Arlington, VA

By next summer, the formerly 2-3 story office building across from the Whole Foods in Clarendon is slated to reopen as a four-story, mixed office-retail building called The Loft.

Today, however, it’s a noisy demolition — one that briefly caught on fire last week.

The project is in the later phases of demolition, according to Eric Davidson, a communications manager for shopping center operator Regency Center, with construction set to follow. The Loft is planned to open in the second quarter of 2020.

The building is part of Market Common Clarendon, and was also once home to the beloved Iota Club and Cafe. Straddling Clarendon and Wilson boulevards, the building has 86,000 square feet of office space and 23,000 square feet of retail space available, according to a leasing flyer.

Most of the tenants of the 145,000 square foot building remain unannounced, but high-end fitness company Equinox is expected to be among the retail tenants. Davidson said additional tenant announcements are likely over the next few weeks.

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Morning Notes

Couple of Carbeques — Vehicle fires shut down several lanes of northbound I-395 and both lanes of N. Glebe Road near Chain Bridge during yesterday’s evening rush hour. [Twitter, Twitter]

Today: Left Turn No More — “Barring unforeseen circumstances (which we’ve seen before), this left turn from Washington Boulevard to Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon becomes history tomorrow, Wednesday, April 24.” [Twitter]

Caps Significant Others Watch Game in Clarendon — “Hey, isn’t that… the wives and girlfriends of Capitals players, gathered together at Bracket Room during Monday night’s playoffs game against the Carolina Hurricanes?” [Washington Post]

Nearby: Virginia Tech Still Picking Alexandria Site — “When Alexandria and Virginia Tech announced plans for a new Innovation Campus… the university gave every indication it would build the $1 billion project at Stonebridge Associates’ Oakville Triangle property… But the deal is not done yet — and the university has expanded its search to other sites in Alexandria.” [Washington Business Journal]

Photo courtesy Dennis Dimick

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(Updated at 9 a.m.) A vehicle stop led to some tense moments on a busy Clarendon street Monday afternoon.

Shortly after 2:15 p.m. police pulled over a vehicle that had been “allegedly involved in a felony assault with a deadly weapon in Washington, D.C.,” after an alert from an automated license plate reader.

“Officers located the vehicle at Clarendon Boulevard and Washington Boulevard and conducted a felony traffic stop,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

Video of the incident sent to ARLnow shows an SUV pulled over near Circa restaurant on Clarendon Blvd and officers with guns drawn and pointed in the vehicle’s direction. Two people — a man driving the car and a female passenger — were ordered out of the vehicle. In the video the woman could be seen kneeling on the ground, with her hands in the air.

In the end, neither vehicle occupant was arrested and it’s unclear whether the alleged connection to the crime in D.C. was a case of mistaken identity or otherwise.

“Officers identified the occupants, determined they did not have any active warrants and documented the incident,” said Savage. “It would be part of the MPD investigation to determine if the occupants are involved in their ongoing investigation.”

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(Updated at 9:15 a.m.) A fire at a construction site across from the Clarendon Whole Foods prompted a large fire department response this morning.

Firefighters responded around 8:45 a.m. for multiple reports of a fire with flames and smoke visible from the street. They arrived to find construction workers trying to extinguish a fire outside of an under-construction building on the 2700 block of Wilson Blvd.

The building is part of the Market Common Clarendon development, which is currently being renovated.

The flames were quickly extinguished and no one was reported hurt.

Photo courtesy @HenryTDunbar

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(Updated a 9:45 p.m.) Mister Days shuttered its doors this weekend, but not before toasting the bar’s 43 years in D.C. and Arlington with a pair of final parties on Friday and Saturday.

Lee told ARLnow that the closing was “bittersweet” and that he plans to focus full-time on resolving some ongoing health issues.

“Hopefully a couple months from now and I get past those issues and then I’ll figure it out,” he said of his future.

The long-time bar celebrated its celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017 after opening in 1977 in the Dupont Circle area, then moving to Georgetown, and finally settling in Arlington in 2001.

“I used to like to take like an acorn and build an oak tree,” he said. “You get a little idea and it’s kind of crazy but it works.”

Hundreds filled the bar over the course of Friday night to watch a game and drink cold beer from the ice buckets perspiring on the wooden tables. Some flew in from as far as California for last call, and well-wishers from all over the country called Lee several times during this reporter’s interview.

And as the beer flowed through the night, so did the stories.

Carol started as a bartender at Mister Days 34 years ago when she said most of the work women could find in D.C. was for typists. But once she started working for Lee, she said she found friends that made her stick around there ever since.

Mike Rowe bartended at Mister Days’ original D.C. location for 20 years and joked that Lee never fired him even though, “I was late every day. Every day.” Rowe carried in his back pocket a faded, 30-year old thank you letter from Lee’s daughter.

“He’s the only man I know who was successful in an alley,” said Michael Tramonte, of the Tramonte family that owned Georgetown’s Bayou nightclub and currently owns The Italian Store in Lyon Village and Westover.

Mikey Berra, who ran the Kennedy Center backstage, said he used to bring performers to Mister Days and it’s “unbelievable” to think the bar lasted all these years.

“It was a home,” Berra said. “You got to meet so many friends, it was like family. I got to show people our home.”

Every current or former employee who spoke with ARLnow said that Lee had done them a favor, or knew of favors he had done others. Tramonte said he knew the bar owner had helped workers with bills, and rent.

“It was never a loan,” he said. “It was a gift.”

Joe Sweeny also bartended at the D.C. location, a job he said Lee gave him even though he knew was going to leave it within a year.

“Lee is one of the better characters in the business in the last 50 years,” said Sweeney, adding that because of his personality, “They had everyone from Supreme Court justices to homeless people in the bar.”

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Several road closures are planned for this weekend’s Arlington Festival of the Arts in Clarendon.

The 7th annual arts event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the 3000 block of Washington Blvd. The free festival is set to feature handmade paintings, jewelry, ceramics, glassware and more creations from around 150 artists.

ACPD announced the event will prompt a number of road closures between 4 a.m. Saturday and 9 p.m. Sunday including:

  • Washington Blvd between 10th Street N. and Clarendon Blvd, except for one lane of traffic which will be open eastbound.
  • N. Highland St. between Washington Blvd and Clarendon Blvd.
  • 11th Street N. between N. Highland and N. Garfield Streets, except for delivery traffic.

Southbound N. Garfield Street will have eastbound left turns open to Washington Blvd, according to police, though additional road closures may be necessary. Police are encouraging attendees to take Metro or ride-hailing services, as parking will be limited.

Drivers should watch out for “No Parking” signs in Clarendon near the festival this weekend, according to ACPD.

Photos via Howard Alan Events

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Clarendon-based bakery Bakeshop is expanding.

This week Bakeshop opened a new location in the City of Falls Church. The new shop had its soft opening yesterday (Monday) after weeks of teasing pictures of new equipment and barista training with Vigilante coffee on social media.

Founder Justin Stegall told ARLnow he “loves Arlington” but “was traveling around and kind of fell love in with Falls Church also.”

“The neighborhood vibe is a little less urban, a little more old-fashioned,” he said of Falls Church.

It was a neighborhood he thought could use a cupcake shop, and as of this week it has one. Bakeshop is now open at 100 E. Fairfax Street and plans to be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Stegall added that he will tailor the Falls Church menu to suit his new customers, likely adding more breakfast options and some exclusive cookies.

For now the new bakery shares a menu with the Clarendon location, which features a rotating cast of cupcakes with favorites like salty caramel and red velvet, as well as cakes, pies, and some light breakfast fare like croissants and scones.

The flagship Clarendon store on 1025 N. Fillmore Street has gained fame over the years for personal stories posted on Facebook post in 2016, and being featured on the Cooking Channel in 2012.

Stegall said he’s “very happy to have become a piece of the Arlington fabric.”

Nearly ten years after some critics (including our commentators) predicted the 2010 cupcake fad would fade, Stegall and his staff are still in business.

“It’s crazy for me to think about,” he said. “Ten years is a pretty big chunk of life. I never even had a ten-year-out plan.”

When asked if he has plans to continue expansion, Stegall laughed.

“The vision right now is to stay with the two until the next vision comes,” he said.

Photo via Facebook

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A new cafe and bar is coming to Clarendon.

“East West Cafe” is slated to open at 3101 Wilson Blvd, in at least part of the space that was once the American Tap Room, according to owner Mehmet Coskun.

Coskun also opened coffee-and-pastry joint Central Coffee Bar in Rosslyn (1901 N. Moore Street) two years ago. Since then he’s expanded opening hours and added alcoholic beverages to the menu.

Coskun, who lives in Pentagon City, previously told ARLnow he wanted to give Arlington a local alternative to Starbucks and had plans to expand to Clarendon and beyond.

He did not say East West would open, but that he expects the new Clarendon establishment to “open soon.” Records indicate Coskun registered East West Coffee LLC last month and applied for a county building permit on Tuesday.

Coskun said the new cafe’s namesake is its selection of both wine and coffee.

“I feel like the wine belongs to the west and the coffee comes from the east,” he Coskun, referring to Yemen’s early production of “mocha” coffee and the rise of wine in ancient Greece.

Several businesses have been rumored to fill the former Tap Room space since its closure in 2016, including a Verizon store and a gym, but thus far neither have come to fruition.

Image via Google Maps

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(Updated at noon) Clarendon sports bar Mister Days is closing next week, according to owner Robert E. Lee.

Furniture, fixtures, and some equipment were sold Thursday morning to Arlington chef Patrick Crump of the Clarendon Grill, which closed in October after 22 years in business.

Mister Days will close on April 12 or 13, Lee said, but before that happens there will several parties.

“A series of the last days of Days,” he said.

Crump is expected to open a new restaurant called “The Grill on Highland” in the space within the next two months, Lee told ARLnow.

Mister Days has been a favorite stop for local office workers, weekend partiers, pub trivia contestants, college students and sports fans for almost half a century and has served Hollywood stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and hosted performances by Mary Chapin Carpenter, according to Lee.

Lee is subletting the space to the new group, but says he’s keeping the “Mister Days” brand name in case he wants to sell it or open another establishment.

“The name comes from the fact we were only open [during] daytime or happy hours,” he said. “Maybe something like that works.”

Lee, who’s turning 80 this year, cited ongoing health issues as a reason for closing the bar and said the decision had nothing to do with rent costs.

He asked patrons to keep an eye on the Mister Days website, which will post details tomorrow about next week’s going away parties.

The bar celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017.

It first opened in the Dupont Circle area of D.C. in 1977, then moved to Georgetown, finally settling in Arlington in 2001 as it grew from an alley pub to a community institution.

Lee previously said he was weighing whether to invest in renovations or retire.

“Forty-three years is a lot of history,” he said Thursday.

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Morning Notes

Real Estate Near Crystal City is Hot — “In the 22202 ZIP code — which comprises Crystal City, Pentagon City, Aurora Hills, Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge — there are only 11 homes for sale right now, according to Realtor.com. Only three are single-family homes. The rest are condos.” [Washington Business Journal]

Escape Room Nearing OpeningBond’s Escape Room in Clarendon says it will open in about two months. “I’m happy with the way it’s coming along!” said founder Egor Bondarev. [Instagram]

Circulator Bus Now Free — Rides on the D.C. Circulator bus are now free indefinitely, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday. The bus line has a stop in Rosslyn. [Fox 5]

Transportation Partners Honored — “On March 19, the Arlington County Board honored 31 local businesses and properties for their dedication to sustainable transportation for employees and tenants, as part of Arlington Transportation Partners’ (ATP) Champions program.” [Arlington County]

Seven Freed From Stuck Metro Station Elevator — “Firefighters freed seven people trapped in an elevator at the Crystal City Metro station Wednesday morning, according to a report.” [Patch, Twitter]

Politico Owner Launching New Tech Site — “Robert Allbritton, the executive chairman of private equity firm Perpetual Capital and publisher of [Rosslyn-based] Politico, is preparing to launch a global technology news site, the latest sign of growing investment in tech coverage across American journalism.” [NBC News]

Nearby: Halal Butchery Opposed in Alexandria — “Though city staff and Alexandria’s planning commission recommended approving DC Poultry Market’s application, dog lovers showed up to the Alexandria City Council’s March 16 meeting to object on olfactory grounds (‘My dog can smell when there’s a cookie down the block,’ one resident said) and on proximity to poultricide (‘Knowing that my dogs may be walked by a business that holds chickens in a windowless room before their throats are slit while fully conscious does not make me feel that my dogs are in a safe environment,’ another said).” [Washingtonian]

Flickr pool photo (originally published in 2016) by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington County will soon be adding a permanent turn restriction at a busy Clarendon intersection.

As part of the changes to the “Clarendon Circle” intersection of Clarendon, Washington and Wilson boulevards, westbound traffic on Washington Blvd will no longer be allowed to turn left onto Wilson Blvd.

The move will eliminate a tricky turn but will mean that some drivers will have to adjust their routes to get to their destinations.

The restriction is set to go into effect a bit later this month, county officials say. Other, temporary restrictions will also be put into place.

More from a press release:

In late March, the left turn from westbound Washington Boulevard to Wilson Boulevard will be permanently removed during construction to improve the Clarendon Circle intersection.

Construction will soon start on sidewalk improvements along Washington Boulevard between Clarendon Boulevard and North Hudson Street. Travel lanes on this section of Washington Boulevard will be reduced from two lanes to one and the left turn to Wilson Boulevard will be removed. Once this work is complete, the road will be restored to two through lanes but left turns to Wilson Boulevard will remain prohibited.

Drivers on westbound Washington Boulevard will have other options for reaching Wilson Boulevard. Before Clarendon Circle, drivers can turn left onto 10th Street North and then make a left to Wilson Boulevard. If they continue through the Clarendon Circle intersection, drivers can turn left onto North Kirkwood Road and then make a right onto Wilson Boulevard.

The County is redesigning the Clarendon Circle intersection and reducing its overall size to improve access and safety for people walking, biking and driving. Wider sidewalks and medians will make it safer and easier for people traveling around the intersection and shorten crossing distances.

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