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by ARLnow.com — February 12, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

Sign announcing a new restaurant on the former El Rancho Peruvian Chicken eateryA sign on the recently-closed El Rancho Peruvian Chicken restaurant (3610 Columbia Pike) suggests that a new chicken eatery may be opening there soon.

The sign touts “Sofia’s Charcoal Chicken” as “coming soon.” The restaurant will also offer pupusas, tacos, burritos, baleadas, “and much more.”

The restaurant is just down the street from a new Chipotle location.

No word yet on when the new eatery may open. Attempts to find a phone associated with the new business were unsuccessful.

Photo courtesy Terry Belt

by ARLnow.com — February 9, 2016 at 5:15 pm 0

Rosslyn BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy at the 2011 Light Up Rosslyn CelebrationThe Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization has a new leader following the sudden resignation of former executive director Takis Karantonis last month.

Cecilia Cassidy has been tapped as the group’s interim executive director, effective immediately, CPRO announced today.

Cassidy was formerly the executive director of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. She retired from that post in 2013.

In a press release, after the jump, CPRO notes that Cassidy is a longtime resident of Arlington Village, along the Pike.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — February 9, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

El Rancho Peruvian Chicken, at 3610 Columbia Pike, appears to have closed.

A neighboring business owner told ARLnow.com that the restaurant closed a couple of weeks ago and has not reopened since. Inside the eatery around noon yesterday, the doors were locked and chairs placed on top of the tables.

No explanation was given for the restaurant’s closure and no signs announcing the closure were posted on the windows at the time of ARLnow.com’s visit.

El Rancho has had its share of problems over the years — there were at least two notable fires there since 2012.

by ARLnow.com — February 2, 2016 at 4:25 pm 0

3111 Columbia PikeThe name of the restaurant at 3111 Columbia Pike will be changing once again.

“Purple Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge” will be opening at the location, according to a recent ABC license application. It’s the latest in a procession of eateries that double as nightlife spots to occupy the two-level restaurant space at 3111 Columbia Pike.

In the past, neighbors have been critical of excessive noise and crime at the location, which has at times hosted nighttime events. It didn’t help that a manager of Pines of Italy, one of the former establishments, apparently called Arlington County Board members “c-cksuckers” after a vote to revoke the restaurant’s live entertainment permit in 2014.

No word yet on when Purple might be opening.

by ARLnow.com — January 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

CPRO Executive Director Takis Karantonis speaks at a Columbia PIke business luncheonTakis Karantonis, Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, is leaving the group at the end of this month.

Karantonis has held the post for the past five years. His accomplishments at CPRO included the establishment of summer movie nights, a wine and craft beer festival and the continuation of other popular events along the Pike.

Karantonis was an ardent supporter of the Columbia Pike streetcar project and was dealt a blow when the project was scuttled in 2014.

CPRO was established as a public/private partnership in 1986 to help revitalize the Columbia Pike corridor. In a press release, below, the CPRO Board says it is currently searching for a new executive director.

The CPRO Board would like our Pike Community to know, effective February 1, 2016, our Executive Director of the past 5 years, Takis Karantonis will be moving on to pursue other opportunities. On behalf of the people of the Pike, we want to thank Takis for his hard work, dedication and service to making the Columbia Pike corridor a better place to live and do business.

Takis has been a strong and important advocate for the Columbia Pike community. During his tenure he initiated the very popular summer movie nights at both Penrose Square and Arlington Mill Community Center.

Takis also oversaw all of CPRO’s annual events such as the Arlington Home Show & Garden Expo and Columbia Pike Blues Festival, as well as the inaugural Columbia Pike Fall Fest: Wine & Craft Beer.

He helped to organize and participated in many community meetings and business events throughout Arlington County Virginia. Under his leadership the Columbia Pike Farmers Market has continued to thrive, with the additional feature he initiated to help our neighbors us the SNAP program.

Takis has served with enthusiasm and dedication. We wish him well. A search has begun to find his replacement.

by ARLnow.com — January 27, 2016 at 11:10 am 0

Level bus boarding in Las Vegas (photo via Arlington County)Premium bus service will be coming to Columbia Pike, and Arlington County is studying the possibility of establishing dedicated bus lanes as part a series of transit improvements.

That’s the message from County Manager Mark Schwartz, who spoke at a County Board meeting yesterday afternoon.

More than a year in the making, since the Nov. 2014 cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar project, the new transit plan for Columbia Pike will include bus service that’s “fast, frequent, reliable, easy to use, comfortable,” Schwartz said.

“Staff has identified several features that could be part of premium bus service on the Pike that would be similar to the Metroway service already operating in Crystal City,” Schwartz told the Board. “We are looking at near-level boarding platforms, traffic signal priority for buses, and the possibility of creating locations with dedicated bus lanes, along with other innovations.”

Near-level boarding, as depicted in the photo above, makes for faster boarding and shorter stops. The infrastructure to allow it is in the works, as Arlington County already has a plan to build 23 new, enhanced transit stations along Columbia Pike. The stations are expected to cost about 40 percent less than the infamous $1 million “Super Stop” prototype at the corner of the Pike and Walter Reed Drive.

Off-board fare collection (photo via Arlington County)Other considerations to make bus service faster include include off-board fare collection — so riders can pay for their fare before the bus arrives — and traffic signal prioritization, which would allow green lights to stay green until a bus passes.

More frequent service and simpler route structures — including limited stop and express service — are also being considered, as are new connections to Crystal City and the Skyline section of Fairfax County. The new service would be provided by specially “branded” buses with “comfortable and attractive amenities.”

Though it would require state approval and potentially costly acquisition of Right-of-Way, dedicated bus lanes are currently being studied by county planners.

One of the most lethal criticisms of the streetcar plan was that it would operate in mixed traffic without dedicated lanes. The county is studying the possibility of dedicated lanes for at least portions of the Pike — potentially allowing buses to make stops without blocking a lane of car traffic, for instance.

Dedicated lanes are part of the Metroway Bus Rapid Transit service that’s being implemented in Crystal City.

“Premium bus service would build on transit improvements already underway in these corridors. Columbia Pike, Pentagon City and Crystal City are among the most transit-rich areas of Arlington, with the Pike’s 600 bus trips carrying more than 17,000 passengers each weekday,” the county said in a press release.

The new Pike bus service plan will be included in the county’s state-mandated Transit Development Plan. Arlington will be conducting public outreach on the plan over the next couple of months. It’s expected to be ultimately approved by the County Board in May.

by Katie Pyzyk — January 23, 2016 at 10:35 pm 0

2014 Battle at Ballston snowball fightYou’ve probably watched everything Netflix offers, surfed the far corners of the internet, and will be ready to get off the couch. Well, you’re in luck because several snowball fights around Arlington could be the perfect way to release some pent up energy tomorrow.

The most hotly anticipated we’ve found, based on the nearly 630 people who have already responded on Facebook, will be near the Clarendon Metro station at noon on Jan. 24.

There will be another snowball fight less than a mile away in Virginia Square. That one begins at 1:00 p.m. in Quincy Park (1021 N. Quincy Street), and the organizer’s Facebook post claims the fun will keep going “until people have tired themselves out.” A similar Quincy Park snowball fight nearly two years ago attracted more than a hundred participants.

Not to be outdone, residents along Columbia Pike have posted a Facebook invite for a “neighborly” snowball fight at Penrose Square (2501 Columbia Pike). The snow flinging is set to start at noon tomorrow.

Metro will remain closed throughout the weekend and travel conditions are expected to be terrible, so it’s recommended that snowball fight attendees plan on safely walking to the events.

File photo

by ARLnow.com — January 8, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

A new Sugar Shack Donuts store may open next month on Columbia Pike.

“Now hiring” signs have been posted in the windows of the storefront along S. Glebe Road, in the new 3400 Pike apartment building. Owner and former state legislator Rob Krupicka says the store opening is “a few weeks away.”

“Very close… Construction is almost done and then we have to get the final permits and train staff,” said Krupicka, who also owns a Sugar Shack location in Alexandria. “Folks should follow us on Twitter @SugarShackDMV or Facebook at Sugar Shack Arlington.”

Richmond-based Sugar Shack makes their donuts in-house, by hand. The company made a USA Today list of the top 10 “tastiest donut shops in the USA.”

Sugar Shack’s neighbors at Pike 3400 — formerly the Rosenthal car dealership — include a recently-opened Chipotle and, soon, a 1000 Degree Neapolitan Pizza and a Supercuts.

by ARLnow.com — January 6, 2016 at 10:50 am 0

Nahome Gebrekidan (photo via ACPD)A 30-year-old man arrested for sexual battery and public drunkenness on Columbia Pike Monday has been arrested for being drunk in public at least 19 times since July 2011.

Nahome Gebrekidan, of no fixed address, was arrested Monday afternoon on the western end of Columbia Pike in Arlington.

Police say a woman was walking down the street just before 4:00 p.m., when she passed a man later identified as Gebrekidan.

“After they passed one another, she felt a hand go between her legs, touching her genitals over her jeans,” said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The suspect did not say anything to the victim and continued to walk westbound on Columbia Pike.”

Gebrekidan has been charged with sexual battery and being drunk in public. His next court date is scheduled for Feb. 5.

Court records show that Gebrekidan has been charged with being drunk in public 18 times in Fairfax County and Alexandria alone, over the past four and a half years. He has also faced minor charges like trespassing and disorderly conduct in those jurisdictions.

by Jennifer Currier — January 5, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

9Round Penrose in Dec. 2015Rapidly-expanding kickboxing gym company 9Round opened a new location along Columbia Pike over the weekend.

For now, the fitness club’s location at 2501 9th Road S., at Penrose Square, is in a “soft opening” period, announcing hours of operation on a week-by-week basis. It will be open from 4-9 p.m. through this Thursday and 4-8 p.m. on Friday.

According to 9Round partner Michael Agrillo, the location is offering specials for the opening and will host a grand opening party soon.

This is the second 9Round location to open in Arlington in the last three months. The other opened in November on N. Quincy Street in Ballston.

When the company first announced the new Arlington gyms in September, Agrillo said the company may look at a new space in Pentagon City or Crystal City.

That brings the total number of 9Rounds in the county up to three with considerations for a fourth, including the first Arlington location in Courthouse at 2250 Clarendon Blvd.

The Penrose Square gym is also the first of two 9Round gyms that opened in northern Virginia this week. A location in Falls Church at 6649 Arlington Blvd opened yesterday. It will be open this week during the same hours as the Penrose Square location.

by ARLnow.com — December 17, 2015 at 6:00 am 0

A new restaurant on Columbia Pike is ready to reintroduce Arlington to whiskey.

Marble & Rye opened last week at Penrose Square (2501 Columbia Pike), near the Giant and new Starbucks. Although the restaurant has served customers for only about two weeks, the restaurant is already making a name for itself when it comes to its whiskey and ribs, said spokeswoman Sarah Lakey.

“We really want to be known as the new place for whiskey in Northern Virginia,” Lakey said.

The new whiskey bar and restaurant features a tasting room, more than 150 different whiskeys and whiskey-based cocktails, in addition to its wine and beer selection.

From strong and smokey to smooth and sweet, the staff can recommend just the right whiskey for you from their extensive list. The cocktails have also been popular among both whiskey fans and newcomers.

One of the more popular drinks is the Marble & Rye Old Fashioned, which uses a whiskey infused with orange zest and cherries. The drink is getting rave reviews, with customers saying it is one of the best they have tried. Staff members also recommend the Gold Rush, which features a pistachio sugar rim.

Beyond the drink menu, the restaurant boasts a seasonal menu, made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. One must-try dish is the baby back ribs, which are moist and fall right off the bone. The ribs can compete with some of the best in the city, but customers are encouraged to come try for themselves.

For those who are vegetarian or gluten-free, Marble & Rye has plenty of options, which are highlighted on the menu. Vegetables, including this season’s crispy Brussel sprouts and roasted squash, are cooked in a wood fired oven, giving them a little extra flavor in the process.

To compliment the locally-inspired menu, Marble & Rye brings in wine and beer from Virginia wineries and local breweries.

The local angle extends beyond the food.  They used a local artist to paint the large backsplash mural and logo and the chandelier was done by an Arlington resident, Lakey said, adding that all furniture was made in the United States using reclaimed wood for the tables and walls.

To enhance the experience, it was important that the staff had a say on what was being presented to customers so they could stand behind it. Each server has sampled every dish, every cocktail, wine and beer, they understand where it comes from and what makes it special.

While the restaurant hopes to bring whiskey to Columbia Pike, Marble and Rye is focused on creating a dining experience and working with other Columbia Pike restaurants to make the Pike a destination.

“Our goal is to be a neighborhood place where people can relax, enjoy a great drink or sip on some whiskey, and just have a great time,” Lakey said. “We want to create an experience for everyone who walks through the door.”

Marble & Rye is open on Monday from 4-11 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The preceding post was written by Heather Mongilio for ARLnow.com.

by Jennifer Currier — December 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm 0

Arlington Presbyterian Church (photo via Google Maps)

The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the redevelopment of Arlington Presbyterian Church into an apartment complex with 173 affordable housing units at its meeting on Saturday.

“For over 100 years, Arlington Presbyterian Church has been a place where people of vision, connected with the community, have heard and responded to the needs of our neighbors,” the church said in a release. “As a faith community, APC is committed to creating and nurturing a community of disciples, being a people and place of crossroads for the Columbia Pike neighborhood, and redeveloping their property to provide affordable housing for those in their community.”

The project is a partnership between the church congregation and the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, the organization overseeing the sale of the property at 3507 Columbia Pike, demolition of the church and construction of the apartment building.

“One of the key benefits of stable, affordable housing is the stable households it creates,” said John Milliken, vice chairman of the APAH Board of Directors at Saturday’s meeting. “It’s a unique and special opportunity to partner with APC… in carrying out what it has determined as its spiritual mission.”

As part of the vote, Board members also approved approximately $18 million in loans to help APAH fund the project.

Plans for affordable apartment building on Arlington Presbyterian Church site

The new building will also include a three-floor parking garage and ground floor retail space.

“This is another case where our development tools, coupled with major transportation investments, are helping us transform the Pike into the ‘main street’ that the community has long envisioned, while preserving the rich resident diversity that makes this part of Arlington so special,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement.

The church first approved the redevelopment plan in November 2013, but the sale of the church to APAH wasn’t until this February. Now that the loan from the County has been approved as well, the project is expected to move forward as planned.

At the meeting, community members spoke in support of the project’s final approval.

“[My wife and I] really love our neighborhood, its diversity, its walkability, the history, and the people,” Columbia Pike and Arlington Presbyterian Church member Miles Townes said. “We’re concerned some of our neighbors are not able to live in our neighborhood anymore, and we plainly see that the need for affordable housing is growing on the Pike.”

The project also has the support of other area faith communities.

“This project is a perfect example of doing something now for generations yet unborn that will look back and say ‘thank you,'” said the Rev. Andrew Merrow of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — December 10, 2015 at 10:25 am 0

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to consider a project that would tear down Arlington Presbyterian Church along Columbia Pike and replace it with an affordable housing apartment building.

County staff is recommending approval of the project, which was approved by the church’s congregation in 2013. The church’s regional governing body gave the green light for its sale to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing earlier this year.

APAH is proposing to tear down the church, which was built in 1931, and construct a six-story apartment building with 173 units, all of which will be committed affordable housing. The building would include a three-level parking garage and 8,900 square feet of retail or civic use space.

The church has proposed leasing much of the retail area for a non-traditional worship space. A coffee shop was also suggested as a possible retail use, in addition to the church.

The apartment building would also replace the church’s surface parking lot and its tot lots, which are currently used by daycare provider Funshine Preschool. The preschool is being relocated to 3412 22nd Street S. and the tot lots are expected to be sold to a single family home developer in order to help fund the apartment building’s construction.

The County Board is expected to follow staff’s recommendations and approve a rezoning, use permit and $8.6 million loan from its Affordable Housing Investment Fund for the project.

The church is located at 3507 Columbia Pike.

by ARLnow.com — December 7, 2015 at 5:00 pm 0

A driver suffered critical injuries in a crash on Columbia Pike next to the Air Force Memorial Sunday night.

The single-vehicle crash happened just before 5:45 p.m. A driver apparently lost control and slammed into the corner of a large concrete wall next to the entrance to the memorial.

The driver was found unconscious and was initially reported to be pinned inside the car, but was freed by firefighters, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Shawn Pendo.

The victim was transported to George Washington University Hospital with life-threatening injuries, Pendo said. There was no update on his or her condition as of Monday afternoon.

Columbia Pike was closed in both directions Sunday evening while police investigated the crash.

by ARLnow.com — December 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm 0

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for a new addition to Glencarlyn Park, along Columbia Pike and the W&OD Trail, over the weekend.

The new park space, near the Arlington Mill Community Center, includes a “learning loop” for beginning bicyclists, a bike repair station, a bike water bottle filler, a sand play area and a rain garden.

Construction of the park amenities was estimated at $400,000 when it was approved a year ago.

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