Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

County Board Defends COVID-19 Response — “Arlington leaders continue to push back against accusations they could be doing more to address the COVID-19 crisis within the county’s 26 square miles. A number of civic-activists used the public-comment period of the County Board’s April 25 meeting (held ‘virtually’ after the government received state authority to do so) to rap officials for not imposing more aggressive regulation of daily life.” [InsideNova]

More Contributions for Small Biz Grant Fund — “The Arlington County Industrial Development Authority has joined Arlington Economic Development’s (AED) efforts to help small businesses… [The authority] approved a contribution of $326,000 of its own funding. Together with the $674,000 of funding from the County, and the recently announced contributions of $100,000 each by the Crystal City and Rosslyn Business Improvement Districts, total GRANT program funding has reached $1.2 million.” [Arlington County, Rosslyn BID]

Ballston Hotel Donates Rooms to Healthcare Workers — “The Ballston BID is collaborating with local organizations to coordinate free accommodations at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston for essential healthcare workers in the community. Chesapeake Hospitality, which manages the Ballston-based Holiday Inn on North Fairfax, is donating a complimentary block of 50 rooms per day… to frontline medical staff, their families, and those most vulnerable within the community.” [Press Release]

Arlington Gets Okay Social Distancing Marks — “Falls Church has a C+, Fairfax County has a C and Arlington gets a B- in social distancing grades from @Unacast. Virginia’s grade is D- and the U.S. as a whole gets a D+.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]

New Deputy Chief for ACPD — “Arlington County Police Chief M. Jay Farr is pleased to announce the appointment of Captain Adrienne Quigley to the position of Deputy Chief of Police, effective Sunday, May 10, 2020. Deputy Chief Quigley will assume command of the Systems Management Division at a later date.” [Arlington County]

Historic Home and Huge Lot Not for Sale, Yet — “Long coveted by developers and planners for schools and parks, the home built just after the Civil War has stirred interest since the death in 2017 of owner Randy Rouse, the homebuilder and equestrian. But his widow still lives in the home. And this week, it appears that some speculation on marketing the house was premature, the chances that the county could purchase it almost nil.” [Falls Church News-Press]

COVID Case Shuts Down Credit Union Branch — “The Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is closing one of their branches after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the credit union announced Monday morning.” [Patch]

Bankruptcy for Hair Cuttery, Bubbles — “Ratner Cos., the Vienna-based parent company of hair salon chains including the Hair Cuttery, Bubbles and Cielo, has filed for bankruptcy protection after closing more than 80 locations across the country in March. The company and related entities, including Creative Hairdressers Inc., filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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Morning Notes

W-L Alumni File Suit Over Name Change — “A local alumni group is filing suit in federal court over their high school’s name change. The Washington-Lee High School Alumni Association claims the public did not get the chance to weigh-in on the school board’s decision to change its name to Washington-Liberty High.” [WTOP, DCist]

Wrong-Way Driver Nearly Strikes Officer — “As officers approached the vehicle to investigate, they observed a handgun with extended magazine in plain view. The suspect disobeyed the lawful commands of the officers, placed the vehicle into drive and allegedly accelerated towards an officer. The officer quickly moved out of the way to avoid being struck and the vehicle fled the scene at a high rate of speed.” [Arlington County]

NPR Highlights W-L Esports Team — NPR’s All Things Considered profiled the Washington-Liberty High School esports club this week. Colleges are offering millions in scholarships for esports players, the segment noted. The W-L team was also profiled by the Washington Post this fall.  [NPR]

New Credit Union Open in Ballston — “Northwest Federal Credit Union recently celebrated the grand opening of a new branch in Ballston… its ninth public branch and first in Arlington County.” [Press Release]

ART Switch Successful Thus Far — “So far, so good, as the Arlington Transit (ART) system has a new contractor settling in. ‘The transition to ART’s new service provider – First Transit – has gone well during the initial weeks,’ County Manager Mark Schwartz told the Sun Gazette.” [InsideNova]

APS Launches Superintendent Survey — “The Arlington School Board is seeking community input through an online survey to help shape search criteria for the next superintendent. The survey is now open.” [Arlington Public Schools]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) is closing its Ballston branch, 6.5 years after it opened.

The branch is closing on Dec. 31, ACFCU announced this week. The credit union plans to open a new branch in Arlington by late 2020.

“We are still in the process of searching for the perfect branch location to serve our members, so we’re not able to confirm a neighborhood yet,” said an ACFCU spokeswoman.

In the meantime, the Ballston staff will relocate to ACFCU’s other branches, at 2130 N. Glebe Road and 5666 Columbia Pike.

“Our team will miss serving members in Ballston, where we have been proud of this neighborhood’s exciting growth,” the credit union’s CEO, Karen L. Rosales, said in a press release. “We look forward to opening a new, innovative branch to continue our mission to empower the financial lives of our members in Arlington and beyond.”

In addition to its branches, ACFCU operates three stand-alone ATM machines in Arlington, including two in Courthouse and one in the Virginia Hospital Center food court.

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Morning Notes

GMU Arlington Building Renamed — “Founders Hall, one of two major academic buildings on George Mason University’s Arlington Campus, was officially renamed Van Metre Hall after Mason’s Board of Visitors approved the change at its Oct. 10 meeting. The board’s action recognizes the generosity of the Van Metre Companies, a major regional builder that donated 37 acres in Ashburn, Virginia, to the George Mason University Foundation.” [George Mason University]

Overturned Vehicle on Washington Blvd — Near the tail end of yesterday morning’s rush hour a vehicle flipped on its roof along Washington Blvd, between Route 50 and Clarendon. The westbound lanes of Washington Blvd were blocked for a period of time. One person suffered minor injuries. [Twitter]

County Ranks High for Resident Satisfaction — “According to Arlington’s recent Community Satisfaction Survey, 88 percent of residents surveyed are satisfied with the overall quality of County services, 38 percentage points above the national average… Arlington also rated significantly above the national average for overall quality of life — 86 percent compared with 75 percent.” [Arlington County]

Local Credit Union Merger — “Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) announced today the merger of ACFCU with the Queen of Peace Arlington Federal Credit Union (QPAFCU). The combined asset size is $325 million, with nearly 22,500 members.” The Queen of Peace Arlington FCU is located in a church in the northeast corner of the Nauck neighborhood, near the back entrance to Army Navy Country Club. [CUInsight]

Venture-Funded Company Moving to Rosslyn — “FELA, the financial education and literacy company, today announced its rebrand to LifeCents. The name LifeCents is also the company’s health and wellness app that inspires and empowers people to improve their financial health and well-being… The team will move to Rosslyn, VA, at the beginning of next year to accommodate its continued growth.” [BusinessWire via Potomac Tech Wire]

Arlington Has Nightlife Advantage Over Tysons — Despite worries about competition from Tysons among local economic development boosters, the Fairfax County community doesn’t yet have Arlington’s nighttime vibrancy. Said one Tysons bar owner: “A lot of people leave here. They’re done with their job at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and they go home. They don’t come back. If they want to go out, they go to Arlington.” [Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Morning Notes

ACPD Says It Follows the Constitution — In a public statement of values, the Arlington County Police Department said yesterday that it “has always adhered to the Constitution and is committed to safeguarding the rights of all individuals.” The department continued: “We faithfully, and without bias, honor our obligations to the community and will continue to provide professional law enforcement services in accordance with our core values.” [Facebook]

Bistro 1521 Now Open — Filipino restaurant Bistro 1521 reportedly opened last night. The 7,000 square foot eatery is located in the former Applebee’s space at 900 N. Glebe Road in Ballston. [Washington City Paper]

District Taco Opening in Pa. — District Taco, which started as a tiny food cart in Arlington, is continuing to expand. DT is planning to open a location in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, its first restaurant outside of D.C., Maryland and Virginia. [Twitter]

Fmr. Arlington Resident Sexually Enslaved Housekeeper — A former American diplomat, who reportedly used to live in Arlington, “has for the second time been found liable for enslaving and sexually trafficking a housekeeper while posted at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen.” [Washington Post]

ACFCU Branch Closed After Fire — The N. Glebe Road branch of Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is closed after a fire yesterday evening. “Thx for understanding as we work 2 make sure bldg is safe,” the credit union said via social media. [Twitter]

ACFD Battles Fire in Bailey’s Crossroads — The Arlington County Fire Department has had a busy couple of days. The department battled at least three fires yesterday afternoon and also, on Saturday, assisted on a blaze in an empty apartment at a three-story complex on Oakview Gardens Drive in Bailey’s Crossroads. Five people were displaced and $20,000 in damage was caused, but no injuries were reported. [Falls Church News-Press]

Photo courtesy Curtis Prathers 

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This week’s (Thursday, June 16) grand opening of Lafayette Federal Credit Union’s new location in Crystal City is the perfect time for new members to discover a new way to handle their financial needs. And they are eligible to receive a special new member offer for opening an account, as well.

Lafayette Federal has been helping families and businesses since 1935, offering a wide range of financial products and services. With this latest addition to the Lafayette family of financial institutions –its third in Northern Virginia (joining McLean and Falls Church) and its seventh in the Washington metro area –the growing credit union welcomes the opportunity to bring its member-friendly full-service capabilities to folks who live and/or work in Crystal City.

The new Crystal City Financial Service Center, located at 2231 Crystal Drive, Suite R150, will host a Grand Opening event this Thursday (June 16) from noon until 1 p.m.

Arlington Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Kate Bates will speak, as will Lafayette Federal Chairman Norman Cohen and President/CEO B. John Farmakides. A special grand opening offer will be available to new retail members who open an account at the Crystal City branch now through June 24.

Lafayette Federal representatives at Thursday’s event look forward to discussing the benefits of membership which typically include lower credit card and loan rates than traditional banks as well as other advantages.

The Crystal City branch offers the full complement of financial services, including FREE online and mobile banking, NO-FEE checking accounts with mobile deposit, rewards credit cards, residential mortgages, auto and boat financing and a host of other products to meet the financial needs of its members.

For more information regarding Lafayette Federal Credit Union’s Grand Opening event and to hear about the special offer for new members, please contact Branch Manager Veronika Memetova at 703-639-6541 or via e-mail at [email protected]

The preceding post was sponsored by Lafayette Federal Credit Union and written by Buzz McClain.

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Morning Notes

Rosslyn skyline

Garvey Out-Raises Gutshall — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey out-raised Democratic challenger Erik Gutshall by more than $20,000 in April and May. Garvey raised $57,143 to $36,751 for Gutshall. Both candidates received donations from about 300 people. [Washington Post]

More People Biking to Work — The traffic woes and Metrorail headaches caused by Metro’s SafeTrack maintenance work is apparently pushing more people to commute to work via bike. On Monday, Arlington’s “Bike-o-Meter” near the Key Bridge recorded 2,325 bike trips, double the normal number for a Monday around this time of year. The pleasant weather probably helped, too. [WJLA]

Outdoor Lab Exceeds Fundraising Goal — Saturday’s fundraiser for the Arlington Outdoor Lab shattered the $50,000 fundraising goal, garnering pledges of $84,000 for the educational facility. [Falls Church News-Press]

New Chef at Water & Wall — John Leavitt, previously of Provision No. 14 in D.C., is taking over kitchen duties at Water & Wall in Virginia Square from proprietor and chef Tim Ma. Expect a new menu to roll out next month. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Credit Union Branch Opens in Crystal City — The Lafayette Federal Credit Union has opened a branch at 2231 Crystal Drive in Crystal City. The 80-year-old local financial institution will mark the opening of its seventh branch with a grand opening celebration next Thursday, June 16 at noon. [Layfayette FCU]

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Morning Notes

Watching the sunset while on a Metro train crossing the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac

Board Candidates on Bad Decisions — The Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board on Wednesday were asked to name a recent County Board decision they disagreed with. James Lander said he disagreed with the decision to cancel the streetcar. Andrew Schneider said “citizens were owed more of a process” on the streetcar decision. Katie Cristol cited the decision not to fund an extra firefighter to staff certain fire equipment. Christian Dorsey cited the decision to delay building an elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Bruce Wiljanen said he wasn’t happy with the development plan for Rosslyn Highlands Park. Peter Fallon disagreed with the redevelopment of the Bergmann’s dry cleaning site on Lee Highway. [InsideNova]

ACFCU Named ‘Credit Union of the Year’ — Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, an ARLnow.com advertiser, has been named “Federal Credit Union of the Year” by the Arlington-based National Association of Federal Credit Unions. ACFCU was bestowed the honor for credit unions with assets of $250 million or less.

Babe Ruth Baseball to Celebrate Anniversary — Arlington Babe Ruth (ABR) Baseball will celebrate its 30th anniversary on May 17. Reportedly the longest-running youth baseball program in the county, ABR will mark the occasion with a “Family Fun Day” for baseball families from 2:00-5:00 p.m. in Barcroft Park.

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Location of new Arlington Community Federal Credit Union in BallstonA new Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) branch will open in Ballston next week.

The new ACFCU will replace a White House Federal Credit Union branch (4121 Wilson Blvd) that closed last month. It will be a full-service facility with tellers and an on-site mortgage officer.

This is the third ACFCU branch, joining the one at 2130 N. Glebe Road and another just over the Arlington/Fairfax border at 5666 Columbia Pike. The Ballston branch will be the first that is Metro accessible.

“We are excited to move to the Ballston area as we have been looking for an option that is convenient to both ACFCU members and to Arlington commuters for some time,” said Karen Rosales, ACFCU Chief Operating Officer. “ACFCU members are important to us, and we want them to have access to convenient branch locations they deserve.”

The new branch is scheduled to open on Monday, April 15.

Disclosure: ACFCU is an ARLnow.com advertiser

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(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) The phrase “bank fees” used to describe a commonly-accepted practice. But in the past few months, rising fees have stoked consumer frustration. As a result, fed up customers have been abandoning big banks, and credit unions — including those located in Arlington — are reaping the rewards.

During the past year, and particularly the past two months, local credit unions have experienced rapid growth. Navy Federal Credit Union, for instance, experienced a 38 percent year-over-year jump in new members in October. Navy Federal has experienced a 23 percent increase in new customers in 2011, compared to its typical annual growth of 7 percent.

The 17,000 member Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, meanwhile, saw a 34 percent increase in new customers from September to October, in addition to a 100 percent increase in new online checking accounts during the same period.

(Disclosure: Arlington Community Federal Credit Union is an ARLnow.com advertiser.)

Although some banks have since rescinded new debit card fees and other banking charges, a grassroots movement toward credit unions and away from big banks seems to be taking hold. It even prompted the creation of Bank Transfer Day, which encouraged people to move their money to credit unions on November 5.

“People are expressing frustration over being treated like a number and not a member,” said Patty Briotta, public relations manager for the Clarendon-based National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU). “When some banks recalled their debit fees, it was too little, too late.”

Arlington Community Federal Credit Union CEO Brenda Turner said that in addition to accruing new applications, there has been an increase in customers who already held an account suddenly wanting to add another one.

“We could tell they were angry with the big banks because they wanted to move everything,” Turner said. “A lot of times people come in and just want an auto loan because we have great rates. But they wanted to completely clear out of the big banks and come over.”

Previously, many new members were attracted to credit unions due to features like competitive interest rates. Now, those who answered a NAFCU survey listed fees (24 percent) and general dissatisfaction (51 percent) as reasons for making the switch.

“During this challenging financial time, people want to leverage all of their resources and opportunities,” Briotta said. “You’re the boss at a credit union because it’s member-owned and a not-for-profit financial institution.”

Navy Federal Credit Union spokesperson Donovan Fox agreed, adding: “All of our members have a vote and everything that we do is for the benefit of our members. We’re always trying to increase our services, making them better for our members.”

NAFCU has recently ramped up promotion of CUlookup.com, a website it created to help consumers locate local credit unions. The site, which also lists the membership criteria of individual credit unions, has experienced explosive growth. This October saw a 700% year-over-year increase in web traffic this year, according to Briotta.

Although the rush will likely level off, right now Arlington’s credit unions are reveling in the business boom.

“It’s a great deal,” Turner said. “It’s unfortunate that it hasn’t been as widely known the convenience that credit unions offer.”

Said Briotta: “This is an example of Main Street winning over Wall Street.”

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