Arlington, VA

Update at 10:30 a.m. — Power has been restored.

Earlier: Some 800 Dominion customers are without power in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Pentagon City, prompting the closure of the local library.

The Aurora Hills Branch Library is closed until further notice, Arlington Public Library said in a tweet.

The outage is the result of an “equipment fire,” according to Dominion’s website, but restoration of power to the neighborhood is expected no later than 2 p.m.

Map via Dominion

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The County is considering a major project to replace water main along 23rd Street S.

The Arlington County Board is set to consider starting a water main replacement project along the street from Fort Scott Drive in the Arlington Ridge neighborhood to S. Eads Street in Aurora Highlands. A staff report to the Board notes that the existing water main is 92 years old and corroding.

“The water main replacement is part of the efforts to replace the old unlined cast iron pipes which are subjected to internal and external corrosion that causes rusty water and reduces the fire flow fighting capacity,” the report wrote.

County Board members will consider awarding a $1,562,350 contract to the Loudoun-based A&M Concrete Corporation for the work during their meeting this Saturday, July 13 in Courthouse. The contract would also earmark an additional $312,470.00 in case of unexpected costs during the project.

“The overall goal for the proposed 12-inch water main is to improve the fire flow and provide adequate capacity to support demand in the neighborhood,” the report notes. The residential neighborhoods near Crystal City have seen an uptick in real estate interest since the announcement of Amazon’s nearby HQ2.

If members approve the project, it could cause some water service interruptions in the neighborhood but is not expected to significantly impact traffic, per the report.

The contract for the project is currently listed on the County Board’s consent agenda for their Saturday meeting, a place usually reserved for items expected to pass without debate.

Image via Arlington County

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A man was burned and seriously injured in an early morning fire in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood Tuesday.

The fire broke out in a detached, two story garage and apartment on the 2300 block of S. Hayes Street. Firefighters arriving on scene around 2:30 a.m. found heavy smoke and flames coming from the structure, but were able to eventually extinguish the fire.

One man was transported to a burn center in serious condition and a firefighter was taken to a local hospital for dehydration, according to the Arlington County Fire Department. The main house on the property did not catch fire, but the Red Cross is assisting its two occupants, ACFD said.

Firefighters from Arlington, Alexandria, Reagan National Airport and Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall all helped battle the flames.

Photos via Arlington County Fire Department

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A man was attacked and robbed of a backpack in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood near Crystal City yesterday morning.

Police say the robbery happened around 7:30 a.m. on Monday, on the 600 block of 26th Street S.

“The victim was walking in the area when he was approached by two suspects,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “After a brief struggle, the suspects stole the victim’s backpack and fled on foot. The victim suffered minor injuries that did not require medical treatment.”

Arriving officers, including a K9 unit, attempted to track down the suspects — described as males in their late teens or early 20s — but were unable to locate them. They did, however, find the backpack thanks to a Good Samaritan.

“Arriving officers canvased the area and the victim’s backpack was recovered in the area by an independent witness,” police said. “The investigation is ongoing.”

A resident told ARLnow that the daylight robbery was “violent” and witnessed by several residents, some of whom tried to chase down the suspects. She sent a photo that she said shows the suspects — who were wearing black clothing, including a knit cap and a hoodie — running down the sidewalk following the robbery.

(ARLnow could not immediately confirm that the two people in the photo were, in fact, the suspects.)

ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark did confirm that a resident “confronted the suspects in his yard,” after which “the suspects again fled on foot.” She said police do not encourage residents to chase criminal suspects.

“For your safety, citizens are not encouraged to chase suspects, however, they are encouraged to be active witnesses and report criminal activity to police by calling 911 in an emergency or 703-558-2222 in a non-emergent situation,” Clark said via email. “When providing information to dispatch, it should include a suspect(s) description, location, method and direction of travel. This will assist police arriving on scene and canvasing the area.”

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Morning Notes

Tree Falls in Aurora Highlands — A large tree fell across 23rd Street S. in Aurora Highland, near Crystal City, yesterday evening around 5:15 p.m. It happened near the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic church, between S. Ives and Hayes streets, amid gusty winds that felled other trees and branches around Arlington. The tree reportedly fell on a passing car, but those inside the vehicle were not injured. [Twitter]

Challenger Presses Favola — “Affordable housing and ethical issues took center stage as Democratic contenders for the 31st state Senate seat last week squared off for the first time leading up to the June 11 primary. Facing an uphill battle to knock off a two-term incumbent, challenger Nicole Merlene pressed the case that state Sen. Barbara Favola is too beholden to special interests to effectively represent the district.” [InsideNova]

Overturned SUV Along I-395 — Around 6 p.m. Sunday, an SUV overturned on a ramp to I-395 near Washington Blvd. A photo sent by a tipster shows the SUV on its side near the guardrail. No serious injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Barcroft Principal Lauded — “Judy Apostolico-Buck, who has spent 32 years in the Arlington school system, has been named the county’s 2019 Principal of the Year.” She was also a finalist for Washington Post Principal of the Year. [InsideNova, Washington Post]

Small Explosion in Falls Church Condo — “At 11:10 a.m. today, a contractor working on a stove received minor injuries from a gas flash explosion in a unit at the Falls Chase Condominium, located at 1136 S Washington St. Arlington Fire and Fairfax Fire Departments responded to the scene.” [City of Falls Church, Twitter]

Nearby: Peeping Tom in Falls Church — “City of Falls Church police are looking for more information regarding a peeping tom seen outside of Saint James Catholic School.” [Tysons Reporter]

Photo courtesy Ray Villarreal

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People living in neighborhoods around Reagan National Airport say a staging lot for Uber and Lyft drivers is snarling traffic in the area, and Arlington officials are taking new steps to work out some sort of fix.

The county is convening a public meeting on the issue Thursday (Sept. 27) after hearing persistent complaints about the lot (located at 2780 Jefferson Davis Highway and adjacent to S. Eads Street and a Holiday Inn hotel) over the last few months.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) started routing rideshare drivers to the lot in April, in order to account for construction as part of the airport’s massive improvement project known as “Project Journey,” and required drivers to wait there until would-be passengers request rides at the airport. Since then, neighbors have grown particularly concerned with the congestion the change has caused on S. Eads Street, with the Arlington Ridge, Aurora Highlands and Crystal City civic associations all mentioning it in recent community newsletters.

“Although there is no objection to the parking lot itself, the single entry/exit on S. Eads Street is causing considerable traffic problems and dangerous driving conditions,” the Crystal City Civic Association wrote in its September newsletter. “Plus, drivers in a hurry are [cutting] through the CVS and McDonald’s parking lots to get to the airport ramp on Route 1.”

The Arlington Ridge Civic Association added that the number of drivers cutting through those lots has “reached epic proportions,” and that “the police are now monitoring both.”

The civic associations noted in their missives that they’re pressing the county to reopen the lot’s access to Route 1, in a bid to ease traffic on S. Eads Street. But VDOT has jurisdiction over Route 1, meaning state officials would have to approve any change to the traffic pattern in the area.

“The county estimates the design work and construction to provide ingress and egress from the staging area onto Route 1 may take up to 14 months to complete and cost upwards of $250,000, which is not currently included in the county’s budget,” the Crystal City Civic Association wrote. “While undertaking this engineering work, the county says it is also exploring interim measures and/or options for phased implementation, which will also require coordination with and actions taken by both VDOT and MWAA.”

To that end, the county says it’s invited officials from both MWAA and VDOT to Thursday’s meeting. That gathering is set to be held at the Aurora Hills Community Center (735 18th Street S.) from 7-8:30 p.m.

Photo 1 via Google Maps

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Work could soon get started on the once-controversial overhaul of Nelly Custis Park in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood.

The County Board is set to approve a $643,000 contract for construction at the park, located at 701 24th Street S., at its meeting this weekend. Changes will include some fixes to the park’s drainage problems, new plantings and fresh playground equipment.

The latter feature attracted the most community scrutiny two years ago, with a group dubbed the “Friends of Aurora Highlands Parks” doing battle with neighbors over the utility of adding more playground space to the park. Opponents argued the playground was unnecessary, as it was the third playground in just over one block, and took up green space at the small park, which is just under one acre in size.

The spat ultimately led to county officials issuing a public apology for their handling of the situation, and the county ultimately convened a neighborhood working group to refine the project’s scope.

The current construction plans call for “a play space designed for ages 5-12 in addition to non-structured casual space” and replacements for “outdated” playground equipment, per a staff report prepared for the Board. The project will be funded as part of the county’s “Neighborhood Conservation” program, a fund set aside for minor neighborhood infrastructure improvements that could see big cuts and other changes in the coming years.

So long as the Board approves the contract Saturday (Sept. 22), the county hopes to begin work on Nelly Custis Park before the year is out and wrap it up by summer 2019.

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Arlington police are searching for two men who they believe attacked their rideshare driver in an Aurora Highlands neighborhood.

Police say the confrontation began yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) around the 700 block of 15th Street S., near the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, when the driver got into an argument with three passengers about where to drop them off.

The driver then ended the ride, and as the three men left the car, police believe one man “threw a glass bottle at the vehicle, shattering the window” while another spit on the driver. The three men fled before police arrived.

More details from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED VEHICLE, 2018-07170218, 700 block of 15th Street S. at approximately 4:40 p.m. on July 17, police were dispatched to the report of a dispute. Upon arrival, it was determined that following a dispute over drop-off location between a rideshare driver and passengers, the driver ended the trip. While the three passengers were exiting the vehicle, one suspect threw a glass bottle at the vehicle, shattering the window, and a second suspect spit on the driver. The suspects fled on foot prior to police arrival. Suspect One is described as a black male, 16-17 years old, approximately 5’5″ and 100 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes, wearing a white tank top, blue jeans, a green and yellow bracelet. Suspect Two is described as a black male, 16-17 years old, approximately 5’5″ and 100 lbs., with long hair sticking out of the top of a black bandanna, brown eyes, wearing blue jeans and a white tank top, with a tattoo on his arm. Suspect Three is described as a black male, 16-17 years old, approximately 5’7″ and 120 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes, wearing a skull cap, white tank top, black jeans and diamond earrings. The investigation is ongoing.

Here are more highlights from the crime report, including some that we’ve already reported:

ATTEMPTED BURGLARY, 2018-07170184, 600 block of N. Vermont Street. At approximately 3:15 p.m. on July 17, police were dispatched to the late report of breaking and entering. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 12:00 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., a known suspect attempted to force entry to the victim’s residence, causing damage. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-07160111, 1800 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 12:34 p.m. on July 16, police were dispatched to the report of a late burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 12:00 a.m. on July 15 and 11:30 a.m. on July 16, an unknown suspect forced entry into an unoccupied residence. Personal belongings of the suspect were left behind but no items were reported stolen from the residence. The investigation is ongoing.

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2018-07160266, Columbia Pike at S. George Mason Drive. At approximately 12:15 a.m. on July 17, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect was observed attempting to enter multiple vehicles and a business. A lookout was broadcast and arriving officers located a suspect matching the description provided by witnesses. Jonathan Diaz Cruz, 19, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with unlawful entry. He was held on a secured bond.

BURGLARY, 2018-07140131, 1800 block of Rhode Street. At approximately 2:22 p.m. on July 14, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a witness observed two unknown males force entry into a residence. The suspects fled the scene with the victim’s personal belongings prior to police arrival. Arriving officers established a perimeter and the area was searched with negative results. Suspect One is described as a light skinned black male, in his 20’s, 5’10” tall, approximately 150 pounds with a slim build, with black dreadlocks. He was wearing a dark t-shirt and dark cargo pants. Suspect Two is described as a dark skinned black male, in his 20’s, 5’11” tall, approximately 160 pounds with a slim build, with black dreadlocks. He was wearing no shirt, green pants and carry a dark colored bag. The investigation is ongoing.

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY (Significant), 2018-07140101, 900 block of N. Pollard Street. At approximately 11:58 a.m. on July 14, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined the victim returned to their residence and found their window shattered by a bullet fired by an unknown suspect. No one was home at the time of the incident and no injuries were reported. The investigation is ongoing.

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-07110262, 2200 block of Fairfax Drive. At approximately 9:32 p.m. on July 11, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking in the area when she observed a male suspect masturbating. Police responded to the scene, established a perimeter and conducted a search of the area. The search was assisted by the Fairfax Police Department helicopter unit and returned with negative results. The suspect is described as a white male with dark curly hair, approximately 5’9″ with an average build. The investigation is ongoing.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-07070087/07070100/07070106, 1600 block of S. Joyce Street/1600 block of S. Eads Street/2000 block of S. Eads Street. Between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on July 7, police responded to multiple reports of larcenies from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 8:00 p.m. on July 6 and 7:54 a.m. on July 7, the windows of approximately 35 vehicles were smashed and airbags stolen. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY (late), 2018-07110047, 4800 block of 1st Street N. At approximately 7:28 a.m. on July 11, police were dispatched to the report of a late commercial burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 5:00 p.m. on July 10 and 6:30 a.m. on July 11, an unknown suspect(s) forced entry to a business, causing damage, and stole cash and items of value. There is no suspect(s) description(s). The investigation is ongoing.

ROBBERY, 2018-07110214, 2200 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 5:30 p.m. on July 11, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that two male suspects entered a business, approached the cash register, and passed the employee a note demanding money. The employee initially questioned the suspects’ request, but was threatened by one of the suspects. The suspects then fled the scene on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. Suspect One is described as a black male, with dreadlocks, wearing sunglasses, a black hat, grey jacket, light blue jeans, and white and black shoes, carrying a grocery bag. Suspect Two is described as a black male, wearing white sunglasses with a dark hood covering his face, a white shirt, sweatpants and black shoes. The investigation is ongoing.

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Morning Notes

New Renderings of Crystal City Development — Property owner JBG Smith “has unveiled never-before-seen concept images of its planned 50,000-square-foot Alamo Drafthouse Cinema fronting Crystal Drive, a yet-unnamed specialty grocer and the future look of an office building it plans to convert to multifamily. The images were presented to Arlington County’s Site Plan Review Committee earlier this month.” [Washington Business Journal]

Pentagon City Mall Holiday Hours — Arlington’s biggest shopping mall, the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, will be open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Christmas Eve (Sunday) for last-minute shoppers. The mall will be closed on Christmas and open from 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. on Boxing Day (Tuesday).

Aurora Highlands Chimney Fire — Thankfully happening prior to Santa’s arrival, a smoky fire broke out in the chimney of a home in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood last night. Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames before they could potentially spread. [Twitter]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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The Arlington County Board voted yesterday (Tuesday) to buy vacant property in Aurora Highlands to create space for new parkland in the neighborhood.

The Board voted 4-1 to buy a bungalow at 905 20th Street S. and the adjacent vacant lot for $1.23 million. Chair Jay Fisette voted against the proposal.

Under a plan put forward by county staff, the house would be demolished and the driveway removed to make room for a quarter-acre public park at the intersection of 20th Street S. and S. Ives Street.

Fisette raised concerns at some aspects of the process, and the precedent it might create. Members of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association told the county about the opportunity buy the lot, and Fisette said that might create an “out of hand” system where residents request the county buy land and create more parks.

“To me, the one universal reality that I’ve experienced, given the choice or an opportunity of a park, 95 percent of people will ask for, sign a petition and want a park. Everybody likes a park,” Fisette said. “In this case, it makes it harder for me, since I can’t really justify how to distinguish this very well from the next five or 10 or 20 or 30 requests that will come, that to me is where the focus should go: how you distinguish one opportunistic lot from another.”

Board vice chair Katie Cristol also had some misgivings given the popularity of parks and how other neighborhoods could start requesting the county buy land to accommodate them. She pushed staff to show that there is a need for this new park in Aurora Highlands.

“I think if we leave it to what we’re hearing from community members about the need in their neighborhood or about the relative use of the other parks, everyone will identify a need for more parks in their neighborhood,” she said. “It’s one of the more popular uses for land in the county.”

Someone currently rents the house, but earlier this month agreed with its owner to terminate the lease on February 1, 2018, with no rent due for January. The property’s assessed 2017 value is $1.068 million.

At this stage, county staff said they intend to turn the land into casual park space with no programming, and Board members were convinced that the acquisition is worth it.

“I do look at the strategic nature of the opportunity and the relative value with which it can be had, and that ultimately tips the balance in favor of thinking this is worthwhile,” Board member Christian Dorsey said.

Photo via Google Maps

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The Arlington County Board will consider a plan to buy vacant property in Aurora Highlands to create space for new parkland in the neighborhood.

The Board is set to spend $1.23 million to buy a bungalow at 905 20th Street S. and the adjacent lot, which is vacant. Someone rents the house, but earlier this month agreed with its owner to terminate the lease on February 1, 2018, with no rent due for January. The property’s assessed 2017 value is $1.068 million.

Under a plan put forward by county staff, the house would be demolished and the driveway removed to make room for a quarter-acre public park at the intersection of 20th Street S. and S. Ives Street.

“The acquisition of the property would create an opportunity to increase park land in the densely-populated Pentagon City area,” staff wrote in a report. “The approximately [quarter-acre] new park could be used to provide the kind of casual use space residents in the area have been asking for — a park that is open and available for a range of casual uses such as having a picnic, throwing a Frisbee, laying out on a blanket, reading or having small social gatherings.”

Members of the Aurora Highlands Civic Association told the county about the opportunity buy the lot.

Photo via Google Maps

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