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The Crossing Clarendon (staff photo)

There are some signs of movement forward for the luxury fitness gym Life Time, which is slated to come to Clarendon in 2023.

In mid-December, the County Board is slated to hold a public hearing to consider allowing retail use — and, therefore, fitness activities — inside an office building in The Crossing Clarendon. The Board approved the hearing earlier this month.

Regency Centers, which owns The Crossing (formerly known as “Market Common”), is asking the county to permit retail on the third floor of The Loft office building (1440 N. Edgewood Street) that Life Time is looking to lease. The change would allow the gym to take over the office building and turn it into a 113,000-square foot, multi-story, high-end gym with a host of amenities.

Life Time proposes using all four levels of the newly renovated building. There will be a spa and dressing rooms in the basement, a lobby and small retail space for food and drinks on the first floor, gym space on the second and third floors and a co-working space for gym members and independent users on the fourth floor.

The third floor, set for gym use, comprises more than 18% of The Loft’s total square footage. That is significant enough to require a “major” site plan amendment and Planning Commission and County Board approvals, according to a county report.

Typically, that involves a four-month-long review process, but county staff instead support a one-month hearing schedule, according to the report. It says staff have found no problems with this change, which is supported by planning recommendations for this part of Clarendon.

“Staff finds that a shorter review period is warranted as it does not require any structural additions or significant alterations to the building design as approved under the site plan and community stakeholders have responded to staff outreach to confirm that there are no objections to advertisement of this amendment,” according to the report.

A spokesman for the property owner said there are “no changes to report” on the work done to move the project along.

“The design is being worked on concurrent with the amendment process,” he said. “All permits are on schedule.”

Up until this year, an Equinox gym was expected to move in. In February, Regency Centers sued Equinox, alleging breach of contract.

In total, the building has eight retail spaces on the ground floor, of which three are vacant. Tatte Bakery & Cafe opened in September, and dog daycare and boarding facility District Dogs could be coming next spring. Other forthcoming retailers include a a laser skincare facility and an under-construction tattoo parlor.

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The following appeared earlier this week in the ARLnow Press Club’s Early Morning Notes newsletter. Join the Press Club and help support more local reporting in Arlington.

This week, the County Board got another update from tenant advocates and property owner AHC, Inc. about the ongoing work to improve the physical conditions at the Serrano Apartments as well as their tenant-landlord relationship.

Seven months ago, residents went public with accounts of rodents, mold and shoddy maintenance that they had endured for years. In the ensuing weeks, the County Board instituted regular updates from residents and affordable housing nonprofit AHC to keep tabs on the work being done to improve life at the Serrano.

Both parties say physical conditions have improved. Inspections are complete, everyone has either moved back to the Serrano or into a new living situation and AHC is still seeing administrative changes after the retirement of CEO Walter Webdale: two more retirements, six new members of the Board of Directors, including two AHC apartments residents, and an ongoing CEO search.

“We have been continuing to make strong progress together with tenant advocates and residents,” said interim AHC CEO Susan Cunningham. “We continue to be focused on making sure our most affected households from some maintenance issues at the Serrano last year are able to be back in secure and comfortable homes.”

But tenants say trust is still lacking — especially when it comes to insurance claim-like process AHC has set up to reimburse residents for property damage caused by its neglect.

For claims settled without mediation, residents are accepting one-third or less than what they estimated was the dollar amount of property damage (which in most cases was under $15,000), said Elder Julio Basurto. He argued that AHC, in undercutting what residents claim is due, re-victimizes them.

“[AHC] can hide behind insurance adjusters. They’re telling residents, ‘If you don’t like it, go to mediation — go to court,” said Basurto. “We ask that you [the County Board] be involved to stop the re-traumatizing, the re-victimizing of these residents.”

If the claims issue can’t be resolved, tenants can choose mediation. But they need a lawyer. Both parties do.

For a company like AHC, Cunningham says getting a lawyer preserves the integrity of the process. But for the folks Basurto represents, “lawyering up” means getting entangled in a process that they may not have the means, command of English, bandwidth or legal status to do.

During the meeting, County Board members spent some time parsing out these differing dynamics. Ultimately, members said they can’t really do anything to modify this legal process. What I took away from this conversation was that residents believe the parameters of an in-court mediation systematically disadvantage people seeking relief, and the County Board wanted to establish that the steps AHC was taking to right things could have unintended negative consequences.

This tension points back to the lack of out-of-court mediation options for tenant-landlord disputes in Arlington County, an issue that ARLnow columnist Nicole Merlene first brought to my attention earlier this year. She talked about the Tenant-Landlord Commission’s work to reinstate some kind of out-of-court, county-run mediation process after the county defunded one years ago.

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Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti speaks during the Board’s Tuesday meeting on how to allocate federal funding (via Arlington County)

Pandemic recovery, childcare and criminal justice reform will be receiving millions in federal and county funds.

This week, the Arlington County Board voted to put federal COVID-19 relief funding and unspent county budget dollars toward these areas and other equity initiatives. Members also signaled the county’s commitment to these priorities by adopting them in their state legislative priority package.

On Tuesday, the Board allocated $29.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for pandemic response and local assistance programs.

It also put more than $6 million in surplus from the 2020-21 budget, or “closeout” funds, toward retention bonuses and compensation of county employees, support for restorative justice initiatives, review of body worn footage cameras and a new position in the Sheriff’s Office.

“Our American Rescue Plan and closeout funding allocations focus on our continued responsibility to keep our community healthy and safe, providing funding for testing, vaccine support and COVID response,” County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said. “We also are investing in mental health care through the Crisis Intervention Center and childcare, a critical issue that the pandemic has revealed as more pressing than ever, as well as transportation and our employees.”

Since the plans were introduced in October, the county added some line items to the ARPA and “closeout” spending plans. Two of particular note include money to establish a childcare capital fund and to hire a quality assurance employee for the Arlington County jail.

The Board left $2.4 million ARPA funds unallocated to meet any unforeseen needs determined in 2022, as well as $14.1 million in unallocated close-out funds to address financial pressures in upcoming 2022-2023 budget.

Direct pandemic response — such as testing site and vaccine clinic support — received $9 million while local programs, ranging from housing assistance to the expansion of the Crisis Intervention Center for behavioral health services, received $20.5 million.

New to the ARPA spending plan is $5 million to develop affordable childcare options, spearheaded by childcare champion and Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol.

“ARPA federal guidelines highlight some of the uses for it: they include investment in new or expanded learning services, support for pandemic-impacted small businesses and support to disproportionately impacted populations and communities. One thing at the center of those three circles of the Venn diagram is childcare,” she said during the Board meeting on Tuesday. “This has emerged as one of the top needs during the pandemic.”

Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol speaks about childcare during the Tuesday meeting (via Arlington County)

Arlington has increased the number of available childcare slots, but they are not affordable to those making 50% or less of the Area Median Income, she said.

The county would put the $5 million toward a new childcare capital fund to be accessed by providers and developers who agree to set aside some affordable spots on an ongoing basis in exchange for a one-time infusion of dollars.

The result would be permanently discounted childcare spots created at the time a provider signs a long-term lease or a developer receives approval to build a childcare center, she said.

Before Tuesday night, the Board had previously allocated $2 million in ARPA funds for small business support and $3.8 million for restoring libraries, community centers and other important community facing programs.

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Morning Notes

Arrests in Cold Case MurderUpdated at 7:50 a.m. — “The Arlington County Police Department’s Cold Case Unit is announcing James Christopher Johnson, 59, of Alexandria, Va, and Bobby Joe Leonard, 53, have been charged in relation to the 1998 homicide of Andrea Cincotta in the Colonial Village neighborhood. Mr. Johnson is being held without bond at the Arlington County Detention Center and Mr. Leonard is being held on unrelated charges at Wallens Ridge State Prison. On August 21, 1998, 52-year-old Andrea Cincotta was found dead inside the bedroom of the apartment she shared with Mr. Johnson in the 1700 block of N. Rhodes Street.” [Washington Post, ACPD]

Cool Reception for Climate Emergency Push — “A proposal by two local environmental groups that the Arlington County government declare a ‘climate-change emergency’ received the back of the hand, albeit politely delivered, from County Board members on Nov. 13… ‘We hear you… but understand that we are not able to declare an emergency that gives the local government broader power,’ [said] County Board member Christian Dorsey.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Friday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 47. Northwest wind 11 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Sunrise at 6:56 a.m. and sunset at 4:51 p.m. Increasing clouds Saturday, with a high near 49. A slight chance of showers after 1 p.m. Sunday, but otherwise mostly cloudy with a high near 55. [Weather.gov]

Photo courtesy Tom Mockler/Twitter

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(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) With 800 workers completing one floor every 10 days, the first two buildings of Amazon’s HQ2 are set to reach their full height in April.

Construction began on the 2.1 million-square foot Met Park campus — the first phase of the massive Pentagon City project — in January 2020 and is still on-track to be completed in 2023, Amazon officials said during a hard hat tour today.

Separately, shortly after the tour ended, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Day 1 Families Fund announced a $2.5 million grant to longtime Arlington nonprofit Doorways, intended to “end homelessness for families in the Arlington area.”

Donations to local nonprofits was also a theme of the remarks from Amazon officials to the gathered crowd of media members and elected officials, including outgoing Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. They spoke of the company’s community involvement, its pace of hiring workers for HQ2, and construction progress.

“Three years ago, we made a commitment to create 25,000 and an investment of more than $2.5 billion,” said Brian Huseman, Amazon’s Vice President of Public Policy. “I’m excited to announce to you today that we are on track for that. As of today, we have more than 3,500 Amazon employees working at HQ2 and more than 2,500 open roles, which is double where we were a year ago today. HQ2 is on track and it’s here.”

Amazon now intends to fulfill its goal of 25,000 jobs by 2028.

Once an abandoned warehouse, the site of Met Park will eventually feature two solar-powered, 22-story office buildings and more than 50,000 square feet of retail space, including a childcare, as well as a 2-acre public park and a 700-person meeting center free for the community to use.

“Despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, I’m truly proud to share that we’ve hit all our critical milestones and we’ve kept the project on schedule while keeping the workers safe as well as our community,” said Jeff King, the vice president of construction for Clark Construction. “Just last month, we surpassed the halfway mark with our concrete operations. We set the timber roof over the event center… Our exterior façade commenced in September. And in the last couple weeks, we started revitalizing Metropolitan Park.”

So far, workers have reached level 15 on the pair of office buildings and are getting ready to frame level 16, he said. Once completed, the buildings’ rooftops will feature a café terrace, a dog run terrace and an urban farm terrace.

A timber roof was recently installed over the event center, which mostly be available for events such as conferences, Amazon’s Senior Manager of External Affairs Patrick Phillippi said. The terms of shared use have yet to be ironed out.

Officials highlighted the sustainability of the construction project as well, from using concrete that sequesters recycled carbon to diverting 84% of all construction materials from landfills.

Over the last three years, Amazon has donated $34 million to local nonprofits such as La Cocina VA, Arlington Food Assistance Center and Bridges to Independence, and schools, such as the “Think Big Space” innovation lab under construction at Wakefield High School.

Huseman said Amazon has donated more than $500 million in low-rate loans and grants to preserve 2,300 affordable homes in the HQ2 region, with more coming. As part of the Met Park development, Amazon is donating more than $20 million to Arlington County to fund the creation and preservation of committed affordable housing units, primarily through the development of additional units at the nearby Crystal House apartment complex.

Separate from these donations, local nonprofit Doorways — which works to lift locals out of homelessness and support victims of domestic violence — announced today that it also received an Amazon-related windfall: $2.5 million from Bezos’ families fund grant, which is doling out $96.2 million to 32 nonprofits across the country.

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What appears when a broken link is clicked on Arlington County’s new website (via Arlington County)

Arlington’s County Manager has apologized for the frustrating user experience on the new county website, which has left thousands of broken links in the wake of its launch.

The new website, sporting the new county logo, was implemented one month ago and since then those trying to navigate the site or search for information on the site via Google are frequently getting “Page or Site Not Found” errors.

“Not only are members of the community members frustrated, I’m frustrated — as are a lot of county employees,” County Manager Mark Schwartz told Board members yesterday. “We use the website all the time.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Schwartz provided County Board members with an update on staff’s efforts to restore many of the broken links — 6,634 by the county’s count — to working order by Thanksgiving. Progress is being made and users can expect next week a “marked improvement” to the broken links, as well as the website’s internal search engine, Schwartz said.

Despite knowing broken links would pose a problem, Arlington forged ahead with the move to the new website anyway because the old platform was, according to Schwartz, not secure and on the brink of collapse.

“We didn’t do it on a whim. Our old platform was wobbly and about to fall over,” he said. “We were forced to go a little bit earlier than we wanted to, given that the alternative was that our old website — which everyone now misses — was about to fall over.”

He also tried to take a swipe at ARLnow’s article yesterday about the broken links, which included a screenshot of a platform that tracks broken links to websites.

“If it didn’t make me cry, it was funny, in ARLnow there was an article published today saying there were 900,000 broken links on our website,” he said. “We only have 187,000 [links]. I think there’s something broken in that article.”

The number, generated by a broken link checker on the search engine optimization website Ahrefs, in fact refers to the number of inbound links to the county site — from other websites including those of news outlets, local civic associations, etc. — that are now broken.

Result of broken link checker for the county website (via ahrefs.com)

Those who encounter broken links can reach out to the county or use the reporting function at the bottom of the “Page or Site Not Found” page, officials said.

Board member Libby Garvey thanked those who have already written the county with links to fix.

“It reminds me of snow plowing. There might be cul-de-sac somewhere we might have missed and people let us know,” she said. “I know they’re often upset but that helps us get in there because we really don’t know everything all the time.”

Board Vice-Chair Katie Cristol said she appreciated Schwartz’s explanation of the timing of the website transition.

“People, Board members included, expect a high level of service from Arlington, and are disappointed when it’s not met,” she said. “Understanding there was some urgency, security reasons being part of that, is really helpful context.”

Still, the website launch promised “exciting things to come” and has yet to deliver, Board member Christian Dorsey said.

“You heightened people’s expectations they were going to get a fully finished product,” he said, drawing attention to other unfinished aspects, such as missing photos or icons and inconsistent grammar and syntax.

In response, Schwartz said every department will have someone click through each page to pinpoint those inconsistencies.

Two fixes will take more time, officials said. First, about half of the broken links are associated with old press releases, which are low on the county’s list of things to fix. Second, there are still issues with searching for PDFs uploaded to the website.

“We’re working through the challenges,” Assistant County Manager Bryna Helfer said.

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Abingdon Elementary School students cross the road on the first day of school (file photo)

The speed limit is being lowered in some local roads.

The Arlington County Board voted 5-0 on Saturday to approve the establishment of “School Slow Zones,” with 20 mph speed limits. Implementation, around 13 public and private schools, is expected to be complete this later winter or in the spring.

County staff will evaluate the effectiveness of the initial slow zones before moving forward with potentially implementing the lower speed limits around all Arlington schools.

More from an Arlington County press release:

Today, the Arlington County Board voted 5 to 0 to approve the creation of “School Slow Zones,” which aims to reduce traffic speeds around 13 schools across the County. The zones address a key action item in the Vision Zero Action Plan, adopted by the Board in May, and are the first application of permanent 20-mile-per-hour speed limits permitted under Virginia law.

Schools are a key focus area for Vision Zero in Arlington – a nationally recognized strategy to eliminate all fatalities and severe injuries no matter the means of travel, while increasing safety and mobility. Some specific data points:

  • One in four crashes in Arlington involves speeding.
  • Every year, there are 10+ crashes involving speeding around schools in Arlington.
  • The risk of injuries and deaths increases as vehicle speeds increase.
  • Children are among the most vulnerable travelers.

The School Slow Zones are the result of an interdepartmental partnership between the Arlington Department of Environmental Services’ Transportation Division, Arlington Public Schools (APS) and the Arlington County Police Department.

“The recent tragic traffic fatalities in our community remind us how important it is to achieve our Vision Zero goal of eliminating serious traffic injuries and deaths,” said Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “These zones are one of many steps the County is taking to help road users reduce speed and increase awareness of people – usually children — walking and biking near our schools.”

What are School Slow Zones?

A School Slow Zone is a permanent 20 mile-per-hour speed limit on a neighborhood street within 600 feet of an access point to a school. Speed limit signs and pavement markings clearly define the zone.

Where will the First Slow Zones Be Located?

This demonstration project approved by the Board will install 11 School Slow Zones around 13 public and private schools in the County (two zones both include pairs of schools very near to each other), to test the effectiveness of the treatments developed by transportation staff. County and APS staff identified schools for the demonstration project from three different sources:

  • Through Vision Zero
    • Hoffman-Boston Elementary School
    • Gunston Middle School
    • Drew Elementary School
  • In coordination with APS
    • Escuela Key Elementary School (formerly Arlington Traditional School)
    • Arlington Traditional School (formerly McKinley Elementary School)
    • Innovation ES (formerly Key Elementary School
    • Cardinal ES (new school)
  • Because existing safety beacons suitable for a School Slow Zone need immediate replacement
    • Tuckahoe Elementary and nearby Bishop O’Connell High School
    • Glebe Elementary School
    • Wakefield High School and nearby Claremont Elementary School
    • St. Thomas More Cathedral School

Implementing School Slow Zones

Implementation of the first Slow Zones is expected to take between three and five months.

During the demonstration stage, transportation staff will collect “before” and “after” vehicle speed data to assess whether zones, as designed, successfully reduce speeds around schools. Transportation staff will also collect public feedback before considering adjustments to zone infrastructure and placement for all remaining schools in Arlington.

Moving forward, the County anticipates adding ten Slow Zones each year, meaning that the 40-plus public and private schools in the County could be updated within the next three to five years.

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Morning Notes

Fundraiser for Man Killed in Crash — An online fundraiser for Stevan Zikic, the 26-year-old Alexandria man killed when he collided with a school bus while riding a motorcycle in Arlington’s Green Valley neighborhood, has raised nearly $35,000 for “overseas transportation and funeral costs.” [GoFundMe]

County Board Approved Pike Plan — “The County Board voted 5 to 0 to approve zoning updates that will help realize the vision of Columbia Pike as a walkable ‘Main Street’ by providing greater flexibility for commercial, office, light industrial, and agricultural uses–including animal boarding and craft beverage production — on ground floors along the Pike.” [Arlington County]

Public Art Plan OKed — “The Arlington County Board voted 5 to 0 today” — despite some last-minute opposition — “to approve an update to the Public Art Master Plan (PAMP) that will better serve placemaking efforts and improve the quality of public spaces around the County. The update, which is part of the County’s overall Comprehensive Plan, details the vision and guiding principles of public art in Arlington and sets priorities and themes centered around goals to integrate, expand, connect and engage through public art installations around the County.” [Arlington County]

Unhoused Taking Up Residence Under Bridge — “Eight months after the W&OD bicycle-pedestrian bridge opened at the Arlington-Falls Church border, members of our homeless population have gravitated there… I’m told by Kurt Larrick, assistant director of the Human Services Department. ‘Our outreach teams,’ which include PathForward volunteers, ‘are making regular visits.’ On Oct. 15, they spoke to two men sleeping at the base of a footing for the bridge. They didn’t seem interested in services now but agreed to discuss the possibility when reminded of the location’s vulnerabilities.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Beyer ‘Falling Short’ in Fundraising — “Let’s say you’re independently wealthy, well-regarded by most constituents (even from the opposition party) and occupy a district so reliably Democratic that the only way an incumbent could possibly lose the seat is via a scandal… What would you be doing? If you were U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), you’d still be asking supporters to send you money.” [Sun Gazette]

Two Men Beaten in Crystal City Area — “Victim One was inside the business in line at the register behind the suspect, when the suspect allegedly turned around, struck him in the face, exited the business and verbally threatened him from outside. A short while later, Victim Two attempted to enter the business when the suspect, who was still standing outside, allegedly struck the victim in the back of the head with a blunt object before fleeing the scene on foot. Arriving officers located Victim Two outside of the business with a large laceration on the back of his head and administered aid until medics arrived on scene.” [ACPD]

Here Comes the Flu — From Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Mike Silverman’s latest social media post: “Our COVID isolation numbers in the ED have been pretty stable over the last 3 weeks. We’re better than a month ago but we continue to have a steady number of patients who require our COVID isolation protocol. Hospital wide, our inpatient census is up a touch from last week and our overall percent positive rate for the hospital is also up a bit. We are starting to see just a sprinkling of flu cases over the last month. It’s not too late to get your flu shot.” [Facebook]

It’s Monday — Today will be breezy and mostly sunny, with a high near 51. West wind 9 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Sunrise at 6:51 a.m. and sunset at 4:54 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny, with a high near 53.

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Del. Rip Sullivan during the County Board legislative session Tuesday (via Arlington County)

After Republican victories in Virginia last Tuesday, Arlington’s Democratic state legislators say their focus is preserving policy gains they made over the last few years.

Last week, Virginians elected Glenn Youngkin as Governor, Winsome Sears as Lieutenant Governor and Jason Miyares as Attorney General. Despite a slight shift right, Arlington overwhelmingly elected and re-elected all Democrat lawmakers.

Control of the Virginia House of Delegates also appears to shifting to the GOP, pending the outcome of two potential recounts.

“My top priorities are defense, defense and defense,” Rep. Rip Sullivan (D-48) told County Board members yesterday afternoon. “In light of last Tuesday, there are a lot of things that I’ll be interested in making sure we can preserve, in terms of things that have been accomplished over the last couple of years.”

County Board members met Tuesday with state lawmakers to outline the Board’s priorities for the upcoming legislative session — such as vehicle noise enforcement and virtual government meetings — and hear what legislators are focused on.

Among House representatives and state senators, there was an emphasis on preserving work done under outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam.

“In terms of playing defense, as whip for the House Democratic caucus, we are going to be incredibly vigilant in making sure that all of the progress we’ve made [is] not whittled away at the 11th hour, 59th minute, at 7 a.m. subcommittee meetings — that we are casting a very bright light on all the actions taken on the House floor so there’s a very clear record at the end of this long session that people know what they voted for,” said Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49).

Looking to inject some optimism into the conversation, Board Member Christian Dorsey asked what areas could see bipartisan support. Legislators predicted bridging the aisle to reduce medical debt, expand broadband access, support small businesses, incentivize community college for in-demand jobs, fund mental health services and increase teacher pay.

More locally, the County Board and their state representatives had a number of overlapping priorities: allowing electronic meetings post-pandemic; improving access to childcare; firming up the rights of affordable housing tenants; and committing to environmental sustainability initiatives and teacher pay raises.

Top of mind for County Board members, however, is what they describe as an ongoing behavioral health crisis caused by the closure of most state psychiatric hospitals this summer and exacerbated by police and mental health services workforce shortages. The Board and county staff made the case for more state funding for community-based mental health services.

“This is very time sensitive and very important as we try to serve those most in need in Arlington,” Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said.

Without sufficient state beds to which to bring people in crisis, police have to detain people against their will in emergency rooms for multiple days while staff in the Department of Human Services make calls around the clock, searching for beds.

“They have no privacy, they’re in police custody day after day,” Arlington County Police Department Capt. Michael Rowling said. “I can’t imagine they’re getting better — they’re not getting treatment whatsoever.”

On a daily basis there are five to 10 individuals attended by police officers in the emergency department of Virginia Hospital Center waiting for a mental health bed, Human Services Deputy Director Deborah Warren said.

“It’s inhumane,” she said. “On the worst day of their lives, [people in crisis] are handcuffed to a gurney, under police supervision, agitated and maybe getting sedation.”

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A Subway location on the ground floor of Arlington County’s jail could be getting a rent lifeline this weekend.

The sandwich shop renting space at the base of the Arlington County Detention Center (1435 N. Courthouse Road) has struggled to stay afloat since the pandemic slashed its sales. Although it still operates in the space, it has not paid rent to the county since March 2020, according to a report.

“Subway’s business has declined precipitously during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report to the County Board says. “It was closed for business altogether in April 2020. Its sales in May 2020 were less than 15% of normal. Although Subway’s sales have recovered to a degree, they are still, as of the date of this report, around one-third below normal.”

On Saturday, the Board is set to review a proposal to lower Subway’s rent during the remainder of the pandemic to a level it can afford. County staff settled on a base rent equal to 9.5% of its gross sales, retroactive to April 2020, according to the report.

“Staff worked with Subway to determine what Subway could afford to pay in rent based on its reduced sales,” the report said. “As a rule of thumb, restaurants can afford to devote roughly 10% of sales to the payment of rent. When sales decline substantially below normal, inflexible overhead like employee salaries and utility charges does not decline to the same degree, and accordingly absorbs a greater percentage of sales. This leaves a smaller percentage of sales that can be applied to rent.”

If approved, the reduction would last until Subway has two months in a row of sales in which 9.5% of their sales is greater than the base rent it is paying, or until one year after the amendment is signed — whichever occurs first. Then, Subway would have 18 months to pay back the rent it owes from before the agreement went into effect.

The sandwich shop’s lease on its 1,360-square foot space in Courthouse, last renewed in 2017, is up in 2024, the report said.

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Members of the Green Valley Civic Association near Jennie Dean Park, in a portion of the Green Valley neighborhood also known as Four Mile Run Valley (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) A public art plan slated for consideration this weekend has angered some Green Valley residents, who say it essentially erases a portion of the historically Black community.

After multiple years of community engagement and study, county arts staff have drafted an update to the Arlington’s Public Art Master Plan (PAMP) — first adopted in 2004 — to reflect changing county values, such as equity and sustainability, and more modern public art practices. The updated strategy for bringing art into public spaces is slated for a County Board vote this Saturday.

“Public art will continue to be a timely and timeless resource, responding to current community priorities while creating a legacy of artworks and places that are socially inclusive and aesthetically diverse features of Arlington’s public realm,” the county wrote in a report about the updated plan.

But members of the Green Valley Civic Association are urging County Board members not to approve the updated plan without wording changes to the various references to their community.

“This master plan aims to nullify a historically Black community in Arlington,” they said in a letter to the County Board dated Nov. 1. “It is a painful and blatant attempt to suppress the Green Valley community and rewrite our historical narrative.”

Settled by free African-Americans in 1844, Green Valley — formerly known as Nauck — is one of Arlington’s oldest Black communities. Its borders are S. Arlington Mill Drive to the south, the Douglas Park neighborhood (and S. Walter Reed Drive) to the west, I-395 and Army-Navy Country Club to the east, and the Columbia Heights neighborhood to the north.

Geography and names comprise two chief concerns for residents, who take issue with the document’s use of the monicker “Four Mile Run Valley” to refer to an area north of Four Mile Run near Shirlington — much of which is actually part of the historic Black community.

Four Mile Run Valley area (via Arlington County)

The name “Four Mile Run Valley” started being used widely by the county in connection with a planning study that discussed the proposed creation of an “arts and industry district” in the area. But Green Valley residents are taking exception to the term being used instead of their neighborhood’s actual name.

“This is wholly incorrect and offensive,” the civic association said.

More from the letter:

The report defines a fictitious community of “Four Mile Run Valley.” This heretofore non-existent community is defined as running from the “north bank of the stream where the lower and upper reaches meet.” 

It further, incorrectly states, that Shirlington Village is “on the south bank of Four Mile Run.” It is not. The northern border of Shirlington Village begins in the middle of Arlington Mill Drive. 

The report states, “Green Valley is a historically African-American neighborhood to the north of Four Mile Run Valley.” This is wholly incorrect and offensive. Again, “Four Mile Run Valley” is a fictitious name created by county staff. It is not a location. The southern border to Green Valley begins in the middle of Arlington Mill Drive. To try to push the historic boundary of our community up the hill is unconscionable and disrespectful of what Green Valley means to Arlington. 

Civic association president Portia Clark says this turn of phrase is part of a pattern of erasure.

“This isn’t the first time the county has tried to paper over Green Valley. Green Valley established in 1844 was rebranded Nauck in 1874, after a confederate soldier purchased land in our freed Black community,” Clark said. “We finally got our name back in 2019, only to find the county trying to discard us again. This time the county tried to hide the deed in the middle of a 200-page arts report.”

Just after publication of this article, county staff told ARLnow that some of the changes suggested by the civic association have been made.

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