Work is wrapping up on improvements to one of Courthouse’s trickiest intersections, with some night paving set to close a few streets this week.
The county is putting the finishing touches on some changes to sidewalks and bus stops around the intersection of Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards, near the Courthouse Metro station. Starting last night (Tuesday), workers began paving the area and the county expects the work to last through Friday (Sept. 7).
Arlington officials are advising drivers to avoid the area where Clarendon Blvd meets N. Veitch Street and 15th Street N. during the paving, set to run from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through the rest of the week.
Workers permanently closed the lane turning from Clarendon Blvd. to 15th Street N. in March, and have spent the ensuing months widening the sidewalks in the area and adding a new bus stop to accommodate additional Arlington Transit service in the area. The county hopes the project “will improve pedestrian safety, circulation and access in and around Courthouse Plaza,” per its website.
Construction was originally set to wrap up sometime this winter, but the county says it’s now “nearing completion, ahead of schedule.”
Organized by Arlington members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the rally will feature speeches from local leaders and voter registration with Arlington NAACP volunteers.
“I see rallies like this as an opportunity to raise awareness, to think about the daily violence that happens that doesn’t make the newspapers, but is something that impacts all of us,” Beth Fine, the local lead for Moms Demand Action, told ARLnow.
The event is one of 19 that will take place throughout the state this weekend, according to the Virginia Moms Demand Action Facebook page, and is among more than 350 planned across the country.
Arlington County Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey and School Board Chair Barbara Kanninen will both speak at the rally alongside Arlington Poet Laureate Katherine Young and student activists Karina de Leede and Chloe Fugle.
“I will be speaking about the School Board’s support for Wear Orange, our concern for the safety of our students and staff and the importance of student voices,” Kanninen said.
The Wear Orange movement began in 2013 when friends of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton wore the color after Pendleton was shot and killed. Everytown for Gun Safety, a national organization that advocates against gun violence, began promoting the campaign nationally in 2015.
But Fine notes that the movement also has plenty of support locally, including from the County Board. In May, the Board declared June 1 National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Arlington, a decision that Fine believes “sets the right tone.”
“It’s important too that they know we are out there supporting people who are on board with this message,” she added.
Over 200 businesses in the Arlington area will also post fliers or offer specials to customers wearing orange this weekend, according to organizers. Alto Fumo, Ambar, Busboys & Poets, Cafe Pizzaiolo and New District Brewing Company are among the local businesses expected to run Wear Orange promotions this weekend.
Ultimately, Fine said community members who attend the rally should feel empowered to make change.
“I think what they should should come away [from] it with is the idea that they can actually effect change,” Fine said. “They will have some ideas as they leave about what they can do to make a difference.”
Photo via Facebook
Delays on Blue, Orange Lines Due to Person Struck — A person was struck by a train at the L’Enfant Metro station around 9:30 this morning. The incident is causing delays on the Blue and Orange lines, as service has been suspended between L’Enfant and Federal Center. Silver Line trains are operating between Wiehle and Ballston. [Twitter, Twitter, Washington Post]
Reminder: E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington County is holding its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This time around the venue has changed; the recycling and hazardous household materials collection event is now being held at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). [Arlington County]
Scott Disick Comes to Arlington, Disses ARLnow — Updated at 12:10 p.m. — Reality TV personality Scott Disick lorded over the grand opening ceremony for Sugar Factory in Pentagon City last night. About 100 people, mostly young women, showed up for the event, according to an ARLnow employee on the scene. Disick did interviews with local news outlets, but PR reps cut off the interviews and ushered Disick away just as our employee was next in line. [Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mail]
Kirwan’s Opens to Big Crowds — Mark Kirwan, owner of Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington, may have another hit on his hands. His new bar, Kirwan’s on the Wharf in Southwest D.C., was packed last night before the Foo Fighters concert at the Anthem. [Facebook]
Courthouse Plaza Parking Lot Closed Sunday — The county’s Courthouse Plaza parking lot will be closed most of the day Sunday for the 2017 Animal Welfare League of Arlington Pints 4 Paws event. [Arlington County]
Marymount Makes USNWR Top Tier — “Marymount University is once again in the top tier among Regional Universities in the South in several categories, ranking 52nd overall in the 2018 edition of ‘Best Colleges’ by U.S. News & World Report.” [Marymount University]
AIRE Wins Regional Award — The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy was among this year’s recipients of the Climate and Energy Leadership Awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. AIRE’s Energy Lending Library “makes it easy to check out a thermal camera, a box of 10 different LED bulbs, energy meter, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books through the library system free of charge,” notes COG. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Arlington County remember the nearly 3,000 people killed 16 years ago today (Monday) in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Fire Chief James Bonzano, Police Chief Jay Farr and Sheriff Beth Arthur laid a wreath at the flagpole in Courthouse Plaza to remember the dead, including the 184 victims who died when American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the Pentagon. A moment of silence at 9:37 a.m. — marking when the plane flew into the Pentagon — was followed by a playing of “Taps” and a lowering of the flag to half-staff.
Flanked by his Arlington County Board colleagues as well as Virginia General Assembly representatives, Rep. Don Beyer (D) and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), County Board chair Jay Fisette recalled in his remarks how Arlingtonians came together that day, and in the days and weeks after. Fisette was also chair of the Board in 2001.
“The initial shock was followed by compassion, by patriotism, by resolve,” he said.
This year’s commemoration came just months after Corporal Harvey Snook’s name was added to the county’s Peace Officers Memorial for police officers killed in the line of duty. Snook died in January 2016 from cancer he contracted from responding to the Pentagon. He spent a week there, collecting evidence and the remains of some of the people killed.
To further commemorate the anniversary, Arlington County’s poet laureate Katherine Young released a new poem this weekend, entitled “Hazmat.”
Arlington County will remember the 184 victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at a memorial ceremony on Monday morning.
The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. on September 11 at Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd), at the outdoor flagpoles above the Metro station.
A moment of silence will be observed at 9:37 a.m., marking the time that American Airlines Flight 77 flew into the Pentagon, where 184 people died. The silence will be followed by a playing of “Taps” and a lowering of the flag to half-staff.
The event will also feature a wreath-laying and the presentation of colors.
Capt. David Santini of the Arlington County Fire Department will give welcoming remarks, while local officials including County Manager Mark Schwartz, Fire Chief James Bonzano, Police Chief Jay Farr and Sheriff Beth Arthur will all attend. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is also set to be present at the commemorations.
Phones and internet are down at Arlington County’s offices at 2100 Clarendon Blvd after an electrical equipment failure this morning, meaning some government services are not available online.
The technical problems struck Courthouse Plaza just after 11 a.m., according to an anonymous tipster, and affect some operations including phones, the permitting website, online utility billing, the GIS mapping center and the library catalog and accounts system.
All other government offices are operating as normal, including the county’s emergency services.
A county spokeswoman said at 1:55 p.m. that service is now being restored “floor by floor” at the government building, but that outages could last for several more hours. Those trying to use some county online services may continue to be impacted.
We're experiencing a phone outage at our Courthouse Plaza location (2100 Clarendon Blvd) due to an electrical equipment failure.
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) June 1, 2017
Some business operations are also affected in this location and we will provide updates as available.
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) June 1, 2017
All other County government services are open for normal operations. Emergency services are also operational.
— ArlingtonVA (@ArlingtonVA) June 1, 2017
The Arlington County Board on Saturday is set to consider a lease renewal for county government headquarters at 2100 Clarendon Blvd in Courthouse.
Under the proposed agreement with property owner Vornado, according to a staff report, rent on the 235,000 square foot facility would actually go down, at least initially, though it would then rise 2.5 percent per year through the end of the lease in October 2033.
Starting in 2033, the county would have the option of renewing in five-year increments through 2062. Arlington, however, is also considering building its own headquarters nearby, to open before the end of the 15-year lease term.
More from the staff report:
The rent under the proposed lease Amendment will be substantially below the rent under the existing terms of the Lease. The current total rent under the existing Lease is approximately $11.2 million per year ($47.71 per square foot). In October, 2018 (immediately before the Amendment’s rent schedule takes effect), staff estimates that the total rent under the Lease will be approximately $11,500,000 per year ($48.95 per square foot) (charges for common-area maintenance and taxes must be estimated because they vary). Significantly, once the new rent takes effect in November, 2018, the total rent under the Amendment will start, and be reduced to, $9,867,354 per year ($42 per square foot), a savings of over $1.6 million per year.
The 15-year term of the Amendment is sufficient to give the County time to plan for and build a new administrative building at Courthouse Plaza if the County decides to do so. Based on the length of the term extension, staff believes it is now necessary to refurbish the County’s leased premises. The refurbishment would be paid for, in part, by the tenant improvement allowance provided by Landlord, the free rent, and the commission rebate (total = approximately $35.9 million). The scope and cost of any refurbishment will be determined by the County after a space utilization study.
In addition to a multi-million dollar office refurbishment, paid for by landlord and leasing agent concessions, under the lease renewal Arlington would gain the right to add a daycare facility to the building and to place an emergency generator on top of 2300 Clarendon Blvd, to serve the county’s Emergency Communications Center there.
County Manager Mark Schwartz is recommending the Board approve the lease renewal, given what the staff report describes as “fair and reasonable terms” offered by Vornado.
Put up in only two days near the Courthouse Plaza surface parking lot, workers cleaned up the area, painted the concrete, and added plants and furniture, transforming it into a public square similar to larger efforts done in places like New York’s Times Square.
Its purpose is to show the public what the entire parking lot might look like if it were to be transformed into a town square under the “Envision Courthouse Square” plan.
The plan calls for putting the parking underground, thus making way for a large, open green space and some new development.
— Plan Arlington VA (@planArlingtonVA) August 4, 2016
— Plan Arlington VA (@planArlingtonVA) August 4, 2016
Pop-up plaza's first visitor, he even wore a matching shirt pic.twitter.com/0fQO7LQ9VY
— Plan Arlington VA (@planArlingtonVA) August 4, 2016
Another Roll-Over Crash on I-66 — Last night, around 3 a.m., an SUV that was being chased by police overturned after exiting I-66 at East Falls Church. At the same time, another roll-over crash happened on the Fairfax Drive ramp to westbound I-66. A vehicle flipped over as a result of a crash involving it and another vehicle. [WTOP]
Planned Power Outage at Courthouse Plaza — Businesses and elevators at the Courthouse Plaza shopping center will be without power from 3 a.m. to noon Saturday as part of scheduled electrical work. Among the businesses affected will be the AMC movie theater and the Starbucks. [Twitter, Twitter]
Retired Arlington Marine Dies at 103 — A retired Marine who lost his arm in a shipboard explosion in 1937 has died at the age of 103. Pvt. Clyde Byrd died at Virginia Hospital Center following a heart attack. A police and motorcycle club-escorted funeral procession brought Byrd to his final resting place at Quantico National Cemetery in Triangle, Va. [InsideNova]
Last Weekend for Synetic Show — This weekend is your last chance to see a reimagined version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It performed at Synetic Theatre in Crystal City. [Washingtonian, Synetic Theatre]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
The seemingly endless construction at Courthouse Plaza — the privately-owned, open-air shopping center near the Courthouse Metro station — is finally nearing an end.
The final phase of construction at Courthouse Plaza is underway, we’re told, completing a series of improvement projects to the property that has extended over the course of the last several years.
The project currently under construction will make streetscape improvements along Clarendon Boulevard to “create a new pedestrian experience.” These improvements include installing new pavers — the stone along pedestrian walkways — and updating the entry into the plaza itself.
Once complete, the plaza will have a new, outdoor gathering space with seating. The area will also have contemporary landscaping features.
These outdoor improvements mark the end of the last phase of capital improvement projects for the building, according to Mara Olguin, spokeswoman for the property’s owner, Vornado. She said plans to make these improvements began more than three years ago and have involved multiple projects.
Some of these include the lease renewal and renovations to the AMC movie theater and improvements to the parking garages at 2200 and 2300 Clarendon Blvd. Before that, Vornado also oversaw the installation of new brickwork in the plaza.
Olguin added all the projects mentioned are consistent with the new Courthouse Sector Plan and Retail Action Plan, which the County Board approved last summer.
Construction work on the plaza’s outdoor area will continue through the winter and early spring. All work is expected to be completed by this April.
Photo via Vornado
Arlington County is joining a national effort to collect blankets and coats for Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The drive started on Saturday and will run through Dec. 4, collecting new or gently used blankets and winter coats for donation.
There are two locations in Arlington where residents can bring items to donate:
- Arlington Mill Community Center, 909 S. Dinwiddie Street
Monday-Friday: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Courthouse Plaza Lobby, 2100 Clarendon Blvd
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Donated items must be clean and neatly folded. Sheets will not be accepted.
Arlington’s neighbor to the south, Alexandria, is also participating in the blanket and coat drive. According to Arlington County, more than 40,000 blankets have been collected in Northern Virginia over the past two years.
Photo via Arlington County
(Updated Feb. 23 at 9:45 a.m.) A new Vietnamese restaurant plans to take over the space currently occupied by Toscana Grill in Courthouse.
The owners of Pho Deluxe, which has locations in Fairfax and Tysons Corner, told ARLnow.com that Toscana Grill is closing April 1, after which they will move in.
They hope to be open a month afterward at 2300 Clarendon Blvd, facing Courthouse Plaza.
Owners Hue and Dan Nguyen said the restaurant will specialize in the beef noodle soup, as well as rice dishes and noodle dishes. It will also have a full bar.
Toscana Grill had briefly closed in fall 2013, but reopened under new management.
Next door, meanwhile, Velocity Five’s conversion to Courthaus Social is about to get started. Co-owner Fito Garcia said this morning that the sports bar will be closing “in the coming week” to begin its remodeling to an “American beer garden.” Garcia said he expects the remodeling and staff training to be complete in time to open in April.
A previous version of this story stated Toscana Grill would close March 1. That has been corrected.
Velocity 5, the sports bar mainstay in Courthouse, is getting a makeover this spring into what its owners call “an American beer garden.”
The restaurant will close down for a month before re-opening as “Courthaus Social,” a beer garden with an expanded patio outside the location at 2300 Clarendon Blvd. The plan to close Velocity 5 and reopen as a beer garden has been around for nearly two years after new owners bought the location of the regional chain, which opened in Courthouse in 2009.
“We were trying to find the perfect concept,” one of the co-owners, Nema Sayadian, told ARLnow.com today. “You realize you have to find your own identity, and that’s what we were struggling with.”
Sayadian and Fito Garcia, also a co-owner, originally had planned to rename the restaurant “Social Haus” and turn it into a Bavarian-style biergarten, serving almost exclusively German beer and food. Courthaus Social, while still configured as a beer garden with “social seating” — long benches inside and out — will focus more on local craft beers from breweries like Starr Hill, Port City and Mad Fox.
There will still be some German beers on the menu and Sayadian says “we’ll still have the biggest schnitzel in town.” The concept will now be more food-centric, with locally sourced meats and sustainable practices Garcia hopes will serve as a model for other local restaurants. At its heart, Courthaus Social hopes to be a relaxed, community business.
“We’re not going to be pretentious about it,” Sayadian said. Garcia added, “Arlington needs beer places. And with Summers closing down, we want to help the area.”
When it opens, the bar will have about 1,000 square feet of patio seating fronting Claredon Blvd, adding to its patio facing Courthouse Plaza’s Wells Fargo Bank. There will be more than 30 beers on tap, and they will still be available in two-liter “boots” as well as steins.
Velocity 5 has served as a registration spot for bar crawls in Clarendon and Courthouse in years past, and while Garcia and Sayadian say they’re not against participating in more bar crawls, the attitude of the restaurant is shifting.
“We love the business that comes with the bar crawls,” Garcia said, “but we want to have a different focus and build a community around us. If Arlington is for the bar crawls, we’re down, but we’re not going to take part in something that’s frowned upon.”
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The large surface parking lot between the Arlington County Justice Center and Courthouse Plaza appears destined to become open, green space at some point in the future.
Last night, county planners presented three concepts to the community as part of the Envision Courthouse Square outreach process. All of the concepts included using the space the surface parking lot occupies as a sort of town green, with pedestrian and bicycle paths crisscrossing the area in different patterns.
The workshop last night was the last in-person chance the community will have for significant input before staff from Arlington’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development drafts a Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum, to be brought before the community in the fall and presented to the Arlington County Board this winter.
Moving forward, the county will plan on placing parking underground while “retaining minimal surface parking,” according to CPHD Principal Urban Designer and Planner Jason Beske. There are no plans for buildings on the north edge of the current parking lot to preserve the square, and 14th Street and 15th Street between Courthouse Road and N. Uhle Street will both remain open to vehicular traffic.
Three “big ideas” were brought before those in attendance, which included the Envision Courthouse Square Working Group and county staff. The first, Concept A, calls for 3.9 acres of open space, a pedestrian promenade connecting 15th and 14th Streets N. in front of the AMC Courthouse movie theater and converts 15th Street between N. Courthouse Road and Clarendon Blvd into a shared pedestrian, bike and vehicle corridor.
Concept B, pictured above in the center, calls for the pedestrian promenade to be diagonal from the current Strayer Building — viewed as a target for high-rise redevelopment — to the Verizon Plaza building adjacent to the building that contains the Gold’s Gym. This plan calls for 4.2 acres of open space and includes a pocket park between Courthouse Plaza and N. Veitch Street.
Concept C, pictured above on the right, calls for 3.15 acres of open space and a more east-west alignment of paths and streets in the design area.
The plans for building redevelopment vary significantly among the three plans. Concept A calls for the two buildings with 15th Street frontages to be redeveloped at heights of 153-180 feet for the Strayer building — at the intersection with Clarendon Blvd — and 300 feet for the Landmark Block, at the intersection of with Courthouse Road. It also calls for retail in front of the AMC theater and a new building up to 180 feet tall next to it.
Concept B flips the proposed heights for the Strayer and Landmark blocks from Concept A, calls for the redevelopment of the AMC theater into a county or private building up to 180 feet tall and a three-to-five story “cultural building” at the Verizon Plaza site.
Concept C includes the most significant redevelopment: a “market shed” next to the AMC theater, the same proposed heights for the Strayer and Landmark block and two, 10-12 story buildings along 14th Street N., with the option to preserve the current theater or include a separate cultural use. The Verizon Plaza would be the site for a new, 300-foot high-rise building.
“Think of these plans as a kit-of-parts,” CPHD staff wrote in its presentation last night. “All of the big ideas are open for your feedback. Feedback results will inform us of the community’s preferences as we take the next steps to combine ideas and test their feasibility. The goal is to create a single, preferred plan that carries our shared vision forward.”
CPHD officials said an online survey will be posted shortly for community members unable to attend last night to weigh in on the three concepts.
Images via Arlington CPHD
Three potential designs for the re-envisioned Courthouse Square area will be presented to the community tomorrow (Wednesday) night.
The workshop will be held on the third floor of the office building at 1310 N. Courthouse Road from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The public will see three draft design concepts for the area that include plans for open space, building location and design, cultural resources, circulation (moving cars, pedestrians and bicycles through the area) and sustainability.
After the workshop, county staff and the Envision Courthouse Square Working Group will take the community’s recommendations and, along with county planning staff, formulate a draft revision to the 1993 Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum, to be brought before the Arlington County Board this winter.
The workshop could be the final chance for the public to engage in person with the working group before the plans start to take a more definite shape. There have already been two community workshops — one in March and another in April — as well as an online survey that revealed respondents have more open space and an outdoor movie program on the top of their wish list for the area.
Courthouse Square is defined as the 9-acre area around the large surface parking lot between Courthouse Plaza and the Arlington County Justice Center. It’s bounded by N. Courthouse Road to the east, Clarendon Blvd to the north, Courthouse Plaza to the west and just south of 14th Street N. to the south.
Image via Arlington County