Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Never Ending Bike Rack Construction at EFC Metro — “Metro has been building a Bike & Ride facility at the East Falls Church Metro Station for nearly five years, and the project still is not finished. The covered bike shelter was supposed to open in December 2015, but Metro says due to ‘Numerous construction quality issues, including damage caused by a contractor repeatedly drilling into an underground duct bank, led to lengthy delays.'” [WJLA]

Another Sewage Release in Four Mile Run — “Avoid all contact with Four Mile Run south of 7th Street until further notice due to a sanitary sewage release. @ArlingtonDES crews are on scene investigating pipe’s condition.” [Twitter]

Delegate Wants to Retrocede Arlington to D.C. — Del. Dave LaRock (R) “said some counties and jurisdictions in the state ‘are becoming more like California and New York…’ [LaRock said he] could get behind a move to have more liberal jurisdictions such as Arlington and Alexandria become part of Washington, D.C.” [Winchester Star, Blue Virginia]

Weird Crash Leaves Car Hanging — “Rough night… at Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street.” [Twitter]

Cristol to Chair NVTC — “Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol has been tapped to chair the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for the 2020 calendar year. She succeeds Matt Letourneau, a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.” [InsideNova]

Marine Corps Marathon Bans Cheater — “The Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) recently concluded an investigation into the running history of a 55-year-old female participant at both the Marine Corps 17.75K and the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). The research, including photographic evidence and timing data, indicates that the runner had cheated over multiple years by not running the entire course and then claiming the rewards of a finisher.” [Press Release]

Flickr pool photo by Tom Mockler

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Arlington Free Clinic is looking for a few good dentists to join their volunteer team.

The clinic, which is located just off Columbia Pike at 2921 11th Street S., wants to serve more patients than its current paid dental team can handle, and is seeking volunteers to help out.

Arlington Free Clinic is a nonprofit that provides medical care to low-income adults who do not have health insurance. The clinic is volunteer driven and a majority of its funds are donated by people and businesses from the community. It provides primary care, mental health services, physical therapy, and a pharmacy for its patients.

“About five years ago we started a modest dental program,” said Alicia Nieves, the Director of Development and Communications at the clinic. “We gradually filled out our new space using a grant from the Virginia Health Care foundation to increase our staff, dig into dental and truly meet our patient’s needs.”

The clinic also received a $250,000 donation for dental care from a retired Arlington special education teacher in 2018.

More from a press release:

Arlington Free Clinic (AFC) is the only nonprofit providing free, high-quality medical and dental care to low-income, uninsured Arlington adults.

AFC has been caring for Arlingtonians in need for over 25 years. In 2015, AFC expanded beyond medical care and launched a dental program. For the first three years, AFC delivered dental services 24 hours per week using space donated by Arlington County.

AFC took its early success in dental – and the knowledge that patient needs far outstripped the capacity of the modest, offsite program – to make a case for successfully raising the $1.5M needed to grow our dental program and move it onsite.

Since January 2019, Arlington Free Clinic has been ramping up operations in its new, onsite, three-chair dental clinic. We added Dentist and Dental Assistant hours, hired a Dental Hygienist, and began integrating Hygienist Students and Dentist Volunteers.

Currently, operating at maximum paid staffing levels, we are able to provide 250 dental visits per month. The only way we will be able to add additional visits and see more patients is by supplementing the paid dental team with volunteers.

On the medical side of our organization, the majority of care is delivered pro bono by providers who come onsite to see patients or agree to see patients for free in their private offices throughout the community. We have had over 25 years to establish and solidify connections within the medical community, but we are just beginning to form relationships with local dentists.

If you or a dentist you know is interested in learning more about volunteering with Arlington Free Clinic’s Dental Program, we encourage you to get in touch. The commitment can be anywhere from four hours once/week to every other month. We have daytime, afternoon, and evening hours, and are open Saturday mornings in the dental clinic, and would welcome volunteer dentists any time.

  • To get involved as a volunteer dentist, call Jody Steiner Kelly at 703-979-1425, ext. 124
  • To learn more about becoming a patient, call 703-979-1400
  • To support financially, call the development department at 703-979-1425, ext. 121
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Pho Harmony, a carry-out Vietnamese noodle restaurant, is coming to Columbia Pike, according to a sign on the front of 3203 Columbia Pike.

The small commercial building houses a psychic, a tax service, and — formerly — Mongol Nomads Asian Fusion, a restaurant that served Mongolian and, briefly, Caribbean cuisine.

The pho restaurant is “coming soon,” according to the sign. No other information on it could be located in the windows or online.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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For most of the year, a stretch of Columbia Pike on the western end of Arlington County will be reduced to one lane in each direction.

During the extended closure, necessitated by utility work, drivers can expect significant delays during rush hour. Another impact: on left turns in the construction zone.

Following criticism of county officials for insufficient communication about the closure, Arlington’s television arm has released a video detailing the closure and the detours in place to move traffic around it.

After construction concludes, the video notes, the affected portion of Columbia Pike will have wider sidewalks and will no longer have overhead utility lines.

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Morning Notes

HQ2 May Have Security Robots — “Amazon.com Inc. wants to keep its second headquarters safe. And it’s looking at a variety of methods like incognito barricades, a police presence on the campus, external facing cameras, and, oh yeah, ‘security robots.'” [Washington Business Journal]

More on Tuesday AM Robbery on the Pike — “The victim was in sitting in his parked vehicle, when an occupied vehicle pulled in front of him. The occupants of the vehicle engaged the victim in conversation and asked him to make change for their bill. During the exchange, the suspects gave the victim a lesser sum of money in return for the change and attempted to drive off. When the victim attempted to stop the vehicle, the suspects exited, assaulted him and attempted to steal his wallet.” [Arlington County]

CO Leak at GW Parkway Building — Arlington County firefighters responded to a possible carbon monoxide leak at the GW Parkway maintenance facility near Crystal City yesterday afternoon. Two people were evaluated for CO-related symptoms, per scanner traffic, and the leak was traced to a malfunctioning HVAC system. [Twitter]

Major Reston Property Owner Buys in Clarendon — “An affiliate Comstock Holding Cos. Inc. has acquired the Hartford building in Clarendon, extending its local footprint beyond its major outside-the-Capital Beltway developments in Reston and Ashburn. Comstock… bought the nine-story building at 3101 Wilson Blvd. from an affiliate of Chicago’s Heitman Capital Management for $128.75 million.” [Washington Business Journal, Globe Newswire]

Photo courtesy Peter Golkin

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Morning Notes

Trash Collection CancelledUpdated at 8:55 a.m. — Trash and recycling collection is cancelled today, according to Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. Christmas tree and brush collection will be completed as normal, however. [Twitter]

Rep. Beyer Calls for Peace — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted the following after Iran’s airstrike on U.S. military bases in Iraq — a response to the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general: “De-escalate. Exercise diplomacy. Talk. Listen. Give peace a chance.” [Twitter]

Civ Fed Worries About Upzoning — “‘None of us are interested in destroying all our single-family neighborhoods,’ new County Board Chairman Libby Garvey said during the board’s Jan. 2 meeting with the Arlington County Civic Federation… At the forum, Garvey promised that the Civic Federation would play an integral role in any civic-engagement process that transpires in coming months. She reiterated the board’s position that zoning changes are not a done deal.” [InsideNova]

Board Defends Amazon’s Housing Contribution — “Arlington County Board members are defending their decision to trade additional office-building density for affordable-housing funding, but the decision provoked tension with some delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation. Meeting with board members on Jan. 2, several federation members asked why the county government had decided to allocate all the $20 million contribution from Amazon to affordable-housing efforts.” [InsideNova]

Marijuana Possession Cases Dismissed — In court Tuesday, Arlington’s new top prosecutor successfully sought for judges to dismiss charges against those charged with simple marijuana possession. [Twitter]

Police Investigate Pike Robbery — A portion of westbound Columbia Pike was shut down near S. Glebe Road early Tuesday morning while police investigated a robbery. An ACPD spokeswoman told ARLnow that a victim was robbed and suffered minor injuries; no weapon was involved in the robbery. [Twitter]

New Coworking Space Coming to Crystal City — “Hana is coming to Greater Washington, and it’s going to be neighbors with HQ2. CBRE Group has picked a Crystal City office building to serve as the first East Coast location of its flexible space concept, named after the Hawaiian word for work.” [Washington Business Journal]

Local Pawn Shop Helps Return Lost Ring — “Mary Nosrati, a certified gemologist who works at a pawnshop in Arlington, Va., likes to say that every diamond has a story. This is the story of Marsha Wilkins’s diamond, of how it was lost and how it was found.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

New Security Measures at ANC — “Arlington National Cemetery is implementing heightened security measures after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general. The extra security will create longer lines at security checkpoints and delays… All visitors over the age of 16 will be required to show a valid state or government photo ID to enter by foot or car, Arlington National Cemetery says. Visitors aged 16 or 17 can show a school-issued ID.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

Office Building Above Rosslyn Safeway Sold — “An affiliate of The Meridian Group has paid $113.15 million for 1525 Wilson Blvd., a Rosslyn office building featuring the colorful sculpture of a dancing couple, after selling another building in the Arlington County office market last summer.” [Washington Business Journal]

Lee Highway Planning Update — “To mark the end of a year collecting ideas for the road’s ‘reimagining‘ by the nonprofit Lee Highway Alliance, its executive director, Ginger Brown, gave an update predicting that phase two — development of land-use and zoning ideas — could be ‘the most contentious.’ […] ‘Lee Highway is stuck in 1950s strip-mall zoning,’ Brown told a Dec. 19 breakfast group.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Local Shop Has Best Cheese Selection in the U.S.? — Arrowine, a long-time ARLnow sponsor, has the best wine selection in the D.C. area and possibly the best cheese selection in the country after its recent renovation, according to local restaurant reviewer Don Rockwell. [DCDining.com]

Pike Lane Closures Are Hurting Local Business — “An employee at Cinthia’s Bakery II on Columbia Pike said the restaurant is seeing a significant drop off in the number of customers and an increase in empty tables all due to the construction.” [WJLA]

Yorktown Boys Improve to 11-0 — “This is the new Yorktown basketball: Take the first available shot, press nonstop on defense, substitute in a whole new lineup every 90 seconds. It’s a strategy some other area schools have tried — Lake Braddock, most successfully — but few have perfected. And it has the Patriots, the worst team in their conference last season, undefeated at 11-0 after a dazzling 86-51 rout of Madison (6-5).” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Pike Lane Closures Prompt Apology — “Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz has apologized that residents, business owners, and commuters weren’t informed how their lives would be temporarily affected by a road construction project on Columbia Pike, near the Fairfax County border,” per WTOP. County officials will be holding a press briefing about the lane closures on the Pike this morning. [WTOP, Arlington County]

Park Near HQ2 May Have Security Features — “Amazon.com Inc. is weighing methods for securing its second headquarters and appears to be looking across the pond for ideas. The U.S. embassy in London… avoids fences in favor of a number of ‘defense strategies’ disguised as a ‘welcoming landscape that is experienced as a public park,’ an Amazon representative told Arlington County officials.” [Washington Business Journal]

Ballroom Closing Is a Changing of the Bro Guards — “The millennials who do end up in Arlington are being drawn to a new generation of bars and nightspots, many of which are run by chef Mike Cordero and partner Scott Parker, including the bustling three-level tequila/tacos restaurant Don Tito… Clarendon may always have a place for the venerable Whitlow’s on Wilson, where the combination of a roof deck and cover bands makes it the most likely refuge for those missing the Ballroom… But it’s clear that Clarendon — at least, its bro-centric archetype — will never be the same.” [Washington Post]

Alabama Man Busted With Loaded Gun at DCA — “An Alabama man started the new year on a sour note when he brought his loaded handgun to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on the first day of the new year.” [Transportation Security Administration]

New Slate of County Board Meetings Set — “Arlington County Board members will hold 11 monthly meetings (Saturdays and the subsequent Tuesdays) in 2020, along with several hearings on the proposed fiscal 2021 budget and capital-improvement projects. Regular meetings will be held on Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 21, April 18, May 16, June 13, July 18, Sept. 12, Oct. 17, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12 and, in each case, the following Tuesdays.” [InsideNova]

‘National Gateway’ Building Sold — “An affiliate of The Meridian Group has sold part of its National Gateway campus in Arlington County, one of a handful of office properties poised to benefit from an expected surge in demand tied to Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters. The Bethesda developer sold National Gateway II, a roughly 238,031-square-foot building at 3550 S. Clark St., for nearly $60 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Utility work will force lane closures along Columbia Pike starting next week.

“Starting on or about Monday, Dec. 30, there will be new traffic patterns along the west end of Columbia Pike, in Arlington, which are expected to cause additional delays for those travelling through this area,” the county said in a press release. “The changes are necessary so the contractor for the Columbia Pike west end project can install a utility duct bank system beneath the eastbound lanes.”

Originally the utility undergrounding project was to have placed the aforementioned duct bank under the sidewalk, but a bundle of communication lines was unexpectedly found where it was supposed to go, necessitating the placement under the Pike itself — at the cost of lane closures and an extra $5.5 million.

The work will reduce the western end of Columbia Pike to one lane in each direction for most of 2020, though one additional eastbound lane will open during weekday morning rush hours.

Drivers are being encouraged to take alternate routes.

More from the press release:

Between South Jefferson Street and the Four Mile Run Bridge, sections of Columbia Pike will be reduced to one lane in each direction daily, including weekends. One additional lane will be open in the eastbound direction, heading toward DC, during weekday morning rush hours (7 am – 9:30 am).

This lane reduction is expected to remain in place for much of the next year. Substantial completion for the Columbia Pike west end project, including utility undergrounding and streetscape improvements, is anticipated for early 2021.

Alternate Routes

Traffic is expected to be affected in and around the immediate area. Drivers not heading to a residence, business or another destination in this area are encouraged to seek alternate routes to reduce road congestion.

Roadways that parallel Columbia Pike:

  • Route 50/Arlington Boulevard
  • Interstate 395

On Columbia Pike, options for travelling around the work zone include:

  • For westbound traffic – Follow George Mason Drive north to Route 50/Arlington Boulevard or south to Route 7/Leesburg Pike
  • For eastbound traffic – Follow Carlin Springs Road north to Route 50/Arlington Boulevard or south to Route 7/Leesburg Pike
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An already pricey plan to place overhead utility lines underground along Columbia Pike is getting more expensive.

The Arlington County Board voted unanimously at its Tuesday meeting to approve boosting an existing $17.5 million contract for the work to $23 million — a $5.5 million increase — due to some unforeseen circumstances.

In a report to the Board, county staff said that its contractor, Fort Myer Construction Corporation (FMCC), encountered a mysteriously out-of-place underground duct bank — the conduit through which utility lines are placed — on a segment of the undergrounding work from S. Greenbrier Street to the Four Mile Run Bridge.

(FMCC’s contract is for one segment, from the county line to Four Mile Run, of the overall project.)

The rogue duct bank was adjacent to Columbia Pike, where a new duct bank containing the currently above-ground utility lines was to go. The county says it’s investigating why the existing duct bank, which is owned by Verizon, was not under the roadway as records indicated.

Given that the lines can no longer be placed next to the roadway, they will have to go under Columbia Pike, county staff said. That will require more extensive lane and intersection closures and occasional weekend detours — thus the extra expense.

At last night’s meeting Board members pushed for much of the disruptive work to be done at night, to prevent a traffic nightmare along the Pike during peak times.

“This is going to be a mess,” said Board member Libby Garvey.

More from the county staff report:

A third segment, Four Mile Run Bridge to South Jefferson Street (Segment H&I), started construction in early 2018. During construction of this segment, a previously unknown existing underground communications duct bank was encountered which required redesign to relocate the new underground combined electric-communications duct bank, and results in this request to increase to the construction contract.

FMCC completed the first part of the new duct bank between South Jefferson Street and South Greenbrier Street without issues. The initial excavation for the segment between South Greenbrier Street and Four Mile Run Bridge uncovered an existing underground communications duct bank in the location planned for the new duct bank (Figure 1). This conflict resulted in a revised design that places the duct bank in the roadway, making the work more complex as construction must contend with heavy traffic conditions. The overall duct length has increased because the new duct bank must be routed around many existing utilities. Additionally, the project was delayed due to the time necessary to complete the redesign. A contract change was negotiated with FMCC for the additional cost to install the redesigned underground duct bank and return the project back to the original substantial completion timeframe. The result of negotiations was an increase of $5,500,000.

Construction that is part of this contract change will require additional lane closures beyond those currently in effect today. These will vary depending on the phase of construction and will be communicated to the public in advance. Some left-turn restrictions will be implemented in phases at intersections and driveways and some intersections will require closures and detours where the work will occur on weekends. Access to driveways will be maintained throughout the project area and bus stops will be temporarily relocated and consolidated when impacted by construction.

During the engineering phase of the project, records showed the existing communications duct bank was inside the roadway with sufficient clearance for the planned new duct bank. An investigation is ongoing into the reason why the existing duct bank was found to be in a location that interfered with the new duct bank and will continue concurrently with construction of the revised design.

Map via Arlington County. Kalina Newman contributed to this report.

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The Arlington County Board has voted 4-1 to revoke the live entertainment permit for a Columbia Pike nightlife venue with a history of violations.

The County Board held a rare “off-cycle permit review” for Purple Ethiopian Restaurant and Lounge (3111 Columbia Pike) during its meeting this past Saturday, after county staff recommended revoking the restaurant’s ability to host music and dancing due to safety concerns.

Between last January and this November, the Arlington County Police Department answered a total of 69 calls to the restaurant/hookah bar/nightclub, per a staff report. Of those, 58 calls were made during live entertainment events, and reported incidents ranged in severity from noise complaints to security using pepper spray against patrons to assault.

Notably, one person was shot outside the lounge early on a Thursday morning in September, resulting in a non-life-threatening injury and an arrest.

“Purple Lounge is contributing to alcohol-related harm, and that is affecting public safety,” said county planner Kristen Walentisch during a staff presentation. “Its live entertainment use is intensifying that situation.”

Adding to concern, the restaurant also faces multiple health code violations and is the process of appealing a violation from the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau for sales to a minor. The County Board also noted the Fire Marshal’s Office found 10 violations of Fire Code last year, which have since been addressed.

In effort to improve the situation, last month the County Board tasked Purple Lounge with participating in ACPD’s Arlington Restaurant Initiative (ARI), which was established last year “to raise the standards of restaurants that serve alcohol.”

According to ACPD’s Nightlife and Restaurant Liaison Officer Jim Mastoras, since the Thanksgiving holiday, police officers and fire marshals have trained Purple Lounge staff on a number of safety issues, including:

  • De-escalation techniques
  • Bar bystander training to reduce assault
  • Active shooter training
  • Responsible alcohol service

“I think with this training, the staff will be fully accountable — we acknowledge there were mistakes,” said a Purple Lounge representative during the board meeting, noting the restaurant had reduced its alcohol sales during weekdays and now firmly upholds a last call on the weekends at 1:30 a.m.

The County Board concluded, however, that there was sufficient evidence from ACPD to suspend the restaurant’s live entertainment license, with the opportunity to apply again in a year.

“When it comes to minority communities, we have to be very mindful that we’re not giving unequal treatment, inequitable treatment, and in this case I do not believe that is the case,” said Board Chair Christian Dorsey. “I believe there are some problems that need to be corrected — we’ve got issues with drinking, impact on patrons, late night hours, and inspection concerns.”

Nearby residents, Board members said, were rightfully concerned about violent incidents — many occurring in the early morning hours, well after posted closing times — just steps from their front yards.

Dorsey called the revocation “the ultimate last step” and suggested the Board was doing it reluctantly, but out of necessity.

The dissenting vote was cast by County Board member Katie Cristol, who noted the restaurant’s cooperation with ARI training over the last month.

“I’m having a harder time with this decision than I was a month ago,” Cristol said. “We asked them to work, to train their staff to address these issues, and they did.”

Purple Lounge is not the first business at this address known for its nightlife issues. Pines of Italy restaurant had its live entertainment permit similarly revoked in 2014 — an action that notably led to someone calling Board members an obscenity after the vote.

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