Lubber Run Project Budget Boosted — “Arlington County Board members on Sept. 22 agreed to add about $1.4 million to the budget for rebuilding Lubber Run Community Center, which will push the construction cost to $41.14 million and the management fees to $4.11 million.” [InsideNova]
Clarendon Circle Construction Begins — “Things will start looking different in Clarendon and not because of too many cosmos at Don Tito’s. The long-awaited Circle intersection improvements project kicks off today.” [Twitter]
Neighborhoods Want in on W-L Name Discussion — “The president of the Buckingham Community Civic Association thinks Arlington school leaders may need some remedial work in geography. Bernie Berne used the Sept. 20 School Board meeting to complain that his community had been shut out of the committee set up to suggest new names for Washington-Lee High School, even though it is closer to the school than another civic association that has been included on the panel.” [InsideNova]
Fire at Columbia Pike Building — On the 5100 block of Columbia Pike: “First arriving units found a fire contained to an appliance. The fire was extinguished. All occupants are safe & accounted for.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Tree Advocates Increase Pressure — “Another month has brought another round in the ongoing dispute between tree activists and the Arlington County Board – and much of the give and take on both sides is beginning to sound familiar to the point of repetitious. Activists in support of expanding the county’s tree canopy were among a number of advocacy groups that descended on the Sept. 22 County Board meeting. Among their chief complaints: The county government hasn’t done anything to prevent the removal of trees during an upcoming expansion project at Upton Hill Regional Park.” [InsideNova, Twitter]
Fox News Highlights Lucky Dog — Arlington’s Lucky Dog Rescue continues to get national attention for its work rescuing dogs from areas flooded by Hurricane Florence. Over the weekend Fox News broadcast from Shirlington to bring attention to the dogs that are now available for adoption. [Yahoo]
Arlington County Police are looking for a man who raped a woman in a Columbia Pike apartment building.
The police department is seeking the public’s help in identifying a suspect, who was caught on surveillance video footage released by ACPD this morning.
Police say the crime happened shortly before 4 p.m. Monday — in the Serrano Apartments on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike, ARLnow.com hears — after the suspect responded to an online ad for a service. Police were vague about the exact nature of the advertisement in order to protect the victim’s identity.
More from an ACPD press release, below.
The Arlington County Police Department is seeking assistance from the public identifying a rape suspect caught on surveillance video. At approximately 4:02 p.m. on September 17, police responded to the 5500 block of Columbia Pike for the late report of a rape. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim and suspect made contact through an online advertisement. During the arranged service, the suspect physically assaulted and raped the victim. Following the assault, the suspect fled the scene on foot.
The suspect is described as an approximately 60-year-old black male, 5’10” to 6′ tall with a medium build. He has brown eyes and dark short curly hair with some gray. He was wearing a bright blue shirt with a tan collar, khaki pants, tan shoes and carrying an umbrella at the time of the incident.
Based on the preliminary investigation, it is believed that this was a targeted attack. The investigation is ongoing and there is no known threat to the larger community.
Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective P. Pena of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims’ Unit at (703) 228-4183 or at [email protected]. Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
The building that’s been home to the original Bob and Edith’s Diner for the last 50 years is now listed for sale.
The real estate and development firm BM Smith is advertising the diner, located at 2310 Columbia Pike, for sale with an asking price of $2.5 million. Yet what that means for the restaurant chain, which operates four locations around Northern Virginia, remains unclear.
An attorney for Greg Bolton, the owner of Bob and Edith’s, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did the listing agent for the property at BM Smith.
The Bolton family opened the chain at the Columbia Pike location back in 1969, though county records show that a company controlled by BM Smith — the owner of a variety of other South Arlington properties — took over ownership of the location in 2015.
Jonathan Reed, a local realtor, first drew attention to the Bob and Edith’s listing when he shared BM Smith’s posting on his own website this week. As a longtime Arlington resident, he told ARLnow he was “shocked” to see the space listed on an internal database for realtors, and has even since directed two potential buyers to BM Smith since sharing the post.
Based on Reed’s examination of the listing, he believes Bob and Edith’s has a “four-year term” left on its current lease, and could opt to renew the lease for another term. Accordingly, he isn’t so sure that the building being listed for sale necessarily means the restaurant is on the move, though it certainly could be.
“It doesn’t seem like they’re closing or leaving, it could be that they opted not to buy the place,” Reed said. “Of course, there could be someone that buys it that doesn’t want to continue their lease… but whoever buys it will have to contend with the lease that’s already there.”
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 5 p.m.) Metrobus has added real-time bus tracking displays to a bevy of its stops along Columbia Pike, one of many changes coming to the corridor’s bus service in the coming months.
The California-based company Connectpoint announced earlier this month that it’s working with WMATA to install the devices, which will display wait times for various buses, route maps and even alerts about service disruptions.
The new screens will be available at stops along the pike at the highway’s intersections with the following roads:
- S. Barton Street
- S. Carlin Springs Road
- S. Courthouse Road
- S. Four Mile Run Drive
- S. George Mason Drive
- S. Glebe Road
- S. Greenbrier Street
- S. Oakland Street
- S. Veitch Street
- S. Walter Reed Drive
The company says it will also install the displays at several stops around Annandale as well, for a total of 24 in all. Metro spokesman Ron Holzer told ARLnow four are already in place as part of a “pilot program” the transit agency is running, with the remaining displays to be installed “in the next two weeks.”
“If the pilot is successful, we hope to deploy signs at all Metrobus stops,” Holzer said.
Arlington transportation spokesman Eric Balliet added that WMATA first installed the technology as part of some long-awaited work to beef up bus service on the pike this summer.
For now, Balliet expects the devices will only display “next bus arrival times” for the Metrobus 16 line, the primary focus of service changes that started in late June.
However, Balliet added that the county “anticipates removing” the devices when it can finalize plans for new bus shelters on the pike. Those have been the subject of plenty of scrutiny over the years, particularly after one stop was revealed to have a price tag north of $1 million.
“The transit stations will include electronic information displays showing all bus services and multimodal options,” Balliet said.
The county put out a request for proposals for those pike bus stops in June, with the goal of starting work on five sometime this winter. Arlington hopes to eventually install 23 of the “transit stations” along the pike.
Photo courtesy of Connectpoint
A massive pipe organ that was once housed in the demolished Arlington Presbyterian Church is getting a new chance to make music, this time in Alexandria.
The organ was a centerpiece of the church for decades, back when it was still located along Columbia Pike. But the church’s congregation agreed to work with the county to redevelop the property into an affordable housing complex back in 2016, leaving the instrument’s long-term fate in doubt.
Though Arlington Presbyterian moved to a new space over on S. Glebe Road, church leaders decided to offer up the organ to give away. As it happened, the Calvary Presbyterian Church in Alexandria (6120 N. Kings Highway) had a pressing need open up for an organ at the exact same time.
Calvary leaders say their old organ was diagnosed with “metal fatigue,” which they deemed to be a “death sentence” for instrument. Accordingly, Calvary wrote to their Arlington counterparts to express their interest.
By April 2016, Arlington Presbyterian told Calvary that the organ was theirs — if it would fit in their church.
“Out came the measuring tapes and, lo and behold, the pipes would fit like a glove within the church’s balcony,” the church wrote in a release. “Moreover, the baroque-like appearance of the pipes would find a comfortable home in Calvary’s sanctuary, which was constructed in 1954 and remains faithful to the traditional style of churches from that era.”
Even still, Calvary said the move required a “Herculean effort of a team of architects, engineers, carpenters, electricians, construction contractors, asbestos remediators, consultants, inspectors, and organ technicians.”
“It was more than two years from Calvary’s selection for the instrument to be installed and operational, following a celebratory and cathartic pipe washing party,” the church wrote. “Today, as you look upward from the pulpit of Calvary’s sanctuary on Old King’s Highway, what would make generations of parishioners from both Arlington and Calvary proud is that their pipe organ looks right at home, like it’s always been there.”
Calvary is even planning a special dedication ceremony for the organ, set for Sunday (Sept. 23) at 10 a.m.
County police say the robbery happened just after 3 a.m. last Friday (Sept. 7) at a business along the 1100 block of S. George Mason Drive, near the road’s intersection with Columbia Pike.
The block is home to both a Wells Fargo bank branch and a Liberty gas station.
According to a county crime report, employees saw a “large white pickup truck” back through the storefront. Anywhere from three to four people then jumped out and threw the machine into the truck’s bed, before speeding off.
Police are not sure just how much money was inside the ATM, and described the suspects as “dressed in all black and wearing black masks.”
Full details from a county crime report:
GRAND LARCENY (Significant), 2018-09070042, 1100 block of S. George Mason Drive. At approximately 3:32 a.m. on September 7, police responded to the report of a robbery just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the employees of a business observed a large pick-up truck back through the storefront, causing damage. 3-4 suspects then exited the vehicle and forcibly stole an ATM machine with an undisclosed amount of cash, placed it in the truck and fled at a high rate of speed prior to police arrival. The suspects are described as being dressed in all black and wearing black masks. The vehicle is described as a large white pick-up truck. The investigation is ongoing.
And here are more highlights from crime reports from the past week:
UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2018-09080258, 700 block of 22nd Street S. At approximately 11:50 p.m. on September 8, police responded to the report of an unknown male inside the victim’s residence. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim located the unknown male suspect asleep inside her residence and items inside tampered with. Nothing was reported missing. Matthew Agvent, 24, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Unlawful Entry.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-09080027, 2700 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 1:46 a.m. on September 8, police responded to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business at closing time and was denied service. The suspect then entered the bathroom, leaving the door ajar, where the victim observed him masturbating. After being asked to leave the business repeatedly, the suspect fled on foot prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’11”, with an athletic build, defined jawline and round cheekbones, with stubbled facial hair, wearing a striped polo shirt with a white t-shirt under it, a brimmed hat, khaki pants, dark colored boxers and had a tattoo on his back. The investigation is ongoing.
PEEPING, 2018-09080030, 2300 block of 11th Street N. At approximately 2:29 a.m. on September 8, police responded to the report of a peeping. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was inside her residence when she observed the male suspect in the bushes outside the window allegedly looking inside. The suspect fled prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 25-40 years old, 5’5″-5’10”. The investigation is ongoing.
ATTEMPTED BURGLARY, 2018-09090133, 1400 block of N. Rhodes Street. At approximately 5:24 p.m. on September 9, police responded to the report of an attempted burglary. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was inside his residence when he heard someone attempting to gain access. The victim then made contact with the suspect and escorted him off of the property. The suspect fled the scene walking north on Rhodes Street prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a dark skinned male in his 30’s, approximately 5’6″-5’8″, wearing a black skull cap, black and white pants, a dark gray short sleeved t-shirt, black boots, carrying a black backpack and wearing a light colored towel or t-shirt around his neck. The investigation is ongoing.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-09050097, Washington Boulevard at N. Kirkwood Road. At approximately 12:20 p.m. on September 5, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking in the area when she observed the male suspect with his pants pulled down, exposing himself and masturbating. The suspect is described as a white male, wearing light-washed blue denim shorts or pants, and black shoes. Arriving officers canvased the area with negative results. The investigation is ongoing.
Idido’s Cofee, a social house featuring coffee and serving light fare, is coming to Columbia Pike.
The coffee shop will be joining Pureluxe as the ground floor retail of Columbia Place (1107 S Walter Reed Dr), a mixed use development in Arlington Village.
The owners of Idido’s Coffee couldn’t be reached for comment, but Michael Steven, president of the Association for Columbia Place, told ARLnow he’s enthusiastic about the new business.
“We’re all excited for it to come in,” said Steven. “We hope it’s successful here.”
The timeline for when Idido’s will open is unknown.
An Arlington man shot by police claims officers aren’t telling the whole story about the incident that led up to the shooting — and he expects video evidence will help him prove his case in court.
County police shot Steven Best several times on May 3 on a street just off Columbia Pike, claiming he tried to flee a traffic stop and nearly hit officers with his van in the process.
But, in a series of court filings, Best’s attorneys allege that he was trying to surrender when police opened fire on him. They claim he was confused and trying to protect himself as he drove away from the scene, rather than attempting to harm any of the officers involved.
Best’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comments on those claims, but court documents show they’ve repeatedly sought access to video footage from nearby businesses, arguing that it will provide Best with crucial “exculpatory evidence.”
“He’ll be innocent of these charges when everything comes out,” Heather Rose, Best’s sister, told ARLnow. Best and the rest of his family otherwise declined to comment on the case, but they’ve frequently proclaimed his innocence in an online fundraiser to pay for Best’s legal and medical expenses.
County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said she “can’t speak” to Best’s claims of innocence, and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos declined to discuss them as well.
In the police department’s account of the shooting, officers tried to pull over Best near the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Edgewood Street, as they were searching for the passenger in Best’s car: 40-year-old Jessica Lary of Annandale, who was wanted on a warrant for violating her parole.
Police say officers approached the vehicle on foot, but that Best “ignored their verbal commands and struck police vehicles in an attempt to flee the scene.” Two officers then opened fire on Best as he drove down 12th Street S., striking a parked car in the process.
Police say Lary and Best abandoned the vehicle near the intersection of 13th Street S. and S. Irving Street, where they were subsequently arrested. Savage added that neither Best nor Lary displayed any weapons during the incident. Three police officers were taken to a nearby hospital “for evaluation” afterward.
In Best’s version of events, several “unmarked police vehicles abruptly boxed in” his van and “unidentified officers drew their weapons immediately and began firing.”
His attorneys claim that Best “raised his hands to surrender,” leading to one of his fingers being “shot off.” The lawyers allege he was then shot “five additional times while sitting in his van.”
“Mr. Best attempted to drive away for the safety of himself and his passenger,” the lawyers wrote.
The attorneys made these arguments as part of an attempt to earn Best’s release on bond in mid-May. They acknowledged his past run-ins with law enforcement — Arlington court records show Best pleaded guilty to a series of drug charges from 1999 through 2008 — but argued he’d been working to turn his life around.
A judge ultimately agreed to his release, and to discontinue his electronic monitoring.
Best’s case will now head to a grand jury, which will determine whether his prosecution will move forward. Police originally charged Best with two counts of the attempted malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, but he’s now only facing one — Stamos says prosecutors decided to move forward with the pursuit of a single charge against Best “after a review by my office.”
The case was originally set to go to a grand jury in August, but Stamos now hopes to “present the case to the grand jury later this month.” A grand jury is currently set to convene on Sept. 24.
In the meantime, court documents show that both Best’s lawyers and prosecutors are pursuing surveillance video from businesses in the area.
Best’s attorneys most recently won a subpoena for video from the Day’s Inn hotel at 3030 Columbia Pike, arguing that the video recordings of the hotel’s exterior parking lots “contains exculpatory evidence” for Best. The lots are located near the intersection of 11th Street S. and S. Highland Street, roughly a block from where police say the incident took place.
Photo via GoFundMe
(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) Phoenix Bikes, a local nonprofit and community bike shop, has officially moved. The shop started moving yesterday from its Four Mile Run location into a new home inside the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S Dinwiddie St).
Meg Rapelye, executive director of Phoenix Bikes, said the shop is planning to open next week. The exact date is still pending an approval of a certificate of occupancy, but an official ribbon cutting is planned for next Wednesday (Sept. 12).
The new location is three times the size of the former Phoenix Bikes shop. Rapelye said the crew at the shop was most excited to have an air conditioning unit and some indoor plumbing, amenities that weren’t available at the small Four Mile Run workshop.
According to Rapelye, the new location is also closer to many of the youth communities the store serves and can help bring some revitalization to the western end of Columbia Pike.
The nonprofit’s mission is to promote bicycling, build community and educate young people by running a mentorship program for students looking to learn more about repairing and selling bikes. It just marked its 10th anniversary last year.
Update at 3:10 p.m. — The victim has been successfully rescued from the vehicle. Tow crews will now start the process of removing the SUV from the embankment.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 2, 2018
Earlier: Firefighters are currently working to rescue the driver of an SUV that ran down an embankment along Four Mile Run.
The incident happened just before 2 p.m. along 10th Street S., just south of Columbia Pike on the west bank of Four Mile Run. Initial reports suggest that one man is trapped in the vehicle but is in the process of being extricated by firefighters.
The victim’s injuries are said to be non-life-threatening.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 2, 2018
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 2, 2018
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 2, 2018
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) September 2, 2018
Photos via Arlington County Fire Department and Google Maps
A series of water main breaks in South Arlington sent workers scrambling last night into this morning, though the county now seems to have made all the necessary repairs.
The problems started around 7 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday), when the county’s Department of Environmental Services received word of pipe problems near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Frederick Street.
A short time later, workers encountered another water main break not far away at S. Park Drive, just off Route 50.
— Lyz ©️ 🍀 (@LuckyLyzzie) August 29, 2018
By 10 p.m., they reported several other water main breaks along the pike running up to S. Dinwiddie Street as well, and determined that the S. Park Drive problem was “related” to the previous breaks. DES spokeswoman Katie O’Brien told ARLnow that the subsequent breaks all stemmed from work on the first one, located along the 5000 block of Columbia Pike.
“After the break was repaired, crews were pressurizing the water main which caused it to break again,” she said. “As a result, this caused two additional breaks in the area.”
O’Brien estimates that anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 people were left without water during the work. However, as of roughly 9 a.m., all the mains have been repaired.
DES is warning of continued repaving work in the area through the afternoon, however.
Arlington has some 500 miles of mains bringing water to homes, schools and businesses. As in most urban American towns, a lot of those mains have been in the ground and working non-stop since before World War II. https://t.co/sIiPntUil6 pic.twitter.com/JTpuUrIgYj
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) August 30, 2018
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A pedestrian was struck by a taxi cab in a crosswalk along a busy section of Columbia Pike, per scanner traffic.
The incident happened around 3 p.m. today (Tuesday), near the the intersection of the pike and S. Walter Reed Drive, just near the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse.
County police spokeswoman Kirby Clark said the pedestrian “suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to an area hospital.”
She added the driver was cited for “failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.”
Photo courtesy of @karaokemookie
Josephines Italian Kitchen, a new casual Italian restaurant, is coming to Columbia Pike (2501 9th Rd S).
The restaurant comes from Tony Wagner, owner of the nearby Twisted Vines Bottleshop & Bistro and BrickHaus. Wagner said the idea came from discussions with neighbors and customers, and repeatedly hearing customers reference a need for a casual Italian option in the area.
Josephines Italian Kitchen will have a wood-fired oven, and Wagner said customers can look for a lot of fresh seafood and other classic Italian cuisine options at the restaurant.
Josephines Italian Kitchen will fill the space vacated by Marble & Rye, which closed last December. Wagner said the restaurant is currently in the permitting process but that the aim is to open sometime in October.
Bicycling advocates are blasting newly revealed plans to simultaneously expand Arlington National Cemetery and realign Columbia Pike, arguing that the proposed changes could make cycling along the roadway more dangerous.
The advocacy group “Sustainable Mobility for Arlington County” claims the cemetery’s current expansion plans, designed to someday add 70 acres to the burial ground, “will squander a major opportunity to improve the bike connection between Columbia Pike and Pentagon City and arguably make cycling less pleasant and less safe.”
In a message to its mailing list, the group urged concerned cyclists to speak in opposition to the cemetery’s plans at a public meeting on the subject in Pentagon City tonight (Wednesday).
The organization, founded by county transportation commission chair Chris Slatt, is primarily concerned that the cemetery only plans to add a 10-foot-wide sidewalk along the pike’s north side when it realigns the road. Army officials are currently hoping to add space for as many as 60,000 new interments to the cemetery’s south, absorbing the former Navy annex site and several other acres of land controlled by the county near S. Joyce Street and Washington Blvd, prompting some changes to the pike in the area.
The project also calls for the removal of Southgate Road in its entirety as it runs through area, which Slatt’s group describes as “a relatively quiet street that cyclists currently use to avoid that stretch of Columbia Pike.” The organization has made improving conditions for cyclists on the pike a central part of its mission, and it’s warning that eliminating an alternative to biking along the road would be a major step backward for the area.
“By replacing Southgate Road with just a sidewalk, this project is arguably a downgrade in cycling infrastructure,” the group wrote. “This portion of Columbia Pike has no reasonable nearby alternative. It needs great bike infrastructure.”
Spokespeople for the cemetery did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the organization’s criticisms. But a draft environmental assessment of the project prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggests that the changes represent “the upgrade of Columbia Pike into a multimodal facility.”
“The alignment for the future Columbia Pike has the necessary geometry for a high capacity regional multimodal transportation corridor,” the corps wrote.
The corps wrote that planners also considered building the “wall trail” along the cemetery’s eastern boundary as part of this work, a bit of cycling infrastructure long hoped for by county officials to link the Foxcroft Heights neighborhood to Memorial Avenue. Yet the corps said it determined that it “appears to have severe space constraints due to aboveground utilities along the proposed route,” and didn’t consider it any further.
Instead, Slatt’s group would rather see the Army build a “bidirectional bike lane” on the north side of the pike to connect with additional improvements to the west of the area. If that’s not feasible, the organization would also accept a widening of the planned sidewalk into a trail “providing demarcated areas for pedestrians and cyclists marked with paint, signage or differentiated materials.”
Tonight’s meeting on the project is scheduled for the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel (900 S. Orme Street) from 5-8 p.m. The Army expects roadway construction associated with the expansion could start as soon as 2021.
(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) Plans for a roughly 70-acre expansion of Arlington National Cemetery are now moving ahead, in a bid to help the burial ground manage demand through the 2050s.
The cemetery and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a new environmental assessment Friday (Aug. 17) of the planned expansion to the cemetery’s south, recommending that the effort go forward after years of study.
In all, the expansion would not only create room for up to 60,000 additional interments, freeing up room in the rapidly swelling cemetery, but also prompt a major traffic realignment around heavily trafficked roadways like Washington Blvd and Columbia Pike.
“This is a critical milestone in progress and the important steps our nation is taking to extend the life of Arlington National Cemetery well into the future,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries, wrote in a statement.
The cemetery plans to use several parcels of land surrounding the Air Force Memorial for the expansion, eventually incorporating the memorial into the cemetery. The land includes the former Navy annex site, and several other acres of land controlled by the county near S. Joyce Street and Washington Blvd — including some that the county once planned to use for a streetcar maintenance facility for the scuttled Columbia Pike project.
The expansion will also result in a host of changes to roads in the area, many of which the county has long planned, including:
- the closure and removal of Southgate Road
- the construction of a new access road for traffic to/from Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall
- the realignment of Columbia Pike
- modifying the Route 27 (Washington Blvd) interchange at Columbia Pike
The cemetery plans to hold a public meeting on Wednesday (Aug. 22) to discuss the expansion. It will be held at the Sheraton Pentagon City hotel (900 S. Orme Street) from 5-8 p.m.