Arlington, VA

Update on 4/2/20 — The repairs were completed and the roadway is back open.

Update at 4:50 p.m. — Walter Reed Drive is now closed in both directions while crews work to stop the leak and repair the line. 

Earlier: The southbound lanes of Walter Reed Drive are blocked due to a significant outdoor gas leak south of Columbia Pike.

The leak was reported shortly before 2:30 p.m., near the intersection of Walter Reed and 11th Street S. Arlington police and firefighters are on the scene.

Initial reports suggest a gas line larger than 2 inches was struck by a construction crew, prompting the closure and extra precautions. First responders are now checking natural gas levels on the ground floor of the adjacent apartment building while awaiting the arrival of Washington Gas.

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Morning Notes

Fire at Columbia Pike Apartment Building — One person was hospitalized and subsequently arrested after a fire at the Serrano Apartments on Columbia Pike Sunday night. [Twitter]

State Funds to Stabilize ART Service — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $420,926 in state grant funds to support Arlington’s local transit operations during the COVID-19 emergency… Arlington Transit (ART) buses, like transit services across the region, have experienced significant declines in ridership and revenue.” [Arlington County]

Arlingtonian Recounts Coronavirus Experience — Roy Schwartz, an Arlington resident and the co-founder of Clarendon-based Axios, tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month. In a brief podcast interview, he recounted the experience, the delays in getting test results, and the contact from Arlington’s health department. [Axios]

Construction Projects ContinueUpdated at 9:10 a.m. — “While shuttering many businesses to try to slow the virus’s spread, officials in the District, Maryland and Virginia have designated construction as ‘essential,’ along with hospitals, grocery stores, banks and a handful of other businesses. All three jurisdictions have also allowed private construction, including home building and commercial developments, to continue.” [Washington Post]

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Farmers markets in Arlington closed briefly by the coronavirus outbreak will be allowed to re-open this weekend, but with a catch: vendors can only offer food that’s been pre-ordered before the market.

The new rules are meant to bring local farmers markets in compliance with guidance from the state government. A similar policy was enacted for markets in Alexandria.

“To limit the exposure to COVID-19, vendors are not permitted to display food or on-site shopping,” Arlington County said in a press release. “This guidance enables markets to remain open giving Arlingtonians access to fresh, locally-grown food while promoting social distancing.”

While others will be opening later this spring, three Arlington farmers markets are currently in season and expected to reopen for order pickups:

Each of the markets will be limited to no more than ten customers at a time, and customers are being asked to comply with social distancing guidelines to prevent the person-to-person spread of the virus. Food orders will be boxed and the press release said customers are asked to avoid touching or inspecting their orders on-site.

Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said that some of the vendors have options to place orders online, while others might have to be contacted directly by phone or email. While the process may be cumbersome for the first weekend, Kalish said that should be ironed out over the coming weeks.

The Columbia Pike Farmers Market announced today that it will be taking online orders for three vendors.

“To ensure we can continue to support our local farmers and provide the community with needed produce and goods while complying with state-wide guidance on distancing and gathering restrictions, we have temporarily moved our Farmers Market to the web,” said the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. “Customers will now order from our vendors online and pick up their orders at the market on Sundays. We currently have 3 vendors prepared to take orders for pick-up THIS Sunday, March 29. Please note that orders MUST be placed in advance, unless otherwise noted. There will be no shopping at the market.”

The nearby Falls Church farmers market is also reopening this weekend with similar rules in place.

File photo

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The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) has announced an official lineup of its summer movie series, but whether the event actually happens remains to be seen.

Every year, CPRO hosts a series of outdoor movies where attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets and camp out under the stars to watch a film. Now in its 10th year, the series is scheduled to kick off June 5 with movies shown Fridays at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street) and Saturdays at Penrose Square (2503 9th Road S.).

CPRO is still evaluating whether the show will go on, depending on the trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak.

“As there is still so much uncertainty right now, we have not made any decisions surrounding summer events just yet,” Amanda Lovins, communications and fundraising coordinator for CPRO told ARLnow. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and will be assessing the state of our events in the coming months.”

If the summer movies series does go forward, the Arlington Mill lineup will be:

The Penrose Square lineup is:

Photo via Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization

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Weekend Morning Notes

About This Post — Due to lots of coronavirus-related news, we have a number of non-disease-related local links that we haven’t been able to get to over the past two weeks. We’re running a one-time Weekend Morning Notes post to clear our queue. This will replace the usual weekend discussion post.

Arlington Cherry Blossom Walk — “Cherry blossom season in the D.C. area is a wonderful time of year, and taking in the blossoms is a beloved tradition. WalkArlington has created a walk featuring a few of our favorite locations in Arlington where you can appreciate the blooms and enjoy all that springtime in Arlington has to offer.” [WalkArlington]

Median Signs Promote Census — “What is good for the goose apparently is not good for the gander – if, that is, the gander is the Arlington County government. Those driving the roadways of Arlington in recent weeks no doubt have seen a flurry of median signage calling attention to, and promoting participation in, the federal census.” [InsideNova]

Local Cat Makes Headlines –“An adorable cat with a jaw deformity can’t help but always stick her tongue out – and her owner has insisted she wouldn’t have her pet any other way. Pretty Kitty, five, from Arlington, Virginia, can only open her mouth a ‘small amount’, and has her tongue always sticking out thanks to the way her jaw formed.” [Daily Mail]

Instant Runoff Voting for Arlington? — “Voters in future Arlington County Board elections could find themselves using the ‘instant-runoff’ method rather than the current ‘winner-takes-it-all’ manner. Both houses of the General Assembly have approved and sent to Gov. Northam a measure allowing Arlington to conduct its County Board races using instant-runoff voting, also known as ‘ranked-choice’ voting.” [InsideNova]

Arlington-Based Textile Brand Profiled — “From a plant-filled studio in Arlington, Diana Johnson translates ideas in her head to paper by lettering, illustrating and painting. Using her background in graphic design, Johnson is able to transform her artwork digitally into handcrafted products like pillows, clutches, greeting cards and, most often, prints to add a little color to any space.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Green Valley Looks Forward — “Low-level sales of marijuana and other substances in the Green Valley community in the 1960s grew into a full-fledged, open-air ‘drug supermarket’ by the early 1980s, with the intersection of 24th Road South and Shirlington Road ground zero for the illegal operations. On March 7, leaders of the community looked back at those days, and committed themselves to ensuring a better future for their community.” [InsideNova]

Chamber Acquires ‘Awesome Women’ –“Awesome Women (AWE), the professional networking group founded in Arlington in 2014 that now has six chapters throughout the DC area, announced today that it will become a program of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce later this year. The Arlington Chamber will offer women-only networking events beginning in the fall, and will call the new program the Arlington Chamber Chapter of AWE.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Victim of Pentagon Stabbing Identified — “The man who was fatally stabbed Monday morning on the platform of the Pentagon Metro station has been identified as a 25-year-old from Northwest Washington, a spokesman for the transit agency said. Sean Ronaldo Golden, who lived near the District’s Brightwood Park neighborhood, died shortly after arriving at George Washington University Hospital, a report provided by Metro says.” [Washington Post]

New Pho Restaurant Opens on Columbia Pike — Pho Harmony, a carry-out Vietnamese noodle restaurant, has opened on the 3200 block of Columbia Pike. [Twitter]

And now here it is, your moment of zen…

https://twitter.com/wamu885/status/1241206140475768832

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(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Columbia Pike was blocked by a crash at S. Scott Street, near the Wellington Apartments, Thursday afternoon.

The crash happened around 2:45 p.m. Initial reports suggest that a vehicle flipped on its roof and one person was removed from it by firefighters.

A traffic light was felled by the crash. So far there’s no word on injuries nor on what caused the crash.

As of 3:45 p.m., one lane in each direction had reopened, but there was still debris in the center of the roadway, including the fallen traffic signal.

Arlington County turned off three traffic cameras in the area, thus deliberately hindering ability of ARLnow and other news outlets to report on the crash. The cameras remained off, even after the patient was extricated.

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Like its sister location in Alexandria, the Arlington branch of Sugar Shack Donuts is leaving the chain, rebranding and adding an expanded menu.

In a sign posted in the window of the donut shop at 1014 S. Glebe Road, the shop’s owners said the new restaurant will be a bakery, cafe and coffee shop called Elizabeth’s Counter. It will specialize in “delicious, sustainable and plant-based foods.”

Elizabeth’s Counter will continue to serve donuts but will add more to the menu, like plant-based burgers and bowls.

The new cafe is named after Elizabeth Gregory, reputed to be the first person to make a donut. Gregory made the donut for her son Captain Hanson Gregory, for whom the Captain Gregory’s speakeasy at the Old Town Alexandria Elizabeth’s Table (formerly Sugar Shack) is named.

“To honor that culinary event and the other food she packed for her son’s sea voyages, we have chosen her as the namesake for our new venture,” the sign said.

The Alexandria location is already in transition, and staff at the Columbia Pike location said they expect to start seeing changes gradually over the next couple weeks, with new items and updated decor. The sign said the first items will likely be the new bakery offerings, moving up to things like roasted brussels sprouts later.

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The Salsa Room is moving out next month, and other tenants are being put on short-term leases.

All signs point to the planned redevelopment of the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center, on Columbia Pike just east of Walter Reed Drive and west of Penrose Square, starting soon.

The plan is to replace the aging, single-story commercial buildings — housing CVS, H&R Block, Atilla’s restaurant, the Salsa Room, and the Burritos Bros food stand — with a six-story apartment building featuring ground-floor retail. Work could start as soon as 2021, though merchants are also being told it could be 2-3 years from now.

“Hopefully something will come together as early as mid-next year,” said Harald Mangold, president and CEO of Scott Management, which operates the shopping center and the adjacent Fillmore Gardens Apartments. “It depends on lots of things… ounty approvals, the economy, and so on.”

Mangold said the redevelopment plan, presented last year to the county’s Form Based Code Advisory Working Group, remains the same.

The Salsa Room, meanwhile, is moving to Tysons in March. Co-owner Victor Villarreal said the owners of the shopping center “have been really honest with the tenants that they are actively seeking to redevelop.” All leases end in October and will then go month-to-month, he said.

Villarreal said he regrets moving out of Arlington but feels the club had little choice.

“It’s hard to find a building, build it out and do all that stuff. It takes time,” he said. “We’re going to miss the space a lot. I really feel that we contributed to the growth of that area and we’ve held a lot of fundraisers… It’s a nice location. It’s close to D.C. and everything. I wish we could stay there forever, but unfortunately [could not].”

A portion of the current CVS parking lot is expected to be ceded to the county, to be added to Penrose Square park, as part of the redevelopment.

Catherine Moran contributed to this report.

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If you’ve been fretting over where to find second-hand clothes, accessories and oddities on Columbia Pike, worry no more, the Goodwill retail store at 4714 Columbia Pike is scheduled to reopen this Saturday (Feb. 29).

The shop had been closed for renovations but will reopen with a celebration on Saturday. Throughout the day, anyone who spends $50 will get a $10 discount, according to the Goodwill website.

After the reopening, the Goodwill is scheduled to resume its usual schedule of 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday.

Photo via Goodwill of Greater Washington/Facebook

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Long-time Columbia Pike dance venue The Salsa Room is moving.

The Latin nightclub and bar at 2619 Columbia Pike will host its last party in Arlington on Saturday, March 7. It is moving to the current Palladium space at 1524 Spring Hill Road in Tysons.

The grand opening in Tysons is set for March 25, according to a social media post.

The loss of The Salsa Room will mean less nighttime activity along the Pike’s main business district. It is also the second major dancing and nightlife venue to close in Arlington following the recent closure of the Clarendon Ballroom.

“After 20+ years in Arlington, and countless, amazing memories, TSR would like to thank all of the artist, dancers, instructors, DJs and you for supporting us,” The Salsa Room said.

View this post on Instagram

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT.• WE’RE MOVING After 20+ years in Arlington, and countless, amazing memories, TSR would like to thank all of the artist, dancers, instructors, Djs and you for supporting us. We invite you to join us March 4-7 for the closing parties. Our new home will be in Tysons Corner. (1524 Spring Hill Rd McLean ,VA) Grand Opening Weekend & Get Your 2020 VIP Card Night March 25 -29. Tickets will go on sale Friday Feb. 21 www.tsrtickets.com Visit our social media for more details. @salsaroom 2619 Columbia Pike Arlington, VA #thesalsaroom #salsaroom #salsa #bachata#salsadancing #sensualbachata #zouk #bachatadancing#tsr #salsaclasses #bachataclass #bachatasensual #tsr #bachatademo #bachatadance #tsrinterviews #tsrangels @salsaroom

A post shared by The-Salsa Room (@salsaroom) on

Image via Google Maps

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A D.C. man has been arrested and charged in another series of vehicle break-ins in Arlington.

The arrested happened early Saturday morning, near the Wellington Apartments at the corner of S. Scott Street and Columbia Pike.

Officers were called to the area for a report of a vehicle tampering, according to Arlington County Police, and while investigating a man jumped out of the vehicle and started running. He was taken into custody after a brief foot chase, police said, and is now accused of three break-ins in the area.

More from an ACPD crime report:

VEHICLE TAMPERING (significant), 2020-02150063, S. Scott Street at Columbia Pike. At approximately 4:25 a.m. on February 15, police were dispatched to the late report of a tampering with auto. Upon arrival, officers were directed to a vehicle, which the reporting party had previously observed the suspect allegedly enter. While investigating, the officer heard noise from inside the vehicle and, while determining if the vehicle was occupied, the suspect exited and attempted to flee on foot. A brief foot pursuit ensued and the suspect was taken into custody without incident. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect had also gained entry to two other vehicles in the area. Rudolph Renfrow, 68, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with Tampering with Vehicle (x3), Entering or Setting in Motion a Vehicle, Possession of Burglarous Tools and Obstruction of Justice. He was held on no bond.

The arrest comes amid a continued rash of vehicle break-ins and thefts.

Two D.C. men were arrested last week and charged with three break-ins in the Rosslyn area. Arlington police say at least 882 cars were broken into between July 2019 and January 2020.

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