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by ARLnow.com — November 3, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

The Arlington County Board is scheduled this month to hear a proposal to replace Ballston watering hole Carpool with a 22-story luxury apartment building.

Developer Penzance and a real estate investment firm acquired the Carpool property and an adjacent office building just under a year ago. In a site plan amendment, Penzance is proposing to build a 330,000 square foot, 330-unit residential building on the Carpool site at 4000 Fairfax Drive.

The 1960s-era, 10-story Webb Building next to Carpool, which was recently renovated and is being used on an interim basis by Marymount University during construction on its “Blue Goose” site, will remain “for the near future.”

The new residential building will have a 264-space parking garage, but 66 spaces will be made available to residents in the Webb Building’s garage, which has 286 spaces. The residential building will also have 8,400 square feet of ground floor retail space, and will be built to LEED Gold sustainability standards.

The Arlington Planning Commission heard testimony from the developer last night (Monday). The County Board is expected to decide on final approval at its Nov. 14 or 17 meeting. A draft document indicates that county staff is recommending the site plan amendment be approved.

There’s no word yet on when Carpool will close nor when construction will start on the new building.

Update at 11/17/15: Consideration of this development was deferred to the County Board’s December meeting.

by ARLnow.com — November 2, 2015 at 6:00 pm 0

Ahmad-El-Khatib (photo via ACPD)A man listed as a co-founder of an Islamic education and recreation center has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy in Ballston.

Ahmad El-Khatib, 31, was arrested Sunday morning at a friend’s apartment building on the 800 block of N. Randolph Street. Police say El-Khatib had been out with friends in D.C. Saturday night and came back to his friend’s building.

Around 3:40 a.m., a 13-year-old boy who was sleeping in the club room of the building was awakened to find a stranger touching him in appropriately, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The teen immediately fled the room and reported the incident to a family member, who was working as the building’s overnight concierge.

The concierge reviewed surveillance footage and found that the incident had been caught on video, Sternbeck said. Later that morning, when El-Khatib was leaving the building, an employee identified him as the suspect in the video and called police. El-Khatib was arrested on scene, said Sternbeck.

El-Khatib, an Annandale resident, has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and is being held without bond.

El-Khatib is listed as the “founding director” of the NUR Center, an Islamic education, recreation and cultural center with locations in Loudoun County and on Carlin Springs Road in Falls Church. The center offers Montessori classes for ages 3-9, along with after school activities for ages 5-12 and youth day and summer camps.

Also on the NUR Center website, El-Khatib is listed as the coach of a martial arts team based at Abingdon Elementary School, in Arlington’s Fairlington community. On his LinkedIn profile, he’s listed as the “program director” of the NUR Center and a company called Arlington Day Camps LLC.

A website for Arlington Day Camps has the following biography for El-Khatib:

Ahmad El-Khatib has directed art, fitness, and enrichment camps in the DMV area for over 10 years. His programs have been offered at Fairfax County Rec Centers, Sport and Health Clubs, Abingdon Elementary, Drew Model School, Lyles Crouch Traditional Academy, and Randolph Elementary. In 2010, he founded the NUR Center, a Montessori School and After-School recreation center for children and adults. His working partnerships with local schools gave him the ability to establish strong relationships with some of the areas most extraordinary teachers. In September 2013, with the support of his staff and community, he established Arlington Day Camps in an effort to provide quality and affordable camps during school holidays and teacher work days.

A phone number listed for El-Khatib went straight to a full voicemail box. An employee at the NUR Center in Loudoun County did not have any information on El-Khatib’s arrest, and an email to the company has not been returned. Attempts to reach Mary El-Khatib, who’s listed as a NUR Center co-founder and a former Arlington Public Schools teacher, were also unsuccessful.

by ARLnow.com — October 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm 3,414 0

Sunoco robbery suspect (photo via ACPD)(Updated at 2 p.m.) Arlington County Police have swarmed the area around Ballston in search of two armed robbery suspects.

The Sunoco gas station at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Washington Blvd was robbed earlier this afternoon by two suspects, one of whom has a gun, according to police.

While police try to track down the suspects, nearby Washington-Lee High School has been placed in “secure the school” mode, which usually means that exterior doors are locked and students are not allowed outside.

Around 2 p.m., police released a surveillance image of a robbery suspect, taken inside the Sunoco’s convenience store.

by ARLnow.com — October 20, 2015 at 11:30 am 0

Commercial vehicle parked in the bike lane on Quincy Street (image via Google Maps)A prominent local cycling organization is launching a campaign to push for changes to make Ballston more bike friendly.

The Washington Area Bicycling Association will be holding a campaign kick off event at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) on Wednesday, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The campaign is the work of the group’s Action Committee for Arlington County.

Protected bike lane on Quincy Street (image via WABA)“For the past few months, we have been hard at work planning how to transform Ballston into a place where it is not just possible to bike, but actually fun, easy, safe and stress free — and while we’re at it — walkable, too!” says a web page for the event.

The campaign will focus on the N. Quincy Street bike lanes. While the nearby Custis Trail is used by some 2,000 people per day, WABA says, the Quincy Street bike lanes are used by fewer than 400. A big part of that lack of use: safety.

From WABA:

The existing Quincy Street bike lanes are uncomfortably close to frequent and fast moving traffic. The bike lanes disappear at a major intersection (Washington Blvd) forcing people on bicycles to merge with drivers already navigating a tricky intersection.  Delivery vehicles and double parked cars frequently block these lanes creating more merging conflicts as drivers and bicyclists try to share the same space. Furthermore, the lanes are difficult to access from the Custis Trail because there are no stop signs or traffic lights to help south-bound cyclists cross the street.

While bike lanes may be sufficient for experienced cyclists, they are not the kind of protected, inviting infrastructure that we need to get more Arlington residents to feel comfortable getting around by bicycle.

The group wants to see protected bike lanes on Quincy Street, complete with bollards preventing illegal parking in the bike lane, from the Custis Trail to N. Glebe Road.

Among the benefits, according to WABA, would be:

  • Improved safety for commuters, Washington-Lee High Schools students and other cyclists
  • More spending by bicyclists at local businesses
  • More confidence for drivers who are passing by cyclists

Under WABA’s proposal, lanes would be narrowed on Quincy Street and street parking would be placed between the protected bike lane and the vehicle travel lane.

by Heather Mongilio — October 19, 2015 at 4:15 pm 1,439 0

The County Board unanimously approved the plans for a new six-story development on Glebe Road in Ballston during it meeting on Saturday.

The new building, to be located at 670 N. Glebe Road, will be developed by Penrose Group. It is planned to have 173 apartments, seven of which will be affordable housing units, two different retails spaces on the ground floor and an underground garage with 177 parking spaces and 70 bicycle spots.

The building, to be known as 672 Flats, will sit on the site of a current Exxon gas station, used sales lot and parking lot, which are across from the Ballston Commons Mall and a few blocks from the Ballston Metro station.

“672 Flats is part of the exciting redevelopment of the west side of Glebe Road in Ballston. Importantly, this new building is the last piece in the long-planned transition from the high rise mall to the site-plan townhome communities built nearly 25 years ago,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement.

Under the approved site plan for the development, the seven affordable housing units must stay affordable for 30 years. Penrose will be giving the county $75,000 for the public art fund and $12,000 toward a new bus shelter. The site plan also requires the developer to reimburse the county for the $7,000 needed to conduct transportation and parking performance studies.

The new development will provide a tapering of density from the the core of Ballston to the neighborhoods that surround it, the county said.

“The site, located between North Carlin Springs Road and Seventh Street North, will provide a transition from the high-density commercial core of Ballston to medium-density residential uses to the west,” said a press release. “Between 672 Flats and the abutting townhouses, The Townes of Ballston, a shared alley will have plantings and a special paving treatment to ease the transition between the new residential building and the existing townhouses.”

The County Board’s decision was met with little protest, with only three speakers talking about the development during public comment. Of the three, two spoke out against the site plan, while the third spoke on behalf of the Bluemont Civic Association in support of the new development.

“Some 40 homeowners were planning to attend today but given the positive report before you they decided to go about their normal activities. On behalf of them and Bluemont, we support, enthusiastically support, the site plan on the agenda today,” said Terry Serie, who led the civic association’s task force on the Glebe Road development.

Other Arlington residents raised concerns about a supposed lack of transparency surrounding the Board’s process and the possibility of extending street parking on N. Glebe Road.

Under the site plan, Penrose will have to work with the Virginia Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study of extended street parking on N. Glebe Road. The developer will also be required to help implement the new parking spaces and meters.

Local civic activist Bernie Berne criticized the decision to increase parking spaces on the Glebe Road, saying that it would cause the road to be even more dangerous to cyclists.

“Glebe Road is a major cycling route, even though its not dedicated as one. You put parking there, the card doors will open in the way of people on the bikes,” Berne said. “This is one of the biggest hazards of cycling. There’s no bike lanes there. There are no plans for a bike lane on Glebe Road. You put parking there, people are going to be on the sidewalks.”

by Heather Mongilio — October 12, 2015 at 4:05 pm 2,085 0

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A new six-story residential building may be coming to Ballston.

The County Board is scheduled to vote Saturday on a proposal by developer Penrose Group to turn a parking lot, used car lot and Exxon  gas station into a six-story mixed-use building. County staff is recommending that the Board approve the request.

If approved the new building, located at 670 N. Glebe Road — across from Ballston Common Mall and a few blocks from the Ballston Metro station — will have 173 apartments, 177 parking spaces in an underground garage and two separate retail spaces on the ground floor. The first retail area with 1,799 square feet will be located at the corner of N. Glebe Road and 7th Street N. The second area, which is 2,527 square feet, will be at the corner of N. Carlin Springs Road and N. Glebe Road.

The new mixed-use development — originally dubbed 672 Flats — will also have bike storage, two lobbies, a leasing office, mail room, gym and amenity room on its ground floor. There will be 175 parking spots for residents and two for retail uses. Typically, the county calls for at least eight retail parking spots for mixed-use buildings.

“Staff supports the applicant’s request for modification because of the small amount of retail space and the likelihood of its serving users in the immediate vicinity of the site, and the availability of parking in the Ballston area. The applicant’s proposal implements the ‘High-Medium Residential Mixed-Use’ General Land Use Plan (GLUP) designation in that it provides a transition from the high-density commercial core of Ballston to medium-density residential uses to the west,” county staff said.

Of the 173 apartments, at least seven of them will be committed affordable units (CAFs), according to Penrose Group’s proposal. The building falls under the Bluemont Civic Association.

“The applicant is proposing bonus density in exchange for achieving LEED Silver certification consistent with the County’s Green Building Density Incentive program, and is proposing an affordable housing plan including a cash contribution and seven (7) on-site committed affordable units (CAFs) consistent with Arlington County Zoning Ordinance (ACZO) requirements,” county staff said.

According to county staff, Penrose Group’s proposal for the mixed-use building fits in with the 1980 Ballston Sector Plan and the 1981 West Ballston Land Use Study.

“The proposed site plan implements a successful transition through use of architecture to the existing townhouses abutting the site to the west, including façade design, plantings, and a special paving treatment in the alley,” county staff said.

by Heather Mongilio — October 8, 2015 at 10:30 am 0

"Secrets of Crystal City" graphicGroups of cyclists will get to explore the “secrets” of three Arlington neighborhoods this month.

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is organizing the 5-6 mile evening rides with Bike Arlington.

First up tonight is the Secrets of Crystal City. The ride will start tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Crystal City Water Park, on the 1700 block of Crystal Drive, and end just down the street at TechShop around 8 p.m.

“On our ‘Secrets of Crystal City’ ride, we’ll open your eyes to a whole new side of one of Arlington’s signature neighborhoods,” WABA said on the event’s website.

The rides continue weekly, with a tour of Shirlington on Oct. 14 and a ride through Ballston on Oct. 28. Another ride will take cyclists across the river on a haunted ghost ride on Capitol Hill in D.C. on Oct. 23.

Reservations for each tour costs $10, but it’s half off for WABA members and free for Capital Bikeshare members. Participants must provide their own bikes and helmets. The rides are open to anyone over 14 years old.

The tour is also accepting walk-ups depending on the amount of available space in the tour group. Walk-up riders can participate for free.

by Heather Mongilio — October 2, 2015 at 6:30 pm 1,960 0

Lights are dark along Washington Blvd in Ballston after a tree fell, pulling power lines down.

A large tree fell across N. Stuart Street, bringing power lines down and causing a power outage. N. Stuart Street is currently closed to traffic.

Power is currently out from N. Stafford Street to N. Glebe Road. Police officers are directing traffic at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Washington Blvd.

Dominion is reporting 188 customers out of service, with an estimated restoration time between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. Washington-Lee High School is also out of power, according to a police officer working security at the school.

by Heather Mongilio — October 1, 2015 at 11:05 am 0

New Sweet Leaf location on N. Glebe Road in Ballston

Sweet Leaf Café is planning to open another Ballston location.

The new café should open before the end of the year, but the company does not have a set opening date, said Sweet Leaf CEO Andre Matini.

The new Ballston location at 800 N. Glebe Road is about a 10 minute walk from the company’s first café in Ballston (650 N. Quincy Street).

“Our first Ballston location is doing really well. Having another one in the area will reduce some of the load for our team and for customers,” Matini said.

Sweet Leaf — which serves coffee, breakfast, sandwiches and salads — is planning to open a new café at Tysons Corner Center mall, as well. Both the Ballston and Tysons restaurants are set to open in winter 2015, as listed on the company’s website.

“We want to make healthy eating available, we also want people to be able to stop in as conveniently as possible. We think everyone wants to eat healthy,” Matini said. “Unfortunately, it can more more convenient to grab a value meal instead. Opening another location [in Ballston] will help us achieve our goal.”

The company is thinking about expanding into Rosslyn and Clarendon, Matini said, adding that the original Ballston and Courthouse locations have been doing well.

“We have had a great experience opening our first location in Courthouse and our second location in Ballston, the community has a real appreciation for health oriented, natural, tasty and affordable meals in a fast-casual environment,” Matini said.

Sweet Leaf is currently hiring for the Ballston location and is looking for chefs, assistant managers and shift leaders. Job applications can be found on the company’s website.

Hat tip to Rick Williams

by Heather Mongilio — September 28, 2015 at 11:00 am 0

9Round logo (Courtesy of 9Round)Kickboxing gym 9Round is planning to open two new Arlington locations, one in Ballston and another on Columbia Pike.

The new Ballston location at 927 N. Quincy Street may be open as early as next week, pending final approval from Arlington, said 9Round partner Michael Agrillo.

The company is looking to open the gym at the Penrose Square shopping center on Columbia Pike the end of the year or beginning of 2016, Agrillo said.

“We will be located by the new Starbucks under the Super Giant,” he said.

The company may also look at a new space in Pentagon City or Crystal City, bringing the total number of Arlington locations to four, Agrillo said. The company first opened in Arlington with a location in Courthouse, at 2250 Clarendon Blvd.

“We’re also residents,” Agrillo said of his partners in the business. “We know this area well.”

“9Round offers a 30 minute boxing/kickboxing fitness program that incorporates functional, interval, cardiovascular and circuit training regimens,” the company said in a press release about the openings. “There are no class times and no person to person contact; members can come to the studio whenever it fits their schedule and get started on the circuit right away.”

In addition to the three new Arlington locations, the company is planning to open up a new gym in Falls Church.

Disclosure: 9Round is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

by ARLnow.com — September 14, 2015 at 12:10 pm 6,172 0

Update at 5:30 p.m. — The FBI has published a wanted poster, seeking information on this morning’s robbery. A reward of up to $5,000 is offered.

Earlier: Arlington County Police are on the scene of a bank robbery in Ballston.

A man reportedly robbed the HSBC Bank at 4075 Wilson Blvd by implying that he had a gun and threatening to shoot a bank employee. He ran off after being given cash.

Police are searching the surrounding area for the man, who was last seen running north on N. Randolph Street.

The suspect is described as a six-foot tall black male in his 50s or 60s, who was wearing a red hat, green shirt and glasses at the time of the robbery, according to scanner traffic.

No customers were reported inside the bank at the time of the robbery. The bank was last robbed in 2010.

by Heather Mongilio — September 10, 2015 at 4:45 pm 3,137 0

4000 Wilson Blvd, the future home of Pepita, Kapnos Taverna and Yona

Restaurant entrepreneur and Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella is throwing a “block party” to celebrate the opening of his three Ballston restaurants.

The event will be held at the patio at The View apartment building (4000 Wilson Blvd) on Sept. 12 from 1-4 p.m.

For $65, guests will enjoy food from Isabella’s three Arlington-based restaurants — PepitaKapnos Taverna and Yona, which opens in the fall — while listening to live jazz.

“The event is going to be a big party. It is a great way to experience food from all three of Mike Isabella’s Ballston restaurants, including forthcoming Yona, with live entertainment from the jazz duo The Potash Twins and DJ Toast,” said Madeline Harrington, a public relations rep for the restaurants.

Guests will be able to sample food from each restaurant at the event. There will be crispy cauliflower and barbecue goat tacos and Mexican corn on the cob from Pepita. From Kapnos Taverna, guests will be able to try spit roasted pork, falafel and classic Greek spreads. Yona, Isabella’s newest restaurant, will provide pork and kimchi dumplings, Japanese curry potato croquettes and Korean fried chicken.

“[There will be] great food, great drinks and lively music,” Harrington said. “A great way to say goodbye to the summer.”

Isabella’s first Arlington venture, Kapnos Taverna, opened last January. Pepita opened in the same building at the end of July, and new restaurant Yona is expected to open in late fall, she said.

Yona will be a Japanese noodles and small plates restaurant with new and traditional takes on ramen and other Asian dishes, she said.

“Mike loves the neighborhood. Both Kapnos Taverna and Pepita have been a huge success, and each concept is set up so that it doesn’t compete with the others other,” Harrington said. “Yona will be something fresh and new for Ballston, so it made sense [for him to open another restaurant].”

by Heather Mongilio — September 8, 2015 at 5:30 pm 6,000 0

New offerings inside Willow Restaurant: Nosh Bistro and Kate at Willow Bakery

Willow restaurant in Ballston will close its doors this month.

The eatery at 4301 N. Fairfax Drive announced its end in an email, saying that after 10 years and six days, the restaurant will “close for good” on Sept. 19.

“We plan on going out the same way we came in, with graciousness, generosity and positive energy… all sprinkled with some great food, wine & company,” Willow’s management team said in the email.

Nosh @ Willow, a small plates bistro within the restaurant, will also close.

The restaurant will offer specials and promotions leading up to it closing. In the email, the staff thanked its customers for the many years of support.

Willow Restaurant has been featured in several food events this year, including a Taste of Arlington, the Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week and the DC BRGR Bash, where it won for the third year in a row.

“For us, this adventure has always been about the people and the relationships that have grown out of Willow,” restaurant management said. “Whether it is a one time guest, a wedding reception, our amazing regular customers or our rock star staff, what stands out the most is how truly blessed we have been to have such amazing people in our lives.”

Willow opened in 2005, under the leadership of chef and co-owner Tracy O’Grady. ARLnow.com has reached out to O’Grady for more information on why the owners made the decision to close.

by ARLnow.com — September 4, 2015 at 10:35 am 1,912 0

End of summer sunset (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Ballston Restaurant Makes Habit of Breaking Plates — Order the suckling pig at SER restaurant (1110 N. Glebe Road) in Ballston and the chef will chop it at the table with the blunt edge of a plate. After the chopping is done, the chef will smash the plate, as part of a Spanish tradition. [Washington Post]

Dem Dinner May Be Renamed — The Arlington County Democratic Committee is considering renaming its annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, given that the event is currently named after two slaveholding presidents. [InsideNova]

Oakridge Pedal Desks Get National Attention — The pedal desks at Oakridge Elementary are getting some attention from a national cycling magazine, which write that the desk is “is a novel idea because it allows a child to fidget without creating a distraction.” [Bicycling]

School Bus Cameras to Start Issuing TicketsStop sign cameras on Arlington school buses will start issuing $250 tickets on Tuesday, the first day of school. The cameras were installed earlier this year and started issuing warnings this summer to those who drive past school buses while the stop sign is deployed. [ARLnow]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com — September 4, 2015 at 9:10 am 4,531 0

Metro logo on an Orange Line stationMetrorail riders should expect residual delays on the Orange, Silver and Blue lines after someone fell on the track at the Ballston Metro station.

Metro is describing the incident as a “medical emergency.” A Twitter user said a woman walked off the platform and onto the tracks.

“Lady just walked smooth off the platform onto the tracks at Ballston station right in front of me,” said @Durrrius.

Fire department radio traffic indicates that the patient has been removed from the tracks and is now being treated by medics.

Metro says that trains are again moving through the station, with residual delays in both directions.

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