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A nondescript garden apartment building in Ballston has attracted the interest of a potential developer.

The developer has filed a conceptual site plan for Ballston Gardens, located at 4314 N. Carlin Springs Road, around the corner from the Harris Teeter at 600 N. Glebe Road. The brick apartment building was constructed in 1961 and has a mix of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom units, according to property records.

The preliminary proposal describes a 107-unit building, with two townhouses and 84 parking spaces, partially above and below ground.

Ballston Gardens is noticeably shorter and older than the two multifamily buildings surrounding it: The Springs, a five-story, 104-unit building owned by Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing and completed in 2016, and the Carlin Senior Apartment Community, which was built in 1996 and recently renovated.

Arlington County planning documents envision greater heights for a new residential building. A building on the Ballston Garden site could be up to six stories tall, while The Springs site is zoned for five stories and the Carlin senior apartments site for nine stories, according to an addendum to the 1995 North Quincy Street Plan, approved in 2013.

Developers have the option to file conceptual site plans before official site plan applications so they can work with a team of county staff to iron out any major zoning, code or process issues with their plans, per the county website.

When reached by phone, the developer declined to comment on the conceptual plan.

A side view of a conceptual proposal for Ballston Gardens (via Arlington County)
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Ballston’s newest wine bar and shop has started pouring.

Pirouette Café & Wine Shop, on the ground floor of J Sol apartments at 4000 Fairfax Drive, opened late last week, co-owner Philippe Loustaunau confirmed to ARLnow. Both the restaurant and wine bar’s interior and outdoor spaces are now open.

While the wine bar and retail shop are operating at regular hours, the kitchen currently is still only serving appetizers. The full menu will start being available next week, Loustaunau said.

The initial hope was to begin serving a little bit earlier in the summer — taking full advantage of the outdoor patio — but brief construction delays set it back a number of weeks. ARLnow first reported on Pirouette’s planned opening back in January.

The business comes from the wife and husband team of Jackie and Philippe Loustaunau. The couple only lives a few blocks away from the shop, in Virginia Square.

The two always dreamed of opening a restaurant near where they lived, Jackie Loustaunau told ARLnow earlier this year. They always hoped that at least one of the many mixed-use buildings going up in the neighborhood would include a local restaurant or bar. Instead of waiting for that to happen, they just did it themselves.

The restaurant, bar, and wine shop is aiming for a “causal feel” with a large assortment of wines by the glass. The menu is from executive chef Adam Hoffa, who previously worked at Fiola and St. Anselm in the District. It’s set to feature small plates like mac & cheese croquettes, entrees like pork chop Milanese, and dessert.

As Philippe Loustaunau told ARLnow in July, the hope is for Pirouette to become a neighborhood place that the two always dreamed about.

“I love the idea of meeting our customers in the street, going to the park and seeing them with their children, seeing folks at school,” Philippe said in February. “This is a neighborhood environment, which I think creates community and connects people.”

Photos via Pirouette/Instagram (as labeled)

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Bubble tea spot Kung Fu Tea has opened a new location in Ballston.

The New York City-based bubble tea chain opened earlier this week inside of the Ballston Quarter Market food hall, a mall spokesperson confirmed to ARLnow. It has moved into the stall that previously hosted Sloppy Mama’s BBQ, on the other side of Ballston Service Station and across from Go Poke.

This is Kung Fu Tea’s second Arlington location, with the other located in Clarendon at 3018 Wilson Blvd, about a mile from its new outpost.

The chain has more than 350 locations nationwide, with more on the way including one on Richmond Highway in Fairfax County.

Kung Fu Tea is known for its boba (or bubble) tea and other drinks. First opening in Queens, New York in 2010, the company claims to be “America’s largest bubble tea brand.”

Along with Kung Fu Tea, there have been several comings and goings at Ballston Quarter in recent months. Both All About Burger and Local Oyster closed over the summer, while immersive group gaming experience Immersive Gamebox opened earlier in the spring.

This week, Immersive Gamebox is debuting its latest offering: a full-scale immersive game based on Netflix’s Emmy-nominated dystopian series “Squid Game.”

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Exterior of Poppyseed Rye (staff photo)

Sandwich and salad spot Poppyseed Rye is revamping its menu and bringing on a new chef in the kitchen and as a partner.

Greg Lloyd, who worked as Executive Chef at D.C.’s busy Le Diplomate since 2016, is now the Ballston restaurant-slash-flower-shop’s chef and managing partner.

“At Le Diplomate Greg oversaw a kitchen team of 125 people, and ran one of the busiest kitchens in Washington,” a press release notes. “Prior to Le Diplomate he ran Parc in Philadelphia and Buddakan in [NYC], other properties of restaurant magnate Stephen Starr.

“This is a dream addition to our team. Greg’s talent and tenacity know no bounds,” said Poppyseed Rye partner and local serial entrepreneur Scott Parker. “He’s someone we’re looking forward to growing with, and he has revolutionized our offerings at Poppyseed Rye. We’re really thrilled to bring one of D.C.’s top chefs to Arlington, and specifically Ballston.”

Lloyd said in a statement that he wants to “make bellies happy.”

“Greg’s new menu kicks off at Poppyseed Rye effective immediately, it’s already live,” said the press release. “It features breakfast all day, with all new breakfast sandwiches and awesome classics like biscuits and gravy. He’s also added some of his favorite sandwiches and will run daily specials.”

Other menu items include a bahn mi sandwich, mushroom tart toast, and pork belly biscuit breakfast sandwich.

Poppyseed Rye has changed its hours, focusing on lunch and later breakfasts.

“To coincide with the changes, Poppyseed Rye is now open daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and has added a coffee menu to go with the new food,” the press release said. When it opened last November, the hours were 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Parker and Lloyd have their sights set on other ventures, as well. The team is now “busy concepting upcoming restaurants… to be announced in the coming months, including one project in Fells Point, Baltimore.”

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All lanes of N. Glebe Road are closed just south of Quincy Street due to a crash involving an overturned vehicle.

The single-vehicle crash took down power lines, according to scanner traffic, and the southbound lanes of Glebe are expected to be shut down for an extended period of time as a result.

One person was reportedly taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Police are on scene and investigating the cause of the crash and whether the driver might have been intoxicated.

Dominion, meanwhile, is reporting via its outage map that nearly 2,750 homes and businesses are without power in the area of the crash. The utility company expects power to be restored between 3-6 a.m.

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An end date is in sight for construction work around the Ballston Metro station.

After two years of navigating the active work site and catching the bus from temporarily relocated stops, transit riders could have access to the updated transit facilities and adjacent public areas sometime next month.

“Right now we have our sights on completion in late October,” said Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Claudia Pors.

Over the course of four phases, Arlington County aimed to improve the experience of waiting for a bus, getting dropped off by a car, and walking and cycling around the transit hub. The project added:

  • New bus shelters, sidewalks, landscaped planters and benches
  • More bike parking
  • An expanded public space along Fairfax Drive
  • A dedicated “kiss-and-ride” curb space
  • A dedicated shuttle bus curb space and bus shelter
  • Bus stop flag poles
  • Real-time bus information displays

Construction on the four-phase project started in June 2020 and was expected to end in November 2021. But a half dozen “unforeseen conditions” came up during construction, delaying completion by nearly a year, according to a county report.

Before it can sign off on the project, the county says the following three intersections need to be repaved “due to design changes and unforeseen utility work,” per the report.

  • Fairfax Drive and N. Stuart Street
  • Fairfax Drive and N. Stafford Street
  • 9th Street N. and N. Stuart Street

This will cost about $249,000, bringing the total cost of the project to around $5.7 million. The Arlington County Board is set to review a request to authorize this additional spending during its meeting on Saturday.

Contingency funding approved in the initial budget covered the cost of the other surprises. Staff said electric and telecom lines along Fairfax Drive had to be relocated and it took longer than expected to get Dominion Energy to remove existing street light poles.

The underground Metro platform and garages were also closer to the surface than staff initially estimated. To avoid hitting these structures, construction plans had to be updated and one planter had to be redesigned.

Other planters had to be remade because of how the site slopes, while additional pre-made planters had to be purchased because original estimates fell short.

A curb along N. Stafford Street needed to be realigned and a bus landing rebuilt to ensure getting on and off the bus was safe and accessible to people with disabilities.

Pors said county staff are looking forward to wrapping up.

“Obviously, we’re very excited for the completion of this project,” Pors said.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has also finalized where buses will depart from. The listed changes are set to go into effect this Sunday, Sept. 18:

1A to Vienna: Bay F
1B to Dunn Loring: Bay F
2A to Dunn Loring: Bay C
10B to Hunting Point: Bay G
22A to Pentagon: Bay G
23A, 23B, 23T to Shirlington/Crystal City: Bay H
23A, 23T to Tysons: Bay A
25B to Southern Towers/Mark Center: Bay D
38B to Farragut Square: Bay B

Meanwhile, the county is currently working to design proposed west entrance to the Ballston Metro station, located at N. Fairfax Drive and N. Vermont Street, almost a quarter of a mile west of the existing entrance.

Arlington has sought alternative funding sources to cover the ballooning cost of the project, which it attributes to inflation and having more complete designs.

Some transit advocates have argued that funding for the section entrance should be redirected to cheaper upgrades with greater impact, such as sidewalks, protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes.

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A new Japanese barbeque restaurant is coming Ballston.

New window stickers are announcing the arrival of Gyu San Japanese BBQ at 715 N. Glebe Road. That’s the Ballston Point building at the corner of Glebe and Wilson Blvd — the same one where the new coffee shop Slipstream is also going, albeit on the Wilson Blvd side.

Gyu San is moving into the space formerly occupied by Bangkok Bistro, which appears to have closed during the back end of 2020.

Last month, ARLnow reported that a retail leasing chart for the building showed a different Japanese BBQ restaurant looking to move into that location. That now appears to either be an error or a case of something changing.

There’s no word yet on when Gyu San might open, though interior construction does appear to have begun.

There does not seem to be a website or social media for a restaurant going by that name based in Arlington or, even, the United States. ARLnow has reached out to a leasing rep for the building but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Gyu San will compete with at least one other Arlington Japanese barbeque restaurant. Gyu-Kaku opened its first Virginia location about four years ago in Clarendon.

Beyond Gyu San and Slipstream, Ballston Point is also home to Which Wich, Chipotle, and World of Beer.

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The woman who was injured after being pushed out of an SUV near Ballston (via GoFundMe)

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) An arrest has been made in the case of a woman who was pushed out of a moving SUV near Ballston.

Maryna Kapovska, 25, suffered severe injuries in the May 15 incident, which happened on Wilson Blvd just west of N. Glebe Road. She has been undergoing rehabilitation, including for a traumatic brain injury, according to a GoFundMe page that has raised $50,000 to cover Kapovska’s expenses.

Arlington County police announced this afternoon (Wednesday) that a man has been arrested in the case, following a “thorough investigation,” though there’s still no word on an exact motive.

Willie Clements, a 59-year-old Maryland resident, is now facing several felony charges after being taken into custody on Friday by Arlington County Police Department tactical officers. Police say the victim entered his black SUV while waiting for a rideshare driver in D.C. around 3 a.m.

Clements “was not employed as a rideshare driver and was not operating in a for-hire status,” according to police.

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is announcing the arrest of a suspect following an aggravated malicious wounding investigation in the Bluemont neighborhood. Willie James Clements, 59, of Upper Marlboro, MD is charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding, Grand Larceny and Hit and Run. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

At approximately 3:06 a.m. on May 15, police were dispatched to the area of Wilson Boulevard at N. Vermont Street for the report of trouble unknown. The reporting party stated she was driving in the area when she observed a black SUV swerving and traveling at a high rate of speed. The passenger door to the vehicle then opened and the victim was pushed out onto the roadway. Responding officers located the female victim in the roadway and medics transported her to an area hospital with serious injuries.

The investigation revealed that earlier in the morning, the victim requested a rideshare service from the 800 block of Florida Ave NW, Washington D.C. to her residence in Arlington. While waiting for her driver to arrive, the suspect approached, the victim entered his vehicle and he drove away. The suspect was not employed as a rideshare driver and was not operating in a for-hire status.

Arlington County Police Department detectives conducted a thorough investigation including witness interviews and the review of crime scene and other evidence. The review resulted in additional information that led detectives to identify Willie James Clements as a suspect. Officers assigned to the department’s TAC Unit took the suspect into custody without incident on the afternoon of September 2.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information that may assist the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that the crime scene was “less than a mile” from where the victim lived. She was unable to say why the victim might have entered the suspect’s vehicle.

“This remains an active criminal investigation and to ensure the integrity of the prosecution, no additional details are available at this time,” Savage said.

Kapovska is originally from Ukraine and was quoted in news stories in February just before the Russian invasion.

“Our dad is defending our homeland while our mom had to flee the war to Germany,” her sister noted on the GoFundMe page.

Prior to the March incident, the 25-year-old attended a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Montgomery County weekly, sang in the choir, and posted regularly on Instagram to show support for her homeland, said a Montgomery County Media story.

As her rehabilitation continues — it’s expected to take 6-12 months, according to the GoFundMe page — she returned to Instagram two weeks ago after a long hiatus.

“Happy days,” Kapovska wrote in a post, with a photo from prior to her injuries. “Life divided into before and after. This is before, looking forward to after.”

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(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) Arlington County police are conducting a death investigation after an apparent fall from a high-rise condo in Ballston.

Numerous police units could be seen Monday afternoon and evening around The Continental condo building at 851 N. Glebe Road, near the Westin hotel and the P.F. Chang’s restaurant. A photo sent by a reader shows a tent set up by police in an alley next to the building.

Police first responded to the scene shortly after 3:30 p.m. Initial reports suggest that someone had died and an investigation was underway on the ground and on the 17th floor of the building.

“ACPD is conducting a death investigation in the 800 block of N. Glebe Road,” police department spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed Monday night to ARLnow. “This appears to be an isolated incident and the preliminary investigation has not revealed an ongoing threat to the community. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.”

Savage also confirmed a report that someone had been led away in handcuffs, but said it was on a drug charge.

“An adult female was arrested on a narcotics charge,” she said. “Officers remain on scene investigating.”

No other details were immediately available. A resident of the building said they were kept in the dark about what exactly was happening.

“They are not telling residents anything,” the resident told ARLnow.

Driving west on Wilson Blvd from Clarendon, there’s a new addition to the landscape near Mario’s Pizza: a large cement block wall.

The wall is the rear of a new CVS going up along the 3330 block of Wilson Blvd, the former site of the Highlander Motor Inn. The nearly 20-foot-tall, windowless monolith is oriented so that it faces the street. The entrance to the new CVS is set for N. Kenmore Street.

The large blank wall has already attracted the ire of some residents. ARLnow recently received emails from several locals calling the structure an “eyesore,” a “failure,” and “The Great Wall of Clarendon.”

This all comes after a multi-year legal battle that included an unsuccessful appeal by Arlington County to the Virginia Supreme Court. It ended with the county being handcuffed in terms of regulating what’s built at the site.

“The design for this project shows a solid wall fronting on Wilson Blvd. The store frontage will be on N. Kenmore St,” a Department of Community, Planning and Housing Development spokesperson told ARLnow. “This project is occurring through by-right development; therefore there are no Zoning requirements for the orientation of buildings or structures. In addition, the County is limited in its overall regulation of by-right development projects.”

For more than five decades, the 3330 block of Wilson Blvd was the home of the Highlander motel, owned by the family of local businessman Billy Bayne.

In 2015, Bayne made the decision to lease the land to CVS, which planned to build a new store and pharmacy. However, there were complications to the deal, with the county balking at allowing the existing parking lot on N. Kenmore Street to be used again for parking.

Decisions were appealed several times before a circuit judge ruled that Bayne, as owner, was allowed to do what he wished with the property. The case was denied consideration by the state’s top court after a series of appeals.

Bayne, who also owns the Crystal City Gentlemen’s Club and Restaurant, claimed he lost nearly $2 million while the project stalled.

“It’s not okay to do this to somebody,” Bayne said in 2018. “There will be ramifications for this.”

He ended up suing the county for civil rights violations in 2019, but the suit was ultimately dismissed.

The project moved forward, with the motel closing early last year before being torn down. Before it shuttered, though, Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services rented out the hotel as a Covid quarantine location. While it probably didn’t resolve all animosity, the county thanked Bayne as someone who “really stepped up and helped” during a time of crisis.

But now it is neighbors in the Ashton Heights and Virginia Square area who are upset with what’s being done to the property.

“After the long court battle with the owner of the Highlander, CVS is throwing its ‘f you very much’ by placing a blank wall along Wilson Boulevard,” one resident told ARLnow. “Can’t wait for the future graffiti — I mean, community arts project!”

“There is no other commercial enterprise on Wilson Blvd in the area that presents so brazenly (or more likely thoughtlessly) a facade that is so grossly inconsistent with the urban ‘smart growth’ model,” another resident wrote, calling it “unfit… for this area.”

ARLnow reached out to CVS about the wall and received the following response.

“A new CVS Pharmacy store is currently under construction on Wilson Boulevard in Arlington and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022. The wall that is currently facing Wilson Boulevard will be part of the permanent structure and is included in the overall construction and design plan approved by Arlington development officials,” a CVS spokesperson said.

So, the “Great Wall of Clarendon” is apparently here to stay and there isn’t much the county or residents can do at this point.

“It could be a major eyesore on the street for the next 30 to 40 years,” said a local resident.

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Coffee shop Slipstream set to move into Ballston early next year (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) D.C-based coffee shop Slipstream is looking to serve fresh cups of joe in Ballston next year.

Slipstream is opening its first location outside of the District on the ground floor of the Ballston Point building, at 4300 Wilson Blvd, down the street from Chipotle and near the intersection with N. Glebe Road.

While construction has yet to start, Slipstream co-owner Ryan Fleming told ARLnow, that the plan is to open in early 2023.

The coffee shop and cafe currently has three locations, all in D.C. It specializes in single-origin coffee, loose-leaf teas, breakfast sandwiches, toast, and rice bowls.

Fleming said they chose to expand Ballston because it’s a “great neighborhood that is growing and has a mix of business and residential buildings.”

The Ballston shop will be similar to the other locations, but “adapted slightly to fit the unique neighborhood.”

“With every location we open we strive to improve operations and service, and this location will hopefully continue that trend,” Fleming said. “We will have more details on the operational changes closer to opening.”

Slipstream will compete with a number of existing Ballston coffee shops, including Good Company, Dunkin, Compass Coffee, Philz, and multiple Starbucks locations.

Slipstream’s move to Ballston was noted on a retail leasing chart for the building viewed by ARLnow. Also included in the document is a new location for Japanese barbeque restaurant Gyu Shige, in the space formerly occupied by Bangkok Bistro, which looks to have closed sometime in the latter half of 2020.

However, Gyu Shige representatives told ARLnow that they are, in fact, not moving to Ballston and the only location they have and are currently planning to have in Virginia is in the Mosaic District.

The Ballston neighborhood has been in flux recently. Across from the new Slipstream, Silver Diner is finally set to open this fall five years after being first announced. Nearby, Buffalo Wild Wings is closing at the end of this month.

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