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by Chris Teale December 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The pharmacies at Rite Aid drug stores throughout Arlington County now have Walgreens branding, ahead of Walgreens finalizing its purchase of Rite Aid next year.

The Rite Aid stores in Pentagon Row (1301 S. Joyce Street), and on Columbia Pike and Lee Highway, all had signs added to reflect the switch to Walgreens pharmacies inside. There are other Rite Aids in Crystal City, Rosslyn and Westover.

Fortune magazine reported in October that Walgreens plans to close nearly 600 of the more-than 1,900 Rite Aid stores across the country as part of a $4.3 billion deal to buy the company.

That transaction will close in the spring, Fortune reported, after which some Rite Aid — and a few Walgreens — stores will be closed if they are within one mile of another drug store the company owns.

Beyond the changed branding for the pharmacy services, everything else appeared much the same in local Rite Aids.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

By Greg Godbout

37 years ago the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse opened as a second-run movie theater (1 to 3 months old) and has never played first-run movies (released in the first week). Until now! Next week — we are proud to present Star Wars: The Last Jedi. At the same release date as other theaters. Although it almost didn’t happen.

A year ago this month, we made the decision to become a first-run movie theater, because online streaming of films has cut out the second-run theater window. Our style of showing films vanished from the industry. The switch to first-run was made this summer (May 2017), and the timing was bad. This was the worst summer for the entire movie industry in 25 years. We could have done without that.

While suffering through a tragic summer movie season we experimented with arthouse films and top box office films. The top box office films performed better. The goal was to also try some first-run films in their first week of release — unfortunately, the studios wouldn’t give us early access to films. It was a difficult uphill battle. Many studios insisted that we pick between movies or live comedy. Fox Studios and Warner Brothers were the most difficult.

For the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse to thrive, we need both movies and live comedy. We are the only theater in the country to balance top national release films and top national touring comics. Our unique balance puts us at odds with the large corporate movie studios, even though we depend on them.

Disney came to our rescue. After politely declining our request to play Star Wars a couple of times, Disney ultimately agreed. They too wanted to see how we could do with a first-release blockbuster. After months of experimentation — the largest and most dominant studio helped us out.

Our experiment with Star Wars will inform many programing decisions as we move forward. So please join us and let us know what you think. This winter our programing will center on national live comedy and Oscar nominated films. If Star Wars does well, we will add stretches of movies to our line up in the summer — that are true first-run films.

Based on current pre-sales for Star Wars, it is going to be a successful experiment for us. We provide an amazing social movie experience and can’t wait to see you here. We will have Star Wars drink specials and, as always, full tableside service. Tickets will be $10 with $8 matinees.

Please help us out by purchasing tickets in advance and plan on watching Star Wars at the Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse this holiday season. We do not show ads or trailers so the movie start time is the actual start time. Please arrive early.

by ARLnow.com December 11, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

The Arlington County Board will consider a resolution at its meeting this week that could help pave the way for HOV or bus-only lanes on Columbia Pike.

The county took over management of the Pike from VDOT in 2010. The Board is considering an amendment to its agreement with VDOT that would provide for “active lane management practices and associated restrictions.”

Whereas the 2010 agreement specified that the county must maintain two through lanes in each direction, the amendment would allow “use by certain specified modes only, e.g., buses, high occupancy cars, and similar high capacity modes, in order to optimize person throughput during specified times of the day.”

Such restrictions may be in place during rush hour or any other peak demand period determined by the county. At least one lane in each direction “will be available for through traffic for all modes at all times.”

The language of the amendment was approved by VDOT’s oversight body, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, on Dec. 5, according to a staff county report. The County Board is now considering a resolution formally requesting the amendment from VDOT.

The overall goal, according to the staff report, is moving more people — but not necessarily more cars — along the constrained Columbia Pike corridor.

County staff has been reviewing options related to the County’s secondary road system for how the County can support the mutual goals of the Department and the County to use the existing public right-of-way to support transportation improvements and enhancements that move more people more efficiently. While the County has demonstrated its effectiveness in increasing mobility along Columbia Pike, the constrained right-of-way limits the extent to which the County can increase the movement of people. Because Columbia Pike has restrictions on how the County can use the public right-of-way, County staff, at the direction of the County Board, has been working with the Department to develop language that would provide the County with greater flexibility now and in the future to manage Columbia Pike in a way that supports the movement of people within and through the corridor.

The change could allow for a version of Bus Rapid Transit, which was often touted as an alternative to the since-cancelled Columbia Pike streetcar. The county said in 2016 that it was “looking at…the possibility of creating locations with dedicated bus lanes, along with other innovations” along the Pike.

The county has not solicited public feedback on the amendment itself, according to the staff report.

“Public outreach is not appropriate for an administrative amendment to the Agreement,” the report states.

by Chris Teale December 8, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Police Department cited 20 drivers yesterday (Thursday) on Columbia Pike for failing to yield to pedestrians, as part of an active enforcement effort.

Officers stationed themselves at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street in Alcova Heights and an officer in a bright orange shirt crossed the street as cars in the distance started to approach. ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said they cited 20 people for failing to yield.

The enforcement effort is part of its 2017 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign. A similar enforcement by police officers took place in mid-November.

The program aims to change road users’ behavior while reducing the number of crashes and injuries. Officers ticketed motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violated traffic laws.

by ARLnow.com December 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

A man suspected of robbing a store on Columbia Pike was arrested while trying to steal a car in the Rosslyn area, according to a pair of ACPD crime reports.

The alleged crimes happened over the weekend.

Around 9:15 p.m. Saturday, police say 54-year-old Arlington resident Donnell Cook held up a store on the 5500 block of Columbia Pike by implying to the clerk that he had a gun, before fleeing on foot. The store was not named in the police report.

The next day, just before midnight, police say they responded to the 1800 block of N. Quinn Street, in western Rosslyn, for a report of a man tampering with a vehicle. They say they found Cook inside a car that had “extensive damage,” and identified him as the previous night’s robbery suspect.

Cook is now facing a litany of charges, including robbery, attempted grand larceny auto, destruction of property and providing false identification to law enforcement. Earlier this year Cook was arrested and charged with public intoxication.

More from the Arlington County Police Department crime reports:

ROBBERY, 2017-12020258, 5500 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 9:15 p.m. on December 2, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown suspect entered a business and approached an employee behind the counter, implying he had a gun. The suspect forced his way behind the counter and stole money from the cash register, before fleeing on foot. Units set up a perimeter and a K-9 track yielded negative results. During the course of the investigation, officers developed a suspect identification and obtained an arrest warrant. Upon hearing the broadcast suspect lookout in the below attempted grand larceny auto (2017-12030251) case, officers responded and confirmed he was wanted on the outstanding robbery warrant. Donnell Cook, 54, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Robbery and Providing False ID to Law Enforcement to Avoid Arrest.

ATTEMPTED GRAND LARCENY WITH APPREHENSION, 2017-12030251, 1800 block of N. Quinn Street. At approximately 11:57 p.m. on December 3, police were dispatched to the report of a suspect tampering with a vehicle. Upon arrival, a suspect was located inside of the vehicle, which had extensive damage. Arriving officers identified the suspect as being wanted in a robbery case that occurred on December 2. Donnell Cook, 54, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property, Possession of Burglarous Tools and Attempted Grand Larceny Auto.

by Chris Teale November 30, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

A report has shown that areas of wealth and disadvantage exist very close together in Arlington, sometimes just blocks away from each other.

The report by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, entitled “Getting Ahead: The Uneven Opportunity Landscape in Northern Virginia,” identifies what it calls 15 “islands of disadvantage,” where people face multiple serious challenges.

Those challenges include the levels of pre-school enrollment, teens out of high school, whether people have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, the level of English spoken in a household, unemployment rate, child poverty rate, health insurance rate and more.

Of those “islands,” three are either wholly or partly in Arlington: one near the county’s border with Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners; another along Columbia Pike in the Douglas Park neighborhood; and another in the area of Buckingham and Fort Myer.

The report also found that neighborhoods separated by one thoroughfare can have very different demographics, housing and poverty levels.

“A striking example was near Ballston Common [Mall, rebranded as Ballston Quarter], where residents in two census tracts on either side of North Glebe Road — tracts 1019 and 1020.01 — faced very different living conditions,” the report reads. “In census tract 1019, east of N. Glebe Road, 85 percent of adults had a Bachelor’s degree or higher education and the median household income exceeded $160,000 per year.

“Just west of N. Glebe Road, in tract 1020.01, 30 percent of teens ages 15-17 years were not enrolled in school, only 38 percent of adults had a Bachelor’s degree and 48 percent of the population was uninsured.”

It also found that life expectancy can vary by as much as 10 years across the county, “from 78 years in the Buckingham area to 88 years in parts of Rosslyn and Aurora Highlands.”

To help improve conditions, the report recommended better access to health care, education and affordable housing.

“In today’s knowledge economy, advancement requires better access to education — from preschool through college — and economic development to bring jobs with livable wages to disadvantaged areas,” it reads. “And it requires an investment in the infrastructure of neglected neighborhoods, to make the living environment healthier and safer, to provide transportation, and to improve public safety. What is good for our health is also good for the economy and will make Arlington County a stronger community for all of its residents.”

Courtesy image

by Chris Teale November 28, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

Local all-hybrid taxi service Envirocab is no more.

A tipster reported calling the Columbia Pike-based company last week, but getting a message on the phone saying they were no longer in service.

Calls to the company this week yielded the same result, while its website is “Temporarily out of service.”

“We are sorry to inform you that this service is no longer in operation. Thank you,” the message said. Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said Envirocab closed on November 1.

The 50-cab service was sold in 2013 to transportation conglomerate Veolia Transportation, which operates more than 2,400 taxicabs around the country. It began in 2008, and back then was the first all-hybrid fleet in the country. Since then, hybrid cabs have become more commonplace among local taxi fleets.

A Yelp review of Envirocab posted last month complained that the “service continues to deteriorate” and that “the last two times I attempted to use Envirocab, they failed to show up.”

by Chris Teale November 22, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) is expanding its Christmas Movie Festival for the first time this year.

The festival usually takes place on one day, but instead will last for three weeks, starting on Friday, November 24 with showings of Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life. It wraps up on December 13 with Gremlins.

Paying for one $10 ticket will get attendees unlimited admission to all the scheduled festival movies across all three weeks, depending on space.

Dates for each movie screening are as follows:

Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards

by Chris Teale November 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) will show the new Star Wars movie next month in what is being described as a first for the theater.

The iconic local business will show “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” from December 14 until January 11. Customers are being asked to buy tickets in advance due to high anticipated demand.

Due to what organizers called the “special screening nature” of the film, tickets cost $10 in the evening and $8 for matinees.

It comes as part of the Drafthouse’s decision to shift to playing movies on a first-run basis, meaning it has quicker access to films.

Owner Greg Godbout has said that the rise of video on-demand services has hurt its previous business model of showing mainstream movies several months after the initial release.

Income from the movie could be small for the Drafthouse, however, as like all movie theaters it reportedly must turn over at least 65 percent of revenue generated by ticket sales to Disney, which owns the Star Wars franchise.

The Drafthouse is making the most of its Star Wars deal, holding dozens of screenings and even offering the chance to host Star Wars-themed parties for businesses. Via a Drafthouse email forwarded to ARLnow.com:

Host a STAR WARS PARTY!!!  Is your company looking for a fun alternative holiday party? The Drafthouse can accommodate your group with our restaurant style seating, giant screen, no hassle buffet style catering options as well as our FULL BAR!! Give your employee’s the gift of a private screening.

Availability: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm.  December 15th – January 11th.

Contact us: [email protected] for a full offering of catering, bar and rental options.

by Chris Teale November 15, 2017 at 3:35 pm 0

Almost three years to the day since the cancellation of the Columbia Pike streetcar project, the nonprofit behind revitalizing the Pike and its neighborhoods believes it is on the right path.

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization received extra funding in April when the Arlington County Board approved its FY 2018 budget, and CPRO president John Snyder said the money has already helped.

He said the extra funds are helping pay more CPRO staff as full-time employees rather than part-time, and has also provided an extra staff member in the county’s Solid Waste Bureau within the Department of Environmental Services to pick up litter, empty trash cans and keep the area tidy.

“It’s been a big boost, and I think we’re going to see some more visible changes as we’re able to really execute on some of the things that we’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t had the resources to do,” Snyder said.

Being able to employ more full-time staff means CPRO can support more events, Snyder said, including the soon-to-relaunch Arlington Mill Farmers Market in addition to the market already at Pike Park. (CPRO also puts on the annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival.)

He also pointed to this summer’s outdoor movie screenings at the Arlington Mill Community Center and Penrose Square, which were about much more than watching movies.

“Last summer we had a big increase in our movie nights and really advertised them a lot,” Snyder said. “So we got pretty big crowds at both Arlington Mill and Penrose Square, and that’s not just about the movies. They’re all 1980s movies that probably everybody has already seen, but it’s about getting together as a neighborhood.”

And to encourage more businesses to move onto the Pike, Snyder said CPRO will partner with Arlington Economic Development on a market study of the potential customers who live near the Pike and demographics. That way, businesses would have more of an idea of their customer base before moving in.

“[If] some business is thinking, ‘Gee, would I like to relocate to the Pike?’ we can give them some concrete data that would tell them what the demographics are like, what the buying power is, to help them make those decisions,” Snyder said. “It will also perhaps help us guide policies so we know what are things that would help the businesses.”

With new projects coming online soon, like the “Columbia Pike Village Center” anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store in place of Food Star, as well as a condo building next to S. Buchanan Street, Snyder said it will be imperative for the planned “Premium Transit Network” of buses to work as planned.

The network is slated to open in 2019 after delays, albeit not in dedicated lanes, and Snyder said if it can encourage more transit usage on the Pike, it could be a success.

“I think it can help, particularly if we make sure that we’re going at regular six-minute intervals all through the week,” he said. “One of the most consistent traffic days on the Pike is Saturday. If we make sure that we’ve got the transit coming by on a reliable six-minute interval so that people can really just walk to the stop, use it, walk back home, I think it’ll start getting a lot of that sort of business.”

by Chris Teale October 18, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Anyone in the Penrose neighborhood can now pick up a book or fix their bike at a new tiny wooden library.

The “Little Free Library and Bike Repair Station” is at the corner of 8th Street S. and S. Courthouse Road, two blocks from Columbia Pike.

The handcrafted station is open for people to take and donate books at any time. When a reporter stopped by early Wednesday morning, a graphic novel and children’s book joined other paperbacks inside.

It also has a bike pump, metric Allen keys and a crescent wrench for bicyclists to carry out any running repairs on their bikes.

It is not the first Little Free Library to pop up in Arlington, but does appear to be the first to offer bike repairs at the same place.

Transportation Commission member and Penrose resident Chris Slatt was the brains behind the project.

“My friend’s two daughters wanted to build a Little Free Library, but that’s tough for them since they live in an apartment building so they came over and we built it together and installed it at the end of my lawn,” Slatt told ARLnow. “I wanted to add a bike spin to it — the various ‘bike fix stations’ that the County has installed inspired me to add the tools.”

by Chris Teale October 18, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Arlington Mill Community Center pre-opening Flickr photoA farmer’s market could return to the Arlington Mill Community Center next spring, with organizers planning to operate it on Saturdays.

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization is proposing reviving the market at the center at 909 S. Dinwiddie Street, having decided to close it in 2014 due to a lack of customers. It would be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and be one of two along Columbia Pike.

Originally, the Arlington County Board approved a permit for a market in July 2014, and it began the following month, opening each Wednesday from 3-7 p.m. But CPRO decided to close the market that October, citing a lack of sales, and “reassess the needs for a successful re-launch of the open-air/farmers market,” staff wrote in a report. Its permit expired in July 2016.

CPRO believes the new day and hours will attract more customers, and staff wrote it will benefit those along Arlington’s western end of Columbia Pike. They added that the Arlington Mill Civic Association, Columbia Forest Civic Association, Douglas Park Civic Association and Barcroft School and Civic League all expressed their support for the market.

“The proposed open-air market is strongly supported by the surrounding community and will provide a community amenity to the residents and this portion of Columbia Pike,” staff wrote.

Staff’s report on the plan recommends the County Board advertise a public hearing on the market for next month.

by ARLnow.com October 17, 2017 at 10:30 am 0

Police were called this past Friday for a report of a man masturbating in public while watching children.

The incident happened on S. Buchanan Street, just off Columbia Pike, around 6 p.m.

Police say the man fled on foot when confronted.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

SEX OFFENSE, 2017-10130223, 900 block of S. Buchanan Street. At approximately 6:03 p.m. on October 13, police were dispatched to the report of a male masturbating in public. Upon arrival, it was determined that an unknown male suspect was observed masturbating behind a tree while watching children playing. The suspect fled on foot when approached by an adult in the area. The suspect is described as a dark[-skinned] male in his 40’s wearing a navy blue hoodie, light washed jeans and a brown hat. The investigation is ongoing.

by ARLnow.com October 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

A knife-wielding man struck another man with a glass bottle, causing cuts serious enough to send him to the hospital, police say.

The incident happened early Saturday morning at a business near the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run Drive.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-10070034, 4800 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 1:26 a.m. on October 7, police responded to the late report of a fight. Upon arrival it was determined that following an altercation inside a business, an unknown suspect approached a male victim with a knife and struck him with a glass bottle causing lacerations. The victim was transported to Virginia Hospital Center. Noe Guerrero Molina, 32, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Malicious/Unlawful Wounding. He was held on no bond.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

(more…)

by Chris Teale October 10, 2017 at 10:20 am 0

Columbia Pike is set for a new piece of public art: a 60-foot wind turbine blade on Arlington County’s western border with Fairfax County.

The blade, entitled “The Pike,” is designed by the noted sculptor Donald Lipski, and will stand on the southern side of the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Jefferson Street in the Arlington Mill neighborhood.

At a talk at the Columbia Pike Branch Library last month, Lipski said he was inspired by the design of wind turbine blades and the pike weapon, which is a long thrusting spear. He also noted that there are still disused windmills along Columbia Pike that were once used to pump water.

“It’s just put up as this big beautiful thing,” Lipski said. “It’s a found object, it’s recycled, it’s emblematic of wind energy, it’s emblematic of a Pike, but one that’s vertical, one that’s in the open position and says, ‘Come on in. Everybody is welcome. You don’t have to pay a toll even though it used to be a Pike'”

Lipski said he will reuse an old 50-foot-long turbine blade, stand it up vertically on a 10-foot pedestal and then cover the pedestal in coins from the various countries and nationalities represented along the Pike. The sculpture will be lit at night by a series of lights around its base.

The use of coins also harks back to when the Pike used to be a toll road, first designed to connect the District of Columbia with areas to the west.

“Citizens of Arlington would go and rummage around in their drawers and find coins from their home country and give me those coins, and I would build them into the sculpture,” Lipski said.

And in return for letting him use their coins in his sculpture, Lipski said he will design a commemorative coin and give one to each person who donates in exchange.

The work had been intended to coincide with the opening of the since-canceled streetcar, but will go ahead as the Pike prepares for the launch of the “Premium Transit Network” of buses.

But not everyone is so sure about the new piece of art. In letters provided to ARLnow, leaders at the Arlington Mill Civic Association said a decision approving the project was made without enough input. Planning for the art has been underway since 2012, and Lipski was selected from 88 applicants the following year.

(more…)

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