Arlington, VA

Arlington is the No. 1 best city to live in the U.S., according to 2020 rankings from Niche.com, and two Arlington neighborhoods are No. 2 and No. 3 on the website’s new list of the Best Places to Live in America.

Arlington, which is technically a county, has topped the Niche “Best Cities to Live” list since 2016.

The site calculates the rankings “based on crime, public schools, cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities.” Niche previously lauded Arlington for high-quality public schools, low crime rate, abundant nightlife options and walkability.

In its rankings this year, Niche cites the following recent review of Arlington from a current resident.

Arlington is a very clean and open-minded town with educated individuals and businesses that are dedicated to producing less waste. Many stores and retail centers are modern and well-kept. It is a family friendly area with great public schools. However, traffic is prevalent and real estate prices are through the roof. But, living a healthy lifestyle is easy in Arlington with many healthy food options and amazing trails all over.

Arlington neighborhoods also ranked remarkably well on Niche’s 2020 Best Places to Live lists for both the state and the country, thanks in large part due to highly-rated public schools and walkability.

The Bluemont neighborhood, west of Ballston, is the No. 2 best place in the nation, according to Niche. Radnor-Fort Myer Heights, near Rosslyn and Courthouse, is No. 3. Ballston/Virginia Square is No. 12 in the U.S. and Clarendon/Courthouse is No. 24.

Within Virginia, Arlington neighborhoods dominated the top 25: Bluemont (1), Radnor/Fort Myer Heights (2), Ballston/Virginia Square (3), Clarendon/Courthouse (4), Waycroft/Woodlawn (6), Colonial Village (11), North Rosslyn (12), Lyon Village (13), Cherrydale (14), Arlington Forest (15), Dominion Hills (16), Arlington Ridge (18), Claremont (20), Columbia Heights (21), Aurora Highlands (22), Alcova Heights (23), and Ashton Heights (25).

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Morning Notes

Seattle Tax Could Advantage Arlington — “It wouldn’t shock us if Amazon started encouraging more of its executives to up and move their teams to HQ2, or a neighboring city in Washington state, now that the Seattle City Council has passed a progressive tax targeting the wealthiest companies in the city.” [Washington Business Journal]

Analysis of County Board Special Election — From @A_Hendel on Twitter: “Takis Karantonis received most of his share of the vote from South Arlington… In fact, almost no precincts north of I-66 cast 50% or more of their votes for Takis.” [Twitter]

Organizations Getting Big PPP Loans in Arlington — The American Diabetes Association, tech company ByteCubed, American Service Center, Bishop O’Connell High School and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington are among the Arlington-based organizations to reportedly receive $2+ million federal Paycheck Protection Act loans. [Patch]

Another Local Tech Firm Gets PPP Help — “Amazon.com Inc. may have posted record sales during the pandemic, but many third-party sellers on the platform foundered… Some of those sellers — like the Arlington-based Amify Inc. and Etailz Inc., based in Spokane, Washington — received millions of dollars worth of help from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.” [Washington Business Journal]

Water Main Repairs Today in Bluemont — “Thursday Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews will replace 3 valves in separate locations tomorrow in Bluemont area. Some 100 customers have been notified of potential service interruptions 8 a.m.-5 p.m.” [Twitter]

Letter: W-L Renaming Happened at a Good Time — “The Arlington School Board’s renaming of Washington-Lee High School was autocratic, manipulative, adversarial and punitive. In retrospect, though, they unwittingly did the W-L community a favor.” [InsideNova]

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Pupatella is looking to leave its original location in Bluemont and move elsewhere in Arlington.

The popular Neapolitan pizza restaurant said via social media that its landlord at 5104 Wilson Blvd is trying to raise the rent by 40%, despite the pandemic hurting its business and that of other restaurants.

The eatery — which recently opened a new location on S. Walter Reed Drive — asked its followers for suggestions of where to move. As of publication time, the Facebook post along has attracted more than 200 comments in a span of a few hours.

The restaurant’s owners tell ARLnow that they have been quietly searching for a new location since March, when their lease came up for renewal, and have not found anything yet. They “definitely want to stay” in North Arlington but are “getting very desperate and hoping that someone can help us,” wrote Anastasiya Algarme.

“I believe our landlord believes that because we have opened a new location, we must be very rich now and he wants to take advantage of that,” said Algarme. “A lot of times people that have not run restaurant businesses do not understand all the expenses involved, and they believe that if a restaurant that is busy, it must be swimming in cash. It is not true at all and the profit margins are low. Our landlord refuses to see our accounting books to understand.”

The landlord, who she did not name, might have reason to think Pupatella has some extra cash beyond the Bluemont location’s acclaim and success. In 2018 it was reported that the company had raised $3.75 million for a planned eight-location expansion. So far, only the South Arlington location has opened, though other locations are planned in the District and in Reston.

As for a potential new location, “our only requirements are some parking, and preferably a place that is a restaurant already to reduce our build out costs,” Algarme said.

“We definitely want to stay in Arlington and North Arlington specifically,” she added. “We’d be foolish to give up such a loyal following.”

Asked whether the social media post was, effectively, a negotiation ploy, Algarme insisted it was not.

“We doubt the landlord will see it,” she said. “He is 90 years old and says he does not use Facebook. Our lease was typed on a typewriter.”

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A contingent of National Guard members, some in camo and others in full protective gear, descended on the Sunrise at Ballston Park senior living center today for mass testing of staff and residents.

The coronavirus testing comes amid a worsening outbreak at the facility, located at 5910 Wilson Blvd. While Sunrise had for weeks avoided the kind of large outbreak that has sickened dozens at Regency Care of Arlington in Pentagon City and Brookdale Senior Living in Virginia Square — and possibly others — on Tuesday the facility’s executive director informed families that it had just confirmed the first cases among residents.

“We unfortunately need to report that we currently have three (3) residents who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Sunrise said in an email, obtained by ARLnow. “We continue to serve residents in our community and are working closely with impacted families to support them during this challenging time.”

“We now have had a total of four (4) team members who have tested positive for this virus, 2 more than from our last update,” the email added. “We continue to have ample staff to appropriately serve our residents and are following CDC guidelines to determine when a team member is free to return to work following any exposure, symptoms or diagnosis.”

Sunrise said in the email that it was participating in a state program to test everybody, all at once, at nursing homes and senior living centers that request it.

“We are pleased to confirm that we will be participating in the State of Virginia’s Point Prevalence Survey this Thursday, May 21,” the company told family members. “Virginia’s National Guard will administer COVID-19 testing for all residents and team members… The results are expected back in approximately 72 hours and we will be reaching out to any families where a COVID positive outcome is the result.”

The Point Prevalence Survey (PPS) program was announced by Virginia officials last month as an early intervention tool for slowing outbreaks that spread quickly at long-term care facilities. PPS testing has been conducted in at least one other such facility in Northern Virginia, as reported by NBC 4. A county spokeswoman declined to say whether other facilities in Arlington have received the wide-scale testing.

“The Commonwealth receives and approves the requests for point prevalence surveys at facilities,” said Cara O’Donnell. “Arlington Public Health has encouraged all facilities to conduct point prevalence surveys, and submits the requests from the facilities to the state. We cannot provide information on which facilities have requested this due to health privacy laws.”

As of this morning, the Virginia Dept. of Health reported 14 known COVID-19 outbreaks in Arlington, including nine in long-term care facilities and three in healthcare settings. The county has 1,763 known cases, 346 hospitalizations, and 89 coronavirus-related deaths, according to the latest VDH data.

Nearly half of the 89 deaths were among those ages 80 and above.

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A man is in police custody after he allegedly went berserk at an apartment building in the Bluemont neighborhood, near Ballston.

The incident happened shortly before 3 p.m. and drew a crowd outside the building.

Initial details are sketchy, but Arlington County Police say they were dispatched to the 800 block of N. Wakefield Street for a report of a man damaging property. Upon officers arriving, the man threw a dumbbell out of an apartment window, according to police.

Broken windows could be seen on the third floor of the building. Firefighters also responded and were asked to evaluate a possible gas leak from an appliance in the apartment, according to scanner traffic.

Officers were ultimately able to arrest the suspect.

“The subject was taken into custody and will be transported to an area hospital for evaluation,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “”No officers were injured.”

“We remain on scene investigating,” Savage added. “There’s no ongoing threat to the community.”

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The original Pupatella Pizza location at 5104 Wilson Blvd in Bluemont has closed temporarily after an employee tested for COVID-19.

The popular pizzaria announced the closure “for a deep cleaning” this morning on social media.

“We’re doing everything we can to support our staff and community during these trying times,” the restaurant said.

Pupatella’s new S. Walter Reed Drive location remains open for pickup orders.

Even with its dining room closed, Pupatella says it has been selling hundreds of pizzas a day. It has also been donating pizzas, including to local first responders.

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A Falls Church man has been arrested after police say he was seen pulling on car door handles in the Bluemont area early Tuesday morning.

The incident happened around 3:30 a.m. on the 5700 block of 8th Road N.

Arlington County Police say Kevin Gomez, 24, “was found to be in possession of alleged stolen items” and is now facing a theft charge. He also had outstanding warrants for his arrest from Fairfax County.

More from an ACPD crime report:

LARCENY (Significant), 2020-03240023, 5700 block of 8th Road N. At approximately 3:36 a.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious persons pulling on door handles of parked vehicles. Upon arrival, officers canvassed the area and observed a subject matching the description provided by the witness. When stopped by police, the subject provided false information related to his identification. During the course of the investigation, the subject was found to be in possession of alleged stolen items. Kevin Hernandez Gomez, 24, of Falls Church, VA was arrested and charged with Petit Larceny and Providing False Identity to Law Enforcement. He was also served with outstanding warrants out of Fairfax County.

Arlington experienced a string of car break-ins since mid-2019, though police have announced a number of arrests over the past month or so. Many of the break-ins have been crimes of opportunity, involving unlocked car doors or valuables in plain sight.

The police department is continuing to remind residents to take precautions, even as officers step up patrols.

From an ARLnow article on a break-in spree in January:

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said police are taking a number of steps in response, but still need the public’s help.

“ACPD officers proactively patrol Arlington’s neighborhoods to identify and prevent criminal activity,” Savage told ARLnow. “The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of residents. Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activity to police for investigation by calling 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.”

“We also encourage residents to reduce the opportunity for crime by participating in the 9 P.M. Routine,” Savage added, referring to the department’s campaign to remind residents to lock their doors and remove valuables from their cars.

 

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Morning Notes

Lane Closures Near Ballston — Sewer relining work is closing the right-hand lane of portions of Fairfax Drive and Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont neighborhood, near Ballston. [Twitter]

Arlington’s Young Population Drives Trends — “One of the reasons Virginia’s Arlington County is consistently rated highest for health and fitness is because of its young demographic. Take Ballston, for example, where 47.7% of the adult population is between 25 and 44 years old.” [WTOP]

Courthouse Metro Rescue Makes National News — “We would like to thank @ABCWorldNews for broadcasting our rescue of a @wmata rider last Friday. The patient is in stable condition. If you find yourself on the tracks and are unable to exit, roll towards the platform side to the area of refuge.” [Twitter, ABC News]

Fort Myer Gate Temporarily Closed — “Attention DoD ID card holders: @JBMHH’s Old Post Chapel Gate that provides entry onto the base from Arlington National Cemetery will be temporarily closed beginning today through the end of April for construction.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Nearby: Proposed Arlandria Redevelopment — A “D.C. developer filed preliminary plans with Alexandria earlier this month for the project, looking to completely overhaul a Mount Vernon Avenue shopping center near Four Mile Run Park, now called Del Ray North. It’s currently home to a MOM’s Organic Market, but has seen a variety of retail vacancies recently.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Beyer on Impeachment Vote — “Voting for these articles of impeachment is the only moral course of action, the only way to honor our oath of office. I have no doubt that the votes I cast today will stand the test of time.” [Press Release]

Car2go Bye Bye — “Share Now, the German company that manages the car rental company until recently known as Car2Go, has announced it will exit the North American market effective February 29, 2020… There are currently 150,694 users in D.C., according to a company official who isn’t authorized to speak on the record.” [DCist, Share Now]

Volunteers Read to Babies in NICU — “Studies show private neonatal intensive care unit rooms can be too quiet, with premature babies not getting enough sound and stimulation, so Virginia Hospital Center uses trained volunteers to read popular children’s books to its tiniest patients when their parents can’t be there.” [NBC 4]

Free Lyft Rides Starting TomorrowUpdated at 9 a.m. — “A regional nonprofit is again planning to offer free rides through Lyft to help keep drunk drivers off Alexandria streets during the holidays. Starting on Dec. 20, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) will offer its annual Holiday SoberRide program nightly from 10 p.m.-4 a.m., until Jan. 1.” [ALXnow]

Water Main Break in Bluemont — Updated at 9 a.m. — “Emergency Water Main Repairs: Crews working on a leaking 6-inch valve at 5650 4th St N. Some 100 water customers could be affected. Traffic is diverted around the work site. Estimated time of completion: no later than 7pm.” [Twitter]

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Update at 2:45 p.m. — The outage no longer appears on Dominion’s map.

Earlier: More than 1,000 Dominion Energy customers are without power in the Ballston and Bluemont neighborhoods due to emergency utility work.

As of 1:15 p.m. Dominion’s outage map reported 1,258 outages and an estimated restoration time of 4-7 p.m. Generators could be heard running in Ballston and power was flickering off and on — or out altogether — at local stores, restaurants and offices, including the headquarters of ARLnow.

A number of Dominion trucks could be seen parked at the corner of N. Stuart Street and 9th Street N., near the Ballston Metro station. Local offices have been told that crews are working on a transformer and more power interruptions are possible this afternoon.

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Arlington County is looking for more feedback on altering a section of Four Mile Run Trail and replacing the tennis courts at Bluemont Park, among other proposed changes.

“The goal of this Parks Maintenance Capital project is to replace the tennis court complex, lighting, restroom/storage, shelter, parking lot, site circulation, section of Four Mile Run Trail, site furnishing, drainage and landscaping in the Upper Bluemont area,” noted the county on its webpage for the project.

People are invited to attend a public meeting to share their thoughts and hear about the county’s goals on Tuesday, October 29 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Ashlawn Elementary School (601 N. Manchester Street.)

In addition to overhauling the tennis courts, shelter area, and the trail, Arlington is also aiming to make the new designs compliant with newer disability accessibility standards.

County staff began soliciting feedback online for the project back in June. The results from survey indicate that almost 40% of respondents frequently visit the park and that the tennis courts (which 45% of survey respondents reported using) and the trails (used by 75% of respondents) are among the most popular amenities.

The survey drew around 350 responses when it asked for suggestions on what should be changed in the park. The majority of responses asked the county to:

  • Preserve and plant more trees
  • Resurface the tennis courts to fix cracks and improve drainage
  • Improve lighting, and add more light poles near the baseball diamond
  • Install more benches at the tennis courts and elsewhere
  • Better maintain the restrooms and water fountains by the picnic shelter.

“Drainage has been a major problem this past year, with all the rain,” one resident wrote in a survey response. “The open space has had times when it was an impassable marsh.”

Several respondents asked the county to address stormwater runoff concerns with trees, more pervious surfaces, and underground drainage features.

Part of the park and the area around it lie within the floodplain around Four Mile Run. It was one of the areas hit by this summer’s flash flood, prompting the county to close the park’s picnic shelter at the time.

Other suggestions from residents included adding a pickleball court and a Capital Bikeshare station, plus replacing grassy areas with native pollinator plants and adding bee hives to the park — à la the county’s growing urban agriculture moment.

Other respondents opposed the proposed changes, however, with one resident asking the county to make no changes.

“The area in question is perfectly serviceable and Arlington can spend the money better in other areas,” the person said.

The renovation discussion comes two years after the county finished a contested retrofit of the park’s baseball field with new sod, equipment, and fencing, with several residents saying they had concerns about the fencing part of the project and the lack of public input as a whole in the process.

Funding for the new renovations is slated to be included in an upcoming Capital Improvement Plan budget.

Draft designs are expected to be presented at two additional public meetings scheduled this fall before renovations move forward next year, per the county’s website.

Images 1, 4 via Arlington County 

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