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Morning Notes

HQ2 Odds Ever in Our Favor — Business Insider says it has “long seen the evidence pointing to the DC area” as the eventual destination for Amazon’s second headquarters. Online betting odds, meanwhile, favor Northern Virginia, and ARLnow.com hears that Crystal City is the far and away the most likely Northern Virginia locale for HQ2. [Business Insider]

High School Football Season Underway — “For the second straight season, but this year at a different venue, the Wakefield Warriors opened their high-school football campaign with a victory over the Washington-Lee Generals.” Yorktown, meanwhile, gave up a lead and lost to Wilson 37-29. [InsideNova]

McCain and Vietnam Vets Calls Nam Viet Home — A group of Vietnam War veterans, including the late Sen. John McCain, who was laid to rest over the weekend, regularly met up at Nam Viet restaurant in Clarendon. [Cronkite News]

First Day of School Reminder — Today is the first day of school for Arlington Public Schools and the school system is reminding residents that passing a school bus with its stop arm out is a traffic infraction punishable by a $250 fine. Police, meanwhile, are participating in a back-to-school safety campaign that includes extra enforcement of such traffic laws. [Twitter, Arlington County]

School Board: Don’t Go Over Building Budget — “Should Arlington Public Schools hold firm, no matter what, to budgets on upcoming construction projects? Or allow a little maneuvering room, if the opportunity arises, in an effort to get more bang for their buck? That question played out again Aug. 30, as School Board members split 3-2 in directing an advisory body to not even think about returning with a plan that exceeds the $37 million budget for turning the Arlington Education Center’s administrative offices into classroom space.” [InsideNova]

Police Prepare for Plane Pull — “The public is invited to cheer on the Arlington Police and Sheriff Team during the Plane Pull at Dulles Airport on Saturday, September 15, 2018.” [Arlington County]

New MU Prez Focuses on Real-World Experience — Irma Becerra, Marymount University’s new president and the first person of color in that role, plans “to further connect the Arlington university with its surrounding business community, making internships an equal pillar of her vision as enrollment, graduation and retention rates.” [Washington Business Journal]

Empanada Thief Caught on Camera — Arlington squirrels, apparently, are now blatantly stealing and eating empanadas in broad daylight. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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More Memorial Bridge Lane Closures Possible in Coming Days

Prep work for major construction on the Memorial Bridge is prompting some lane closures and other travel disruptions in the area over the next few days.

Workers are planning to set up “staging areas” just south of Memorial Circle to prepare for a full rehab effort on the bridge later this fall, which will include a full weekend shutdown of the bridge in mid-September.

That means drivers in the area can expect “temporary lane closures as trucks deliver material there,” largely during the day. The closures could also impact the Mount Vernon Trail, with the National Park Service warning that the trail likely won’t close entirely but “users may have to wait while workers move material over it.”

The NPS recently had to schedule overnight lane closures on the G.W. Parkway and Washington Blvd to pave roads leading up to the stage area, but it expects that today (Friday) was the last day of those disruptions.

Labor Day should also mark the end of work on the Windy Run Bridge along the G.W. Parkway. Workers are hoping to do away with the lane closures and shifts that have marked that section of the parkway for the last few weeks sometime after the holiday.

Photo via National Park Service

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Construction Set to Start on New Lubber Run Community Center

Construction work on the new Lubber Run Community Center is now set to start in just a few days, kicking off a years-long, nearly $48 million project.

The county’s Department of Parks and Recreation says construction should start in “early September,” with fencing going up to close the area to park visitors. The county closed down the old rec center, located at 300 N. Park Drive, early last month, then gave people a chance to decorate its walls with art ahead of its impending demolition.

The County Board agreed to move ahead with construction of the project last September, though Arlington officials have eyed a replacement for the Lubber Run facility for years now. The original community center was built back in 1956, and the two-story facility will provide anywhere from 45,000 to 55,000 square feet of new space at the site.

Construction is set to wrap up on the project sometime in 2020, prompting the relocation of a variety of community programs in the meantime. County parks staff have relocated to several locations around the county, while the Office of Senior Adult Programs moved to the Madison Community Center.

Meanwhile, the Lubber Run Creative Preschool has shifted over to the Langston-Brown Community Center, as have the “tot summer camps” held at the facility.

The “Kids-in-Action” Afterschool Program moved over to the Barrett Elementary Extended Day Program, and the county plans “to determine if the program will be revitalized in the new Lubber Run Community Center” moving forward.

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Improvements Underway on S. Walter Reed Drive, With More Changes to Come

S. Walter Reed Drive is slated for several changes that, among other alterations, are designed to make the roadway more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly.

Construction kicked off last month (July) between 11th Street S. and 13th Street S. That work is scheduled to be completed later this year and primarily targets S. Walter Reed Drive’s intersection with 12th Street S., improving crosswalks and building curb extensions and new ADA-compliant curb ramps.

Also included in the project is the reconstruction of three raised medians to run along that portion of the roadway and alterations to an existing bike boulevard, which will be moved from 12th Street S. to 11th Street S. between S. Highland and S. Cleveland Streets.

Drivers should expect one travel lane to be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays to accommodate construction. Pedestrians will see sidewalk detours and temporary crosswalks, and on-street parking will be restricted.

long-awaited set of changes to a different portion of S. Walter Reed Drive — from S. Arlington Mill Drive to S. Four Mile Run Drive — is set to get underway in mid-September.

That plan has been in the works for years, and the county awarded a $1.8 million contract for it in May. Construction aims to add ADA-compliant bus stops, new crosswalks and curb ramps, more street lighting and improved signals for drivers and pedestrians.

The project also intends to make travel between the Four Mile Run Trail and the Washington & Old Dominion Trail safer and to realign westbound S. Arlington Mill Drive in an effort to make the crossing more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists. The county has been piloting the realignment at the intersection of S. Walter Reed Drive and S. Arlington Mill Drive with a temporary installation since June 2017.

Additional changes to the designated portion of the roadway will include a slight widening of travel lanes and resurfacing.

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Morning Notes

Family Surprised to Learn Pet Was a Snapping Turtle — “An Arlington family took in a box turtle to be the new family pet recently — only to find out that it was actually a snapping turtle. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington tweeted out a photo of the turtle, noting that their officers had seized the turtle from the unwitting family.” [Patch, Twitter]

APS Delays Release of Construction Cost Report — “Arlington residents will have to wait a little longer for an analysis of the reasons behind the high costs of school construction in the county. The audit committees of the County Board and School Board had been slated to meet Aug. 7 in a joint session to discuss a report by school-system auditor John Mickevice on school-construction costs. That meeting, however, was called off.” [InsideNova]

TSA Keeps Finding Guns in Carry-ons at DCA — Earlier this month, in two separate incidents, TSA agents at Reagan National Airport seized loaded handguns from two men trying to carry them onto planes. The guns were the seventh and eighth seized at the airport so far this year. The men are now facing weapons charges. [Patch]

Jail Holds Creative Writing Contest — A 26-year-old man who’s in jail on a heroin possession charge won the Arlington County lockup’s first-ever creative writing contest yesterday. His prize-winning poem, in part: “I dream about the future. I dream about the past. I dream about the mountains. I dream about the sea. I dream of all the places that I would rather be.” [NBC Washington]

InsideNova Not Available in Europe — More than 1,000 U.S. news websites are blocking users from Europe after the EU implemented strict new privacy regulations known as GDPR on May 25. Among the sites that are no longer accessible from Europe, as seen in this screen shot from last month: InsideNova, which publishes articles from the Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper. [Nieman Journalism Lab]

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Construction on Columbia Pike’s West End Nears a New Phase

A new water main is almost finished being installed along a portion of Columbia Pike as construction continues on the roadway, according to a July 31 construction update from the county.

The water main work represents part of construction that runs along Columbia Pike from Arlington’s border with Fairfax County through Four Mile Run Drive. Expected to last about three years from its kickoff in February, the project includes moving overhead utilities underground, changing out older water and sewage pipes and making street improvements.

Drivers should continue to expect lane closures and other traffic changes during construction, and should keep an eye out for left turn restrictions in work zones. Pedestrians will see sidewalk detours.

The county expects sanitary sewer updates to begin this month. Planned streetscape improvements will aim to establish wider sidewalks, enhance traffic signals and add new street lights, among other changes.

This work is part of broader Columbia Pike Multimodal Street Improvements, which hope to make the roadway “a safer, more accessible route for all users,” according to the project page.

In all, planned and completed improvements run along Columbia Pike from the county line to S. Joyce Street with work expected to continue through 2021.

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Permits Issued But No Construction Yet at Former Clarendon Walgreens

It has stood empty and unused for a year and a half, but there are signs that interior construction could be starting soon at the former Walgreens in Clarendon.

The final plan for the historically-designated building to be converted into a JPMorgan Chase Bank was approved by Arlington inspectors last week, according to county permitting records.

The branch is one of four planned for the D.C. area as part of an expansion of the financial giant’s consumer banking arm. The company purchased the property at 2825 Wilson Blvd for $25 million, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Asked for additional details, including an expected opening date, a JPMorgan Chase spokesman said the company has “no further information to provide at this time.”

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Sidewalk Work Gets Underway Near Lacey Woods Park

(Updated at 9:10 a.m.) Drivers and pedestrians should expect to see construction signs, crews and heavy equipment along parts of N. George Mason Drive and Washington Blvd near Lacey Woods Park through the fall.

The county kicked off sidewalk improvement work last week on N. George Mason Drive and Washington Blvd. from 14th Street N. to N. Evergreen Street. Projected changes include new five-foot concrete sidewalks, storm inlet enhancements and bus stop upgrades.

Construction crews are expected to occupy a lane along Washington Blvd. from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Fridays while work is underway. On N. George Mason Drive, crews will occupy a lane from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

No detours are expected while construction takes place.

Photo 1 via Arlington County, 2 and 3 via Google Maps

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Ballston Construction Projects Continue to Progress

Construction is ongoing for several major projects in Ballston, though at least two should be up and running by the end of the year.

Ballston Quarter, a transformation of Ballston Common Mall, plans to open its shopping and entertainment center in the fall, according to a news release from the county. The completion of a pedestrian bridge that will connect Ballston Quarter to 4201 Wilson Blvd and the Metro station has been pushed back to 2019, however.

Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone said Ballston Quarter will likely be fully leased within a year. So far, several eateries, retailers and entertainment-oriented tenants have signed on to the development. Retailers including Macy’s and Regal Cinemas have remained open during construction.

“That property has just been critical to how Ballston has developed over the last couple of generations,” Leone said. “Ballston Quarter really catalyzed these other developments to occur.”

Ballston Exchange, located in the former headquarters of the National Science Foundation at 4121 and 4201 Wilson Blvd, plans to include collaborative workspaces and first-floor retail.

That project is slated to be completed near the end of 2018, according to the Ballston BID. Restaurants already committed to Ballston Exchange include Shake Shack, We The Pizza and CAVA. A New York-based coworking space became the development’s first new office tenant last month.

A number of the current projects in Ballston include residential space — Ballston Quarter, for instance, will include a 393-unit residential tower, according to Ballston BID.

And 4040 Wilson Boulevard, the final piece in Liberty Center, will feature office, retail and residential space. The Shooshan Company, that site’s developer, plans to wrap up construction by January 2020.

Also set for delivery in early 2020 is The Waycroft (750 N. Glebe Road), to include residential units and an on-site Target and Silver Diner.

As Ballston continues to develop, “what we really want to achieve is a greater sense of neighborhood and a greater sense of community,” Leone said.

A full list of developments in Ballston can be found here.

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‘Art Attack’ Planned for Lubber Run Community Center Ahead of Its Demolition

Arlington’s first purpose-built community center will receive an art-heavy send-off from 5-9 p.m. tonight (Thursday).

Lubber Run Community Center (300 N. Park Drive), built in 1956, will be demolished to pave the way for an updated facility.

But before all that, community members will have the chance to say goodbye with art activities like paint bombs, life-size silhouette painting and a group mural, paired with a live DJ and food trucks, at an event dubbed “Art Attack.”

The center closed to the public on July 6, but will reopen for this evening’s festivities. The county projects that construction on the new center begin later this year and be wrapped up by 2020.

Photo via Arlington County

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Reagan National Airport Closes Three Arrival Lanes, Offers Free Parking for Pick-Ups

Reagan National Airport is offering free parking for up to 60 minutes in terminal garages to help alleviate heavy traffic during a major construction project.

The parking will help accommodate travelers affected by the closure of three lanes outside the already-congested Arrivals section of Terminal B/C — a closure that is scheduled to begin today (June 21).

It will be “several months” before the closures end, and a construction advisory issued Tuesday encourages travelers to use Metrorail service to get to the airport. Police officers will also be present to help ease congestion during peak periods.

The lane closures are a step toward the construction of two new security checkpoints above the roadway, which will add eight new security lanes to the airport and alter the configuration of Terminal B/C to increase passenger access to shopping, dining and seating.

Project Journey, the $1 billion capital improvement project launched by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority last March, aims to make Reagan National better equipped to serve the high volume of passengers it sees each year. Construction is expected to wrap up in 2021.

Photo via Twitter

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Overhaul of Tricky ‘Clarendon Circle’ Intersection Could Start This Fall

Arlington could soon kick off work on improvements at one of the county’s trickiest intersections for pedestrians and cyclists.

The County Board is set to approve a $2.5 million contract for the overhaul of the “Clarendon Circle” — the area where Clarendon, Washington and Wilson Boulevards all meet, just past the Metro station.

Planners have hoped for years now to add improvements to the intersection, like shortening the distances pedestrians have to walk across roads. The work will also include the installation of additional bike lanes, the widening of Washington Boulevard to four lanes — while nixing the current reversible lanes — and the addition of upgraded traffic signals.

Plans also call for adding a “green streets” element to better manage stormwater on N. Irving Street, next to the Silver Diner.

The Board is scheduled to vote on the construction contract at its Saturday, June 16 meeting as part of its consent agenda, which is typically reserved for non-controversial items. Should Board members approve the deal, the county estimates that work could begin this fall and wrap up in the winter of 2020.

The Clarendon Circle project is designed to move in conjunction with the county’s plans to do away with the reversible lanes on Washington Boulevard and create a “T” intersection with 13th Street N. That construction is projected to kick off in the winter of 2019, after the Board voted on May 22 to let the redevelopment of the nearby Red Top Cab properties move ahead.

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Morning Notes

Construction Kicks Off at The Berkeley — Work is underway on The Berkeley, and “obsolete” apartment building at 2900-2910 S. Glebe Road that is doing a significant redevelopment. The $100 million project will turn the 137 units currently on the site into 256 apartments. [Multi-Housing News]

Remains May Be Linked to Missing Person Case — Remains found in Stafford County are reportedly those of a woman who went missing in Arlington in 1989. The missing woman’s husband — Jose Rodriguez-Cruz, who’s currently in jail for another woman’s murder — told police at the time that his wife left and was living in the Miami area. Later D.C. police learned that it was his second wife’s sister, who had assumed the identity of Rodriguez-Cruz’s first wife. [Fox 5]

Vida Fitness Eyeing Rosslyn Location — “[Vida Fitness] has a letter of intent for space in western Rosslyn, owner David von Storch told the Business Journal… The location — which will include SweatBox, a boutique studio within a gym that offers high-intensity interval training in a fast-paced, heart-monitored workout — would open in the fourth quarter of 2020. Von Storch already has a deal to open a Vida in Ballston.” [Washington Business Journal]

ACPD Motor Squad Escorts the Caps — Members of the Arlington County Police Department’s motorcycle squad helped escort the Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup in yesterday’s victory parade in D.C. Other regional police agencies, including Montgomery County Police, also participated. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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County Hoping to Start Work on Mosaic Park Overhaul in Ballston Next Year

Arlington County is now hoping to kick off construction work on an overhaul of Ballston’s Mosaic Park early next year, following years of delays prompted in part by cost overruns.

County officials are planning to finish renovations at the park, located at 538 N. Pollard Street just behind the Gold’s Gym parking lot, by the end of 2019. Planners unveiled an updated timeline for the park’s renovations at a community meeting last Wednesday (May 30), along with detailed designs for new features like a playground, plaza and athletic courts.

The county’s eyed upgrades at the park back in 2008, and initially hoped that construction could begin in 2013. But planning work stretched on for years, particularly after its estimated construction costs overran the project’s budget.

That forced the county to re-tool the project slightly to bring costs down, in part by eliminating some planned solar panels at the site that would’ve powered the park’s lighting and reducing the number of trees and plants to be installed around the park.

The Shooshan Company, which owns some nearby developments, agreed to fund the first phase of the $6.6 million project. The county is also hoping to add a basketball half-court to the site, but that work will come in a second phase of the project.

The county plans to award a construction contract next spring, and start work soon afterward. Officials hope to wrap things up by winter 2019.

Graphic via Arlington County

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Morning Notes

Fundraiser for Family in Need — Money is being raised online for an Arlington woman and her two school-aged sons after her husband — their dad — passed away from stomach cancer. The De Leon Ordonez family was very active with the Barrett Elementary School community, volunteering “countless hours of time and energy” to the school and the PTA. “Please donate to help them get back on their feet,” wrote Del. Patrick Hope. [YouCaring, Twitter]

Tenant-Landlord Guidelines Changed — “County Board members on May 22 approved revisions to the guidelines that developers either can or must follow – depending on the specific circumstance – if they are renovating residential properties and displacing tenants in the process. The revisions… will provide many tenants with more notice and, in some cases, higher relocation payments if they find themselves displaced.” [InsideNova]

Turtle Causes Flight Delay at DCA — A flight from Reagan National Airport to Chicago had its departure delayed a few minutes due to a turtle on the runway. [WUSA 9]

Radnor/Fort Myer Heights Profiled — WaPo has published another profile of an Arlington neighborhood and this time around it’s the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, just south of the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations. The neighborhood’s civic association president said the neighborhood is “concerned about increased density” from development, “want it reasonable” and “open to affordable housing and diversity.” [Washington Post]

County May Hold Discussion of School Construction Costs — “Members of the [Arlington County] government’s audit committee are seeking to hold a summertime discussion of the high costs of Arlington school construction, hoping to piggyback on a report due out in coming weeks from the school system’s auditor. The audit committee has ‘made overtures’ to school officials about holding a joint community forum – date and place still undetermined – to discuss the findings of the report.” [InsideNova]

Ribbon Cutting for New Crystal City Office — Helicopter manufacturer Bell has opened a new office — its “Advanced Vertical Lift Center” — in Crystal City. A ribbon cutting was reportedly held yesterday. The new office “is designed for the company’s military customers, partners and policy makers to ‘interact with technology that is defining the future of vertical lift.'” [Rotor & Wing]

Photo courtesy Jeremy Galliani

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