by Bridget Reed Morawski February 22, 2018 at 11:10 am 0

The Westover beer garden will again be a topic of conversation before the Arlington County Board this weekend.

In the latest installment of the Westover Market’s saga to operate their outdoor beer garden as they see fit, County Manager Mark Schwartz has recommended that the County Board advertise a public hearing which will consider new use permits for the market and beer garden.

Westover Market wants to expand the current 29 outdoor cafe seats, as permitted by current county code, to 102. It also wants to be able to host live music more often, expand the days in which it can use amplifiers during live music performances and play background music when live music isn’t taking place.

Outdoor live entertainment is presently permitted at these times:

From April 1 through October 31

Wednesdays: 6 p.m. through 8 p.m.
Fridays: 6 p.m. through 10 p.m.
Saturdays: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The market has proposed the following hours to the county:

From April 1 through October 31

Wednesdays: 6 p.m. through 8 p.m.
Thursdays: 6 p.m. through 9 p.m.
Fridays: 6 p.m. through 10 p.m.
Saturdays: 5 p.m. through 9 p.m.
Sundays which precede a federal holiday: 5 p.m. through 9 p.m.

Zoning issues have dogged the business, which at one point had a two year amplified musical hiatus as it waited for county permission. Noise complaints have also weighed down the market’s efforts to expand its live music entertainment in the past.

Typically permit amendments cannot be reviewed by the County Board within 360 days of its last consideration. The exception is for the County Board to review the use permit application “on its own motion,” as the County Manager has recommended has recommended in this case.

Westover Market, originally a smaller grocery store that has evolved into a more drinking and entertainment focused establishment, is located at 5863 Washington Boulevard.

File photos

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 21, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

After nearly seven years of heavy use, Long Bridge Park is getting new synthetic turf.

County Manager Mark Schwartz has recommended awarding a $425,329 synthetic turf contract to GTR Turf Inc., a Canadian commercial and residential synthetic turf and artificial grass installation company.

The contract will cover the synthetic turf replacement at Long Bridge Park’s field three. Construction is expected to begin March 2018, continuing through “the second quarter of this year,” according to a County Board agenda item, scheduled to be considered at the Board’s Saturday meeting.

Arlington intends to replace two to three turf fields per year across the county as part of its capital improvement program for 2017-2026. Long Bridge Park’s two other fields are slotted for replacement in 2019.

The synthetic turf fields were installed seven years ago, when the park opened in 2011, but are “now worn and beyond reasonable repair,” according to the recommendation to the County Board.

Seven companies were listed as contract bidders, six of which were American companies bidding between $437,645 and $663,650 for the project. There is a $42,532.90 contingency for change orders built into the proposed contract.

by ARLnow.com February 19, 2018 at 11:00 am 0

(Updated at 11:45 a.m) Darna Restaurant and Lounge in Virginia Square has been ordered temporarily closed by the county building inspector.

A recent inspection of the nightclub at 946 N. Jackson Street “revealed that there were numerous violations of the Building, Fire, Zoning and Environmental Health codes, affecting the health, safety and welfare of the public,” according to county staff.

A bright orange sticker on the door of the lounge warns that “this structure is unfit for habitation.” A separate sign says “Darna Lounge will be closed for repairs to our sprinkler system.”

Detour Coffee, on the first floor of the building, was open as of Monday morning.

The Arlington County Board is expected to review Darna’s live entertainment and dancing permit at its upcoming February meeting, a month ahead of schedule. Among the likely topics of conversation are the building inspection findings and complaints about noise.

“During the last County Board review in October 2017, staff received correspondence from a neighboring citizen with concerns about loud music during and after the hours of live entertainment and dancing,” a county staff report notes. “Several calls to the police for noise and other complaints were identified during the last County Board review.”

Darna has been open for about six years, and has since expanded, adding an open air patio on the second floor.

Hat tip to Chris Slatt

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 9, 2018 at 9:45 am 0

A 360-unit luxury apartment complex has broken ground in Potomac Yard.

The new 12-story building, to be called The Sur, will have 16,000 square feet of retail space and another 25,000 square feet of shared amenities space. Units range from 557 square foot studios to 1,419 square foot three bedroom apartments. High-end features include a dog spa, a rooftop spa and a “party room.”

Situated on the site of the neighborhood’s namesake former major railroad switchyard, The Sur will be across from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s south end.

On-site construction hours on the site at 3400 Potomac Avenue have been approved from 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

The development was originally approved in 2007, but Courthouse-based developer Erkiletian Development Co. sought minor modifications to the plan this past September. The site plan amendment was ultimately given the greenlight by the Arlington County Board.

by ARLnow.com February 9, 2018 at 8:30 am 0

Democratic County Board Field at Two — Military veteran Chanda Choun was the only candidate for County Board to announce his candidacy at the Arlington County Democratic Committee last night. Choun joins fellow Democrat Matt de Ferranti in the race to challenge incumbent John Vihstadt. A primary will be held June 12, ahead of the general election contest against Vihstadt in November. [InsideNova]

Affordable Housing Stats for FY 2017 — “Arlington County added or preserved 556 affordable housing units for low- and moderate-income households during its 2017 fiscal year, bringing the Countywide total to more than 7,700 units.” [Arlington County]

Government Shuts Down Briefly — The government was shut down overnight as Congress failed to pass a bipartisan budget bill until around 5:30 a.m. [Politico]

HERricane Applications Accepted — Applications are being accepted in February for Arlington County’s HERricane program, which helps girls ages 13-17 to pursue careers and leadership roles in emergency management through a week-long summer camp. [Arlington County]

by Bridget Reed Morawski February 8, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

The draft framework for the proposed Four Mile Run Valley area is now open for public comment. 

The county is setting out to reshape the Four Mile Run Valley area — centered around the Shirlington and Nauck neighborhoods — while balancing the commercial, residential, historic, environmental and industrial needs of the community. This is the latest step in a process which began June 2016.

The plan includes the redevelopment of Jennie Dean Park, with the goal of maximizing the park’s open green space. It also includes the potential establishment of an arts district — with a clustering of studios, theaters and maker spaces — though the idea has received some criticism from groups that want more green space or playing fields.

Proposed park amenities include educational stream overlooks, improved access to the stream, and commissioned public art pieces or sculptures, per the framework.

Changes to the Shirlington Dog Park seem to be limited to minor changes to improve erosion and water quality issues. That follows a public outcry about a potential reduction of the dog park’s size.

Among environmental considerations, the document states that the “area’s history of [industrial] development suggests that there may be soil contamination in soil locations.” Further sections note that excrement from the dog park is another significant soil and water contaminant in the area. The need for “an eye toward environmental remediation, stormwater management, and stream protection” is cited in numerous sections of the draft.

Residents have until Friday, Feb. 16 to comment online. The plan is expected to be presented to the Arlington County Board this spring.

by ARLnow.com February 2, 2018 at 9:45 am 0

This year’s Arlington County Board race has a new entrant: Chanda Choun.

Choun, who lives in the Buckingham neighborhood, announced his candidacy this morning with a press release on his website.

Highlighting his background as a Cambodian refugee, an Army veteran and a cybersecurity professional, Choun says he wants to be “a new face for Arlington and a different voice at the table for good jobs, affordable housing, fast transportation, strong schools, security and safety, and service to the community.”

Though he was not born here, Choun says Arlington is “the love of my life.”

“I will get married in Arlington. My children will run through the parks of Arlington. I will die in Arlington and be buried in Arlington National Cemetery,” he wrote on this website.

Choun will face Matt de Ferranti, and any other Democrat who enters the race, in June’s Democratic primary. The winner of that contest will challenge incumbent Board member John Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, in the November general election.

More about Choun from his press release:

Chanda Choun (pronounced CHAHN-duh CHOON), a resident of the Buckingham neighborhood of Arlington County, filed his campaign committee Statement of Organization and unveiled his campaign website in February, making public his run for the Arlington County Board in 2018.

Choun declared that he wants to “Make Arlington the North Star of Virginia.”

“I am running for the Arlington County Board this 2018 because there is no immigrant, military veteran, or technology professional in our local government leadership today. I want to be a new face for Arlington and a different voice at the table for good jobs, affordable housing, fast transportation, strong schools, security and safety, and service to the community; a 21st century approach in a rapidly changing world, but still holding on to the values that made our community great.”

Chanda Choun lives in the historic, diverse Buckingham neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia near the Ballston Metro Station and works as a senior business manager and engineering leader for a cybersecurity software company headquartered in Dallas, Texas. He is also a part-time Army Reserve soldier occasionally on duty with the United States Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. His community involvement includes being Vice President of the Buckingham Community Civic Association, Delegate to the Arlington County Civic Federation, Lifetime Member of the John Lyon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3150, Parishioner of St. George’s Episcopal Church of Arlington, and previous Executive Board Member of the Arlington Young Democrats.

“Every day I wake up and ask myself: ‘How do I make us happier, healthier, and wealthier?’ I run to serve the County. I run to serve the Commonwealth. I run to serve the Country.”

Choun will make his first public remarks as a candidate at 7:00pm on Wednesday, February 7th at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, held at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203). The Democratic Primary Election is scheduled for June 12th.

by ARLnow.com February 1, 2018 at 8:15 am 0

Alexandria Absent from Short Bridge Park Plans — “While plans for the border-spanning park are underway on the Arlington side, one frustration expressed at the County Board was that Alexandria has no plans to develop its side of the park… ‘That’s a little disappointing,’ County Board member John Vihstadt said. ‘I am concerned we’re going to be spending significant amounts of money for improvements on the Alexandria side.'” [Arlington Connection]

Review of Columbia Pike’s BrickhausBrickhaus, which opened last year at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive, is like a miniature, “year-round, indoor beer garden [that] serves German-inspired fare.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Commuting Satisfaction in Arlington — According to data from Arlington County’s Mobility Lab, Arlington residents commute to work by means other than driving alone 60 percent of the time. Those who walk or bike have the highest rate of satisfaction with their commute, while those who take a train have the lowest satisfaction rate. [Mobility Lab]

Fmr. Clarendon Restaurant Owners Like Falls Church — David and Rebecca Tax, the founders behind classic Clarendon restaurants like Big Belly Deli, Lazy Sundae, Clare and Don’s and Mexicali Blues, are happy with their decision to move Lazy Sundae and Clare and Don’s to Falls Church more than a decade ago. “Falls Church is a lot like what Clarendon was like in 1996 when we opened Lazy Sundae,” said David, while Rebecca remembered the Clarendon of the mid-to-late 90s as “more family oriented, fewer singles.” [Eater]

Mobile Phones Could Be Banned at Pentagon — A military review of personal electronics policies, ordered by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, could result in non-military cell phones being banned at the Pentagon. About 30,000 servicemembers, civilians and contractors work at the Pentagon. [Stars and Stripes]

Japanese Embassy Lauds New Arlington Decal — Via a tweet from the Embassy of Japan in D.C.: “As this year’s @CherryBlossFest nears, we’re excited to hear that the blooming cherry trees along the Potomac River will soon be displayed on windshields in Arlington County. Congratulations to @OConnellHS’s Schuyler Workmaster for winning @ArlingtonVA’s decal contest!” [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com January 31, 2018 at 9:50 am 0

Market Common Redevelopment Approved — The Arlington County Board last night approved a plan to redevelop a portion of Market Common Clarendon. The project is described as “a major renovation and expansion of a commercial-retail block in the heart of Clarendon,” which will preserve the A&R Engravers building and widen the Wilson Boulevard sidewalk at Edgewood Street. [Arlington County]

Gondola Idea Not Dead Yet — “A gondola connecting Georgetown and Rosslyn adjacent to the Key Bridge is still in the works,” with those on the D.C. side of the Potomac continuing to work on it despite Arlington’s public reticence. However, the project now faces an exceedingly complex Environmental Impact Study. [Washington Business Journal]

Man Shot and Killed in Philly IDed — A local man who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in South Philadelphia after allegedly deliberately striking a pedestrian with his car has been identified. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Khalil Lawal, of the 100 block of South Frederick Street in Arlington, Va., was shot early Monday morning by the officer in the face, torso, and legs, police said.” [Philly.com]

Mitten Under Consideration for Michigan Job — Arlington Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten is among three candidates under consideration for the job of City Manager in Grand Rapids, Michigan. [Grand Rapids Business Journal]

Ship’s Hatch Under New Ownership — Long-time military gift store Ship’s Hatch has been sold to a new owner. Founder Mary Beth Cox, 73, is retiring after more than three decades of running the store in the Crystal City Shops. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

by Chris Teale January 30, 2018 at 4:45 pm 0

Arlington County’s 2018-2019 vehicle decals will have a drawing of its skyline behind blossoming cherry trees.

At the Arlington County Board’s meeting Tuesday (January 30), Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced that Schuyler Workmaster, a junior at Bishop O’Connell High School, won first place in the annual design competition over three other finalists.

Workmaster, in her third year as a finalist, said she chose to draw the design as she was inspired by the county’s mix of urban and natural settings.

“I chose to do this because it shows both the urban and nature aspect of Arlington,” she said at the meeting before her win was announced. “It just comes together in both pieces, and works together to create beauty. I think it represents Arlington because it’s very diverse, but it comes together to form something beautiful.”

Workmaster’s work was chosen among design finalists from three fellow student competitors: last year’s winner Amy Kohan, a junior at Wakefield High School; Washington-Lee junior Tom Bolles; and Yorktown High School junior Maddy Heinemann. Workmaster will receive a $750 cash prize from the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union and her design will be displayed on approximately 160,000 vehicles starting later this year.

A record 3,619 votes were cast in the competition, a figure de la Pava said is up 11 percent from last year. She said the interest in voting in the contest is huge across the county.

“The part that really tickles me is that it comes from all areas of Arlington,” de la Pava said. “All the nooks and crannies except for [Arlington National Cemetery]… it really represents how widespread the interest is in voting for this decal.”

Students are instructed to produce a design that represents Arlington. This year’s competition was widened to include anything that they felt represented World War I and the county’s participation in the war.

by Chris Teale January 30, 2018 at 1:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board is set to debate the redevelopment of a section of Market Common in Clarendon, including of the former IOTA Club and Cafe building.

The Board will hear from developer Regency Centers as well as public testimony later today (Tuesday, January 30) on its plans for the area around the 2800 blocks of Clarendon and Wilson Blvds.

Regency Centers is proposing a renovation and extension of the former Education Center building, which would include expanding it into the building that once hosted IOTA and the former home of A&R Engravers (2836 Wilson Blvd).

It would also add a fourth floor and an outdoor terrace to the building; create what county staff described as a “ground level arcade” along N. Edgewood Street; allow buildings to host retail as well as office space; and beautify that section of Clarendon Blvd to make it more appealing.

Across the street, renderings have also shown a revamped courtyard area known as “The Loop,” with several new eateries or other stores in the central median of the shopping center, and seating areas nearby. Currently, that area has a small park with a fountain and benches.

A letter from the Planning Commission noted its unanimous support for the project at its January 17 meeting. The project also received the backing of the county’s Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board and Transportation Commission.

HALRB chair Joan Lawrence said the mural for the former Conklyn’s Florist should be preserved for its historical significance. Under the development plan, it will be moved to the building wall above the preserved A & R Engraver’s building.

That building was built in 1941 and is identified as historic. The building that hosted IOTA, the source of some controversy last year as activists worked to save the local music venue, restaurant and bar, is not identified in a similar way.

“The ‘Conklyn’s Florist’ former sign is no longer a sign as defined the Zoning Ordinance and should be treated as a piece of historic art and not as a sign to be regulated,” Lawrence wrote in a letter to the Board. “The HALRB feels strongly that this piece of art should be preserved and its connection to Arlington’s history acknowledged. The use and placement of a historic marker that does this should be included in the project.”

The Board is expected to vote on the project at its recessed meeting tonight.

Images via county staff report

by Chris Teale January 29, 2018 at 2:45 pm 0

Four trees have been designated for special protection as specimen trees by the Arlington County Board.

The trees, all on private property, are designated as an “outstanding example of [their] species,” according to a county press release over the weekend.

They were all offered protection under the county’s Tree Preservation Ordinance, and now are permanently protected from injury or removal.

The trees were nominated for the protected status by their owners.

The four new specimen trees are:

  • Willow Oak at 2411 N. Monroe Street. The tree’s circumference is nearly 193 inches, and it stands 130 feet tall, with a crown spread of more than 80 feet.
  • Blackgum at 3225 N. Albemarle Street. The tree boasts a circumference of nearly 74 inches, stands 60 feet tall and has a crown spread of 50 feet.
  • American Beech, at 1600 N. Jackson Street. Its excellent condition earned the tree its protected status. Sixty feet tall, it has a circumference of nearly 106 inches and a crown spread of more than 55 feet.
  • Southern Red Oak at 5220 11th Road N. The tree has a circumference of 192 inches and stands 120 feet tall, with an 80-foot-plus crown spread. It is currently the County Champion for the Southern Red Oak species.

“Our County is working on many fronts to preserve trees and to protect our tree canopy,” County Board chair Katie Cristol said in a statement. “Specimen trees are one piece of this puzzle. These are special trees, usually very old and deeply loved by their owners, that have been found to have such outstanding qualities that they merit special protections.”

The latter tree belongs to local activist Nora Palmatier, who chairs the county’s Urban Forestry Commission and is a recipient of the county’s Bill Thomas Outstanding Park Service Volunteer Award.

In a statement, Palmatier said:

Having a Specimen Tree in the yard is really important to us. First, there are the bragging rights so we can show photos when others show off grandkids. Second, this massive oak’s leaves keep the house shaded at all hours during the summer so our air conditioner rarely runs which saves money and is more relaxing with fresh air from open windows. Third, our tree is an apartment building for birds, squirrels and pollinators so we are constantly entertained by our neighbors’ antics.

Yet most important, designated Specimen Trees are officially listed on the real estate property deed. Whoever buys our old house in the future will want to replace it, and they’ll note the magnificent Southern Red Oak in the back requires special protections.

Oaks naturally live hundreds of years, and we hope simply by making this an extra step, our tree will continue benefitting the neighborhood another hundred years.

by Chris Teale January 29, 2018 at 10:45 am 0

A section of Army Navy Drive could go down to one lane for cars in each direction under a Complete Streets plan being considered by the county.

County staff wrote that the project would rebuild Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City as a street “featuring enhanced bicycle, transit, environmental and pedestrian facilities.”

The lane reduction would take place between S. Eads Street and 12th Street S., and staff said it would help connect various local neighborhoods and landmarks.

“The goal of the project is to improve the local connections between the Pentagon and the commercial, residential and retail services of Pentagon City and Crystal City,” staff wrote.

Other changes include planted medians instead of raised concrete medians, and new bike lanes.

“The reconstruction will provide a physically separated two-way protected bicycle lane facility along the south side of Army Navy Drive, in addition to shorter and safer pedestrian crossings, and will accommodate future high-capacity transit,” said the county’s website. “Motor vehicle travel lanes will be reduced in number where appropriate and will be narrowed to dimensions appropriate for a slower urban context.”

The project would also extend the Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway into Pentagon City by adding a dedicated bus lane on Army Navy Drive, and link to the bike lanes planned for S. Clark Street between 12th Street S. and 15th Street S.

Staff will host an Army Navy Drive Complete Streets Workshop on Wednesday, January 31 from 4-7 p.m. at the Aurora Hills Branch Library (735 18th Street S.). The meeting will be an open forum to discuss the project.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2020, and be complete in spring 2022.

Image No. 1 via county staff. Image No. 2 via Google Maps.

by ARLnow.com January 29, 2018 at 9:15 am 0

ARLnow’s Eighth Birthday — Today is the eighth anniversary of the founding of ARLnow.com. Here is our first post ever.

Sexual Harassment FOIA Folo — In a follow-up to our FOIA request seeking any records of sexual harassment or assault allegations against senior Arlington officials since 2000 — no such records were found — we asked about any such cases, against any county employee, that were handled by the County Attorney’s office over the past decade. The response from the county’s FOIA officer: “There are no records responsive to your request because no such cases exist.” The last publicly reported case was that against an Arlington police officer in 2007.

Vihstadt Launches Re-election Bid — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt made it official last night: he is running for re-election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has picked up at least one Democratic challenger so far. However, he again has the backing of a number of prominent Democrats, including fellow Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Treasurer Carla de la Pava. [InsideNova]

County Accepts Millions in Grant Funds — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $17.85 million in grant funding from three transportation entities that will be used for transit, bridge renovation and transportation capital projects in the County.” Among the projects is a new west entrance for the Ballston Metro station. [Arlington County]

County Board Accepts Immigration Donation — “The Arlington County Board today accepted a resident’s anonymous donation for a Citizenship Scholarship to help Arlingtonians pay the $725 federal application fee charged to those seeking to become U.S. citizens.” [Arlington County]

Man Convicted of 7-Eleven Robberies — A man arrested last year for a string of robberies has been convicted by a federal jury of three armed robberies and an armed carjacking. Among the crimes were two armed robberies of 7-Eleven stores in Arlington. [Alexandria News]

Arlington Lauded for Solar Program — The U.S. Department of Energy has named Arlington County a “SolSmart” community “for making it faster, easier and more affordable for Arlington homes and businesses to go solar.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Flickr photo by John Sonderman

by Chris Teale January 25, 2018 at 4:15 pm 0

Two Arlington-based companies are set to receive incentive-based economic development grants as they expand in the county.

Rosslyn-based technology company Higher Logic and Clarendon-based media firm Axios are both in line to receive $60,000 each under the county’s incentive-based Gazelle Grant program. The program, administered through Arlington Economic Development, encourages businesses to move into or stay in Arlington.

Under the terms of the grants, both companies must commit to leasing a certain amount of office space and creating more full-time jobs. If they do not fulfill the terms as of December 31, 2020, they will be required to pay back at least some of the grant.

For its grant, Higher Logic must lease at least 31,000 square feet of office space, maintain its existing 107 full-time jobs and create 133 new full-time positions.

Founded in 2007, Higher Logic had been exploring a new location for its headquarters, having expanded to take up 15,000 square feet by 2015. It will move to 1919 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn and occupy an entire floor of the building on a 10-year lease.

Axios, meanwhile, must lease at lease 15,000 square feet of office space, maintain its existing 60 full-time jobs and create 60 new full-time positions.

Having initially located at the MakeOffices coworking space at the office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, Axios is set to expand into the 13th floor at the same address and sign a 10-year lease.

The Arlington County Board will vote on whether to award the grants at its meeting Saturday (January 27). Staff recommended approval of both.


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