Rainy, Then Windy Today — Updated at 8 a.m. — From the National Weather Service: “Rain will end later this morning into this afternoon from northwest to southeast. However, gusty winds will develop and river flooding is expected along portions of the Potomac River and nearby tributaries.” [Twitter]
Freddie’s Expanding to Delaware Shore — “Freddie’s Beach Bar, the gay bar that has been operating in the Crystal City section of Arlington, Va., since 2001, is planning to open a new version of itself in Rehoboth Beach in time for Memorial Day weekend, according to owner Freddie Lutz. Lutz said that similar to the Freddie’s in Arlington, the Rehoboth version will operate as a restaurant and bar with entertainment that is expected to include karaoke, drag bingo, and possibly drag shows.” [Washington Blade]
AG Candidate Wants to Intervene in Local Cases — “A candidate for state attorney general says that, if elected, he’ll press for the authority to step in when local prosecutors will not act on specific cases. ‘George Soros-backed commonwealth’s attorneys are not doing their jobs,’ Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) said in remarks to the Arlington County Republican Committee.” [InsideNova]
Local Restaurants Make New Washingtonian List — A half dozen Arlington restaurants are among a new list of “61 Neighborhood Restaurants That Make the DC Area a Better Place to Eat — and Live.” Among them: The Green Pig, Lebanese Taverna, Los Tios Grill, Medium Rare, Nam-Viet, and Pupatella. [Washingtonian]
Church Providing Food to Those in Need — “The Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington hosted its first Mobile Market Feb. 25 in conjunction with the Capital Area Food Bank to serve those dealing with food insecurity. This drive-thru food distribution provided nonperishables as well as fresh produce including fruits and vegetables. The monthly market originally was scheduled to begin Feb. 18 but was delayed due to inclement weather.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Bouncers Recognized for Spotting Fake IDs — “Tonight the Arlington Restaurant Initiative, Washington Regional Alcohol Program and Responsibility.org recognized staff from Don Tito and Whitlow’s on Wilson for their excellence in detecting false identifications and preventing underage drinking. We commend the recipients for their dedication to safe service and responsible alcohol consumption.” [Facebook]
Crystal City Company Planning IPO — “Leonardo SpA is moving forward with an initial public offering for its Arlington-based defense electronic systems subsidiary. The Italian defense and space contractor filed its plans Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The unit will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker ‘DRS.'” [Washington Business Journal]
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Clarendon is proposing to lease part of its campus for private development and to make its grounds greener and more walkable.
The mid-century church sits on two-and-a-half acres of land wedged among Washington Blvd to the north, N. Kirkwood Road to the west and Fairfax Drive to the south. Parking occupies much of the lot, with the church and its auxiliary spaces lining N. Kirkwood Road and Fairfax Drive.
New renderings, however, reposition the church at the corner of Washington and Wilson Blvd, closer to Clarendon, with parish spaces and a private residential building fanning out behind the church. The building is likely to be an apartment building with a 100-child preschool at the base.
Currently a through-road and one-way loop wrapping around parking, Fairfax Drive would be converted into a walkable plaza. This “enables a comprehensive, pedestrian-friendly connection to Virginia Square and addresses north-south pedestrian access,” according to an architect’s report. Church parking would be accessible from Washington Blvd.
Bike lanes would be rerouted along the south side of the plaza to reduce interactions with pedestrians, the report said. The buildings would provide internal access to protected open spaces — a cloister, a playground and a courtyard.
St. Charles pastor Fr. Don Planty said in a January report the parish has spent the last three-and-a-half years studying the land, working with lawyers and architects and projecting potential costs. Recently, the project turned a corner.
Planty said in the report that Bishop Michael Burbridge of the Diocese of Arlington “has approved our recommendation to move forward with our project, seeking a development partner.” (Diocesan laws require the bishop to approve all developments.)
“This marks an exciting transition for us: we have long spoken about the ‘potential’ redevelopment of our site,” he wrote. “We now set about the exciting business of turning our vision into a reality.”
St. Charles plans to lease the western half of its site to a private developer, which would fund the changes proposed for the sacred half of the site.
Drafting a Request for Proposal and selecting a development partner could take six months or more, but would “clear the path for local government approvals and eventual construction,” Planty said.
Although the pastor described the future as promising, he said “we still have a lot of work to do.”
Like other proposed developments, including mixed-use buildings where Joyce Motors used to be and on the Wells Fargo/Verizon Site, aspects of the church’s proposed changes will not meet guidelines in the 2006 Clarendon Sector Plan. In preparation for these developments, Arlington County began mulling over changes to the sector plan in February 2020.
This winter, the county sought feedback on how people feel cycling and walking along Fairfax Drive and Wilson Boulevard between Clarendon Circle and N. Kirkwood Road and what could be done to improve the experience. This area includes St. Charles’s proposed pedestrian plaza and rerouted bike lanes.
Hat tip to Stephen Repetski
Arlington-based Saint Timothy and Saint Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church is making plans to build a new church building on a vacant lot in Green Valley that it recently acquired.
The church — which also goes by the abbreviated STSA Church — currently rents space at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus at 3351 Fairfax Drive. It is, however, operating virtually due to the coronavirus.
STSA Church was established in Arlington in 2012 with a mission to “bring an ancient faith to a modern world,” according to the website.
Fr. Anthony Messeh, the church’s pastor, confirmed the planned expansion in an email with ARLnow, saying he will have more details in the coming weeks.
The site at 2640 Shirlington Road is a 39,867-square-foot parcel of vacant land, according to Arlington County property records, overgrown with trees and brush.
The Arlington County Board was tentatively slated to approve an easement associated with the new ownership at its meeting on Jan. 23. The item was removed from the agenda, however, because the form of the deed “is not finalized and the plat had not been approved in time for the January meeting,” said Mary Curtius, a spokeswoman with the county board office, in an email.
The item will likely come before the County Board in February or March, Curtius said.
Old blog posts and YouTube videos indicate that the church community has been looking to buy for years. In 2014, it ran a campaign to raise $2 million to purchase a building, but the attempt appears to have been unsuccessful and the campaign website no longer works.
“Unfortunately, we cannot have signage to let people in Arlington know that there is a church here to welcome them,” according to a video from 2o14. “We currently exist only on Sunday mornings as far as the community is concerned, and that lack of full-time presence has prohibited us from reaching more people.”
Image via Google Maps
Megachurch Coming to Courthouse — “McLean Bible Church aims to lease about 10,000 square feet at 1310 N. Courthouse Road, according to documents submitted by MRP to Arlington planners earlier this month. The church would be able to host up to 450 worshippers in this new space, and use some other portions of it for classrooms and offices.” [Washington Business Journal]
Crane Erection to Close Street — Updated at 11:15 a.m. — The erection of a crane at an apartment construction site in Pentagon City, near HQ2, will result in a road closure. The work, however, has been postponed after initially being scheduled this weekend. [Twitter]
Fairfax County Also Low on Vaccines — “‘Even though I have all the people power to be able to vaccinate folks. I literally just don’t have the vaccines,’ said Jeff McKay, Chairman of Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors… ‘My greatest concern is now we have ramped up this huge operation, I don’t want to be ramping it down and then ramping it back up again and ramping it down,’ said McKay. ‘We are overwhelmed by demand and underwhelmed by supply.'” [WJLA]
Sports Betting Now a Reality in Va. — “Virginia’s highly lucrative sports gambling market officially opened Thursday when, shortly after 2 p.m., a cellphone user placed a $25 bet on the Golden State Warriors to beat the New York Knicks. Sports betting was approved by the General Assembly in 2020, and the Virginia Lottery was tasked with vetting interested companies. That law included a provision that stirred controversy this week, though, as FanDuel was able to beat the other interested players to market by affiliating with the Washington Football Team.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, ESPN]
Prince William Co. Grapples with Namesake — “Prince William County was named after Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, Marquess of Berkhampstead, Viscount Trematon and Earl of Kennington. The Duke was the third and youngest son of King George II. In England, Prince William had another title. He was commonly called ‘Butcher Cumberland’ for his ruthless conduct during the Battle of Culloden and subsequent genocide of Catholic Jacobites.” [InsideNova]
The proposal from Arlington-based Snell Properties would replace the Ames Center office building across from the Rosslyn Metro station. A south tower will abut the Hyatt Centric hotel and a north tower will surround the existing Arlington Temple United Methodist Church and Sunoco gas station, dubbed “Our Lady of Exxon.”
Although the church and gas station will be “redeveloped in place,” the skywalks — which provide an elevated pedestrian connection to the Metro station — will be demolished, according to the County.
Along with plans for the Holiday Inn and the RCA building, the proposal from Snell will further change Rosslyn’s skyline, demolishing the existing building, formerly occupied by the Art Institute of Washington.
The proposed towers, 30 and 31 stories tall, include 740 multifamily units and about 10,146 square feet of retail space. Up to 225 of the residential units may devoted to an interim hotel use, while the apartments are leased.
In a report, staff highlighted the affordable housing units in the building, committed as such for the next 30 years.
“The Rosslyn Coordinated Redevelopment District area, where this project is located, is one of the most expensive rental markets in the County,” staff said. “There are currently no [committed affordable units] within the RCRD.”
Twenty-four one- and two-bedroom units will be reserved for households making up to 80% of the Area Median Income.
Typically, such units are reserved for those who make up to 60% AMI, but staff said Rosslyn is so expensive that reserving units for up to 80% AMI “will better leverage the community benefits value while providing much-needed affordability directly in this area.”
Snell Properties is also committing nearly $2.5 million in cash toward affordable housing. The County said this sum could create about 29 units in future developments that are affordable for households earning up to 60% of the Area Median Income.
The project additionally includes a $5 million cash contribution for the Fort Myer Drive tunnel project, which includes plans to convert the road into a two-way street, remove the tunnel, widen sidewalks and add protected bike lanes.
A cement plaza will separate the two towers and form one segment of a planned pedestrian pathway that County planners call the “18th Street Corridor.” This street-level walkway will replace the existing, elevated passages. Mid-block crosswalks will join the plaza to 18th Street N.
Those who participated in community engagement from July and September “were universally in support of [the] removal of both skywalks,” staff said.
The towers will share four levels of below-grade parking and the south tower will have four levels of above-grade parking — 574 parking spaces in total.
The south building will be built in phase one, along with an interim open space and other streetscape improvements. The second phase will see more activity: construction of the north tower, the plaza and remaining streetscape improvements, as well as the removal of the skywalks.
The County Board is expected to review the project at its Saturday meeting.
Board Balks at Preservation Request — “Efforts to place the 9-acre Rouse estate at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North McKinley Road into a local historic district appear to have pushed the property owner to move forward with the ‘nuclear option‘… And, county officials say, there is not much they can do to prevent it. ‘Our hands are pretty much tied,’ County Board Chairman Libby Garvey said Dec. 12, effectively rebuffing a request that the county government take stronger actions.” [InsideNova]
Board Responds to Reopening Request — “A request that Arlington County Board members use their influence – whether through sweet-talking or something more forceful – to get county schools back up and running fell largely on deaf ears Dec. 12. Board members said they were working with their School Board counterparts, but had no power to force a reopening of schools that have been shuttered since last March.” [InsideNova]
Local Nonprofit Expands Aid — “Since April of this year [Arlington] Thrive has provided more than $5 million is assistance to 1,300 families and individuals, a dramatic increase from the $805,000 Thrive provided to families and individuals during the same period last year. Typical requests to Arlington Thrive used to be for one or two months rent but since the pandemic now extend to six or seven months.” [Press Release]
Church Continues Drive-Thru Donations — “Clarendon Presbyterian Church recently announced that it will continue holding monthly Drive-thru Food and Toiletry Collections to support our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. Since the first Collection in June through the most recent one in December, the community donated the equivalent of 756 brown paper bags of groceries – an estimated value of $30,000.” [Press Release]
Northam Proposes State Budget — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Wednesday proposed a state budget that would restore some spending frozen earlier this year amid uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic, updating a spending document that the General Assembly just finished tinkering with last month.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Dorsey’s Bankruptcy Case Dismissed — “Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey, whose ethical and financial difficulties have tangled him in a web of false statements over the past year, fraudulently misrepresented his assets while filing for bankruptcy, a federal court ruled Friday… It was ‘an act of overt misrepresentation,’ [bankruptcy trustee] Thomas P. Gorman told the court at a hearing on Thursday, and ‘misconduct . . . so over the line’ that punishment was warranted.” [Washington Post]
Holiday Shopping Safety Tips — “ACPD wants you to have a happy and safe holiday season. While many are choosing to shop online this year, those shopping in-store are encouraged to be mindful of these safety tips.” [Twitter]
Event for Military Families Today — “An annual Winter Wonderland for Military Families hosted by a former NFL player and his wife will look very different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Derrick Dockery and his wife Emma will hold a drive-thru version of the event that provides toys and holiday cheer to military kids and families on Dec. 7 at a parking lot in Arlington, Virginia through their nonprofit, Yellow Ribbons United.” [Radio.com]
Santa Visit Still on This Weekend — “Santa Claus has paid a visit to the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department every year for over a century and he’s not going let the coronavirus pandemic force him to break that streak. In the interest of public safety, the jolly old elf will be meeting children outside this year in the parking lot of Cherrydale Baptist Church, which is located at 3910 Lorcom Lane.” [Patch]
More on CaBi Station at DCA — “Arlington County, Virginia, has installed a Capital Bikeshare station at Reagan National Airport, making it the first major metropolitan airport in the U.S. with a dock-based shared bike program. It is the 99th Capital Bikeshare dock installed in Arlington County.” [WTOP]
Gunston Coordinator Honored — “Shantha Smith, an education coordinator at Gunston Middle School, has been named a recipient of the 2020 Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education by the state government. Awards were presented Dec. 3 in Richmond, and were named after a pioneering African-American educator.” [InsideNova]
The Arlington County Police Department’s annual holiday toy drive returns tonight, and after a tough year.
The sixth annual Fill The Cruiser toy drive will help make the holiday season merry for vulnerable kids, police say. New health protocols, including contactless drop-offs, are intended to make sure the event can continue safely as coronavirus cases rise.
“This year, with families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for donations may be greater than ever and your generosity helps ensure the holidays are bright for some of our most vulnerable community members — children in need,” notes an ACPD release.
The fundraiser begins tonight (Nov. 20) at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center from 6 to 8 p.m. Three additional events will be held over the next couple of weeks.
According to ACPD:
Officers will collect new, unwrapped toys for children ages newborn to 17 at the following locations:
- Friday, November 20, 2020, from 6 to 8 p.m. — Lee Harrison Shopping Center — 2425 N. Harrison Street
- Monday, November 23, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Ballston Quarter — 4238 Wilson Boulevard — A cruiser will be located between Ted’s Bulletin and True Food Kitchen
- Tuesday December 1, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church — 830 23rd Street S.
- Wednesday, December 2, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. — Arlington Assembly of God — 4501 N. Pershing Drive
Upon arrival, participants should stay in their vehicle until they reach the unloading areas, where officers will be on hand to remove donations from their vehicle. A separate area will be available for those arriving by bike or foot.
Due to COVID-19 considerations, we will only be accepting toys at these predetermined dates and locations.
Toys will be distributed by the Police Department to community organizations throughout the month of December. Due to the ongoing pandemic, ACPD will not host pop-up distribution events in the community.
Not once, not twice, but four times, vandals have targeted a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington near Ballston.
Church officials were first alerted of the vandalism on Saturday morning, and presume that the destruction occurred overnight.
“It’s been a rocky history at this point,” said Scott LaGanga, an elder at the church, which is located at 601 N. Vermont Street in the Bluemont neighborhood.
First Presbyterian is at least the fourth church in Arlington reported to have a racial-justice sign vandalized this year.
The church has gone through four signs since one first went up on Oct. 4, LaGanga said. The sign read “Black Lives Matter” on a striped background imitating the Philadelphia Pride flag, which includes the colors for Gay Pride and Trans-rights flags as well as black and brown stripes to symbolize people of color.
“They’re clearly doing it in the dark because they have a certain viewpoint and don’t want to share that they have it,” LaGanga said.
After the first sign was stolen, the church invested in steel cables to secure it. Instead, vandals covered it in graffiti. Once, they crossed out the “V” in “Black Lives Matter” to read “Black Lies Matter,” LaGanga said.
This time, someone cut the sign out of the cables and took it.
LaGanga explained that the church has been more engaged in issues of racial justice, putting up signs and hosting a weekly outdoor vigil for an end to racial injustice. Acts of vandalism will not shaken the resolve of the church, he said.
“The church has taken a strong position on inclusion and racial justice,” said LaGanga. “It reaffirms the stance we are taking and the reason we’re going to replace the sign.”
This time, LaGanga said the church is considering security cameras, which he hopes will catch whoever is targeting the sign.
“We’re so resolved that if someone wants to do it, they’ll do it on camera,” he said.
First Presbyterian has received strong support from people in the community, many of whom are neighbors but not members, LaGanga said.
“We were surprised in the uptick in support from others in the community who were upset by this,” he said.
The first time, the church submitted a police report, but LaGanga does not see much point in submitting more since there have been no leads to date on the vandal.
In the wake of the protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd this summer, a rash of church signs were vandalized. Black Lives Matter sign were vandalized at Rock Spring Congregational church and at St. George’s Episcopal Church as well as a racial justice sign was vandalized outside of Clarendon United Methodist Church.
Acts of vandalism against BLM signage also occurred in secular spaces this summer, including S. Abingdon Street bridge over I-395.
Photos courtesy Mark Blacknell
‘Open Schools’ Signs Also Being Stolen — “The debate over whether kids should be learning in or out of schools is getting ugly in Arlington. So much so, dozens of signs that said ‘Open Schools Now’ have gone missing. ‘Some of them have gotten stolen and neighbors have found them in trash cans,’ parent Russell Laird said Friday, standing near 100 new signs that had just been delivered. ‘I told people, keep count of how many were stolen, come back with double.'” [Fox 5]
County Getting More COVID-19 Aid — “The Arlington County Board today accepted more than $3 million dollars in additional federal aid to support low-to-moderate-income residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid included more money for housing vouchers and funding for a range of relief programs to support families and small businesses.” [Arlington County]
Restaurant Week Starts Today — “Arlington Restaurant Week will run from October 19-26. During the week, diners can try set menu items from many local restaurants, at a discounted price. The idea is for diners to find a new to-go place for dining out.” [ARLnow]
W&OD Trail Detour Shifting — “The current W&OD Trail detour route just east of Lee Highway (Route 29) will be shifted for about two weeks beginning October 19 to allow additional construction activity. Crews will reconstruct sidewalks on Lee Highway, the Econolodge entrance on Fairfax Drive, and nearby curb ramps on Lee Highway. Trail users will be directed to a new sidewalk and trail adjacent to the new trail bridge during this detour.” [VDOT]
Gutshall Posthumously Honored By Chamber — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that the late Erik Gutshall is our 2020 inductee into the Arlington Business Hall of Fame.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Local Church Gets Big Donation — “Today, Our Lady, Queen of Peace Church in Arlington received 40 pallets of toiletries and household products worth $250,000 from @FoodForThePoor. They plan to give away the items during their weekly food distribution and through the parish thrift store.” [Arlington Catholic Herald/Twitter]
AED Wins Prestigious Awards — “Arlington Economic Development took home numerous honors at this year’s International Economic Development Council (IEDC) 2020 Excellence Awards, which were announced earlier today at the organization’s annual conference. AED’s programs and partnerships were recognized for Economic Excellence in several categories.” [Arlington County]