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by ARLnow.com July 19, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

County Opts to Acquire Hospital Site — Arlington County Board members on Tuesday voted to formally seek a large tract of land along S. Carlin Springs Road in a land swap with Virginia Hospital Center. In exchange, the county is offering to VHC county-owned land next to the hospital, which would allow it to expand. [Arlington County, InsideNova]

Bike Thefts Up in Arlington — Bike thefts were up for the first 6 months of 2017, compared to a year prior. No one seems to be safe from the prolific bike thieves, who often target high-end bikes parked in garages and bike lockers; among those reporting recent thefts were Henry Dunbar, the director of BikeArlington and Capital Bikeshare in Arlington, and an ABC 7 employee. [WJLA]

Gondola Project Not Dead — Though Arlington County has moved on from it, D.C. is still budgeting money to advance the proposed Rosslyn-to-Georgetown gondola project, including $250,000 for an environmental review of a potential gondola site near the C&O canal. One other intriguing factor: should the gondola run north of the Key Bridge, as shown in renderings, it may reach Arlington at the Key Bridge Marriott property, which is in the early stages of a potentially large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment. [Bisnow]

County Buys Office Building — As expected, the Arlington County Board has voted to purchase a low-slung office building at 2920 S. Glebe Road, to house Arlington’s head start program. The program is currently housed in the Edison Center next to Virginia Hospital Center, which is slated to be transferred to VHC in a land swap (see above). Arlington is paying $3.885 million for the Glebe Road property, nearly $1.5 million above its assessed value. [Arlington County]

JBG Has Big Plans for Crystal City — JBG Smith, the newly-formed combination of JBG and the Washington properties of Vornado, says repositioning and enhancing its 7 million square foot portfolio in Crystal City is a “top priority.” Among the changes in the works for the Bethesda-based firm: expanding the vacant office building at 1750 Crystal Drive, converting it to residential, and adding an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and a grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]

by Chris Teale July 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

The Crystal City Business Improvement District announced today (Monday) it is looking to study the feasibility of a new pedestrian link between Crystal City and Reagan National Airport.

In collaboration with other stakeholders in the neighborhood, the BID issued a Request for Proposals asking for consultants to study a possible connection.

Respondents will need to study optimal alignments, private and public real estate considerations, regulatory requirements, costs and financing and implementation, including the necessary agency and stakeholder approvals that would be required. Proposals are due August 4.

“Crystal City is the area’s most accessible neighborhood – with Metro, [Virginia Railway Express], connections to every major area highway, bike paths and an airport you can literally walk to,” said Angela Fox, Crystal City BID president and CEO, in a statement. “A new pedestrian connection will bring the airport even closer, from a 15-minute walk to a four-minute walk and transform the area into a unique multimodal transportation hub serving as a major economic development catalyst for Crystal City, Arlington County and the Commonwealth.”

In their announcement of the RFP, BID officials said the new pedestrian crossing would help leverage various upcoming enhancements to Crystal City’s transportation infrastructure, including the revamped VRE station and a proposed new Metro station entrance on Crystal Drive. Reagan National is also set for a $1 billion refresh, with construction there expected to conclude in 2021.

by Chris Teale July 17, 2017 at 11:45 am 0

A 22-story apartment building has the go-ahead to start construction in Crystal City after the Arlington County Board unanimously approved the project at its Saturday meeting.

The building, with the address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway but located at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S., is set for 302 apartments on top of a podium of the existing two-story retail space. The building is part of the larger Century Center office and retail complex.

The existing ground-floor retail includes Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The existing retail tenants are expected to stay in the property after the project is complete.

The building would have more than 330,000 square feet of floor space and be 270 feet tall, with a total of 242 parking spaces provided for residents. An existing shared garage with a nearby office building will provide another 100 spaces for retail customers.

“This is the sort of mixed-use project that has become an Arlington signature,” said County Board chair Jay Fisette in a statement. “This building will accomplish one of our key goals — to bring more residents to the heart of Crystal City and provide an even better balance of jobs and residents in this neighborhood. This is a very attractive building, putting state-of-the-art new apartments above upgraded retail space that will enhance the neighborhood’s vibrancy.”

And while the project itself received broad support among County Board members and local residents who testified at the meeting, several raised concerns at the effectiveness of the county’s Transportation Impact Analysis.

The TIA is a requirement for new projects that assesses how many new vehicles and users of public transportation will be added, but some residents said it failed to take into account the community’s traffic concerns.

In their own recommendations of the project in Crystal City, both the Planning Commission and Transportation Commission said said staff must engage in a “community conversation” and receive feedback on where TIA studies can be improved.

“What we’re asking is for staff to reach out broader and more deliberately to the community, because they’re currently not feeling heard,” said Planning Commission member Stephen Hughes at the meeting.

County transportation director Dennis Leach said staff in the county’s Department of Environmental Services are already looking at updating the TIA, and that they will look to the community for input on how it can be changed before presenting any updates at a public meeting, as well as to the Planning and Transportation Commissions.

Leach said the county already asks far more of developers to show impacts on traffic and transit than many other jurisdictions. In its announcement of the Board’s approval, county officials said the analysis for this project was more stringent than most:

The applicant conducted a more extensive traffic impact analysis than usually conducted for such a project. The analysis included the effects of the project on multiple modes of transportation, not just vehicle trips. It assessed the development’s projected impact on the adjacent street, sidewalk, transit, and bicycle network and took into account additional traffic generated by approved, but not yet built, projects within the study area, and their associated transportation network improvements. The analysis evaluated 14 intersections along Crystal Drive, South Clark Street, 23rd Street South and 26th Street South and concluded that future intersection level of service will remain the same regardless of the development, due to sufficient capacity within the existing Metrorail and bus system for the additional trips generated by the site, and a high-quality environment that exists adjacent to the site for pedestrians and bicyclists.

There is no specific timeline on when the TIA regulations will be updated and presented to the community, although Leach said it is already in staff’s work plan. Fisette said he hoped to see progress in the “near term,” possibly as early as September.

by Chris Teale July 13, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

A 22-story apartment building could arrive soon in Crystal City at the Century Center office and retail complex.

The building, with the address of 2351 Jefferson Davis Highway but located at the intersection of Crystal Drive and 23rd Street S., is set for 302 apartments on top of a podium of the existing two-story retail space. The Arlington County Board is set to vote on the plan by developer Lowe Enterprises on Saturday (July 15).

The building would have more than 330,000 square feet of floor space and be 270 feet tall, with a total of 242 parking spaces provided for residents. An existing shared garage with a nearby office building will provide another 100 spaces for retail customers.

The new building would be built above existing ground-floor retail, including California Tortilla, Buffalo Wild Wings and Mezeh Mediterranean Grill. The existing retail tenants are expected to stay in the property after the project is complete.

Plans also contain provisions for retail and food service kiosks along with a Capital Bikeshare station. It also would reconfigure the eastbound lanes of 23rd Street S., including removing one lane, in keeping with the goal of making it a pedestrian-oriented street.

In a report on the project, county staff recommended approval, including of a proposal to rezone the property to the Crystal City Mixed Use District. The plan had been set for discussion at May’s County Board meeting, but was withdrawn at the applicant’s request.

Photo No. 3 via Google Maps

by Chris Teale July 11, 2017 at 4:45 pm 0

A plan to host a polling place at a condo building in Crystal City has been nixed, but elections officials said they are confident of finding a new location before November.

County staff had planned to move the polling station for the Crystal City 006 Precinct to the Crystal Gateway condo building at 1300 Crystal Drive from Crystal Place (1801 Crystal Drive) in time for November’s elections.

But a staff report on various changes to voting locations ahead of the elections said the Crystal Gateway “no longer wishes” to host a polling place. Likewise, the report notes that Crystal Place “no longer wished” to do the same.

Arlingtonians will go to the polls to elect a Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and local members of the Virginia House of Delegates, as well as representatives on the Arlington County Board and School Board.

Gretchen Reinemeyer, the county’s deputy director of elections, said the building “did not provide any information on why they would not like to be a polling place.” Crystal Gateway’s property manager and a spokesman for Equity Apartments, which owns both the Crystal Gateway and Crystal Place, did not return calls requesting comment.

Reinemeyer said staff is “in the process” of finding a new polling place for the precinct, and they are “optimistic that we will have a new location soon.” She said that when looking for new polling places, staff try and find county-owned buildings in the precinct first before assessing other options.

“If there is not a suitable county facility available, we look at other buildings used by the community that have a ground level meeting room such as churches or community rooms in apartment or condo buildings,” she said. “Once we find a location that we think will work, we begin negotiating with the management of the space.”

The County Board will vote on the proposed voting changes at its meeting Saturday (July 15). Also on the table is a change for the Rosslyn Precinct to move its voting place to the 1800 Oak Apartments from the soon-to-be-redeveloped Fire Station 10, and a technical change for the Virginia Highlands Precinct to reflect that votes are cast at the recently reopened Aurora Hills Community Center.

Photo via Google Maps.

by ARLnow.com July 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

Jay Fisette, the most senior member of the Arlington County Board, has less than six months to go until his retirement. And while it will not happen during his tenure, there’s something Fisette wants for Arlington, eventually: for it to become a city.

In Virginia, local governments are divided into two top-level classifications: counties and independent cities.

Arlington is the fourth-largest county in Virginia by population — after Fairfax, Loudoun and Henrico — but by far the smallest, at only 26 square miles. In fact, Arlington is the smallest self-governing county in the U.S. (Mathews County, on the Chesapeake Bay, is the second smallest in Virginia, at 86 square miles.)

Fisette says Arlington has more in common with Virginia cities, like neighboring Alexandria and Falls Church, than it does with counties. And, he says, it makes sense that an increasingly urbanized place like Arlington should be governed as a city.

Additionally, many already refer to Arlington as a city, and for population-counting purposes the U.S. Census Bureau includes Arlington in its list of Virginia towns and cities, an exception the Bureau only makes for Arlington and for places in Hawaii, which has no incorporated cities.

A change to city status, however, would require action by Virginia’s state legislature.

“I have come to believe that Arlington County should ultimately become the City of Arlington,” Fisette tells ARLnow.com. “In 1846, we became Alexandria County — because we were much more rural than the City of Alexandria or DC. Then in 1920, we became Arlington County, in order to cause less confusion with our neighbor — the City of Alexandria.”

“Today, we are the geographically smallest, and most densely populated self-governing county in the U.S. and my experience is that we have much more in common with cities than counties,” Fisette continued. “I have not looked into this in a while, however, I know the change to a city would require General Assembly action. While I am not clear what they are, there may be some further changes that would be automatic with a city designation.”

In 2010, an attempt to change Arlington’s form of government, to one in which County Board members are elected by districts rather than at-large, failed to gather enough valid petition signatures.

Fisette didn’t reveal any plans to take action on changing Arlington from a county to a city, but did say he hopes it is “considered” by county leaders moving forward.

Fisette discussed the idea last month at the Crystal City Business Improvement District’s annual meeting. At the meeting, he also expressed his belief that the “City” in “Crystal City” should be lopped off and the neighborhood renamed simply “Crystal.”

by Kalina Newman July 7, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

The Crystal City Twilighter, a mid-summer 5K race through the heart of Crystal City, is just over a couple of weeks away.

The race begins Saturday, July 22 at 8:30 p.m. Participants can either register as individuals, or as part of a team with other runners.

The race begins at 2121 Crystal Drive at the Crystal City Courtyard Green, and follows Crystal Drive past Long Bridge Park.

Teams must register with a minimum of five members to participate, and include at least two male and two female runners.

Once a team is registered, they can choose to be in one of three divisions: Racing Clubs and Teams; Community Run Clubs; or Pacers Neighborhood Fun Runs.

This year teams in each division will be competing for points in four categories: being the biggest, fastest, strongest and smartest.

The points for the biggest team are awarded to the team with the most runners, while the fastest team will earn points for speed based on the combined finish times of its five fastest runners. To earn points for being the smartest team, members participate in a six-question round of Trivial Pursuit before the race.

After the race, specials for participants will be available at local bars and restaurants.

by ARLnow.com July 5, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Crystal City Hotel Worker Sexually Assaulted — A female employee of the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City was sexually assaulted Sunday morning, according to police. A 34-year-old man from Bahrain was arrested following the assault. [WJLA, Fox 5]

Arlington Man Beaten to Death in Brooklyn — An Arlington resident was beaten to death by a 69-year-old man in his Brooklyn home, in what’s being described as a case of self-defense during a home invasion. Rodolfo Rosa, 48, of Arlington, Va., died after suffering severe head trauma during the alleged break-in and the struggle that ensued. [New York Post, New York Post]

ACFD to Hold Fire Camp for Girls — Thursday is the first day of Arlington County’s annual all-girls firefighting camp, which “introduces teens to the male-dominated career of firefighting” and encourages them to pursue a career as a firefighter or paramedic. [Washington Post]

Slow Drivers in Passing Lane to Be Fined — Starting this past Saturday, a new law went into effect in Virginia which makes it illegal to misuse the passing lane by driving slowly in the left lane longer than necessary. Those pulled over for it face a $100 fine. [WHSV]

No Flag Waving at Arlington Cemetery — It is technically illegal to wave an American flag at Arlington National Cemetery. That is an unintended side effect of — or, perhaps, collateral damage from — a 2006 federal law meant to crack down on anti-gay protests during military funerals. [Washington Post]

Photos: Costumes of BlerDCon — “The inaugural BlerDCon… brought out thousands of cosplayers of color from across the country” in Crystal City this past weekend. ESPN’s The Undefeated has photos of some of the attendees. [The Undefeated]

Photo via @kcristol

by Katherine Berko June 30, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

BlerDCon, an “exclusively inclusive” convention for geeks of all colors and backgrounds, arrives at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City (2799 Jefferson Davis Hwy) today.

BlerDCon strives to help people embrace their inner nerd across a variety of genres, including “anime, comic books, sci-fi, gaming or cosplay.” It’s taking place today through Sunday, July 2.

The weekend’s events will include panels, celebrity guests, presentations, workshops, gaming tournaments, cosplay contests and more.

The convention will be open 24 hours each day. Tickets start at $45 per person.

More from the BlerDCon website:

Despite the rapid growth of the nerd universe, however, conventions have failed to proportionately represent the expansive minority nerd audience. Fans of all backgrounds and cultures are embracing their inner nerd. This includes POC (Black, Asian, Latino, etc.), women, disabled, LGBTQ and many more types of nerds across the globe. This is where BlerDCon comes in.

For those who don’t know, “Blerd” is an acronym for Black nerd; this has become a phrase embraced by minority nerds of all backgrounds, no matter what their skin color. The word blerd has evolved to become a symbol of unity for all nerds; BlerDCon is a team of lifetime geeks that has rallied around this concept to create a con for all.

BlerDCon says it anticipates between 3,000-4,000 attendees.

by Brooke Giles June 28, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

For the sixth year, Long Bridge Park near Crystal City will host Arlington’s official Fourth of July celebration.

The free event will run for 5 to 10 p.m. and features games, activities, music and fireworks watching.

From 5-8:30 p.m., the Department of Parks and Recreation will host free moonbounces, face painting and balloon art.

The department will host family games from 5-7:45 p.m. D.C. Fray, formerly United Social Sports, will provide free games like giant Jenga and giant Connect Four.

Live music will play throughout the night, including Steve Lauri of the Hollies, DJ Baronhawk Poitier and Jeff From Accounting.

Food vendors will sell food during the celebration. Food trucks from Basic Burger, Mac’s Donuts, KimchiBBQ Taco, The Big Cheese are scheduled for the event among others.

The fireworks on the National Mall are scheduled to start at 9:09 p.m. and last for 17 minutes.

On-site parking will not be available for attendees. Free shuttles are available from 4:30-10:30 p.m. between the park and the Pentagon City and Crystal City Metro stations.

In addition to Long Bridge, several communities in the county will have their own celebrations that day, including:

  • Albemarle parade and celebration
  • Barcroft parade
  • Bell ringing in the Bluemont neighborhood
  • Douglas Park parade and picnic
  • Fairlington Villages parade
  • Lee Heights parade and celebration
  • Lyon Village parade and celebration

Other places to watch the fireworks in Arlington include:

  • Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
  • U.S. Air Force Memorial
  • Gateway Park in Rosslyn
  • Gravelly Point
  • Iwo Jima Memorial
  • Key Bridge
  • Pentagon Reservation

by ARLnow.com June 26, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Dozens of wheelie-popping dirt bike and ATV riders rolled through Crystal City on Route 1 last night.

The convoy of “Sunday Fun Day” riders rumbled down Route 1 around 8 p.m., stopping at a nearby gas station, according to the Arlington County Police Department. Police responded to the scene but no arrests were made.

“At approximately 8:09 p.m. on June 25, the Emergency Communication Center received reports that approximately 30-40 dirt bikes and ATVs were at the gas station located in the 2300 block of Jefferson Davis Highway,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “Officers were dispatched to the area but the group exited Arlington County on Route 1 prior to police arrival.”

The riders also were spotted Sunday in various parts of D.C., including downtown. The Metropolitan Police Department has reportedly stepped up arrests in response to the repeated group rides, which police call “extremely dangerous to pedestrians and other motorists.”

This is at least the fourth reported large dirt bike and ATV ride through Arlington since 2015.

by ARLnow.com June 22, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

The concession stand at the Crystal City Water Park has closed.

The concession’s last day was Friday, after landlord Vornado declined to renew vendor Adel Ishak’s lease, we’re told. Ishak, who was a prominent attorney in Egypt before he fled to the United States with his family due to safety concerns, had run the kiosk for at least six years.

ARLnow.com has learned that landlord Vornado — soon to be JBG Smith — is planning an expanded retail presence in the park, perhaps a more full-featured restaurant or a beer garden. A major residential redevelopment anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is planned across the street.

Some local residents who heard that the concession stand would be closing started a petition calling for it to remain open, but to no avail.

“Rain, sleet, snow and shine, Adel was there,” one customer lamented to ARLnow.com. “He has built this business from the ground up – he started with nothing and now has run the stand year-round because of his customers. My hope is… that perhaps Vornado can move his concession to another part of Crystal City or Arlington.”

by ARLnow.com June 22, 2017 at 8:55 am 0

Alamo Drafthouse Coming to Crystal City — An Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be coming to Crystal City to anchor a residential redevelopment by the JBG Smith. The redevelopment will convert the aging office building at 1750 Crystal Drive to a gleaming glass-and-metal residential building while topping it with a six-story addition. Also planned is an as-yet unsigned “specialty grocer” — think: Trader Joe’s or something similar. [Washington Business Journal]

Home Prices Rise in Arlington — “Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. says the median selling price in Arlington County last month was $613,500, up 15 percent from May of 2016. The change was based on 350 closed sales in Arlington in May.” [WTOP]

County Looking for More Tech Grant Recipients — Arlington Economic Development is looking for more tech companies to lure to Arlington with its $1 million “Gazelle Grant” program. AED is seeking another 8-13 companies that are growing by at least 30 percent over a three year period and are willing to commit to at least a three year lease. [Technical.ly DC]

Yorktown Principal Says GoodbyeRetiring Yorktown High School principal Dr. Ray Pasi received a standing ovation from the Class of 2017 at YHS’s graduation ceremony yesterday. [Twitter]

It’s Still There — For those who were wondering, the now-famous stick of deodorant atop a Clarendon bus stop is still there two weeks later, despite wind, rain and publicity. [Twitter]

by ARLnow.com June 21, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

Members and residents of the WeWork and WeLive in Crystal City (2221 S. Clark Street) will get to experience the wonders of the Goat Yoga craze on Friday.

Real, live baby goats will be brought to the office’s beer garden from 6-8 p.m. They will roam around during a yoga class, nuzzle up to participants and sometime climb on top of their backs.

“After the practice we will hold a happy hour where you can mingle and chat about your experience,” says a poster for the event.

For those who’d prefer practicing yoga with pets rather than barnyard animals, Arlington-based yoga instructor Beth Wolfe is hosting a Kitten and Adoptable Pet Yoga session next week at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive), featuring roaming, cuddly pets that are up for adoption.

Wolfe is also hosting “Silent Disco Yoga,” featuring participants listening to music via wireless headphones, at Shirlington’s Energy Club gym rooftop on Friday. Additionally, she hosts a monthly “Beer Yoga” at Capitol City Brewing in Shirlington, with the next session scheduled for Monday.

Photo courtesy C.J. Cross/Facebook

by ARLnow.com June 21, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Advertising for Capital Bikeshare? — The Arlington County Board has approved a policy that would allow an advertising sponsorship for Capital Bikeshare. A corporate sponsorship of the regionwide system could generate $750,000 over five years for Arlington County, which would be used to support, expand and promote the system in Arlington. [Washington Post, Washington Business Journal]

Board Approves Climate Resolution — The County Board last night approved a resolution expressing the county’s commitment to fighting climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy efficiency. The resolution also states “that Arlington County supports the principles of the Paris Agreement and will continue to… advance action in accordance with the goals outlined in [it].” [Arlington County]

Arlington Taking Action to Attract Pollinators — Workers planted flowering plants in Arlington yesterday as part of a joint effort to attract more pollinators — insects like bees and butterflies. The environmentally-friendly effort was sponsored by the Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation, NOVA Parks and Dominion. [WJLA]

Arlington to Update Resource Protection Map — Arlington County will hold public hearings on updating its Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Map. “The more accurate map will help Arlington protect environmentally sensitive lands near streams and ensure that the County can comply with local and State regulations,” said a press release. “It will allow the County to review development projects fairly and provide accurate information to residents and other stakeholders.” [Arlington County]

Photos from Crystal City Car Show — The annual Crystal City Fathers Day Auto Festival was held this past weekend and featured more than 100 cars. This year the show was organized in part by Carsfera.com. [Facebook]

Williamsburg Neighborhood Plan Updated — The County Board has approved an update to the Neighborhood Conservation Plan for Arlington’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Per a press release: “Residents made recommendations for improving traffic and pedestrian safety, maintaining the neighborhood’s character, protecting the tree canopy and improving neighborhood parks.” [Arlington County]

First Day of Summer — Today is the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. [Capital Weather Gang, Vox]

Photo courtesy Valerie O’Such

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