Arlington, VA

A group of local students is organizing a demonstration in Arlington tomorrow (Friday) as part of a nationwide climate change strike ahead of the UN Climate Change panel.

Teenage organizers of the Northern Virginia effort say they’re organizing a teach-in about environmentalism from 8-11 a.m. at American University, followed by a rally beginning at 11:45 a.m. outside Arlington County government headquarters (2100 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse, to help the planet they’re about to inherit.

“The most important thing is to educate,” said organizer and Yorktown High School student Hannah Knittig. “That goes for government officials and also to the public.”

The students organizers are working with the Northern Virginia chapter of the Youth Climate Strike organization, and is hoping to attract attendees and passersby to the Courthouse rally with speeches, a voter registration table, and posters the local effects of climate change.

“I hope they can see that they can get involved from home where they live,” said another organizer, Cecelia O’Sullivan, 15, at the Potomac School in McLean. “They can see that this is really an accessible moment happening all over the country.”

The teen organizers who spoke to ARLnow cited concerns about global warming raising flood threats and spawning more extreme storms, also noting how activities like fracking pollute the environment and contribute to the problem.

“Our water supply and our excessive need of products in Arlington impacts people who live in Blacksburg and all over Virginia,” said Knitting. “I definitely know that my lifestyle, and my family’s lifestyle, does impact other people.”

“Seeing all these very small occurrences, which at first they don’t link immediately link to climate change. But once you dig deeper, you just see it’s all part of that larger effect of climate change,” said Saahithi Achanta, 17, who is also helping organize the event from Chantilly High School.

Knittig, 16, said that around eighty students from across the Northern Virginia area have signed up to join the Arlington strike, and another 80 students have pledged to attend the same-day sister strike in Richmond.

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The pop-up plaza next to the county’s surface parking lot in Courthouse has been adorned with a new piece of public art.

The mural is the creation of local graphic designer and artist Marc Pekala. Set to debut tomorrow (Friday) at Courthouse’s PARK(ing) Day celebration, at the corner of 15th Street N. and N. Uhle Street, the abstract art combines eight of Pekala’s paintings of signs from iconic Arlington businesses such as Weenie Beenie and the former Bob Peck Chevrolet.

The design was chosen through the “Arlington Abstracted” contest, in which people were invited to visit the Arlington Art Truck and scramble Pekala’s artwork. The winning design, by Arlington resident Brandon Bailey, was chosen by Arlington Arts to be brought to life by Pekala as the new Courthouse mural.

“The whole process with the Arlington Art Truck was wonderful,” said Pekala. “Listening to people share their memories of Arlington brought back by the older signs may have been my favorite part. So often I work in solitude, and the feeling of community and the pleasure of sharing was a real treat.”

PARK(ing) Day is a national event that asks the public to reconsider the use of parking spaces as public land. Pekala’s mural will span across three former parking spaces, the “last remaining vestige of the original Arlington County Courthouse site from 1898,” according to a release from Arlington Arts.

The public is “invited to celebrate the mural” and meet the artist Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The event will include an opportunity for attendees to create their own miniature, take-home versions of the mural, according to Arlington Arts.

Photo (3) courtesy of Arlington Arts 

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Morning Notes

Construction Underway on Hospital Expansion — “Shovels are in the ground and buildings are coming down as Virginia Hospital Center embarks on the nitty-gritty of a three-year, quarter-billion-dollar expansion effort.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Launches Intrapreneurship Initiative — “Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology (SBT) has launched an initiative to address one of the most significant talent gaps in the greater Washington region – a shortage of graduates who are prepared to use entrepreneurial skills to help employers grow and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.” [Press Release]

Courthouse Office Building Sold — “Another Arlington office building has traded hands with the buyer citing Amazon HQ2 as a reason for optimism.  American Real Estate Partners, in partnership with Rockwood Capital, announced Tuesday it acquired the Arlington Plaza office building at 2000 15th St. North.” [Bisnow]

Metro Seeking Feedback on Bus Changes — “Metro is proposing service changes to selected bus routes based on input from customers and local governments, to increase on-time performance and ridership, and respond to planning studies and market changes.” Changes are proposed for the 3Y, 7F and 7Y routes. [WMATA]

Why Hoskins Left for Fairfax — “Victor Hoskins may be done working on Amazon HQ2 in Arlington County, but he’s certainly not done talking about it. The former head of Arlington Economic Development, in an interview with Bisnow, cited post-Amazon fatigue as one of the reasons he decided to leave and take a new job as CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. ” [Bisnow]

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When the Washington Post’s Express commuter tabloid abruptly shut down last week, dozens of distributors who hawk the papers around Metro stations were left without a job, their futures uncertain.

Express’s 16-year run was made memorable by the friendly men and women who would greet commuters each morning, papers in hand. Now one reader is trying to ensure they’re not forgotten.

While the Post’s Union works to try to make sure the 20 laid off Express staffers are hired elsewhere, amid a tough time for local media employment, a local IT project manager has organized a GoFundMe campaign for the 75 Express distributors, who worked for a third-party company contracted by the Post.

“In order to help these kind-hearted individuals who brightened the day of thousands of commuters for many years, we would love to see the greater community come together and offer support in order to keep them on their feet while they look for new opportunities,” wrote fundraiser organizer Annie D’Amato.

So far, more than $5,100 has been raised from nearly 150 donors.

Word about the campaign is being spread at local Metro stations, including the Courthouse station where flyers and posters were placed around the entrances Monday.

D’Amato is seeking volunteers to print the flyers and post them at more local stations. In addition to the Courthouse station, flyers were found at a number of stations in the District yesterday.

Meanwhile, some Express distributors are still working on behalf of the Post — passing out coupons for free digital subscriptions to the Post itself. At least one other returned to his usual Metro station, asking for help.

The GoFundMe campaign remains far from its fundraising goal, but donations continue flowing in.

“Raising $75,000 would be enough to give them each $1,000, but any amount collected above or below that goal will be distributed evenly between all of the workers,” wrote D’Amato. “Whether your commute has been made better by the friendly face and greeting of an Express worker, or you just want to help and support those in need, please consider donating to this campaign.”

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Nearly four years after the Wendy’s in Courthouse closed, the prominent but empty lot at 2026 Wilson Blvd is set to remain an empty lot for the foreseeable future.

Once set to become a 12-story office building, the site — located on a triangle of land a block from the Courthouse Metro station — is now proposed as a “temporary off-site contractor’s storage and staging area” for the condo construction project across the street. The Arlington County Board is set to consider the use permit at its meeting this Saturday.

“The proposed use is anticipated to last no longer than one (1) year,” according to a county staff report.

Per the office project, which was approved by the County Board in March 2015, the report notes: “At this time it is unknown when construction will begin.”

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Morning Notes

Home Prices Around HQ2 Soar — “The median sale prices for all home types in the 22202 ZIP code, where Amazon is building and staffing up HQ2, was $995,000 in July — the highest for any month in a decade — according to data provided by MarketStats by ShowingTime based on listing activity from Bright MLS. It’s a 72% jump from June, when median sales were at $615,000, and a 25% year-over-year increase.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

ACPD Launches Anti-DUI Campaign — “The high-visibility national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from August 14 through September 2, 2019. During this period, police will conduct nightly saturation patrols with the goal of drastically reducing incidents of drunk driving on our roadways.” [Arlington County]

Courthouse Market Back On Next Weekend — After initially being set to skip next weekend due to scheduled parking lot paving, the Courthouse farmers market is back on for Saturday, Aug. 24. [Arlington County]

Amazon Truck Blocks GW Parkway — The southbound GW Parkway was temporarily blocked at the Memorial Bridge yesterday afternoon due to a too-tall Amazon tractor trailer. [Twitter]

Betting at Local Bars — “Locally, prosecutors haven’t paid much attention to the games. Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said she wasn’t even aware that any machines were in the county until informed by the WBJ that bars in both Clarendon and Ballston operate them. An Arlington police spokeswoman said the department hasn’t noticed “any issues or concerns related to” the machines.” [Washington Business Journal]

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(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) An Arlington Transit bus has careened into the Barton Street community garden after a crash near Courthouse.

The crash happened around 3:05 p.m. at the intersection of 10th Street N. and N. Barton Street.

At least two vehicles were involved: a sedan, which suffered heavy front-end damage, and an ART bus, which knocked over a light pole and street signs before coming to rest in the middle of the garden.

A passenger told ARLnow that the bus had a green light and was coming down the hill on Barton when it was struck by the sedan. The sedan’s driver was cited by officers for running a red light, Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said.

Passengers could be heard comforting the bus driver after the crash, saying it “could have happened to anyone.”

No serious injuries were reported, though one female passenger said her arm hurt. Drivers should expect lane closures on 10th Street and slow traffic in the area while crews work to clean up the crash scene.

The crash follows an incident on Tuesday in which an ART bus crashed into a building after rolling through a rental truck depot.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report.

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Update at 12:20 p.m. — The gym is opening this Saturday, July 27, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., according to its owner.

Earlier: Potential patrons of an upcoming gym in Courthouse may have to wait a few more days before they can give the facility a test run.

Owner Mike Savitch, a bobsledder who represented the Virgin Islands in the 2002 Winter Olympics, told ARLnow that The Conditioning Room (2050 Wilson Blvd) should be open within two weeks, but hasn’t settled on an exact day.

Located near the Courthouse Metro station, in the former Cosi space, the new gym has missed Savitch’s desired opening date of June 1. But progress is being made: Savitch said he has moved in the exercise equipment in and hired artist Jack Labadie to put the finishing touches on the space with his graffiti-style artwork.

Unlimited memberships will be available for $205 per month. Once the gym opens, scheduled classes are set to run throughout the day Monday through Saturday.

The gym will also offer a free trial class on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m.

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The League of Women Voters of Arlington decided to take a stand against gerrymandering with an upcoming public event, an Un-Birthday Party for Elbridge Gerry. 

The event is taking place tomorrow (Wednesday, July 17) at Ireland’s Four Courts in Courthouse from 6:30-8:30 p.m. There will be trivia, tips on political activism, free food and games. Tickets can be purchased for $10 on Eventbrite.

With Gerry’s birthday coming up on July 17, the League of Women Voters decided to remember his legacy and role in history.

Elbridge Gerry established a reputation as “the father of gerrymandering” in 1810, during his time as governor of Massachusetts. He was notorious for dividing electoral districts for political gain and power. 

The United State Supreme Court ruled last month, that although gerrymandering seems unjust, it isn’t the place of federal judges to intervene. The ruling means gerrymandering decisions will be left up to individual states and Congress.

The League of Women Voters disagrees with the Supreme Court’s decision — and opposes partisan and racial gerrymandering in general — and plan to speak out on the issue at the event.

Jackie Rivas, a member of the Arlington League and coordinator for the upcoming event, said she wants people to understand that everyone is affected by gerrymandering. She said that she hopes this event sends a message to local politicians that the public is paying attention and cares about the issue. 

Rivas told ARLnow that the League has invited local politicians to attend and hear elevator pitches about potential legislative changes from members at the event. 

Image via Arlington League of Women Voters/Eventbrite

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A new medical office could be coming to Courthouse after officials approved a building owner’s request to broaden its search for tenants.

The County Board unanimously approved a site plan amendment during its meeting on Saturday, allowing the property owner of the Tellus luxury apartment building at 2009 14th St. N. in Courthouse to lease the 1,807 square foot space to office tenants as well as retail tenants.

The change was made with a particular medical office tenant in mind, a county staff report said. Lawyers representing the owner during the site plan amendment process were not immediately available to comment on who the medical office tenant is.

“The applicant states that it has been unsuccessful in retaining a retail tenant for the space, despite actively marketing the space since initial County Board approval of the site plan in 2009,” noted a staff report to the Board.

Other property owners in Arlington have struggled to fill off-the-beaten path retail spaces; a residential building in the Potomac Yard area received County Board approval earlier this year to fill a retail space with a “retail equivalent” business like a medical or dental office or child care center.

The 16-story, 254-apartment-unit building is located at the intersection of N. Troy Street and 14th Street N and replaced the 1960’s Arlington Executive Building in 2013 after several years of delays. The building was awarded for its architectural design in 2017.

Images 1-2 via Google Maps, Image 3 via Arlington County

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Update on 8/13/19 — After initially being set to skip next weekend due to scheduled parking lot paving, the Courthouse farmers market is back on for Saturday, Aug. 24.

Earlier: A project to repave Arlington County’s large surface parking lot in Courthouse is now underway.

The first phase of the project, which will make some repairs in a small portion of the lot, is scheduled to take place through Wednesday. The bulk of the project is scheduled from Aug. 18-26, necessitating the lot’s closure and the one-week cancellation of the Courthouse Farmers Market.

Eventually, the parking lot is envisioned to become open, green space atop a new underground parking garage — though the repaving project suggests that plan is still far from becoming reality.

More from a county press release:

The Arlington County Police Department will close parts of the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center Surface Parking Lot, located at N. Courthouse Road and N. 14th Street in Courthouse, during July and August for the Department of Environmental Services to complete a milling and paving project.

Phase I Closures (July 14-17)

  • The small lot adjacent to the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street and a designated area in the northeast corner of the large metered lot will be closed to vehicles beginning at 1:00 p.m. on July 14 until July 17 to complete curb and vault repairs prior to milling and paving.

Phase II Closures (August 18-26)

  • The entirety of the large metered lot, the small lot adjacent to the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street and the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street will be closed to vehicles beginning at 1:00 p.m. on August 18 until August 26 to complete milling and paving work. The Courthouse Farmers Market will be cancelled on August 24.

Throughout the duration of the project, on-street parking will be available in the area, as well as parking in the public lot under the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center located at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard.

Motorists are advised to be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs in affected areas during Phase I and the entirety of lot during Phase II of the parking lot. Vehicles parked in these areas may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street or lot, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.

Photo via Google Maps

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