(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) A reported large teen party at a vacant house in Bluemont was broken up by police this past weekend.
Police were called to the 700 block of N. Abingdon Street, just west of Ballston, around 8:30 p.m. Friday. A caller reported a group of “50 to 100” teens running around outside, drinking, climbing on the roof of the house, blocking the street, and breaking things on an adjacent property.
“Upon arrival of officers, approximately 25 juveniles dispersed from in front of the home and no one was located inside,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The investigation determined the juvenile suspects made entry into the vacant residence, resulting in property damage. The investigation is ongoing.”
Scanner traffic at the time suggested that arriving officers saw teens drinking in the back of a car and a possible fight about to break out — but everyone scattered upon seeing the police vehicles. No one was found inside the house during a police search, an ACPD spokeswoman said.
Dashcam video shared anonymously with ARLnow, below, shows the party in progress.
A tipster told ARLnow that this fits “a pattern” of Washington-Liberty High School students of a certain grade level “having large parties.” The police spokeswoman this was the first such incident at this property this year, but was unable to say whether similar incidents have happened at other vacant houses.
(Updated at 9:50 a.m.) Upgraded tennis facilities and greater flood prevention are two focal points in proposed upgrades to the upper area of Bluemont Park.
Last month, Arlington County released new designs revealing its plans for the public park, informed by public engagement over the last three years.
It is soliciting feedback on the newest draft through next Thursday, April 20. Respondents are asked how satisfied they are with the concept, on a scale of 1 to 10, and to share any additional feedback.
The upper section of Bluemont Park is set to get new tennis courts and other amenities for players and spectators, as well as a building with restrooms, picnic furnishings, a resurfaced parking lot and more native shrubs and trees.
“Our project team focused on three key areas: improved recreational amenities, improved access and safety for vehicles and pedestrians, as well as, of course, protecting and enhancing natural resources,” said Adam Segel-Moss, a communications specialist with the parks department, in a video explaining the project.
The number of tennis courts will stay the same, at nine, but they will be spread farther apart and raised about a foot so they do not flood. There will be shaded areas for players and coaches, a stand-alone brick practice wall and more places for spectators.
Three courts intended for special events will be wider than the others, with two dedicated shade areas and fencing separating them from other courts.
Several residents in previous public engagement sessions requested less paved area and more trees to mitigate flooding that has impacted the area, such as the flash flooding in July 2019.
In response, a county presentation highlights an overall decrease in paved surfaces of about 12% and a net increase of 91 trees. A new “reforestation area” between the courts and Four Mile Run, where native shrubs and trees will be planted, will see a 52% decrease in paved surface.
To decrease runoff from the parking lot, the county is also exploring the use of planting beds for pavement runoff and permeable paving, says Segel-Moss. Site-wide, plans call for more stormwater management and drainage, something that the “reforestation area” will naturally help with.
“Reforestation will assist with filtering pollutants and reduce volume of stormwater runoff and prevent erosion and perform other important biological and ecological functions such as carbon sequestration,” Segel-Moss said.
Other upgrades include moving the parking lot entrance farther south on N. Manchester Street to improve safety and circulation. The current entrance is close to the intersection of N. Manchester Street and Wilson Blvd, causing a “pinch point,” according to the plans.
While the number of parking spaces will remain the same, at 68, the spaces will be repainted at a 90-degree angle, which Segel-Moss said is “much more efficient” than the current angling of the spaces.
The reforestation area, meanwhile, will also get new picnic tables and seating areas “to ensure this amenity can be enjoyed by every park visitor whether they play tennis or not,” he said.
The design process is set to wrap up at the end of 2023 with construction beginning in the later half of 2024 and wrapping up a little more than a year after that, per a project webpage.
Some have supported multi-use courts permitting play of the increasingly popular — and contentious — sport of pickleball. While the county is preparing to stripe more tennis courts for this sport, Bluemont Park is not in the running.
County staff told the Bluemont Civic Association last fall that the courts “are meant to be Arlington’s premier tennis facility,” but they would talk to Bluemont residents about possibly adding pickleball uses at the Bon Air Park tennis court across the street, per a civic association newsletter.
La Unión Restaurant offers a blend of both Salvadoran and Mexican dishes for a diverse Arlington community.
To some folks, La Unión is a municipality in the La Unión Department of El Salvador, but for the people here in Arlington, it’s a local restaurant where you can order some top notch inspired Salvadoran and Mexican food.
The story of La Unión Restaurant starts in El Salvador where married couple Jose and Zoila Zelaya, both only 16 and 18 years old, came to the United States to escape tension caused by war in their hometown. They never looked back.
I caught up with the current owner and son of Jose and Zoila, Jose (Joey) Zelaya. Jose was born in providence Rhode Island and was one of four siblings and is the third oldest. He moved with his family to Arlington in 1981, “We lived in north Arlington, south Arlington, we have a lot of family here so growing up was fun.” Jose said.
A real stand up individual, he is filled with laughs and enthusiasm for his customers, and devoted to the community and the food he serves.
La Unión Restaurant opened in 1998 but Jose says that story starts in 1993 with the La Unión Grocery store, located on what is now Cherry Hill Road. The family owned this spot up until 2019, when they sold it.
“The restaurant came about because we wanted to build a kitchen inside the grocery store but at the time the county wouldn’t let us,” said Jose. “That’s when we looked for a restaurant and that’s how La Unión Restaurant came to be.”
But where did the Mexican inspiration come from? After all, La Unión Restaurant recognizes itself as both a Mexican and Salvadoran restaurant.
“Pops started working for a Mexican restaurant, El Ranchero, as a dishwasher, but had such an interest in learning how to cook that the late owner, Felipe and his wife taught my dad how to cook,” said Jose.
El Ranchero closed in 2003.
When the Zelaya family bought the retail space at 5517 Wilson Blvd in Bluemont, it was a Greek restaurant.
“Jimmy and George, a father and son, were running it and today, George is currently running a business down the street in that’s a dry cleaning alteration business,” Jose said.
Each of the family’s children have played a role in helping out their business, though it was Jose who fully embraced the business and fell in love with running the restaurant, leading to him acquiring full control of the business in 2008.
It is easy to see and hear how much Jose appreciates the hard work of his parents and how he expresses extreme gratitude towards them in almost every aspect.
“They loved cooking… my mom’s history in cooking goes back to when she was growing in El Salvador in the 50s and learning how to cook through her mom and a lot of the recipes have actually came from my grandma,” he said.
When starting out, they were serving out food they themselves would eat as a family, including French, Italian, American, Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine.
“When first opened we used to have spaghetti,” Jose noted.
They quickly noticed that the Salvadoran and Mexican food was selling the best and, in 2000, they stuck with it.
“That really was the standout in terms of what we were selling, and in 2000 that’s when it started taking off,” Jose said.
(Updated at 3 p.m.) Firefighters battled heavy fire at a house in the Bluemont neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.
The first dispatch went out around 2 p.m., for a fire spotted by a neighbor on the 800 block of N. Kensington Street, north of Wilson Blvd. A second alarm was quickly sounded.
Initial reports suggest that the house was being renovated and that the flames are being fanned in part by today’s gusty winds. Construction personnel could be seen working on the home earlier today, neighbors told ARLnow.
The fire was declared out as of 3 p.m. and most firefighters are now packing up their gear.
The damage to the structure is likely to be significant, but no serious injuries have been reported.
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) March 7, 2023
(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.”
Rent Keeps Going Up — “Arlington’s median apartment-rental rate remains highest in the metropolitan area and has fully rebounded from dropoffs during the early part of COVID, according to new data. With a median rental rate of $1,999 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,391 for two bedrooms in May, Arlington’s average rental… is now up just under 13 percent year-over-year.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Making Much Multifamily — From a spokesperson, about a new set of national rankings: “Multi-family units authorized in Arlington increased by 1,095.8% — a total addition of 2,838 units — between 2020 and 2021. Out of all midsize cities, Arlington experienced the 5th largest increase in multi-family home construction.” [Construction Coverage]
Group Decries Missing Middle ‘D-Day’ — From WAMU’s Ally Schweitzer: “With Arlington expected to enact zoning reforms allowing denser housing in more nabes, the group [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future] is ramping up its rhetoric in opposition. The group’s latest blast calls the expected vote day ‘D-Day.’ They’ve said the county is ‘declaring war’ on single-family nabes.” [Twitter]
Parking Removed for Transitway Extension — From the National Landing BID: “Parking lanes along Crystal Drive and 12th Street South will be closed to make way for the Transitway Extension Project beginning Wednesday, June 15, 2022.” [Twitter]
Pedestrian Struck in Bluemont — From Dave Statter last night: “Report of a pedestrian struck at Wilson Blvd & George Mason Dr. Appears to be a bicyclist. There was also bicyclist struck last week a block away. @ArlingtonVaFD & @ArlingtonVaPD handling.” [Twitter]
Amazon Buys HQ2 Phase 2 Site — “Amazon.com Inc. has acquired the roughly 11 vacant acres in Pentagon City that will soon be developed as PenPlace, the massive second phase of HQ2. The $198 million deal with JBG Smith, as expected, follows Arlington County’s late April approval of PenPlace, a nearly 3.3 million-square-foot project slated to include three traditional office buildings, a spiral Helix tower, three retail pavilions, a central park and an underground parking garage.” [Washington Business Journal]
Environmental Finding on HQ2 Site — “Crude oil particles have been found in the soil at Amazon.com Inc.’s PenPlace, the site of the second phase of its second headquarters buildout in Arlington County, per a public notice published Monday in The Washington Post… The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality conducted a risk assessment for the particles, finding that the amount poses ‘no material risk to current or future site occupants,’ according to the notice.” [Washington Business Journal]
It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day with some rain possible. High of 76 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:33 pm. [Weather.gov]
(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) The woman who was pushed out of a moving vehicle along Wilson Blvd near Ballston has a long road to recovery from her injuries, according to an online fundraiser.
The victim, 25, suffered a traumatic brain injury that required extensive surgery and left her in critical condition, her sister wrote on a GoFundMe page. Two weeks after the incident she was in stable condition but expected to require 6-12 months of recovery.
“The hospital bills and the rehab center will be very expensive, so we appreciate all the help we could get,” says the fundraising page, which has raised more than $40,000 towards its $50,000 goal.
The page notes that the victim is from Ukraine and her father is currently fighting in the war there.
“We are from Ukraine, so our dad is defending our homeland while our mom had to flee the war to Germany,” it says.
A GoFundMe spokesperson tells ARLnow that the fundraiser has been verified by the company’s Trust and Safety team.
The fundraiser sheds little light on the circumstances leading to the woman being pushed out of the vehicle.
“She was going home from a night out, but at 3am she was pushed out of a speeding car onto the [road] by an UNKNOWN DRIVER, and her phone was stolen,” it says. The Arlington County police crime report from last month said that a witness saw the woman pushed out of the passenger door of a black SUV, but no further description of the vehicle or the driver was given.
An ACPD spokeswoman said this morning that police are still investigating and seeking tips.
“The investigation into the incident is ongoing and detectives continue to follow up on investigative leads in the case,” said Ashley Savage. “No arrests have been made at this time.”
“Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected],” Savage added. “Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”
The full fundraising message from the GoFundMe page is below.
Hi, my name is Polina – I’m Maryna’s sister.
On our dad’s 50-year anniversary, Maryna, 25 y.o., has been a victim of a SEVERE crime. She was going home from a night out, but at 3am she was pushed out of a speeding car onto the highway by an UNKNOWN DRIVER, and her phone was stolen. When the paramedics arrived, her skull bone was out in the open, she had bruises, scratches, and road rash all over her body… Doctors have performed two different surgeries on the brain right away – one lasted 5 hours, the other one lasted another 2,5 hours; and still she was in a critical condition.
Police called me and woke me up at 4am with these terrible news. My husband and I drove up to DC from NC right away. I am the only family Maryna has in the USA . We are from Ukraine, so our dad is defending our homeland while our mom had to flee the war to Germany. When I came to the hospital and saw Maryna, I didn’t recognize her. Her long beautiful hair was shaved, she had two huge ridges on both side of the head, plenty of tubes in her to keep her alive, she was pale and motionless…
The first few days were critical – people die from these injuries, and you don’t even need to be a doctor to understand that. The fact that she’s young made a big difference in this case, otherwise she wouldn’t have survived. She’s super smart and kind, and always helps people – she volunteered to help with the humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, while working for an NGO. She has 2 masters degrees and speaks 4 languages fluently. It’s terrifying to think what would have happened if the ambulance didn’t arrive on time. This kind of crime is for horror movies, not for real life. Nobody deserves this.
Now it’s been about two weeks since the incident, and she is stable. Maryna would need about 6 months to a year to recover. The hospital bills and the rehab center will be very expensive, so we appreciate all the help we could get.
Merlene Drops Out of Delegate Race — From Nicole Merlene: “After much consideration I have made a personal decision not to seek the nomination for Virginia’s House of Delegates 2nd District in 2023… To those who have donated to me, you will receive a full return of your kind contributions.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Hammer Attack in Clarendon — “3100 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 2:45 a.m. on May 27, police were dispatched to the report of a fight. Upon arrival, officers located the male suspect and victim and it was determined following a verbal dispute, the suspect allegedly struck the victim in the head with a hammer.” [ACPD]
APS Literacy Challenges — “Supervisors with Arlington County’s English Language Arts Program submitted a report to the school board that highlights the challenges in meeting student literacy needs. According to the report, about 19% of county students were classified in what is known as the red ‘at risk’ category when looking at literacy skills. For Black students, the number placed in the at risk category in grades 3-5 has increased, while Hispanic students have seen increases in grades four and five.” [WTOP]
Large House Becoming Group Home — “The looming, not-family-friendly structure at 27th and N. Sycamore sts.–whose owners have long struggled to keep the place occupied — on May 9 sold for $1.6 million, per Zillow. The purchaser is the Fairfax-based Pathway Homes Inc. The nonprofit plans to convert the awkward three-floor, seven-bedroom house (zoned R-6 in single-family residential) to a home for 15 residents (with professional staff present) for a program for Arlingtonians suffering from mental illness, substance abuse and other disabilities.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Report: Va. Short 200k Affordable Homes — “A new report from the state’s Joint Legislative and Audit Review Commission says Virginia is short at least 200,000 affordable rental units. Soaring rent prices are forcing a growing number of people to think twice about where home is.” [WSLS]
Small Fire at Rosslyn Safeway — From Dave Statter: “Watch for Wilson Blvd. to be shut in Rosslyn between Oak & Pierce due to a report of a fire in an oven at the Safeway.” [Twitter]
Small House Fire in Bluemont — “Careful on Wilson Boulevard near N. Lexington (near Bon Air Park) in #Arlington. Hose across Wilson Boulevard due to a small and under control house fire being handled by @ArlingtonVaFD.” [Twitter]
It’s Tuesday — Hot and humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 71. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:29 pm. [Weather.gov]
It’s Bike to Work Day — “Bike to Work Day is back… This free event is open to everyone. Arlington will have ten pit stops and BikeArlington will host five pit stops in Rosslyn, Ballston, Columbia Pike, Shirlington, and Clarendon.” [BikeArlington]
Unleashed Dog Leads to Bluemont Brandishing — “At approximately 4:45 p.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when an unleashed dog ran towards him while barking. A verbal dispute ensued between the victim and dog owner, during which the suspect, who is known to the dog owner, became involved. The victim continued on his route, during which the suspect reapproached and allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the victim.” [ACPD]
Metro Restoring Some 7000-Series Cars — “A seven-month train shortage that has brought lengthy waits for commuters is closer to ending after Metrorail’s oversight agency approved a request to reinstate some rail cars that were pulled from service because of a rare wheel defect. Transit officials submitted a plan to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to restore a limited number of 7000-series cars.” [Washington Post, WMATA]
Slight Increase in Homeless Population — “Though down by more than half compared to a decade ago, Arlington’s homeless total rose from 2021 to 2022, according to new data. ‘There’s work to do,’ said Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti, parsing the new data during the May 17 board meeting. The… homeless count (conducted Jan. 26 with data recently released) revealed a total of 182 people living in shelters and on the streets in Arlington, up 6 percent from 171 a year before.” [Sun Gazette]
Op-Ed: Arlington Could Be National Model — “Arlington’s Missing Middle draft framework is extremely ambitious and might serve as a model for the entire country if the county board gets the policy details right to enable new construction.” [GGWash]
Group: ‘Missing Middle’ is ‘War’ — “With the release of the Missing Middle Phase Two Report on April 28, and the accompanying consultant analysis, the county is declaring war on single-family areas of Arlington… Developers, who have essentially run out of room among our 26 square miles, have pushed for Missing Middle up-zoning that will be politically and legally impossible to unwind, even if it falls short of stated goals or produces negative results.” [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future]
Big Development Kicks Off in F.C. — “West Falls, a major mixed-use development near the West Falls Church Metro station, broke ground Thursday, less than a week after the development team closed on $391 million of financing. In this first phase of its long-planned development, the project, spearheaded by D.C.-based Hoffman & Associates and joined by real estate giant Trammell Crow Co., will comprise five buildings totaling about 1.2 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal, Patch]y
Veep Coming to Falls Church — “Kamala Harris coming to [Meridian High School in Falls Church] tomorrow to talk electric school buses? The school didn’t name Harris in an email to parents about the event tomorrow, but they said it will stream live at [whitehouse.gov].” The event is scheduled for 3:40 p.m., which means motorcades through Arlington are likely this afternoon. [Twitter]
Plan for Yellow Line Bridge Work — “The City of Alexandria is preparing for a Yellow Line shutdown in Alexandria later this year due to bridge and tunnel rehabilitation and bringing the Potomac Yard Metro station into the system… Blue Line trains will be running frequently from the airport with a replacement ‘Yellow Line’ route running to New Carrollton during the September-October.” [ALXnow]
It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:53 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]
A woman was seriously injured over the weekend after police say she was apparently pushed out of a moving vehicle.
It happened early Sunday morning along Wilson Blvd at the intersection with N. Vermont Street, just west of Glebe Road.
“At approximately 3:06 a.m. on May 15, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “Upon arrival, medics were on scene treating the female victim before transporting her to an area hospital with serious injuries.”
“The reporting party stated she was driving in the area when she observed the passenger door of the vehicle in front of her open and the female victim being pushed out onto the roadway,” the report continued. “The suspect vehicle is described as a black SUV. There is no description for the driver. This investigation is ongoing.”
Additional details were not immediately available, though a police spokeswoman did confirm to ARLnow that the victim was an adult female.
Arlington police believe a pair of suspects criss-crossed the county early Tuesday morning, breaking into cars and stealing two.
The series of thefts happened in the Glencarlyn, Bluemont and Woodmont neighborhoods, according to the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report. Arlington has recently seen a rash of vehicle crimes, including the theft of airbags from 20 Hondas in late April and the theft of nearly a dozen catalytic converters in March and April.
The latest crime spree was reported to police early Tuesday. Five cars were broken into and items were stolen from one. Additionally, two SUVs — a Honda and an Acura — were reported stolen.
From ACPD’s crime report:
GRAND LARCENY AUTO/LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05100037/05100054/05100068, 5500 block of 3rd Street S./5600 block of 8th Street N./2900 block of 24th Street N. At approximately 5:00 a.m. on May 10, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed two unknown male suspects attempt to enter into her vehicle, during which she yelled and the suspects fled the scene in a silver SUV. The investigation determined that the suspects entered into and rummaged through approximately four victim vehicles and stole personal items from one of the vehicles. Additionally, it was discovered two vehicles were stolen from the 5600 block of 8th Street N. and the 2900 block of 24th Street N. The stolen vehicles are described as a silver in color, 2017 Honda CRV bearing VA license plate UDE1466 and a gray in color, 2015 Acura RDX bearing VA license plate WTARUSH. The two suspects are described as tall, unknown race males with skinny builds, wearing dark clothing and masks. The investigation is ongoing.