Press Club

The Columbia Pike Partnership and Black Heritage Museum of Arlington are moving down the Pike due to the imminent redevelopment of Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center, both announced yesterday (May 18).

The two local organizations are set to move by the end of the month into the first floor of the Ethiopian Community Development Council building at 3045 Columbia Pike, only a five minute walk from its current home at 2611 Columbia Pike. Among their new neighbors is a Subway sandwich shop.

They are moving because the shopping center is set for demolition and redevelopment. In March, the Arlington County Board officially greenlit turning the aging retail strip into “The Elliot.” The new building will feature 247 market-rate apartments above a grocery store (maybe an Amazon Fresh), a renovated CVS, and a relocated Burritos Bros.

What it won’t include is a number of the current tenants, including the partnership and the museum.

“When the news came that we would need to move, our Board of Directors decided it was important for the organization to have a presence on the Pike — people need to find us, and we need to stay in touch with the community as well,” CPP’s Amy McWilliams tells ARLnow. “After a long hunt, we found the space at 3045B Columbia Pike, and realized it could house the Columbia Pike Partnership as well as the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, continuing our collective partnership.”

Last year, the Black Heritage Museum moved into the offices of the partnership, then called the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. Sharing the space was supposed to be temporary as the museum looked for a permanent home.

That’s still the plan for this new space, says the museum’s president Scott Taylor, as the museum continues to search for a new location — possibly in its old home.

“We have just recently signed a two year contract with our new landlord. We will continue to strive for a permanent location,” says Taylor. “There is even some talk about us going back to 3108 Columbia Pike as the county has acquired that property and may allow us some room there when they complete the new project there.”

CPP and the museum hope to have the space open to the public by June 18.

With all businesses needing to vacate the shopping center by May 31, several others have closed or announced their next moves in recent months.

H&R Block closed earlier this year while CVS will move into a trailer during construction and, then, back into the new building when completed. Atilla’s, a Turkish restaurant and grocer that’s been there since the 1970s, is closing next weekend and is in search of a new location.

Legend Kicks, which re-opened in its current location in 2018, is also set to close and possible move, but it’s unclear where.

ARLnow reached out to the business and its owner, who also owns the still-yet-to-open Eska just down Columbia Pike in the former location of the Purple Lounge, but has not heard back as of publication time.

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The Barcroft Apartments, a 1,334-unit, market-affordable apartment complex along Columbia Pike (via Google Maps)

It’s been two months since Arlington County and Amazon agreed to loan more than $300 million to facilitate the sale of the Barcroft Apartments on Columbia Pike.

In exchange for these loans, developer Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners agreed to preserve 1,334 units on the site as committed affordable units for 99 years.

Since the deal in December, Jair Lynch has started conducting initial property assessments to understand what substantive repairs and renovations need to be done in the short term to improve residential quality of life and building safety, Anthony Startt, the company’s director of investments, tells ARLnow.

It’s also working with Barcroft Apartments property management company Gates Hudson to meet with residents individually and at welcome events and administer surveys to understand their living situations.

“We are assuring all of our residents that no one will be displaced,” he said.

The garden apartments at 1130 S. George Mason Drive sprawl across 60 acres and house more tenants than some rural towns. They happen to be some of the last market-rate affordable apartments in Arlington, and proponents of the county’s $150 million loan heralded the significant investment in preserving affordable housing, while critics said the deal went through too quickly and without enough community oversight.

Now, the hard work on the county side begins: drafting a long-term investment plan and figuring out how to involve the community, particularly Barcroft residents, in the planning process. Community leaders and County Board members say this will have to balance blue-sky ideas with the financial constraints that come with an affordable housing project, all while working within the parameters of the Neighborhoods Form-Based Code that governs development in the area.

“There are a lot of cool things people would love to see, but the money first has to go toward preservation of 1,334 units, which I don’t know of a larger housing preservation deal in the D.C. area, ever,” says John Snyder, the chair of the Columbia Pike Partnership board (formerly the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, or CPRO).

He served as a representative of the Douglas Park neighborhood on the working group that developed the the Neighborhoods Form-Based Code.

Snyder’s must-haves include an on-site bus stop and bicycle stations to ensure there isn’t a large influx of cars clogging up S. George Mason Drive. His wish list includes a municipal swimming pool and playgrounds. There’s also interest in a daycare or a school.

“It’s going to be very interesting as all of this moves forward in the planning process,” Snyder says. “I just envision people getting great ideas and looking at the other end of the table where the engineers and accountants are sweating, wondering how they can do this… In other places, maybe we can raise the rent, but we can’t here.”

The County Board has encouraged county planning staff to prioritize a review the Neighborhoods Form-Based Code — which has some guidance on building size and placement, but not other topics such as form or ground-floor retail — to ensure the plans act as a floor, and not a ceiling, for whatever Jair Lynch proposes.

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The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) celebrated its 35th anniversary last week with a party at Penrose Square, while unveiling a new name: The Columbia Pike Partnership.

Shannon Bailey, vice-chair of the organization’s executive committee, along with executive director Kim Klingler, made the announcement at its 35th anniversary party on Wednesday (Oct. 13) evening.

“It really does take all of us to create an ecosystem here,” Bailey said. “So we do this together moving forward as a partnership.”

Along with the new name, there’s also a new logo, color scheme, and branding.

“Everything that we do requires our partners and we really realized that during Covid,” Klingler told ARLnow moments after announcing the name change. “We wanted a name that truly reflected who we are today. We have the same mission. We have the same values, but people really didn’t know who we were and we wanted our name to reflect that.”

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization formed in 1986 in response to the Arlington County Board awarding a $50,000 grant to help make the moribund corridor a more vibrant place to live and do business.

The hope was the money and an organized effort would be “the first step in what some see as a 10-year effort to coordinate improvements that could lead to revitalization of the highway as well as a return of community pride.”

But times and the Pike have changed.

First enacted in 2003, the Columbia Pike Form-Based Code has led to an organized development effort and a standardization in how buildings along the Pike will look going forward.

“This really jump started [development] on Arlington’s oldest main street,” Takis Karantonis, former CPRO executive director and current county board member, told ARLnow at the celebration. “Urban development is a slow game. A very slow game. But [the form-based code] and CPRO have brought diverse communities together — developers, shop owners, residents — to make it happen.”

The Pike has a reputation for being one of the more affordable and diverse areas in the county. Columbia Pike and its 22204 zip code is often referred to as a “world in a zip code.”

Klingler said it was time to make clear the organization’s role in preserving this reputation.

“We really want to marry diversity and development. People say that is a very challenging thing to do, but I believe we can find that balance,” she said.

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Morning Notes

Pupatella Gets Millions for Expansion — “Arlington’s own Pupatella pizza restaurant chain has raised $7.5 million to continue its growth spurt, with plans to open more more than a dozen restaurants in the coming years. The round was fully subscribed and had participation from almost all of the investors who participated in the company’s first round in 2018, when it raised $3.75 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Steel from WTC Donated to Arlington — “Two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center will now be on permanent display in D.C. and Virginia ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The words ‘never forget’ are written on the front of a piece of steel beam unveiled during a ceremony in front of the Arlington County Police Officer Memorial on Sunday.” [WTOP]

Crystal City Getting Cooler? — “Nearly three years after Amazon announced it would be bringing its second headquarters to Arlington — and specifically to ‘National Landing,’ a name conjured by local officials to sell the area as a tech hub — its reputation may be changing.” [Washington Post]

Big Win for Fmr. Youth Soccer Star — “Congratulations to #TeamArlington alum [Eryk Williamson] and the @usmnt on winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup.” [Twitter, ALXnow]

Food Scrap Caddy Being Delivered — “With Arlington’s weekly food scraps collection program launching next month, a County-provided countertop caddy, instructions and even introductory biodegradable bags will be delivered to curbside customer homes beginning this week.” [Arlington County]

Fire Engine Involved in Crash — “An Arlington fire engine was involved in a crash at the intersection of 18th Street S. and S. Fern Street this morning around 9:30. No firefighters were injured. One person in the second vehicle involved was taken to the hospital but is expected to be okay, per an ACFD spokesman.” [Twitter]

CPRO to Mark 35th Anniversary — “As the group’s 35th anniversary looms on the horizon this fall, the recent annual meeting of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) was a chance to take stock of tumultuous times and fly the organization’s flag in the march toward the future.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Poetry Book — “I picked up a copy of the ‘Written in Arlington: Poems of Arlington, Virginia’ edited by Katherine E. Young, our poet laureate emerita. Published quietly last fall during the pandemic, it showcases storytelling via 150 poems by 87 poets who ‘live, work, study, worship in or simply pass through… and in so doing, make Arlington their own,’ Young explains. She nodded to famous Arlington-based poets — George Washington Parke Custis, Doors singer Jim Morrison, and Zitkala-Sa.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

It’s July — Today is the first day in the month of July, named after Julius Caesar around the time of his assassination in 44 BC. Prior to that, the month was called Quintilis. In addition to today being the start of July, it’s also the start of the second half of the year. Expect the month to be especially hot and rainy. [Capital Weather Gang]

New Va. Bike Law Now In Effect — “A new state law requires motorists to change lanes when passing a bicyclist, if the lane of travel is not wide enough to accommodate 3 feet in distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle. Existing law had allowed, but did not require, a motorist to move into the other lane when passing a bicyclist in order to ensure at least 3 feet of distance.” [Sun Gazette]

ACFD CPR Battle — “Recruit Class 80 was certified in CPR yesterday. Recruits went head to head in partner CPR races. The top recruit team took on the FTA Cadre in a final race. Watch to find out who won! Our manikins give live feedback on the quality of compressions and ventilations.” [Instagram]

ACPD’s LGBTQ+ Outreach — “The unit provides educational outreach to the LGBTQ community on issues of concern to that community, including the types of crime that some LGBTQ people become victims of. Among those issues, he said, are same-sex domestic violence and online dating scams in which criminals pose as a potential dating partner to gain access to a gay person’s home, where they rob and sometime assault the unsuspecting victim. Penn said he was unaware of any anti-LGBTQ hate crimes that have occurred in Arlington in recent years.” [Washington Blade]

CPRO Gets Amazon Donation — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) is pleased to announce a new partnership with Amazon. To kick off this partnership, CPRO has received a generous $25,000 donation from Amazon this month to support three of its upcoming events: the recent Columbia Pike Blues Weekend, the upcoming Columbia Pike Drive-In Movie Nights, and CPRO’s 35th Anniversary Celebration in October.” [Press Release]

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Outdoor movies are returning to Columbia Pike.

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization will be screening summer cinema from the Arlington Career Center parking lot starting this Saturday.

The group’s annual movie series, now in its 11th year, was held under the stars until the pandemic struck. Last summer, it decided to offer a drive-in movie theater experience instead, a format that the CPRO will be repeating this year.

Admission requires a donation to the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization and registration in advance. Both can be done through forthcoming links in the neighborhood’s newsletter, which is sent out every Thursday. The event is being funded in part by Amazon and the Washington Forrest Foundation.

Showtime begins at sunset, between 8 and 8:30 p.m. depending on the evening. The movies are rated between G and PG-13 and the lineup ranges from dramas to animated films, and musicals to action flicks:

  • July 3, 8:30 p.m.: La Misma Luna
  • July 10, 8:30 p.m.: The Addams Family
  • July 17, 8:30 p.m.: The Farewell
  • July 24, 8:30 p.m.: Just Mercy
  • July 31, 8:30 p.m.: Hairspray
  • Aug. 7, 8:15 p.m.: Gojira
  • Aug. 17, 8 p.m.: A League of Their Own
  • Aug. 28, 8 p.m.: Raya and the Last Dragon

Each movie will be shown in English with Spanish subtitles.

The Arlington Career Center Parking lot can be accessed by entering on S. Walter Reed Drive, according to the event page. There will be no public bathrooms available at the facility while the film is shown.

Moviegoers can arrive up to one hour early to secure a spot for their vehicles, the event page said. A Kona Ice truck will be making shaved ice treats before the movie.

Photos courtesy of CPRO

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(Updated at 11:10 a.m.) A pair of Columbia Pike businesses say they’re planning to leave when their leases are up due to parking challenges at a county-financed garage.

Lost Dog Cafe and Joule Wellness Pharmacy both tell ARLnow that relatively high and confusing parking fees in the garage are costing them thousands of dollars a year in customer business. The owners of both say they will not be renewing their leases when they expire come 2023 and 2024, respectively.

“This parking issue has made it so untenable,” says Lost Dog Cafe franchise owner Jim Barnes. “We link this to our sales and our sales are not good. There’s a correlation with this parking lot.”

The parking garage, located at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive, is owned by Ballston-based apartment developer AvalonBay. However, it was built based as part of an unusual 2006 agreement with Arlington County.

The county contributed $2.96 million to its construction with the promise of receiving 45% of parking revenue as a form of payback every month going forward, according to the “public parking development agreement” obtained by ARLnow.

It is one of only two parking garages in the county that has an agreement of this nature, county officials confirm, with the other also along Columbia Pike, at Penrose Square.

The agreement does not specify a duration for which the county will continue to receive the parking revenue and county officials declined to provide an “interpretation” of whether that could mean into perpetuity.

They also didn’t specify how much revenue the garage generated for the county in 2020.

The parking garage is owned by AvalonBay and was acquired by the company with its $102 million purchase of the since-renamed Avalon Columbia Pike apartment building — formerly the Halstead Arlington — in 2016.

While this agreement had been in place for a decade and a half, initially signed by a different developer, a majority of the issues for the businesses started in March 2020, just days before the pandemic began to hit Arlington.

That’s when, according to Lost Dog and Joule Wellness, the parking machines were turned on and enforced for the first time in years.

Lost Dog Cafe, a franchisee of the original in Westover, moved into 2920 Columbia Pike in May 2009. At the time, Barnes said that parking was free after 5 p.m. and on weekends, which he says was an adequate compromise. A large portion of their customer-base came when parking was free anyway, with the garage able to earn revenue at other times, he says.

When AvalonBay purchased the building, notes Barnes, those restrictions went away and the parking machines were turned off. Enforcement also stopped.

Then four years later, with little notice according to the businesses, the machines were turned back on, enforcement restarted, and parking fees were being charged 24/7. The machines require drivers to pay for parking in advance, and anyone who fails to do so — or who overstays the amount of time they paid for — gets ticketed or towed.

A sign outside the garage advertises a parking rate of $1.75 per hour, which can be paid via a cash-only machine inside the garage. Barnes claims the machine “has never worked” and “steals people’s money.”

Drivers can also use the ParkMobile app, but poor cell phone reception in the garage makes that difficult, and the app charges $2.25 for the first hour.

“Customers cannot use their phones to access it infuriating them and they simply choose to no longer come to our business as a result,” Barnes said.

Paid street parking is available nearby, but is limited. Parking on surrounding neighborhood streets, meanwhile, often requires a residential decal, and nearby parking lots are restricted to other businesses and their customers.

AvalonBay, in an email to ARLnow, disputes Barnes’ version of events, writing that parking was being collected prior to March 2020.

“Equipment had been in place and parking revenue was collected prior to March 2020,” writes a company representative. “In March 2020, an updated parking system was installed with the County’s approval.”

Barnes, however, says that he received “no notice whatsoever” about the change or any updates.

The management of Joule Wellness Pharmacy, which opened its Pike location in early 2014, said they did receive notice, but it was only two to three weeks prior to the change. What’s more, they said there’s no mention of paid parking in their lease.

“There was not no mention of that in our lease,” says manager Alex Tekie. “And in fact, we’re told parking is free for us and our employees and for customers coming on the retail side.”

Tekie and pharmacy owner Winnie Tewelde tell ARLnow they now shell out nearly $800 a month in parking, mostly so employees can park in the lot.

They’ve talked a lawyer about the situation, but grew weary of paying even more money to fight the parking changes against a large, publicly-traded developer.

“We got exhausted. Drained,” says Tekie. “It’s David vs. Goliath.”

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Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County and local events being held online. If you’d like your event considered, fill out the event submission form to submit it to our event calendar.

Tuesday, May 18

Anxiety, Isolation And Hopelessness: The Pandemic Mental Health Crisis
Via Zoom or Facebook
Time: 7:30-8:30 p.m.

WAMU host Kojo Nnamdi will be part of a round-table discussion with a panel of experts to discuss the state of mental health in the wake of the pandemic. Kojo and the panel of experts will discuss the effects of COVID-19 on mental health and what can be done to get people the needed help.

Thursday, May 20

Columbia Pike Progress Luncheon*
Virtual event
Time: Noon-1 p.m.

The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization is celebrating its 35th year with a virtual luncheon to discuss how far the Pike has come as a community and the progress still being made. A donation to the organization is required for registration, with optional amounts of $35, $50 and $89.

Saturday, May 22

National Landing Farmers Market
Metropolitan Park (1330 S Fair Street)
Time: 8 a.m.-Noon

The National Landing BID is launching a weekly farmers’ market in Pentagon City every Saturday, offering a variety of meat, eggs, and produce options. The markets start this Saturday and will run through July 31.

Troop 647 May Drive-Through Scouting for Food
Church of the Covenant (2666 Military Road)
Time: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Troop 647 is pushing to reach a goal of raising 8,000 pounds of food by June. Over 5,000 has been raised since November and the Troop is hoping to make a big push for unopened canned or packages of dry food at an event this Saturday. Scouts will be at the church to receive the donation then box it and take it to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event.

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Morning Notes

APS Modifies Back-to-School Plan — “To better serve our students, we are announcing updates to the return-to-school plan, including revisions to the elementary and middle school hybrid/in-person instructional models and adjusted student groupings.” [Arlington Public Schools]

More on Silver Line Attack — “The woman was riding the train with her young child at about 11:35 a.m. Tuesday when a man assaulted her, tried to remove her clothing and exposed himself, Metro Transit Police said. The attack occurred between the McLean and East Falls Church stations.” [NBC 4]

CPRO May Get New Name — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization has been known by the name – and the acronym CPRO – for nearly 35 years. But plans are now in the works to provide a new name to describe the organization’s current mission. The renaming process ‘will probably happen over the next few months,’ CPRO executive director Kim Klingler said.” [InsideNova]

Rose Bush Auction This Weekend — “Hosted by Arlington Rose Foundation… Our auction with sound system will be held outdoors, where it is easy to social distance, in the lovely rose garden at Columbia Gardens Cemetery, 3411 Arlington Boulevard.” [ARLnow Events]

Adult, Two Kids Struck By Driver in Falls Church — ” At approximately 11:01 a.m. on October 7, City of Falls Church Police were dispatched to the report of pedestrians hit by a vehicle at the intersection of W Annandale Road and W Broad Street. Three victims – an adult and two minors – were transported to Virginia Hospital Center with non-life-threatening injuries.” [City of Falls Church]

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Morning Notes

Unease About Va. Reopening — “Local leaders and business owners in Northern Virginia were uncertain about Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement that parts of the state could begin reopening as soon as May 15. ‘Our first reaction was whoa wait a minute, talk to us,’ said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. David Guas, the owner of Bayou Bakery in Arlington County, said the state’s guidance on reopening business is becoming unreliable.” [NBC 4]

Republican Candidate Running for County Board — “The Arlington County Republican Committee, which in recent years has found it challenging to field candidates, announced May 7 that retired attorney Bob Cambridge had won the GOP nod for the special-election ballot. ‘Bob will bring a robust discussion of important local issues to this race – focusing on fiscal accountability, government transparency and planning for the future,’ GOP chairman Andrew Loposser said.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Startup Secures More Funding — “Stardog, the leading Enterprise Knowledge Graph platform, today announced it has expanded its Series B round to $11.4m, securing an additional $3 million from new investors Contour Venture Partners, Dcode Capital, and Presidio Ventures… The additional capital will be used to scale go-to-market operations.” [Stardog via Potomac Tech Wire]

CPRO Launches ‘Feed Our Families’ Initiative — “As the pandemic continues to impact every aspect of our daily lives, access to fresh food has become the most urgent need for many families along Columbia Pike. That’s why we’re partnering with our Columbia Pike Farmers Market vendors to assemble weekly produce boxes that can be distributed to families in need.” [Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization]

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Morning Notes

Local Business Owners Still Waiting for Loans — “Like many business owners across Northern Virginia, Cyrille Brenac is still waiting to hear back from his bank about his application to the Paycheck Protection Program… For Brenac, who lives in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington, the money would help him rehire about 50 employees of his two French restaurants he laid off when the economy abruptly shut down as the result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.” [Connection Newspapers]

County Board Salary Raise Unlikely — “The COVID-19 health pandemic and resulting economic downturn have snagged another victim – big pay raises for Arlington County Board members. Raises totaling more than $50,000 spread across the five board positions, which were included in County Manager Mark Schwartz’s pre-virus budget proposal in February, have been red-lined out.” [InsideNova]

Bearded Goat Barber Dies During Home Isolation — “We’ve already had quite a tragedy of our own — a barber who was in recovery from heroin addiction. He told us a couple times in the first few weeks, ‘It’s not good for me not being busy like this… not being able to work.’ We didn’t know just how bad it would be for him. He relapsed and got a bad batch and died.” [InsideHook, Facebook]

Campaign to Help Nurses, Restaurants Raises $30k — “The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) began its ‘Buy a Nurse Lunch’ initiative several weeks ago to raise money for restaurants along Columbia Pike in Arlington, while simultaneously providing meals for nurses and medical staff at the Virginia Hospital Center. In just two weeks, the organization says that over $30 thousand was raised, providing much-needed revenue for small, locally-owned restaurant.” [WJLA]

County to Consider More Retail Conversions — “For many years, county officials were insistent that retail be placed in office and residential buildings in certain areas. The problem – as developers apparently knew but county leaders seemed to miss – is that retail spaces are dependent on visibility and foot traffic, which each can vary widely even within the same building. (At one business-organization meeting years back, developers simply shrugged their shoulders, saying they often penciled in ‘zero’ for the expected revenue.)” [InsideNova]

Local Man Recounts Coronavirus Experience — “He had been in the hospital for seven days when doctors declared he might not make it out alive. His blood oxygen levels sank. His lungs struggled. The ventilator helping him breathe, doctors at Virginia Hospital Center said, did not seem to be doing much good. Nurses called his family. His family called a priest. They wanted to make sure Francis Wilson, 29, received last rites before the end.” [Washington Post]

Raccoons Rescued from Trash Can — “Officer Cameron got a surprise yesterday when she responded to a call about a raccoon stuck inside a bag inside a trash can. After she ‘unstuck’ the raccoon, she found 2 raccoon kits with her! Officer Cameron made sure they were all safe, releasing them to a quiet place nearby.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]

Arlington Musicians Play Mozart From Self-Isolation — A group of Arlington musicians joined those from elsewhere to perform Mozart: Serenade No. 13 in G Major, K. 525 ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ (1st movement) remotely. [YouTube]

Falls Church Senior Care Centers Face Outbreaks — “Three Falls Church area senior homes are now confirmed to be fighting outbreaks of the coronavirus, with Chesterbrook Residences telling the News-Press today that a total of 17 of its residents and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Flickr pool photo by P Ranfone

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