and a mushroom tea with “high levels of antioxidants.” She also posts frequently on the shop’s social media channels.

Seo added serving a variety of flavors has helped her and her sister, Kay, the shop’s licensed barista, grow the business.

Listening to customers’ needs, like expanded weekend hours, has also helped. Previously, the coffee shop was open Monday-Saturday, but now has dropped the Monday hours and is open Tuesdays-Fridays from 7 a.m.-3 p.m., and Saturdays-Sundays from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Kim did this to capture the weekend crowd, which she says is easily her busiest time, and now she sees more people come and enjoy a cup instead of rushing to work.

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A new coffee shop is open in Arlington Forest in a low-slung shopping center just off Arlington Blvd.

Sense of Place (4807 1st Street N.) replaced a Subway sandwich shop in the Arlington Forest Center. It opened yesterday (Monday), next door to Brick’s Pizza, the DaVita dialysis center and the Mathnasium of Arlington education center.

Sense of Place features a coffee bar that serves specialty pour-over coffee, which uses a filter and a dripper to extract more flavors. At the bar, a certified barista will serve the coffee, while a sign nearby expressly bans the use of laptops to encourage customers to enjoy their drinks without distraction.

“At the bar, customers take the time to see, smell, and taste subtly different notes of flavors and textures with every sip that they may not have noticed before,” the cafe’s website reads.

The new cafe serves its own house-brand coffee, called Enzymo Coffee. The coffee beans undergo a natural fermentation process before being roasted, which staff said keeps the coffee fresh, the acid content low and prevents any post-caffeine crashes an hour or two after drinking.

Also on offer: various other hot and cold drinks as well as homemade pastries, paninis and sandwiches.

Early Tuesday morning, the store was already doing brisk business, despite having been open for just one day. Multiple customers told ARLnow how excited they were to have an independently-owned coffee shop in the plaza, which is also home to Outback Steakhouse and used to house the now-shuttered Filipino grocery store Fiesta Oriental.

Sense of Place is open from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.

Hat-tip to Mike Marketti.

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The Arlington County Police Department will hold National Night Out activities in neighborhoods across the county this evening (August 1).

Police will take part in a number of activities with local residents, including block parties, cookouts, safety demonstrations, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and more.

National Night Out aims to better relationships between the police and the communities they patrol. Many police departments around the country participate.

“We are committed to building strong partnerships with those we protect and serve and effectively communicating to ensure the public’s trust.” said spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

“Events such as National Night Out are important because they provide us with another opportunity to interact with our community, hear about any public safety concerns they have and continue to use effective problem-solving methods to reduce and prevent crime and improve the quality of life of Arlington’s residents, visitors and businesses.”

Events will be hosted at the following locations:

  • Arlington Forest (200 block of N. Galveston Street) at 7:30 p.m.
  • Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (First Presbyterian Church, 601 N. Vermont Street) from 5:30-8 p.m.
  • Barcroft Community House (800 S. Buchanan Street) from 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Cathcart Springs townhomes (4600 4th Road N.) from 6:30-7 p.m.
  • Fairlington Villages (3000 block of S. Abingdon Street) from 5-7 p.m.
  • Park Glen Condo Association (800 block of S. Arlington Mill Road) from 7-8 p.m.
  • Nauck Town Square (24th Road S. between Shirlington Road and S. Kenmore Street) from 6-8:30 p.m.
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