(Updated at 9 a.m.) As feared, it was pouring rain during last night’s Clarendon Mardi Gras parade.
But the raindrops did not dampen the spirits of those in the parade, who made their way up Wilson Blvd to the delight of thin but enthusiastic crowds.
From a dancing monkey to a guy on a penny-farthing to a bunch of people pedaling on the Trolley Pub, the parade hearkened back to a bygone era when “Keep Clarendon Weird” was the neighborhood’s motto.
(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) Organizers are hoping for a Mardi Gras miracle, but it looks like tonight’s parade in Clarendon will be a soggy one.
The 18th annual Clarendon-Courthouse Mardi Gras Parade is slated to kick off at 7 p.m., making its way up Wilson Boulevard from N. Barton Street to N. Irving Street.
An hourly forecast suggests rain may begin shortly before the parade begins, but Matt Hussmann, executive director of the Clarendon Alliance, says it will go on rain or shine — unless there is lightning in the area.
“We’re going forward and hoping the weather holds off,” said Hussmann. “The Mardi Gras Ball will go on irrespective.”
The annual parade has not had the best luck with weather. It was postponed in 2010, postponed and then cancelled in 2014, and postponed again in 2015 — all due to snow. It rained during the rescheduled 2015 parade.
Screen capture (top) via Weather.com. Photo (bottom) courtesy Jason Dixson Photography.
Gutshall Running for County Board — As predicted, business owner Erik Gutshall is running for County Board this year, seeking the seat being vacated by Jay Fisette. Gutshall says on his website that his candidacy will be announced at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Wednesday. Gutshall unsuccessfully challenged County Board member Libby Garvey in last year’s Democratic primary. [Erik Gutshall for County Board]
Oscars Flub Involved W-L Grad — Warren Beatty is back atop the national consciousness, after an envelope mix-up led to perhaps the worst mistake in Oscars history, with Beatty and Best Picture co-presenter Faye Dunaway at the center of the fiasco. As many long-time Arlingtonians remember, Beatty spent his teenage years in Arlington, reportedly living on N. Huntington Street. He graduated from Washington-Lee High School and, as noted in a yearbook photo, was a star football player and the senior class president. [InsideNova]
Arlington Elementary Schools Top Rankings — In new rankings of D.C. area public elementary schools, Arlington elementary schools tallied a sweep of all the top 10 spots. [Niche, Washington Business Journal]
ACPD Trying Out Uber Lane — This past weekend in Clarendon, the Arlington County Police Department set up a designated rideshare pickup lane to improve safety for those using Uber and Lyft to get a ride home from the bars. The police department described the action as a “pilot program” that was the result of “creative problem solving.” [Twitter]
Arlington’s ‘Segregation Wall’ — A new historic marker notes the significance of a 1930s-era wall in north Arlington. The wall was built by white residents of the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood to provide a physical barrier between them and the historically black Hall’s Hill (High View Park) neighborhood. [InsideNova]
Loan for Affordable Apartments Approved — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved a $7.4 million loan to help build 125 new affordable apartments at the Berkeley on S. Glebe Road. Nonprofit developer AHC is expected to seek another loan for the redevelopment, from the county’s affordable housing fund, next fiscal year. [Arlington County]
Per-Student Spending to Rise — Under a new budget proposed by Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy, per-student spending would rise 2.9 percent to $19,521. APS has been straining to keep up with rising enrollment, issuing bonds to build new schools and renovate others. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Hundreds of people will march through Clarendon to the tune of a live band this weekend as part of a massive wedding parade.
Alexandria couple Sarah Matheson and her fiance, Mike Mihalecz, are planning to hold a New Orleans-style parade after their wedding at the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 3:15 p.m. A procession of about 125 people, some wearing masks and carrying handkerchiefs, will travel from the church at 3304 North Washington Blvd to the nearby Clarendon Ballroom, where the couple’s reception is being held.
The parade is modeled after the “second line,” a jubilant and musical New Orleans tradition usually held after weddings or funerals. Matheson describes the idea as “a walking party that goes on forever.”
“We have a four-piece band that will be playing,” she added. “We’ll have a pedicab for some of the older folks who can’t walk so well.”
The parade also will have a motorcycle police escort to safely guide revelers through the streets.
Though Matheson said she’s a fan of New Orleans culture, the idea to plan such a big parade actually came from a desire to keep people from driving to the wedding.
“We were joking around, like, how can we get people not to drive to the wedding?” Matheson said. “This just kind of blossomed from something practical.”
The parade won’t be limited to wedding guests, either. In true second line tradition, people from off the street can join in if they’d like. They’ll have to part ways when they get to the Clarendon Ballroom, however, as the reception is only open to guests of the bride and groom.
Above all else, Matheson hopes the parade will inspire lots of warm memories that last for years to come.
“They’ll all enjoy the process,” Matheson said. “I think it will be definitely unique.”
Photos courtesy of Sarah Matheson
(Updated at 3:44 p.m.) The Clarendon area has a new spot for haircuts.
The barbershop, Willy and Habib’s, opened at 3107 10th Street N about three weeks ago, said co-owner Habib Zaki. The shop is a short walk from the Clarendon Metro station.
Customers at the newly opened shop can get haircuts, shaves and stylings. A cut costs just $20, and the shop has flatscreen televisions, leather barber chairs and lots of nearby parking as perks for clients.
Zaki is a veteran of Pete’s Barbershop, the beloved Westover business that attracts customers from across Arlington. So far, business at Willy and Habib’s has been “pretty good,” Zaki said, a claim matched by a recent flurry of positive Yelp reviews.
The Shamrock Crawl, once dubbed Arlington’s biggest bar-hopping event, won’t happen this year, its organizers said. When one person asked on Facebook whether this year’s crawl would come to Clarendon, a representative for Project D.C. Events, the company that puts on the annual event, responded, “not this year.”
The event still will take place in D.C., however. Tickets for the District’s Shamrock Crawl have been on sale for at least a week.
A representative for Project D.C. Events didn’t respond to requests for comment, and although it’s not clear why the Clarendon portion of the event isn’t moving forward, the cancellation could have something to do with declining attendance.
In 2015, nearly 3,700 people participated in the big green party, which was down from 5,000 revelers in 2014. Crime also declined that year, as a new bar crawl policy provided funds from organizers for a stepped-up police presence.
Despite the drop in crime, the event has in the past peeved certain local business owners as well as residents of surrounding neighborhoods, who have complained of parking issues and drunken partiers.
The second season of the Real Housewives of Potomac is promising all sorts of drama, including a storyline about Oz restaurant in Clarendon.
The restaurant, which opened in 2015, is apparently not living up to the expectations of co-owner Michael Darby, according to a teaser video released by Bravo.
“The restaurant, it’s not doing well as I’ve hoped,” Darby says to his wife and fellow co-owner, Ashley Darby. “We need to sort it out.”
(ARLnow.com happened upon the filming of the scene, which took place on June 22, 2016.)
Despite moderately positive reviews, Oz — which serves Australian cuisine — has appeared to struggle to fill its large dining area most days of the week.
The second season of “RHOP” premieres April 2.
A new restaurant and bar dedicated to steamed buns and creative cocktails is coming soon to Clarendon.
The business, dubbed “Bar Bao,” is slated to open in the former Mad Rose Tavern space at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, according to co-owner Mike Bramson, who also co-owns Spanish tapas joint Pamplona down the street.
As the name implies, Bar Bao will serve steamed buns, dumplings and other small bites inspired by Chinese and Taiwanese street food.
“We’re going to have a heavy focus on the bao bun program,” Bramson told ARLnow.com. “We’re going to do a lot of creative takes on it.”
One example is a steamed bun filled with southern fried chicken, Bramson said. Though the rest of the menu isn’t yet finalized, he added that diners can expect lots of similarly “unique twists on street food.”
Bar Bao will also serve a long list of cocktails, Bramson said. And like the food, the drink list is to-be-determined.
“We call it Bar Bao because we’re also going to have a really nice cocktail program,” he said. “We’re going to do some creative things that nobody in the area has seen yet.”
When it opens, the new eatery’s interior will feature murals from a local graffiti artist. The interior will also showcase materials such as steel, zinc, lumber and leather “to express an architectural moment reflective of the food itself: pedestrian, flavorful, and comfortable,” a design document given to ARLnow reads.
If all goes according to plan, the new hangout will open in a little more than a month.
“We’re expecting to open in April,” Bramson said. “We’re going really quickly. We already ordered the furniture.”
The redevelopment plan, first reported by ARLnow.com, would tear down IOTA’s existing building at 2832 Wilson Blvd. In response, a “Save IOTA” Facebook page has been created and flyers are being distributed around Clarendon, encouraging supporters to attend a Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association meeting on Thursday, Feb. 23.
Organizers say they want to block the redevelopment, which requires approval from the Arlington County Board.
A spokesman for Market Common Clarendon owner Regency Centers, however, says that it is working to ensure that IOTA — a staple of the local live music scene — remains open.
“Keeping IOTA has always been part of our plans,” said Eric Davidson, communication manager for the Florida-based company.
“We’ve been aware of IOTA’s importance to the community since before we bought the property,” said Davidson. “There’s no reason [to run the campaign.] If they want to show up and show their support for IOTA, that’s great, but we don’t plan on closing it.”
Regency has been “been doing what we can” to work with IOTA owner Jane Negrey Inge, according to Davidson, but he declined to specify how IOTA might remain open during the proposed demolition. A community meeting regarding the plans is being scheduled for March 29 at 2801 Clarendon Blvd from 6-9 p.m., he said.
Photo via Facebook
A person was struck by a car near the intersection of 10th Street N. and N. Barton Street, just before 9 p.m.
The victim was transported to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to ACPD.
Police remained on scene for several hours to investigate the collision.
POLICE ACTIVITY: Pedestrian struck in the 2400 block of N 10th Street. Pedestrian transported with serious but non-life threatening injuries
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) February 21, 2017
Image via Google Maps
A decade later, Politico is a major force in the news industry and VandeHei has moved on to found another media startup: Axios.
Launched in January and based (for now) at MakeOffices in Clarendon, Axios has made some big hires, broken some big stories and is growing rapidly, thanks in part to investment from major media companies.
In this week’s 26 Square Miles podcast, we talked with Jim about his vision for Axios, the current state of the media industry and his take on what’s happening inside the Trump White House.
Some of the initial headlines about Axios, before it launched, revolved around a number VandeHei threw out as a potential price for a subscription: $10,000 per year.
“It could be that number, it could be higher,” VandeHei told us. Large companies and lobbying groups, he said, have that kind of money to pay for information that’s valuable to their business.
For those of us who don’t have thousands to spend on enterprise-focused news and analysis (the subscription service will be launched at a later date) the site and its email newsletters, from marquee names like co-founder Mike Allen and former Fortune columnist Dan Primack, are free. The first thing you’ll notice: the emphasis on brevity. It’s a key ethos at Axios and VandeHei says the goal is to give busy people only the facts they need — “long enough to give you what you need but not so long that it bores you and turns you off.”
In addition to the subscription business, Axios is making money by holding events and by selling advertising to blue chip advertisers like Bank of America, Walmart and BP. VandeHei said that at a time when Facebook and Google are vacuuming up many of the dollars streaming into digital advertising, a diversified revenue stream is important.
On the topic of Trump, VandeHei was candid about what he described as “an unprecedented presidency.” We asked him what might happen to Arlington and the D.C. area under Trump, given the president’s rhetoric about “draining the swamp” and reducing the size of government.
“I don’t know, and I don’t know because the president doesn’t know,” VandeHei said. “I think people assume he came with a very specific plan and a very team that would carry it out, and none of those things is true. They’re making it up on the go.”
VandeHei, who together with Allen interviewed Trump last month, said the president does not have “a strong ideology” outside of immigration and trade. Other issues, he said, are “fully negotiable.”
Lest an optimist think that Trump will get his administration to stabilize and function more like those before it, after a rocky first few weeks in office, it probably isn’t going to happen, according to VandeHei.
“People need to pinch themselves,” he said. “This is not normal.”
“Having had pretty good visibility into this White House, it’s a mess and I’d say it’s arguably worse than you think it is,” VandeHei said. “It’s just competing factions, no trust… it’s a tough way to run a White House. We’re three weeks in, half the people at the senior level think they’re on thin ice and going to lose their job, the other half are angling for a better job that they can have, and none of them are focused on carrying out an agenda that’s going to be awesome for America.”
“The idea that he’s going to suddenly change and that he’s suddenly going to run a more stable White House or that he’s going have a very clear vision of where he wants things to go… there’s a very low percentage chance that that happens. I would just anticipate this level of volatility and this level of insanity until further notice.”
That all said, VandeHei defended Axios’ Trump Tower interview and Mar-a-Lago visit from others in the journalism world who criticized it for appearing too cozy with the incoming administration.
“I find a lot of these arguments silly,” VandeHei said when asked about that and about the turmoil over the news organizations pulling out of the White House Correspondents Dinner now that Trump is president.
“Most reporters are liberal, no doubt about it. Most of them are being egged on to take a very hostile stand against Trump and Republicans,” he said. “But guess what, Republicans run town, they have the House, they have the Senate, they have the White House, they’re about to have the judiciary, they have almost every state government. This is a Republican-run country and you darn well better figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.”
VandeHei had the following advice for journalists in the Trump era: focus on facts, hold people accountable, avoid media “self-flogging” and “maybe stay off Twitter.”
Photo courtesy Axios
Police say the incident happened around 7:40 p.m. on the 2700 block of Clarendon Blvd, near the Whole Foods store.
“The victim was a rideshare driver and, following a verbal altercation over the phone regarding the pickup location of the fare, the suspect assaulted the driver,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
More from this week’s ACPD crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-02110254, 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 7:40 p.m. on February 11, officers responded to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male victim rolled down the window of his vehicle to speak to the male suspect, when the suspect began assaulting the victim through the driver side window. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. Medics arrived on scene and treated the victim. Warrants have been obtained for malicious wounding. The investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
The new owner of Market Common Clarendon is proposing major changes to the sprawling development.
Regency Centers has filed a preliminary site plan to rezone and redevelop a group of buildings along the 2800 blocks of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds. The affected properties include an office building, IOTA Club and Cafe, the former A&R Engravers storefront and the Baja Fresh restaurant.
The redevelopment would mean the partial demolition of the building that holds IOTA and the former engraver’s shop, while preserving and restoring the shop’s “historic facade.” The work would likely force IOTA — a well-loved cafe, outdoor bar and live music venue — to close its doors or relocate.
When asked about the plans, IOTA co-owner Jane Negrey Inge said she did not expect the renovations to happen “any time… soon.”
Over the years we’ve seen a lot of excitement around us. In our first couple years Arlington County sold the public alley behind us to the owners of the Sears Building and we became landlocked! It was disappointing but we worked things out and over the years we’ve maintained a spirit of cooperation with our neighbors and various land-owners. As far as we know changes are coming again with new owners but I don’t think 2832 Wilson will come crashing down on our heads any time real soon. Spring is going [to] spring into gear, and we’ll be glad to re-open the IOTA Back Alley for the season and enjoy good weather, good beer, good friends — which sounds like a good development plan to me!
Additionally, under the plan, the renovation would add a fourth floor and approximately 26,784 square feet of additional space to the office building at 2801 Clarendon Blvd. Regency seeks to upgrade the office building’s facade, redesign the first two floors for office or retail use, add new storefronts on the ground floor and possibly use the basement for public self-storage.
The plan also calls for improvements to the open space at the corner of Clarendon Blvd and N. Edgewood Street, new private outdoor roof terraces and the installation of a “partial green roof.”
“The design and condition of the existing office building, which predates Market Common Clarendon redevelopment by many years, is not consistent with the remainder of the development,” the preliminary site plan filing says. “With the improvements proposed by the Applicant, the office building will be more effectively integrated into Market Common Clarendon and will allow for the much-needed repositioning of the vacant office space in order to attract new commercial tenants.”
“This [proposed redevelopment] creates newly competitive office and retail space in a building with high-quality architecture within easy walking distance to many community amenities in Clarendon,” the filing adds.
A representative for Regency Centers didn’t immediately provide more information about the proposed redevelopment, which is still in its early stages.
To move forward, the plan must be reviewed by the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC), then be presented to both the Arlington Planning Commission and the County Board.
Just before 1 a.m., police say a suspect tried to throw a glass bottle at a restaurant employee, who ducked out of the way just in time to avoid the projectile. The suspect took off on foot as police gave chase, but after a brief pursuit he was taken into custody.
The incident happened on the 1100 block of N. Highland Street, according to a crime report; that’s the same block as Clarendon Grill.
More on the charges Justice is facing, below, from an Arlington County Police Department crime report.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-02110017, 1100 block of N. Highland Street. At approximately 12:55 a.m. on February 11, officers witnessed a male subject throw a glass bottle at a restaurant employee. The employee was able to move out of the way and was not struck by the bottle. Officers attempted to take the male suspect into custody but he tried to flee the area on foot. Following a brief foot pursuit, the suspect was taken into custody. Adam Rhodes Justice, 26, of Fairfax Va, was arrested and charged with attempted malicious wounding, obstruction of justice, and drunk in public.
It’s an old cliche that firefighters rescue cats from trees. But furniture?
Apparently so: The Arlington County Fire Department was called to the 1200 block of N. Herndon Street for a couch that got stuck in a tree sometime this morning. Officials said the seat, a wicker sofa, could pose a public hazard.
Today’s unusually high winds apparently blew the furniture off of a roof deck at the nearby Clarendon Apartments. Firefighters pulled it down around 9:45 a.m., but not before snapping a few candid shots on their phones.
“Here’s your photo opportunity,” joked one Arlington County Police officer while taking a picture of his own.
The couch was last seen being hauled back into the apartment building.